Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane Part I: Freshman Year

This month's Running Times has a feature on "running buddies," a person they described as "someone who understood our passion and shared the battle and beauty of the road." Yesterday I also came across an recent article from my college newspaper, the Hoya, about running in school without being on the varsity XC or track team. Both pieces got me thinking about some of the people I've run with over the years.

Photo credit: Positive Public Image, Inc.
A sappy entry deserves a sappy photo.
I can really trace my obsession with interest in beer running back to freshman year of college. Until that time, I think the longest I had ever run was 3 miles (and I can't say I enjoyed it that much). Still, when fall semester started, I found myself without a bike (my main form of exercise pre-college) on a campus with a crappy gym.* Thankfully, one of the guys on my freshman floor, Taylor, was a runner, a fairly accomplished high school runner at that, who had decided not to go out for the XC team and didn't mind having someone slower tag along.

I remember some of our first few runs together. Taylor would usually keep the pace slow but once in a while we'd get passed by someone, and old guy or a college co-ed, and he'd have to catch them to prove he could. Other times, we'd end our runs with a steep hill and I'd be winded. In both instances I struggled to keep up. It kind of sucked, but at the same time it was very motivating.

Sometimes we'd get other guys from the floor to join. Perhaps the most memorable run was one where another friend, TJ, threw up after we got back to campus. I don't remember him joining us on any other runs.

As the school year went on the runs became a regular thing. We had a usual route--along the Potomac to the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge and back--and a usual time--after our last class, before meeting everyone in the dining hall for dinner--and before I knew it, I was thinking of myself as a runner.

Sophomore year we lived in different dorms and I didn't run with him much anymore, but having a friend to run with freshman year really helped get me into the habit.At some point, Taylor started smoking and pretty much stopped running. I can't say we're still "buddies"--he recently got married and I wasn't invited (it was a dry wedding so that was probably a good thing)--but I'm still thankful that freshman year Running 101.

*Having since attended grad school at a university with an even crappier gym, I now have a newfound appreciation for the Georgetown gym but it's still nowhere near as nice as it should be.

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