Running around the country

‘Cineminute’ link of Duane comments on running:

Running around the country

“Running hasn’t been this popular since Atilla the Hun sacked Rome.” That was my opening sentence in an article I wrote for The New Era magazine a few years ago. Running/jogging was the new national craze, and this was a light-hearted approach on how to start your program. My counsel was to start slowly so you don’t get stiff or strain or sprain something and quit altogether. You really can’t start too gently. I mean the first day, lace up your running shoes, take a deep breath, and untie them. Your first workout is over. Next day, stand up from the bench, sit back down. That is day two.

“But I’m anxious to run.”

“Exactly. And you want to stay anxious. Day three, jog or run to the mail box, walk back. In future days gradually speed up and lengthen out from there.”

I got into running before it was popular or even acceptable. In those days, little old ladies would peek out from their curtains as I ran by to see if I had a stolen chicken tucked under my T shirt. I was motivated by, among other things, the true story of a depressed journalist who decided to end it all by running until he had a heart attack. Instead he just got pooped, so he ran farther the next day, and the next. Gradually his heart strengthened as well as his will to live. He was a born again jogger, getting high on his own adrenalin.

In The Three D’s, Dick and I used to run most every day but Sunday. Denis exercised in other ways. We ran on tour as well as at home, and I continued running when I traveled giving lectures and presentations for Church Continuing Education. I believe I have run in every state but, you guessed it, North Dakota. I have run in other countries including the islands of the Caribbean. In that warm, watery air you can break into a sweat just by thinking about running

I have run five marathons, never winning more than the free yogurt they sometimes hand out at the end of the race. They do that because it is cheaper than providing you a funeral and burial on the spot. At least that’s how I felt at the finish. My only marathon fame came when six of our ten sons ran the big race with me. My second famous running moment happened when I was puffing up a hill and a passing motorist stopped and offered me a ride. Normally I turn down such offers, but this was Donny Osmond. I took him up on it so I could tell my children that Donny and I sometimes go cruising together.

I have not won a lot of prizes, but I do love running and these are some of the hightlights:

Great moments in my running career: Running across the prairie grass chasing the wild cumulus clouds of Montana’s big sky; Breathing the oxygen rich air in Olympia Washington’s rain forest.

Happy surprises: The picturesque canal road path in Washington DC when I expected to be fighting traffic and monoxide; Boise Idaho’s downtown river path; Anchorage Alaska warm in September.

Disappointments: Flying into Spokane and seeing it surrounded with evergreens and lakes and finding each of them was landscaped in “No Trespassing” signs; Chula Vista, California where the beautiful farms and orchards were also home to snarling guard dogs and airplanes spraying for pests, one of which, I felt, was me. (On the other hand, for boosting your heart rate and your foot speed there’s nothing like a snarling guard dog on your heels.)

Memorable temperatures: Running in Phoenix the day thermometers hit a record 120 degrees, and in near record 36 below in Calgary Canada. The poet Robert Service was right, “If our eyes we’d close then the lashes froze ‘til sometimes we couldn’t see…”

Vertical running: Up and down the Capitol Records tower in Hollywood, California and the Washington Monument in D.C.

Benefits of running/jogging: Running, biking, and swimming are the best ways to enlarge and strengthen the heart’s capacity, it refreshes the body and mind and you can see as many interesting things running five miles in an hour as you can driving 65 miles in an hour.

My present running goals: Forget winning the Olympics or the Boston Marathon. My goal is to emulate my hero Larry Lewis of California. He was still running five miles a day at age 102. His cardiovascular system was so healthy, his doctor told him, “Larry, when you die we will have to take your heart out and beat it to death with a stick.”