My name is Chris and I’m a washed up runner.
A has been.
Perhaps a never was, by the cruel standards of a painfully honest sport.
I was pretty good in high school, certainly never great, and I was generally buried somewhere in the middle of the pack for most of my track and field and cross country career at Wichita State.
So this isn’t some epic saga or some Shakespearean fall from atop an ivory tower. This isn’t a comeback story, because I don’t intend to ever fully “be back” and it sure as hell isn’t a how-to book. Nope.
This is about loving something. About passionately, relentlessly, pursuing something — from the first time I sprinted down Washington street in my LA Gear light-up shoes, to the last time I drug ass around the University of Arkansas’ pristine oval in a pair of shoes that weighed less than oxygen.
It’s about the blasphemous belief I once held that the quiet moments spent beating back the inner roar of self-inflicted pain, doubt, and primal, fiery joy, was the closest I would ever come to having a religion.
This is about the moment when I realized that to love long distance running is to commit to an unrequited, dispassionate, sacrificial affair that can devour you with an open mouth, chewing you over with 1/8 inch spikes that make Piranha teeth look like rubber spatulas. And it’s about the moment when I realized I missed that feeling, rational human thoughts and anti-sadomasochism be damned.
This is about the moment when I found myself watching the aftermath of a bomb going off in Boston, Massachusetts. The moment when my eyes rimmed with viscous tears and I found myself wondering if maybe that love hadn’t been completely extinguished. If maybe there was some semblance of heat, some spark yet to leap into flame, buried under years of neglect and self-bitterness. This is about the belief that down deep in the arterial slot-canyons of my heart, there was something that was stirred once more on April 15, 2013.
This is about fear. And loathing. And incremental, fractional gains followed up by horrid tumbles backwards. But it’s also about getting up. And trying again. And stretching. And stretch marks. It’s about limping to my office chair, feeling satisfied after a good workout then promptly eating enough calories to negate a half marathon.
In the end, I suppose this will be about me. And running. And a love lost but not forgotten. It will be about a journey and all the pain that comes with it. But it can also be about you. And your struggles. And your knowing, sly nods, when I talk about chafing male nipples or the orgasmic endorphin rush that comes from catching someone down the final straightaway and blowing their doors clean-the-fuck-off.
So tell me what you think. Chime in. Write in the comments or share the stories on social media. Ultimately, running can be the loneliest sport in the whole world. Or it can bring people together who would’ve never met or never thought they had anything in common. I’d love to have you metaphorically running alongside, my digital training partners.
I’m going to start at the beginning as best I can.
And while this latest installation in my journey began on one particularly inspired and particularly painful lunch break, post-Boston Marathon Bombing last year, I first had this idea multiple years in the past, when I was going back to the treadmill at a gym in Omaha, Nebraska.
Like most of my aborted attempts to rekindle my long-lost love of running, there will be gaping, Grand Canyon-sized gaps in my retelling so I hope you will bear with me as I attempt to bridge the gap with the famously wordy prose that netted me a C+ average in my English classes in college.
(*Author’s note: There will be a grouping of my first, “Diaries of a Washed up Runner” then I’ll once again put up the blog posts from my most recent stint.)
We begin today with my first ever attempt at “Diary of a Washed up Runner.”
Thanks for reading,