My Flirtation With Running

I have never been an athlete, unlike my brother and sister.  While my brother played soccer and ran on the cross country team and my little sister earned belt after belt in judo, I was content to read my books and play an occasional game of badminton.  That’s why it came as a surprise to my daughter (My Pajama Days) to hear yesterday that when we lived in Philadelphia in the late seventies, I used to run.  We were discussing her preparation for her half-marathon race that’s coming up in five weeks.  “I used to run, you know,” I said.  But she didn’t know.

We lived in an apartment in a neighborhood with lots of kids.  I had all three of ours by that time, and only my daughter was of school age, just starting kindergarten.  One day one of the other moms decided we should get up early, meet on the corner and get an hour of running in before we sent our kids off to school.  I had just had a baby, so that sounded like a good way to get back in shape.  My husband was supportive and even took me to a running store so I could get a really good pair of shoes.

One of the few pictures I could find with my precious running shoes.  Click to enlarge.

I was as excited when I bought those shoes, my Etonic KM Joggers, as I was when I was a kid and I got a new pair of Keds.  Someone should have told me that there is a lot more to running than putting on a good pair of shoes.

Our little cadre of six mothers decided we would need to meet at 5 A.M. in order to get our run in before we had to get the kids up for school and our husbands off to work.  A couple of the mothers also had jobs to get to.  Since we started at the beginning of the school year, things went pretty smoothly as the weather was still warm in September and the sky was still beginning to get light when we started our run.  The running itself, though, was a struggle for me in the beginning.  I had no idea about pacing myself or easing into it.  I just wanted to keep up with the other mothers so I didn’t look like a dork.  I didn’t tell them I had never run further than the mailbox.  Oh, how I suffered from shin splints those first few weeks!  My sides ached and my lungs felt like they were about to burst, but after buying those expensive shoes I was so proud of, I was darned if I was giving up.

Gradually, the running got easier.  We ran in a beautiful suburban neighborhood near our apartments, away from the traffic.  We all dreamed of owning a home like one of those one day.  As the fall wore on, the light dimmed, and the temperature dropped, the determination of my compadres wained.  One by one they began to drop out until, by December, I was the only one left.  You can’t imagine how hard it was for me to drag myself out of bed at 5 A.M when the rest of my sweet little family were snuggled deep in slumber.  But I wasn’t giving up!  I kept going, even in the dark, even in the cold, coming back at 6 A.M. and crawling back in my toasty bed next to my husband.  I would put my cold feet next to my husband’s warm ones, and he’d jump a little before he drew me close and cuddled for a few more minutes before we had to get up.

Then one frosty winter morning in February, it all ended.  The temperature had dipped into the teens and every breath I took made the hairs in my nose freeze and my lungs burn.  It was pitch black out except for the occasional street light.  I was rounding a curve in that pretty neighborhood when a huge German shepherd came charging across a lawn, growling savagely and ready to spring.  I screamed and the dog’s owner, who fortunately had just stepped out to retrieve his newspaper, called the dog off before he surely would have taken a chunk out of me.  I was so shaken, I walked home the rest of the way and decided my running days were over.  Simple as that.  Truth be told, I was grateful to that dog.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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38 Responses to My Flirtation With Running

  1. Flirtation makes it sound like a pleasing and sought after dalliance! You did so well. I wouldn’t even be able to run to that mailbox! It’s funny how this running and jogging lark is often perceived as a modern sport or pastime with its passion for strange footwear and circuits around the urban landscape. Man has always ran however and if forced, I run for the same reasons as my ancestors did – necessity, panic and crisis. Mixed. Good on you! :)

  2. yen says:

    You look so gorgeous, Susan, and oh so stylish with the hat! I wish I would have that determination to start running to lose a few pounds! Love the last paragraph about the dog and the end of your running days.:)

  3. Al says:

    Susan, those shoes are you! If one has to suffer through the wee hours of the morning jog, then one should at least be fashionable.

    I look back on my jogging days with fond memories but kinda glad I’m walking now…so much easier on the old bones.

  4. pattisj says:

    Good for you, sticking it out after the others quit. I used to run in the mornings when I was, ahem, younger. Not sure I was ever out at five!

  5. Amy says:

    I think your great legs made the pair of shoes look so beautiful! 5 AM in the winter… a lot of determination you had.

  6. Linda says:

    Susie, I am SO disappointed that you have forgotten our running days in high school! Don’t you remember our ‘cross country phase’ when we borrowed special running shoes from the athletic department. We made quite a show of doing our stretching and running over the hill (down hill) behind Roger Ludlowe HS……of course we were REALLY checking out the boys on the cross country team!!!
    Linda

  7. Those shoes are stunning. It’s amazing how something created for running could stop me in my tracks.

  8. Who knew you were the fellow reader sitting next to me on the bench while our siblings played tag football!! I too had a “running” phase. I must have looked like a turtle trying to be a hare to my neighbors while I imagined myself flying like the wind down the street…

  9. Shary Hover says:

    I started running in college and ran steadily for more than 20 years before I got sidelined by injury. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever go back to it. I walk now, like you, and I really enjoy it. It doesn’t burn as many calories as running, but I find it a pretty satisfying substitute.

    • Coming East says:

      Shary, how could you have run for twenty years when you started in college and you’re only about twenty-five now? At least, that’s how I picture you.

      • Shary Hover says:

        I take after my mother and I look a bit younger than I actually am. Age is creeping up on my joints, but most days I still feel youthful on the inside. That’s what counts, right? :)

      • Coming East says:

        Absolutely, Shary! Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who that old woman is looking back at me because I feel like a youngster on the inside.

  10. all good things come to an end?? I mean, come to an end. Used to run a long time ago. Always enjoyed it until it became apparent that my old bones didn’t like it very much any more. As usual, a great post! DAF

  11. Huffygirl says:

    See? You could still be a runner. This is exactly what I did when I started running 30 years ago. What scared me off, besides arthritis, was a car of guys following me one day. Love the retro shoes – so state of the art back then.

    • Coming East says:

      Aw, HG, thanks for the vote of confidence, but I’ve got a few years on you. I haven’t run in nearly thirty-four years. I like my walking, though. Wish I had a pair of shoes as nice as those old Etonic KM Joggers!

  12. You do look so trim and fit and the yellow hat is styling. That was a amazing you got up at 5 to get an hour of running in. Your last line is so funny.

    • Coming East says:

      I’m amazed that I did that, too, Georgette. So out of character for me. I think I just wanted to see what it felt like to call myself a jock for awhile.

  13. D. Martin says:

    Reblogged this on MDPIE Motivation.Dedication.Perspiration.Imagination.Education. and commented:
    I just HAD to reblog this! This is the cutest DIY I’ve seen in a long time!

  14. I Love your photo..you were really rockin those running shoes! As for the dog..I believe a big steak was in order. I must say though, I am very impressed that you went into February..that is a huge accomplishment.

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