Day 214: My Name is Forrest

I had a relationship with running when I was a young man.  We flirted at first but that was soon replaced with awkward first dates and eventually,  awkward make-out sessions.  We parted ways when boyhood freedom and dreams morphed into adult responsibilities and enough Bar-B-Que belly to make running impractical.

We met on a crisp morning when I was a boy of five.  A light mist was slowly dissolving in the orange light of the rising sun.  I was surrounded by a surreal number of people, bouncing from running shoe to running shoe, keeping warmed-up in the cool air.  The excited energy was more tangible than the ethereal mist.  I wasn’t old enough to understand love, but I was old enough to feel it.

My Dad stood next to me among the herd.  It was 1977 and I was at my first organized running event.  I’d never been to a real race, but since I was almost done with Kindergarten I was an expert in most things.  The object of the game was simple: run faster than everyone else, win the race, and get carried around on everyone’s shoulders.  There is a very good chance that my father had given contrary advice before arriving at the starting area, but that was 35 years ago and I’m lucky to have this wisp of a memory in the first place.

A hush fell on the crowd as a man with the starter pistol stepped up on a podium.   The only noise that failed to take notice was the morning birdsong that  came from the woods on either side of the road.  In the fractions of the second just prior to the pistol’s report, even the birds seemed to sense the strained anticipation in the air.

Then, a crack of thunder signaled the beginning of the race and the thunder rolled as running shoe met road again and again.

Being small gave me the immediate advantage.  I was able to dart through the jungle of legs and other runners.  After a short amount of time, I was able to see open road through the last few layers of people I had to pass.  The smell of victory was heavy on the air.

When I burst through the mass of runners and had the open road to myself, I felt like a super hero.  The other runners seemed painfully slow compared to me.  A lot of them hardly even seemed to be trying!  It was very clear to see that I had been put on this Earth to run.

I did not pass out completely, nor did I vomit on the road that I found myself kneeling on.  These were two points of pride I clung to as hundreds of people slowly thundered past me.  I’m sure the comments directed at me were caring and supportive suggestions on how to successfully run more than 50 yards.  Unfortunately, the pounding in my ears made it impossible for me to hear the runners I had so recently bested.

Before too long, Dad was there helping me to my feet.  He probably had some sage advice that used the race as a metaphor for life or at least explained the concept of pace.  I still couldn’t hear what was being said, but I knew for a fact that my Dad was walking the rest of the way with me, and that spoke volumes.

It was a rocky beginning to a fairy tale romance that lasted almost 15 years.  There were fun runs, 5Ks, 10Ks and once when things were getting serious, a 15K race.  We built our relationship on trust and mutual admiration.  Like all good relationships, ours took a lot of work and I feel responsible for not trying harder to save it when things started getting complicated.

It ended badly.  I was inattentive to running’s feelings and even started messing around with fast food.  I’m not proud of how I acted, especially considering how important running had been in my life.  It was years and years ago.  I’m sure it’s all water under the bridge, but I still feel bad about how it ended between us.

It has been a long time since running and I have had any serious feelings for one another.  However, lately we have been making eye contact and sharing knowing glances from a distance.  There is a future for us, dammit, I know there is.  I just don’t want to mess things up again.  I am committed to taking it slow this time, and making it work.


About jasongillett

I'm Jason Gillett, 2 year VEGAN, and a 41 year old family man. My wife & I teach in a FL school. I am using a blog to chronicle our family's new life. View all posts by jasongillett

22 responses to “Day 214: My Name is Forrest

  • An Unrefined Vegan

    So this is timely. Somer recommended the book Born to Run, which I am reading now – and it’s about a lot of things, but primarily it’s about connecting w/ that feeling about running, the feeling we had when we were kids and didn’t over think it. We just ran cuz it felt good. That’s you when you were 5! Keep at it, Jason. Running is such an important part of my life. I don’t always connect w/ that joy, but on the days that I do, wow – it’s powerful stuff.

    • jasongillett

      It is a slow process, but I remember a lot of the breathing and some of how to move. I’ll need to check out Born to Run~ I am looking forward to running well enough to get the joy back. I feel it coming.

      • You know

        Born to Run is an incredible book about Ultra distance running. The barefoot runner they are writing about (can’t remember his name) died a month or so ago but it wasn’t a massive heart attack like Jim Fixx. Probably a fall or a rattlesnake. As I recall, Jason, you did the all out thing again in a 10k when you were 9 yrs old and in pretty good condition from playing for the Alexander Cougars. You finished that one but not at nearly the pace you started. Good luck tomorrow at Disney.

        Good artical. Enjoyed. P

  • Annmarie Brennan

    That is the perfect attitude……It’s about health: mental, physical, spiritual. Running is a great tool for those things…….forget about the vanities of speed, etc. There are happy, healthy days ahead!

  • Jenn

    I remember a cool pile of race tshirts and having favorites. Want to do the next fun run in Gainesville with me? We might need to walk the last half but we could walk together.

  • veghotpot

    I’ve just started running so this post really touched base with a piece of my heart. I started off being able to do 2 minutes running, a few minutes walking then id try run again and slowly but surely i can now run a steady pace for a few miles! It’s exhilarating and so rewarding 🙂 keep going and build it back up again, you deserve it x

    • jasongillett

      It sounds so exciting to hear you are running like that~ it really seems possible to restart this journey. I will be content will slow for a long time as long as I can maintain some steady! Cheers!

  • Joshua E. Bigger

    When I first started losing weight, running felt so uncomfortable – sacks of fat sloshing around – so I used a bike to lose most of it. Now, after intense struggle, I can run 10 miles in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It hurts so good, baby!! Yeah, baby, yeah!!!!

    • jasongillett

      Sloshing sacks is right! That is the hardest damn part. I’d like to say that I’m not self conscious of how that looks, but that would be a lie. I am tolerating the shame for the rapid payoff of not having sloshing sacks. 10 miles in the Santa Cruz Mountains sounds like a dream. I look forward to mastering the Florida version of that. Peace.

  • thecrueltyfreereview

    My relationship with running is just beginning. I always thought of running as a tall-person’s sport; being only 5 feet tall it’s hard for me see myself as anything less than awkward as I shuffle along while taller, more graceful people pass me by. Thanks for this encouraging post.

    • jasongillett

      Shuffle runners UNITE! I think that is the best description of my current running style. Kind of a shuffle walk, stumble run. Its not pretty, but it is functional. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • annesturetucker

    I have come to absolutely love running! Someone told me about Jeff Galloway and his run/walk/ have fun/ approach, since then running is a whole different experience for me. I enjoy it, I recover fast and have no injuries, it’s a pleasure.
    Thank you for a great post, always enjoy your writing!

  • Somer

    Dude, I just found this post in my wordpress reader. GRINNING EAR TO EAR DUDE! I need to follow you by email so I can actually get your posts instead of haphazard onto them. You are powerful. I see triumphant running in your near future!

  • Somer

    I was gonna say “You Betcha” but S.P. ruined it for me. Dangit. She’s evil.

    Someday I envision you me and Annie on a Ragnar type team. It may have to be a virtual one where we map out our courses, send them to each other and run back to back in real time because in the real world we all live too far away 😦

  • Run Jason, Run « Jason and the Veganauts

    […] Zucchini Festival Fun Run.  I’ve reflected on the lesson on pace that I learned during my first childhood race… and I’ve mentioned this Saturday’s 5K that’s being hosted by Mickey Mouse […]

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