I am not a runner.
Not that I don’t run. But I don’t consider myself a “runner.” I don’t even like it very much. At least not much anymore.
There was a time when I enjoyed running. I was in my early twenties. I worked as a Bartender in Tampa Florida and running was a great way to unwind at three o clock in the morning after a busy night at work. I would go for a run, then jump in my parents Jacuzzi (I lived with them at the time), then go to bed. It was in my twenties in Tampa that I ran my first “race” / “fun run”. These were mostly 5Ks but I did decide at one point to do the Gasparilla Distance Classic (a 15K). I remember it was a BIG deal. But I loved to run. And these races were an extension of this love.
Now I live in Vermont. And I am in my early fifties. There is a big difference between running on sidewalks in suburban Tampa Florida and running on dirt roads in rural Vermont. And there is a big difference between running in your early twenties and running in your early fifties. Plus I don’t like running anymore.
So why did I register for the Vermont City Marathon? And why did I register and run two 5Ks, a 10K and four half-marathons in 2013?
For much different reasons than I had for the Gasparilla Distance Classic. Where the Gasparilla was an extension of my love for running, the Vermont City Marathon (and these other races) are a means-to-an-end — strategies to keep the pressure on — to motivate me to run.
And I still don’t like it. But I do it.
Maybe I will like it again at the end of all this. But not now.
Part of it is Vermont — or maybe it is rural running — or maybe it is cold snowy pot-holed dirt roads — or maybe it is the people in my little town. Running in Florida was easy. The weather was always welcoming. And it seemed everybody I knew ran. I felt like I was part of a community. That’s why the races were so much fun: I knew other runners in these races.
Running in Vermont is hard. Many times the weather is anything but welcoming. I don’t know any other runners. I feel isolated. In fact, in 2013, two native Vermonters stopped their pick up trucks to threaten me — angry that this flatlander was running on their road. One — who was speeding — actually got out of his pick up truck, demanded to know who I was, where I lived, how long I lived there. The second, just rolled down the passenger window, then asked similar questions before telling me that he is a taxpayer in the Town, this is “his road”, and I should “stay the hell off it.”
Hmmm… Now it is clearer to me why I struggle with running here in Vermont.
But I will continue — and who knows– through this blog I might find a community and love running once more.
Scott Graham moved to New England in 1988 to work for Outward Bound. An avid hiker (he solo-hiked the Appalachian Trail), Scott has called West Fairlee, Vermont “home” since 2001. He works as a life coach and serves his community as a volunteer firefighter and EMT.