Week after week for the better part of a year, I read one column after another by our recently-retired Jim Hardin centered around one topic in particular – running. I never quite understood (and still don’t) how he could come up with so many interesting stories to tell about something as mundane as running, but Jim managed to pull it off, and quite well.
Now, I’m not going to make an attempt to fill his shoes here, but I did find it funny that as I sat to write this column, the only thing I could think to write about was running.
Don’t get the wrong impression. I’m not an avid runner. Never have been. I’ve always seen running as a chore, even though it’s one of the best things you can do for your body. I’ve never had a problem going to the gym (when time permits), but running has always been my enemy.
I also have no plans to start writing about running on a regular basis. That’s Jim’s area of expertise and to be honest, I’m sure I couldn’t do it as well as he did. But over the course of recent history (meaning the last couple of months), I’ve somehow managed to lace up my running shoes, grab my iPod and head out to jog around my neighborhood.
I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to be Forest Gump, nor did I have some strange epiphany that made me realize I should get more physically fit. No, I decided to start running because I began to realize I was going to miss something.
You see, back before Christmas my wife started talking about running a 5K that will be happening in the very near future (this month).
Her excitement was immediately inherited by our two boys, who instantly begged to join the “fun” and before I could form any sort of thought or feeling about the idea, all three were registered as a team.
They started running in the evenings and working toward getting “5K ready,” while I often took advantage of the quiet time by getting caught up on homework. They’d return a bit later, sweaty and tired, but proud of what they were doing.
Being the supportive husband/dad I am, I was always quick to offer encouragement and let them know I was proud of what they were doing, but I wouldn’t allow myself to see the big picture – I was missing out on a huge milestone for our family.
Here they were, working toward a goal, working toward physical fitness and looking forward to something that has the potential to be a lot of fun, and they were doing it as a family. All they were missing was dad. My wife and I constantly stress the importance of family to our children – making memories to last a lifetime, and here I was “taking a pass.”
It took a little time for me to get my head out of the sand, but I eventually came around.
Now, I’m proud to be a part of the pack that can be seen running through our neighborhood from time to time, proud to be sharing it with the rest of the family.
The really great thing about it is ... the real fun hasn’t arrived just yet. That comes on the day of the event.
I gave Jim a call yesterday, just to catch up and discuss some work stuff, but couldn’t wait to tell him that I’d be joining the 5K club very soon. In typical Jim fashion, he responded with a number of stories from his running career, and offered a ton of support, all of which I’m thankful for.
I’m not heading into the race with any crazy idea of crossing the line ahead of the majority and certainly not delusional as to think that I’ll win. Being my first 5K, I’m simply looking to set a time that I can try to beat when we decide to run another in the future.
I don’t think I’ll ever become a competitive runner; that’s certainly not my goal at this time. All I can hope to do is make it a habit, use it to live a healthier lifestyle and have fun doing it.
Those are also the same goals for our family. It’s all about living a better life.
Cliff Gibson is the managing editor for the Rockwall Herald-Banner and Royse City Herald-Banner. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.