--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Though this may sound cliché, I became an English major—and an English teacher—because of two essays, Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience.” I read both essays in an American Lit class at a junior college. The debates that followed our readings were vigorous and during them I felt a strong need to champion Emerson and Thoreau’s ideas. Up until this point in my life, I had read little besides Piers Anthony’s science fiction and fantasy novels. I had not read one assigned novel in high school, but something now clicked in me, something said that reading was what I wanted to do. I wanted to read and to debate and to write arguments about that which I read. Unfortunately, I began taking classes with students who had read 50, 100, 200 more books than I had and understood references and words that I missed and that confused me. I had some catching up to do, and I’ve been reading intensely ever since.
Unlike reading, it is hard for me to think of a time when running wasn’t a part of my life. I ran my first 10k at the age of 10 during the summer between fifth and sixth grade—a 49:17 at the 1980 Peachtree Road Race. I still have the coveted t-shirt from that race in the drawer in which I keep my running/biking/swimming/training gear. Even before that, I remember winning sprinting races in fourth grade and stealing bases in little league on those rare occasions when I actually got on base.
One of the first adult goals I remember having—a goal I had during my single-digit years—was becoming an Olympic miler. This would have come to me as an idea during the late ‘70s, during the running boom led by Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, et al. How I got the idea that the mile was the event for me is not something I remember, and I don’t remember when it was that I learned that the mile is not an Olympic event.
Maybe I remained in ignorance for so long about the mile and the Olympics because I never shared my dreams with anyone. I didn’t grow up in a house with runners and I don’t recall my family being friends with anyone who ran. I happened to join the 1980 Peachtree Road Race because I had an uncle who was running it. I can’t tell you how it came to be that I would run it too, but he was running it and so was my younger brother. Maybe I didn’t share my dream because it didn’t seem to fit in with what interested those who were around me. Maybe I thought those who were around me might find my dream foolish, especially when all the other kids wanted to be baseball and football and even soccer stars.
I guess you could say that my decision to run that race was my first step toward a life that didn’t conform to the way most lives are lived. Outside of my brother, I didn’t know of any other kids running the race, and when I arrived at school for my first day of sixth grade wearing my Peachtree t-shirt, I distinctly remember incredulous adults quizzing me about the experience, trying to discern if I had truly celebrated the Fourth of July by running ten kilometers.
I began this blog because I wanted a place where I could share with people my ideas for building community through endurance sports. And I think organizing Guerrilla Races is just the vehicle for doing that. In future posts I will explain what has led me to believe in the idea of guerrilla racing—a bit of my history as a runner—and what it is that I advocate by promoting guerrilla racing. As well, I will share with you my thoughts on training and nutrition and my actual training. (I am currently preparing for May’s Prague Marathon.) I hope you’ll enjoy these posts and feel free to comment and criticize them, and I hope you’ll find the posts engaging enough to inspire you to tell your friends about this blog.