I started running a couple years ago when I went back to rural Ohio for a summer trip and found myself eating a lot of junk food, going out every evening for a couple beers, but having no place to work out. I had been doing a lot of swimming and yoga back in Northern California, but never did any running.
I went out the front door of my parents’ house one day and starting running on the berm of the highway. I kept going until I had run a mile, then turned around and came back. It was hot and humid, and I was reminded that it gets hotter much earlier in the day than in California, where the temperature peaks at about 4 p.m. During portions of the run, I was listening to Imagine Dragons, looking at the cornfields, which were often on both sides of me, and I kept hearing in my head, “Malachi. . .Malachi. . .” I was also thinking a lot about how different the fields of corn look from the fields of grapes that line the roads near my current home.
I ran two 12-minute miles that day. When I returned to California, I wanted to continue running, but I had to fight embarrassment. There are a lot of runners in our community—really good runners. I felt like someone pretending to be a runner, and often I still do.
One of the reasons I have stuck with running over the past three years is that it’s easy. It doesn’t require special equipment, it burns a lot of calories in a short period of time and it doesn’t require a gym, a car or an instructor. Since the day I ran between the fields of corn, I have run numerous 5k races and two 10k races. I never thought I could run six miles without stopping, but it turns out I can.
I’ve thought a lot about trying to run a half marathon this year. The main thing holding me back is the willingness to invest the time to train.
Several years later, I still think about running beside the cornfields that first day and it remains one of my favorite memories. I say “one of my favorite memories” because a year later, I had an even more special running memory that took place along the cornfields of Ohio. . .this one involving one of my children running on the highway alongside the cornfields. . .