I was reflecting on running earlier this evening, and my thoughts turned to how it all got started. In the spring of 2005, I watched my brother run the Monument Avenue 10k. That year there were about 15,000 runners, I think. It was a big race. We waited at the finish line, and watched the runners come in, my brother among them. It was amazing. I had no idea what it took to run that far. In high school, I had difficulty completing the one mile run. And the best part of the Monument Avenue is the crowd. The finish line is crazy. I was inspired. I thought, "One day, I want to do this." The following year was a big one in my life. I got married, I changed jobs and began my career in Clinical Research, I started doing some things differently, and in late December, 2005, I started running. I am usually not one to make a resolution about some kind of life change and stick to it, with one or two notable exceptions. I was not hopeful that this would stick, but as soon as registration opened at the end of December, Erin and I signed up. We started small. I ran around the parking lot at our apartment complex. I did the elliptical at the gym for 15 minutes. A week before the race, I ran 6 miles for the first time. Like many races, the Monument Avenue asks for a predicted finish time when you register. I had pulled a number out of the air... 55:00. Race day came, and I had done the work. I finished in just under fifty five minutes. That fall, my brother ran his first marathon. Again, I was inspired. I had kept up the running, going six or even eight miles at a time. I thought, "I want to do that, one day." A month later, I started training. And in March of 2007, I ran my first marathon. Again, when I registered, I picked a finish time out of the air. My brother was one of two people I had met that had run a marathon, that I knew of. I didn't know what was fast, or what was reasonable. When asked for my projected time, I thought 4 hours sounded reasonable, having no idea that many serious runners (not olympians, but people fitter and healthier than me) agonize for years to break 4 hours. And I did it.
In the few years since, the Monument Avenue 10k has grown to over 30,000 runners, and its still a great race. I have run three more marathons, and never broken 4 hours again. I have run a bunch of half marathons, coached a 10k training team two years in a row, and traveled pretty far to run some races.
Every time someone asks me how I got into running, I tell the story about watching my brother run the 10k. He really inspired me. I'll never be as fast as him. I can only chase him. He ran a marathon, I wanted to run a marathon. He qualified for Boston, I hope one day I will. He has inspired me. Really. In a very specific way. I can point to this thing in my life, and say, I do that because he did, and I wanted to, and he was a really great example. And because of him, I have inspired other people. Other people have seen what I have done, seen how excited I get about it, seen me at dinner parties, and heard me talk of nothing else when I zero in on the other runner in the group, and maybe they have thought, "if he can do it, then surely I can to." In most cases, they would be right.