January 16, 2007

My school experience in running

A friend of mine made a post in her blog that described her school experiences in running. I enjoyed reading that and thought I'd explain my school experiences. So here goes.

There, done. "But wait a minute", you say. "You didn't write anything." That's right, because I didn't have any school experiences in running. My Jr. High and High Schools had no track program or other running program. My PE classes didn't involve running. I don't recall my schools having field days. As far as I was concerned, running didn't exist during my childhood.

During high school my friends tried to get me to try out for football, but I declined their encouragement. I played neighborhood football with them and knew it wasn't my thing. I was born with a skeleton that was, as a specialist described, "the opposite of double joints." I've never been able to do quick movements or to fall gracefully. Football would have killed me. I was too awkward and slow for basketball. I did play baseball on a neighborhood team. I also played baseball on a neighborhood team, and I played left-field because I could just stand there and catch a fly ball once in a while. I don't remember any baseball program in my high school. I do remember a gym class in the 7th and 8th grades (1st two years of Jr. High) in which we had to do "tumbling". My attempts at tumbling were to put my head and hands down down and let my momentum carry me over the rolled-up mat -- I always landed with a "crash".

In terms of physical exercise, the one good thing I had going for me was that I did a lot of walking and bike riding. I lived in a small town of about 5000 people in Southern Utah. It was about a mile to school, and I walked it twice a day (we came home for lunch). It was a half-mile to the public library where I would devour books. Another quarter mile put me in the down-town area for shopping. A couple of miles east was the "red hill" where we hiked. A couple of miles south were the "south fields" where we played "army" with WWII gear we bought surplus. A couple of miles west were the "west hills" where I shot my 22 when I first got it as a 12-year old. About three miles south-west was my dad's farm (with his brothers) where I hunted jack rabbits. In those days, if you wanted to go somewhere, you walked or rode a bike! I even remember as a small grade school age child riding my tricycle (not bicycle) several miles to my cousin's farm to spend the night.

I did lots of jack rabbit hunting during my adolescent years. I remember one winter day walking to my dad's farm and hunting jack rabbits for several hours. There was about a foot of snow on the ground, and my only protection for my feet was a pair of rubber galoshes -- thin rubber shells to keep our feet dry but provide no insulation. As I was walking back, I encountered my neighbor who was going out to hunt jack rabbits. I turned around and went hunting with him. I ended up walking in the snow for 8 or 9 hours. When I got home, I discovered my big toe was black and blue, and the toe nail came off a few days later. Frostbite! Such was the life of a teenage walker.

My first introduction to running was while I was in college and in the Utah National Guard. I attended basic training at Ft. Ord, California and did a lot of double-time running. I had no problems with that and enjoyed it. After my six months at Ft. Ord and a small military camp in Southern California, I returned to college in Logan, Utah. Each summer for four years I attended National Guard summer camp at Camp Williams near Salt Lake City. After camp one summer, an army friend suggested I continue the running we had been doing at camp. That sounded interesting, so I did it a few times that summer, but when school resumed, I was too busy (Electrical Engineering major) with studies to continue the running.

It was probably 10 or 15 years later when I started to seriously run as a way of strengthening my feet muscles -- I would suffer great pain when I would spend 7 or 8 hours on my feet doing yard work. I have been running ever since. I run because I enjoy it!

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