Friday, August 26, 2016

Nearly Legal Running Career

NOTE: Yes, I find it ironic that I am posting about this milestone as I transition out of a 7-month injury break from running.  However, I am deciding to focus more on the fact that twenty years in I still want to return to running and less that I had to take a break because running is deleterious.  {/NOTE}

Twenty years ago this month, August 1996, I became a runner.  I joined pre-season workouts for my high school cross country team and it all went downhill from there.

My dad will both hate and laugh at this story, but he either wasn't convinced this running thing would stick or he didn't really understand what this running thing meant.  My "running shoes" for that season were a white/blue, slightly higher-top, maybe-not-officially-work-shoe version of these, purchased from Famous Footwear (an upscale, WI version of PayLess).  My coach was flabbergasted and my shins were destroyed (so I've been acquainted with shin pain almost as many days as I've been a runner).  Let's not discuss my sports bra situation at the time.

I got real running shoes sometime over the winter, ran every day of the next summer's trip to England, and showed up my sophomore fall running my 4k races 5 minutes faster.  That was when everything really went downhill.

My sophomore winter I ran regularly with a member of the boys' team.  I still shudder at what we wore: cotton, almost to an item.  Cotton tube socks, ancient running tights that I inherited from my mother under !flannel! pajama pants (I have zero idea how I didn't start forest fires with my thighs), horrific sports bras, a cotton long sleeve under a cotton hoodie, with a fleece ear band.  Pretty much the only article of clothing that was similar to anything I wear running today was my thin gloves.  Marc and I would head out after school without a watch and just run, usually in the snow, returning 60? 90? mins later and about five pounds heavier in sweat and melted snow.  Those certainly were the ol' days.  No telling if they were good.

That was 1997 into 1998.  Running shoes were pretty much only available in white, blue, and occasionally red.  I didn't own my first technical material shirt until April 2002, which I didn't buy so much as pick up out of the gutter after it was discarded by another runner on the start line of a marathon.  This boon didn't save me though: I ran that marathon in soccer shorts and lost a lot of skin.  I received two technical shirts over the next two Christmases (2002 and 2003), and now I would only run in cotton if it was what I was wearing when I had zero warning to escape my burning house and/or zombies.

And here we are twenty years later.  I wear shoes made for running, which are mostly neon, and rotate 3 or 4 pairs of them at a time; wear supportive sports bras; and may have finally figured out how to avoid shin pain.  Next August I am going to take my running career out for a drink, but only one, because we will both be getting up early the next morning to run.

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