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How It Starts

Everyone has their own story about why they run, or what got them started in the first place. I get to blame beer.

A few years ago, on one of my last day off before starting a new job, my Mom invited me out to grab a couple beers and celebrate, the only catch being she had to stop by an expo on the way and pick up her packet for a race. It seemed like a fair trade. Heck if we moved through the expo at a decent pace I might even be able to level it out as one beer for every minute of desperate booth jockeys hurling themselves at me, and clinging to my ankles as I tried to shuffle away.

I’ve never understood the people who honestly enjoy the prerace expos. To this day I’m a pick up my number, a few free samples, and then show off my prowess by sprinting for the exit kinda guy. The less time I have to spend dealing with someone in my personal space, explaining how for just a nominal fee they can fix problems that will keep me up at night now, but before they mentioned it I never even knew I had, the better. I thought I’d be safe at this one though, because I didn’t run. Everything they were selling was completely unrelated to my life. What could they possibly offer me? Aside from the knowledge that I’m easy mark?

It turns out that back then if you pitched a race to me and conveniently left out all the unpleasant running parts, you might actually get my attention. The lady in the booth drew me in by telling me this race was special. It started off with a short jaunt through the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, or as local advertisements will repeat until you murmur it in your sleep “The only zoo in the WORLD built on the side of a mountain.” Then it turned onto this gorgeous scenic path that looked out over the entire city, and was only open to foot traffic on this one day of the year, for this one race. So signing up for this thing meant you could do and see things you would never be able to do otherwise.

It’s also straight up a very steep hill for the first two miles, making it the sort of thing only an idiot would choose for their first race, especially when they’ve never run before and have less than a month to prepare… I told myself after I handed over my entrance fee.

I’ll give you an actual recap of the race itself in a different post (or posts, because glutton for punishment that I am, I’ve done the thing twice now, and I suspect there’s more in my future), but the important thing for this story is that I finished. And I finished well enough to end up on the first page of the finisher list. If they’d run them off as a top 5, 10, or 15 instead of 25 I might not still be doing this running thing. But for my very first race I got to see my name listed right there with the top runners, and it filled my head with those happy little endorphins. Maybe I was good this. Maybe there was more of it in my future.

And now, we’re closing in on the day when I’ll have run more miles than there were molecules of beer in the pint I got at that distant lunch. The trade off is looking less fair all the time.