Pre and Post: Run Along Little Girl

People are obsessed about all matters of sports in my Ohio hometown. For God’s sakes, we are the site of the Pro-Football Hall of Fame and possess the biggest astroturf-laden high school outdoor arena in all the world. Tennis, basketball, football, golf…someone was always rabidly cheering for a gifted athlete in my youth. Me, I never got into the spirit. I’d just sit and read books in my dark closet or teach math to my classroom of dolls. Until, one day, well into my 20’s I saw “Without Limits” the Steve Prefontaine story. For those of you who don’t know Pre, he’s only the greatest American runner that ever lived and the enduring pride of the University of Oregon track team. One fan has said “It’s very odd, but when anyone talks about Pre the room is dead silent. No matter if it’s in a small group of 10 or a huge group of 1,000 people no one there would dare interrupt the speaker. All eyes fall upon the speaker as if he is preaching. Steve Prefontaine is a man who will be remembered forever.” Rest assured I will.

After I peeked at Pre’s life story depicted on screen, his equline-like muscles dancing in motion, there was only one thing to do: Strap on a pair of Nikes myself and start fartleking. Building up a marathon endurance has not been easy, especially given my nerdish, sedintary former existence. I’ve endured more than my share of giggles from friends and loved ones along the way. “My daughter, an althlete?” (Cue the uncontrollable laughter) You want running shoes more than a new purse? Are you su-re? Wait, let me get this straight, you just fell jogging on a cement sidewalk and poked a crater in your knee and you’re going to keep at it? Uh, Yep, as soon as the 10 layers of skin heal over and my ankle air cast comes off. :mrgreen:

During my journey to the eight minute mile, I’ve discovered a community of obsessed fellow enthusiasts (who knew there were so many other people willing to rise at 5:30 AM to run 45 minutes in 90 degree heat) and learned the secret rules of running authenticity, like: 1) water bottle belts are only for neophytes, sissies and those in a marathon training program who can’t even run two miles; 2) one NEVER wears the shirt of the race you are running in but instead shows off by donning shirts from the cool races you’ve run in the past. Althelete as showhorse..hee..hee..and 3) Runners are loyal and unwavering about the brand of shoes they will don. Nike is Nike and Saucony is Saucony and nere the two shall meet. Although I confess to recently making the surprising transition from New Balance to ASICS, an unlikely swap which is only the result of losing my NB’s in an airport luggage mix-up. I won’t tell if you won’t. I mean who wants to lose my corporate sponsorship? 😈

I’m convinced runners are the ham radio geeks of the sports world: so excited to find a fellow journeyman and perfectly happy discussing mutual interests of the best shoes, socks, wicking material and early morning running routes for hours on end. It unites people from all walks of life. Running has transformed me, physically and emotionally. Not only did I grow breasts, but my entire anatomical shape changed and I sprouted mini-muscles on my arms and legs. Mentally, I am stronger having broken a barrier I never thought I could, scuplting my body into an athletic machine and graduating from atrophied geekdom to be one of “them”, the swift in speed and spirit who gladly get up at 6AM on Saturday to run the charity race.

Pre once said that to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. Thanks Steve for inspiring me to realize I had a gift to give to myself. :cheer:

TLRRG (That Little Redheaded Running Girl)


  1. poit
    August 24th, 2006 | 1:28 am

    I’ve always been hyper, but my ass (and other parts) never ceased to grow and/or get just plain olf fat. Once upon a time I took my three kids and ran (drove) 2/3rds of the way across the country to get away from an even bigger ass(hole). Not long after that, I decided to beat my feet.

    Since my ex was in the army, the APFT requirements were well ingrained into my mind, and became the standard against which I measured myself. It took far less time than I could have imagined for me to max what used to be the ‘best’ run time for 17-21 year old males, 2 miles in 11:34. I’m sure he could still beat me with push-ups, but I can max the requirements for sit-ups, I’m smarter, and I’ve always been a better shot.

    The military isn’t for me, but apparently running is :p
    It’s interesting that you say ‘them’, it seems pretty common. Even among people who run ‘just because’ there is always ‘them’ and rarely ‘us’. I’ve run in places that are popular for runners, and often have people who want to run with me because I set a challenging pace. The thing I find most interesting about these ‘friendships’ is how much subtle intimacy can develop with so little conversation or obvious communication.

    There’s not enough breath (especially at 8000 feet), time, or desire to talk. There’s nothing but the path. One person or another will get to know my routes and times and make an obvious effort to find me and either slow down or catch up, rather than run alone, but it’s almost never more than a group of four and often such a crowd will turn into pairs who eventually go different ways.

    My favorite parts are when after a mile I say ‘want a challenge?’ and head off into the woods, or the other person will say ‘my turn’ and we enjoy some other scenery that I’ve never seen. The conversation is rarely more than that. The red, sweaty, exausted but determined smile at seeing each other says a lot.

    Once in awhile, someone who shouldn’t really know anything about me will want to stop somewhere, mile 4 is most common. She or he will say something like ‘want to take a break then go further than usual?’ and it’s always on those days when it sounds like a good idea to me. That’s when they decide to talk about some profoundly personal things that just aren’t talked about with strangers, and I’m stranger than most.

    Since I first ran, I decided that I’m going to be a lesbian for now, maybe forever. One time I had the most incredible conversation with another girl on one of those ‘time to talk’ breaks. It was the beginning of an amazing relationship, the only relationship that really stands out by the fact that there was nothing negative while it lasted, nothing negative about the end. We started off running, ended the same way, but at least we weren’t running from each other.

    After every run I notice how physical exhaustion also quiets the mind. There simply isn’t enough energy for all the thinking and mental gymnastics like whatever various inner conflicts and indecision might otherwise be there. There’s such a sense of spaciousness and freedom that things become much clearer. Decisions between left and right become choices between vanilla and chocolate, and I come to see that I can have one, the other, both, or neither, rather than have to pick one or the other.

    I love it, I hope it still works for you, and I am pretty sure you have a mind that can see far below the surface in many things. Running is just one very simple example of an underlying principle in any sort of immersion in an activity. You have a powerful mind. Always remember to go with the flow. I don’t mean that in the misinterpreted sense of laziness. I mean follow the path you understand, things that come easy should be explored to their depths. Don’t get stuck on obstructions. It’s like if you ‘get’ calculus, then delve into it and take steps to go deeper. If you don’t get chemistry, then don’t try to force it, that would be time and effort wasted. Consider the depths that can be achieved with what flows versus the shallows that have to be fought for. What’s ultimately more valuable, knowledge of the deepest mystery or understanding of something else that is relatively basic?

    –(some other little and getting smaller running redhead)

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