My family has its share of runners. My older brother set records in distance events running track at his high school, and ran cross-country in college. Dad started jogging when it was a fad in the seventies, shed an impressive number of pounds (so much so that he grew a beard to give shape to his newly thin face) and stayed with it as long as his joints could take the pounding.
I ran with my Dad some, but it was cycling that I enjoyed much more with him (and on my own). Running was so ... slow. The scenery barely changed, step by step, minute by minute. It took forever to get somewhere.
Over the years I occasionally jogged as part of various exercise resolutions. Usually various aches and pains send me back to less jarring forms of working out after awhile. Last year I decided to run with Archer in his school's running club, culminating in a fun run in March. That's when I discovered that I'd been doing it wrong for years, trying to run too fast and both exhausting and injuring myself. Slow, I found, was the key; jogging slowly, I could keep going much longer in both time and distance.
So it's not accurate to say that I run; I jog, and barely. But I've extended my stamina in tiny bits until entering an actual adult fun run was conceivable about a month ago, when a two-mile Halloween race was announced on my campus.
Two miles is hardly anything. Most of us could walk it without noticing; most of my students could run it barely breaking a sweat. But to this 45-year-old non-runner, getting to two miles without stopping to walk, even at an anemic jogging pace, is an accomplishment. I hesitated to sign up. I'd be taking my jogging off the track and into public, daring to set foot on the same course with actual runners. I'd be exposing my decrepit form and snail's pace to the world.
But I thought it was time. Tomorrow night I'll be creeping along at the tail end of the Trick or Trot fun run around the UCA campus. My goal is to jog the entire distance, without walking, tripping over curbs in the dark, twisting an ankle, breaking a bone, or passing out. I hope to finish ahead of people who walk the whole distance, but there certainly are no guarantees. If I make it, maybe I'll feel -- just for a moment -- like a runner. Like a member of the family.