“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
I never set out to write a running book. What happened was that I started to keep a bunch of notes, more like scribblings, about training for my second marathon—twenty years after my first. After I finished that second marathon in 2001 I never stopped writing. Coincidently, that was during the best running years of my life, when I’d turned fifty. The final chapter came naturally when I crossed the finishing line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street.
Years later I went back and reviewed my notes and found a story, not so much about running as about my life. Each one of my scribblings was linked to a memorable event—my oldest son getting melanoma, getting stopped by a cop while riding motorcycles with my youngest son, visiting my daughter studying abroad in Rome, my middle son’s wedding, and running with all of them.
I dug back a little further and remembered my first marathon in 1981 when I was an unruly shipyard welder. I’d climb hundreds of feet from the ship’s bilges to the top of the mast in the ninety-five degree August heat, and then hop on my bike and ride twenty miles home through some of the toughest neighborhoods in Philly. When I got home I would change into my running gear and take a five-mile run to relieve the stress.
I wondered how I got that way, and thought about growing up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Philly, before X-Box and iPad, and all we had to do was play games from sunup to sundown. We invented games like Jailbreak, Hide the Belt, Wire Ball, Stick Ball, Wall Ball, Step Ball… you get the picture. I was a horrible student, but the one thing I excelled at was running long distances. I never tired.
That led me back to the beginning, and I realized that I’d been running since I let go of the coffee table as a toddler.
So running is linked to who I am, it’s part of my fabric. I ran when I was a runt, a rowdy hoodlum, a shipyard welder, a husband and father, a manager, and now a as writer. As it turns out, my life is my running book. Enjoy the read.