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A rough beginning…

January 28, 2011

The year was 1997. A local 5K, the Corrib Road Race, runs right by the end of my street in West Roxbury, where I grew up. I have watched this race of a few hundred runners every year, cheering the young, old, thin, fat, fast, slow participants hustle by. This year, I decide to give it a shot.

I’ve never run a 5K, I’ve never run more than a mile or so, but I’m athletic, and I come from a family of runners. Piece of cake, right?

Wrong.

My nerves at the starting line get me off to a quick start, but by the time I hit the first “hill” (a small incline, at best), I can barely breathe, my legs are jello, I’m ready to drop. I tell myself, I can’t do this. I keep going, breathing is becoming worse, legs are getting slower, any motivation I have to continue this 3.1 mile gallop around my hometown and escaping faster than the participants passing me.

I burst into tears at about the mile and a quarter mark, and turn around. The police officer following the caboose of the crowd asks me if I need anything, and I look away in embarrassment. “I will NEVER run, ever, AGAIN.”

Fortunately for this story, I quickly retract that statement.

Over the years, I have turned something I told myself I couldn’t do, to something I do on a daily basis. An addiction. Something competitive. Something soothing. Something personal. Something public. Something I can not live without.

There are many reasons for me to be writing about running here, which I will get into, in time. I have been inspired to start this blog by my “summer sister,” Kim, who is the author of Tales of an Endless Runner. One of my first “successes” in the sport (and it’s all relative here), I attribute to Kim. During the summer of 1998, Kim and I decided we were going to train for the Brew Run, a 5 mile run on Cape Cod. Every morning, Kim and I met before 8 a.m. to avoid the summer heat and run together, working our way up to 5 miles, a distance I had never run before.

Summer mornings for junior high school students should be about sleeping in. But not when you’ve promised a good friend you would meet her for a run, committed to a race that’s just a few weeks away, and swore to yourself that you would avoid anything like the “Corrib Pub Run Disaster of 1997.”

So,we ran. Everyday.

I finished that race in 53:38. No tears, not difficulty breathing, no legs of jello.

(Thanks, Kim!)

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