Over eight years ago I arrived in Eugene with my pregnant wife and a new job. Up to that point in my life I had never been much of a runner. In fact, I actively resisted it, much to my wife’s chagrin (she has had running as a part of her active lifestyle ever since I’ve known her). But my managing editor, and therefore kinda my boss, asked if I’d like to go running with him at trail not far from our new house. He even had some hand-me-down running gear that he gave me. So I started to run every once in a while, again much to my wife’s chagrin (being pregnant she was not able to run much, right at the time I started to take it up!). Something took hold. It was the company for sure, but also the culture of running that is woven into the fabric of Eugene.
Eventually I started to run during my lunch hour at work with my colleague and office-mate Charlie Collier. Charlie had run several races in the past but was looking to pick it back up after some time away. Running with Charlie got to be a pretty regular thing. Two to five times per week we would go out from the gym near our office and make our way to the river path or Pre’s Trail. The first time he and I went on a run together, we followed a route of about 3.75 miles that crossed the river twice. At the second bridge, with about a mile to go, we both were out of gas. We walked across the bridge and then picked up the running from there. We got to a point in our running where stopping was not necessary. Later we were able to push a little further and run a route that stretched to just over 5 miles. After several months (maybe even a year or so), we made it a goal to run that route in less than 40 minutes. It took a while, but we did it. Charlie, having run more than I and knowing the personal milestones for races, suggested we try to run a 5K in less than 20 minutes. And so we started training for my first race. On Valentine’s weekend 2011, Charlie blew by me in the last stretch of the race. (This has become a constant theme of mine. I don’t manage race paces well.) Neither of us broke the 20-minute barrier, but we were only seconds off. From that point on, I’ve been hooked on reaching certain goals. Just last month I finally went below 20 minutes in a 5K! It’s the only goal I’ve reached. I’m still working on under 90 minutes for a half marathon (I need to trim three minutes) and hitting the qualifying standard for my age group for the Boston Marathon. My one and only attempt at a marathon was not fun and I’ve had nagging pains ever since. But now that Charlie has done it, I might have to give it another try some time.
All this to say, I see myself as a runner now. And like Forrest Gump, running with company is not a bad thing. (I miss running with Charlie, by the way, now that he’s moved to Portland.) I know there are several folks who attend AAR/SBL every year who also enjoy running. Last year I organized a run for conference goers. A small handful showed up on Saturday morning to run along the San Diego harbor. It was beautiful! This year in Atlanta I am putting together another Saturday morning run. It will be a casual run along the Freedom Park Path Trail section of the larger Stone Mountain Trail. All speeds and abilities are welcome. I’ve mapped out about 5 miles, but the path can be shortened or extended as runners wish. In another blog post to follow shortly, I will provide all of the details. If you are a runner and attending AAR/SBL, set aside Saturday morning at 7am to join us!