I’ve got to admit I’ve got a soft spot for Seattle, for lots of reason. Seattle was the first place I ever ran outside of the country roads around my home in Oberlin, Ohio. I was there as a part of an admission/recruitment team for the Oberlin Conservatory, staying at a forgotten hotel, and committed to changing my life with my own two feet.
Walking out of the hotel for that first run – or to be honest walk with a little running – I had no idea what would happen that day or, as it turns out, with the rest of my life. All I knew for sure was that I was wearing running shoes, running shorts, and a running shirt. I was, to anyone watching, a runner.
Of course I wasn’t a runner. I wasn’t even a walker. I was a pretender. Sort of. I wasn’t going to pretend to run. You can’t pretend to run. You have to actually run. But on that first day I was pretending that I knew what I was doing. I didn’t. All I knew for sure was that I was standing on a street in Seattle dressed to go for a run.
So I did. I turned right out of the hotel and started running. Uphill. For those of you who don’t know Seattle, it’s hilly. I probably got about 100 yards, uphill, from the hotel before my running plan fell apart. I started walking. Slowly. Uphill.
Eventually the sidewalk did level out some, and then went downhill. It turns out that running downhill isn’t that much easier than running uphill. So I walked downhill. I ran a little on the rare level spots, but, up and down I walked.
When I turned around, knowing then that the road back would be the reverse of the road out, I had to remind myself that I wanted to be doing this. There was a small, quiet voice telling me that this running thing would work. There was a chorus of voices telling me to go back to the hotel, get a giant order of pancakes and eggs with about 8 cups of coffee and give it all up.
I didn’t. I ran every day that week, in Seattle, Los Angeles, La Jolla, and even in the snow in Denver. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know how. I did know that, for whatever reason, as wrong as it felt it felt right.
Funny thing, now nearly 20 years later, it still does.
Waddle on, friends.
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