How I Started Running

I have written several times about the sport of running and my relationship to it.  Today I ran the Air Force Half Marathon at Wright-Patterson AFB for the fourth time, so I decided to reprint a piece on how I started running that I wrote for the Disneyana Fan Club’s Disneyana Dispatch Newsletter.   This appeared in the Dec-Jan 2014 issue on runDisney.


I first began running in 1980 and was immediately taken with the sport’s honesty – no teammates messing up, no officials blowing calls, everything was up to you and you got back exactly what you put in. Also, it was a great way to act out sports fantasies.  All those professional contracts you dreamed about as a kid that somehow never materialized?  This is my compensation.

I ran my first marathon in May, 1983. My second was my fastest — San Diego, November 20, 1983. It was a cool morning with a gentle intermittent rain. The initial part of the course was flat, along the harbor, and I breezed through the first ten miles in 70 minutes. Then we went inland (hills!), the cooling rain stopped and it got warmer. Too late, I realized I was in trouble, and had to force myself over the last five miles one    step      at      a       time.  I stumbled across the finish line on the playing field in what is now Qualcomm Stadium in 3:16:21.  For the next five minutes, the medical staff shadowed my every move.

The playing field is actually below ground level, and when I tried to leave I discovered my legs refused to climb steps. I dragged myself into a first-row seat and rested for 15 minutes until my legs were fully functional again. I had a lot to learn.  (Still do.)


I had driven to the stadium before dawn to park my car and catch a bus to the starting line, which was at the north end of the harbor.  When I finally dragged myself back to my car, I realized I had illegally parked in the morning darkness; I was in a driveway instead of a parking spot.  Fortunately, there was no ticket.

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