Dough Boy: A Runner’s Tale
By: Tom Schulte, CFP®
At a relatively rapid pace, I am becoming someone I have always despised: a runner. This ill-will towards an entire sub-sect of people is likely a product of 2002’s Hershey Track Meet qualifier, in which I let my entire relay team down. We ended up one win
away from traveling to compete at the Hershey Athletic Complex. Racing in the actual Hershey event, along with all of the additional glitz and glamour (touring the chocolate factory and visiting the amusement park) is the apex of an Upstate, NY elementary school athlete’s career—and I robbed my buddies of those moments. While I continued playing sports, it was at that point that I swore off any form of running without further purpose. After 18 years and an actual 100-year pandemic, I have gotten myself to lace-up and aimlessly run down a few streets—my manifesto reads thus:
An easy deflection to the idea of running is blaming it on the harm it causes to your joints, knees in particular and I believe science has tied a bow on that and labeled it as fact. I have been on my high-horse by swimming laps instead of regularly running in order to protect my knees. Again, it’s a prudent thought, though at best I swam laps twice a week. However, I still had a good thing going at the local basketball courts before the pandemic. I’d practice dribbling, run sprints and shoot hoops for hours several times a week. That was until Boston’s Parks and Rec department came to each and every city court and locked up wooden boards within the nets to keep people from shooting and losing their balls. Somehow that wasn’t enough of a deterrent, as Parks and Rec returned and removed all of the rims, leaving bare backboards as they stand today.
During one of our first quarantine weekends in March, after my second cup of coffee (any amount of weekend coffee is not a good thing for me), Khrista saw me losing my mind and dragged me to a turf field around the corner from us. I swore I’d only go to stretch and keep her company, but like the great girlfriend she is, she called me some flattering names like ‘Dough Boy’ and got me up to run a lap. One lap turned to two, two to five, five to ten, which amounted to close to two miles. Although I was short of breath and stiff the next morning, I agreed that I’d try running again. A couple days later I ran about two miles to the city’s esplanade on the Charles River. As a running novice, I hadn’t thought about the need to return to my starting point, ran out of gas and had to take an extended break to catch my breath and watch the small sunfish sailboats. Though some more breaks were needed on my way back home, I eventually returned and downloaded an iPhone application to map out runs by distance. Slowly, but surely, I have been evolving.
To my mother’s and Khrista’s delight, I have ran just about each of the past 50 days. Although, I now understand the ‘runner’s high’ and mental benefits of running, I have received inside information that basketball hoops are returning this week. And if true, it will certainly take another pandemic for me to lace my running shoes back up.