In my younger years physical activity was not a regular part of my life style. The work hard and play hard lifestyle suited me just fine for the first 30 years of my life. Nearly three decades ago I decided to quit smoking and jogging was the option I chose to get myself in shape. I was into my thirties and on the verge of becoming a father so I headed out the door possibly wearing sneakers of some sort (definitely not true running shoes) and who knows what other attire as work out clothing of any kind was not something I owned.
There was a loop around my neighbourhood in Fort McMurray that was to be my first attempt at finally getting in shape. I ventured out onto the street and went chugging along with my lungs burning and gasping for breath around the loop that seemed never ending. After I got back to the house I did what was normal at that time I suppose I jumped in the car and drove the loop to measure the distance and it was almost exactly a mile. As difficult as it was I ran the loop again and again in the days ahead and began to increase my distances. I continued to jog each summer for a couple of years and had taken up cross country skiing in the winter. The fall of 1991 I went to watch the finish of the local Oil Sands Marathon. I was so inspired by the runners that I decided that I would train to run the race next year. I found a book on running a first marathon and the following spring started to log the required miles to become fit enough to complete the 26.2 mile course. Six months later I jogged across the finish line of my first marathon in a time of 4:05. Running has been a regular part of my life ever since that cool September day.
Since that wonderful experience of completing my first marathon I have enjoyed taking part in organized running events. I have run 18 marathons of which one was 50km. I have had the opportunity to stand at the starting line of a marathon with over 40,000 other excited runners from all over the globe. I have run marathons in Boston, Berlin, California as well as many different places in Canada. I have logged many road and trail miles in every Canadian province. I have taken part in over 100 shorter races from 5km to half marathon distance. I love seeing how focused and excited runners get as they strive to accomplish their goals whether it is to set a new personal best or just to get to the finish line.
As I close in on 60 years old this year I find myself wondering how different my life would be today if it had not been for that decision to set out the door for a jog nearly thirty years ago. Running has allowed me to focus on healthy living in general. In order to have the energy to reach my goals I have learned to eat healthier, I sleep better, I feel less stressed and more relaxed. One of the best things about running is I have made many friends who share a similar lifestyle.
Today I still feel the same passion for running as I did after completing that first marathon in 1992 but running now has become much more for me. It is a part of who I am as an individual. Although competition is still part of my running I now run for so many other reasons. I run because it makes me feel good. I run to explore different roads and trails. I run to enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature. I run to simply challenge myself to get to the top of the next big hill. I look forward to running with friends and meeting people new to the sport.
I feel there are still many running goals that I have not yet achieved. There are many more roads to explore and challenges to meet. I will continue to grow as a runner and as a person. I will keep lacing up the old sneakers and heading out the door.