Not my wedding anniversary, mind you.  My running anniversary.  Nobody in my family sends me a card or calls to wish me well.  There are no flowers (except by occasional coincidence), and, well, my wife doesn’t really care if I remember it or not.

But I do.  Because it’s so frickin’ easy to remember when I started running.  Or rather, when I started running “for real.”  July 4, 2007.  It’s that easy.  My wife and I were parked for the summer in Dorset, Vermont, and somehow caught wind of a “Fourth of July 5k Fun Run” next door in Manchester.  It seemed like it might be a hoot, so we signed up on July 1 (or maybe June 30), headed out to the park for what we, at the time, enthusiastically called a “training run” on the 2nd, gave it one more go on the 3rd, and then showed up on the 4th with no clue and no expectations.

Reminiscing

Prior to that race I had run only for short, unhappy periods of time on the treadmill at a gym in Phoenix which my wife convinced me to join under the guise of frequent rock climbing1 and getting less scrawny2.  The treadmill was a warm up that I begrudgingly trotted along for the requisite time according to my prescribed beef-cake-o-matic training plan.  Before that, I think I ran only in case of emergency save for a brief stint on my school’s cross country team in 9th grade, where I regularly strolled (yeah, strolled) along the course to ensure I had enough energy for a final sprint so I’d only be second-to-last3 in the meet.  In hindsight, I am not proud of any of this.

As one might surmise by the term “Fun Run” and the fact that unless you live nearby, you probably haven’t heard of Manchester, VT, this wasn’t a huge event.  It was organized by the city rec department, started and ended in the park, and if memory serves, it didn’t involve any road closures.  There was, however, local ice cream at the finish line, something I was bummed to later learn is not common throughout the running world4.  The small field is probably part of what got me hooked.

Despite not having a clue what I was doing and having to take more than one walk break in a five kilometer race, I managed a 24:04 time, which was 21st in the 89 person field and, much to my surprise, third in my age group5.  Which got me a medal!  Imagine what I could do if I’m able to run the whole distance?

In To the Rabbit Hole

Lacking a clue, I took that enthusiasm and ran the same loop over and over all summer, with the exception of a couple of runs with a training group for the Manchester Maple Leaf Half Marathon that I had signed up for.  And somehow, my goal to run a full marathon by the end of 2008 turned in to my wife planning our route through Austin, TX so I could run the 2008 Austin Marathon in February.

At my one year anniversary, I found myself in London when the first week of July rolled around.  I didn’t outright celebrate, per se, but I had found two 10k races in town; the July edition of the Regents Park Race series on Saturday the 5th, and the Wimbledon Windmilers Jim Braben Memorial Run on Sunday the 6th.  So why not run one?  I ran the Regents Park Race (in the rain) and on the way to catch the bus6 a German kid asking for directions to the Victoria & Albert managed to convince me to run the Wimbledon run as well.  So the next morning I took the tube to Wimbledon, ran another 10k in the rain, and managed to get back in to central London before too many tennis fans started swarming the streets for the Wimbledon Men’s Final.

At year two I was in Medora, ND, where, oddly enough, there isn’t a large running community.  In fact, the entire community consists of keeping the town a pseudo-historical restoration and tourist destination.  They had a parade and did a nice fireworks show, but running was purely recreational.  Fortunately, the week prior, we were cruising the Trans-Canada and managed to stop at Sun Peaks resort near Kamloops, BC for an awesome Canada Day run called Jo’s Road Race.

Today

And now, at the close of my third year of running, I’m near a town with a pretty strong running community that completely lacks any sort of 4th of July run.  I ran the Knife River Solstice Run last week, which was wicked fun7, and there’s a bunch of other races nearby in the coming week, but I’ve got nothing on my plate until we get to Denver in August.  I’m suddenly feeling unfulfilled, despite not intentionally commemorating my start of running career hobby habit addiction.

Ah well.  I’ll have to settle for running along the beautiful scenic route 61 with nobody but me caring how fast or slow I’m going.  And maybe a love song.

Show 7 footnotes

  1. In reality, we only hit the rock wall a couple of times, but I got my butt in there for a weight circuit at least twice a week.  It was a good habit while it lasted.
  2. This was about a year after my 25% weight loss in two months via pre-packaged diet foods delivered to a tropical island and not much else.  But that’s another story.  The point is that I was 135 pounds and wicked scrawny.
  3. Or, on occasion, a brilliant third-to-last.  Big money.
  4. Although Austin, TX has a habit of finish line breakfast burritos, which is nearly as awesome.
  5. My wife, although fitter overall, had just as little experience running, and managed to pull off first in her age group!
  6. A tricky prospect in flip-flops on wet flagstones!
  7. And earned me a mug!  Yay for creative prizes!