It was spring 2009. I had been walking our new dog Maxie for miles every evening through the previous winter. Maxie was and still is a crazy, willful dog who wants to go 100 miles per hour every time she leaves the gate. I had fought with her about who was in control every step of every walk, and in March I finally caved in and ran a block with her. The next night we did it again, then again, then two blocks far apart, then two consecutive blocks, then three blocks. Thanks to our crazy dog, I was able to maintain my Weight Watchers “Life Time Member” weight for an entire year!
My Weight Watcher leader Jill had trained for and walked the Fargo Half Marathon that spring and she challenged her class to all get out and walk a 5K (3.1 mile) race sometime that summer. My friend Brian was the same age as I and running marathons, so I accepted Jill’s challenge with the plan that I was going to RUN the dang thing!
I bought a stop watch, downloaded a map of the Greenway with distances between entrances marked, and on June 13th, I took off to see how far I could run without stopping. I ran very slow but made it 3 miles! I was excited, so I started recording the distance and time of my runs onto an Excel spreadsheet. I am kind of a numbers freak so over the years I’ve also started keeping track of the pace, splits, shoe usage, and locations of my runs among other things.
I began a journey that day with the destination being some random 5K in the months to come. As we all know, a journey can change a person, and in the next 6 weeks I discovered that in my heart I was a runner. By the time my first race came along, “The Ta Ta Crusade,” a fund raiser for a runner named Denae who was fighting breast cancer, I had totally fallen in love with the sport: I was hooked!
My journey could have ended after that first race, but it didn’t. I immediately looked forward to bigger challenges and eventually completed 10K races, half marathons and full marathons. I guess that’s what’s special about this journey: I’m always extremely focused on where I’m going and don’t pay much attention to where I’ve been. Today, however, something happened that forced me to look back over my shoulder for at least a few minutes. 7.1 miles into my morning run, my total running mileage since that first day reached 10,000 miles.
I’ve watched 10,000 miles creep up over the last few months, and still, I didn’t know what to do about it. I headed out this morning knowing that 7.1 miles in, I would reach the mark, so I planned on stopping at that moment to reflect. It so happens I was exactly at a bench, so I sat down, ate some sport beans, and took in my surroundings.
I looked back up the Greenway from where I just came and reflected back over the past 10,000 miles.
Then I looked forward down the Greenway, in the direction I was going to run and wondered if and when I would reach 20,000 miles. I may be 52 years old, but I know deep down that my running journey is nowhere near completed. I have too many places I still want to go and too many races I still want to take part in. I felt a hint of uncertainty about where exactly I was headed next, but that’s the way I always feel. So, like I always do, I took a single step forward towards wherever my running shoes will take me!