Posted in Stories

I’m going for another run.

Lots of folks enjoyed reading a previous post “I’m going for a run,” so here’s a little more of the story.

By the end of 1981, I had only been running for about two years. The Jersey shore running community really encouraged and inspired me. But I got a job offer in Austin, TX, and headed south.

The duplex I rented was just uphill from the Colorado River on the south side of Austin, which was lined with running trails on both sides. Each night after work, I would take my yellow Labrador Retriever, Gabriel, out for a run. After being inside all day while I was at work, he was more than happy to join me for up to eight miles runs along the river. Once we got off the sidewalks, I would let him off the leash, and he would run up the path ahead of me and then back, so his runs were probably a couple of miles longer than mine. He would also jump in and out of the water, so the summer heat was never a problem for him. And he would intercept any frisbees being thrown at the park, leaving a tooth mark on more than a few. The toughest part of the run was the final half-mile home, a steep uphill to the house. But we always made it.

I left Gabriel at my dad’s house in Philadelphia when I moved to Ft. Wayne, Indiana and began my seminary studies. I still got out and ran thirty or forty miles a week, but only ever ran one real race there. It was the Run Preacher Run 5k around the campus. There were six entries, and I won. The course was short, because I finished in a little over 16 minutes, and there’s no way I was in that kind of shape. But I won my one and only running trophy!

It was a little harder to run in Baltimore during my vicarage year. We lived in an all Black neighborhood in the inner city, and I usually didn’t go anywhere without wearing my clerical collar. But early in the mornings, hardly anyone was up and around. So Gabriel, who was back with us, and I would go up to a park that had some nice running paths. These paths circled around baseball fields. We would be just trotting along when Gabriel would suddenly veer off the path and into the tall weeds, pulling out a baseball, which he carried all the way back home.

The first church I was called to was in Coventry, Connecticut, out in the eastern hills. There I ran up and down lots and lots and lots of hills. Since there weren’t any sidewalks, I didn’t take any dogs out with me. They got plenty of exercise running around the church’s eight acres were we lived and nearby fields and horse farms.

We next lived in West Des Moines, Iowa, and there were a few hills there, too. A lot of my runs would take me up the mile long hill of Grand Avenue towards Des Moines or downhill through Valley Junction. We lived across the street from the old Valley High School stadium, and I would hop the fence to run intervals on the track.

Then we moved to the northeast coast of Florida, where it is flat. The only hills are the bridges over the intracoastal waterway. When we arrived, there were no sidewalks and just a few stoplights in Palm Coast. I did some running with Michael and Blondie, successor labs to Gabriel and Rachel. But I did much more running with Samson, a shepherd lab mix who had limitless energy. About ten years into our life in Florida, my Morton’s neuralgia in each foot began to limit my running to no more than three or four miles a couple of times a week. My hips and knees held up over forty years of running, but my feet starting pleading for mercy. I can do OK with a very cushioned neutral shoe like Hoka One One. But most of my exercise now is non-impact, another story for another day.