You Never Forget Your First Time

AJWs TaproomIt was 30 years ago this weekend that I went on my first run. Up until that point the extent of my running had been done as part of my career as a high school soccer, basketball, and lacrosse player and, to be frank, running was something I simply dreaded. Then, as an 18-year-old freshman at Hamilton College, I decided to go for a run.

At the time, I was toiling as a lightly recruited Division III-level basketball player and held out hopes for making the team at Hamilton. However, by November of my first year, I saw the writing on the wall and knew it was not to be. For the next few months, to be blunt, I let myself go. Gaining 25 pounds in about three months was pretty easy during a Central New York winter and, sadly, I just went with it. Then, on a whim, on the Saturday of President’s Day weekend, I laced up my shoes and trotted down the road.

There was a non-descript 3-mile loop that many students and professors routinely ran at Hamilton and I just started that morning to plod away. My breathing was labored, my belly jiggled, and my feet hurt. But, something happened when I got back to my dorm room 42 minutes later, I felt better. I went out the next day, and the next, and the next. By junior year, I was running a few of the local 5Ks and 10Ks and as a senior, I was able to run a 5K in under 20 minutes. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the start of something transformative.

Subsequently, during my first five years of teaching, I spent more time cycling than running, but often found time for a run or two a week just to get that feeling back I had in February 1986. After returning from an around-the-world bicycle trip, 10 years after my first run, I became obsessed with the Boston Marathon and qualified for and ran the 1996 Marathon on the 100th anniversary. From there I was hooked on long distances and the rest, as they say, is history.

I had no idea back then that the decision to wrest control of my early college existence 30 years ago would end up being a defining moment in my life. And yet, I suppose, much like young love, often it is best to just let these things be, to let fate happen, and to live with whatever consequences ensue. As for me, on that fateful Saturday 30 years ago this week, an inert part of me was activated and I have not looked back since.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Saranac Adirondack LagerCentral New York has long been a brewers paradise. Dating back to the mid-1800s, breweries have long been a part of the fabric of this part of the country. One of my favorites among this group is FX Matt’s Brewery. This family owned brewery has been brewing in Utica, NY since 1888 and their flagship brand, Saranac, was an early craft brand in the ’80s. Adirondack Lager is my favorite one of their beers. Rich in malty tones and smooth drinking, this is a classic old school amber that brings me back to my college days at Hamilton.

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

  • What do you remember of your first run?

There are 7 comments

  1. JAdam

    Mine was because of a feisty little border collie pup, in a desire to do something to wear her out (as if!). We went for a trail walk/run. She barked at me and ran circles around me. I puffed and laboured my way through about 3 km. She loved it so much I had to keep going until eventually I did too. Best gift that dog gave me.
    Now my current border collie is (mostly) patiently awaiting my recovery from surgery so we can continue the journey. Can’t wait to see his big goofy grin beside me again.

  2. David Nowaczewski

    Well done Andy! I recall mine a few years back on a cold St. Patty’s day. It all just clicked from then on and became something I wanted to do instead of something I should do, which makes all the difference.

  3. Pete

    Wow, upon reading this I realized that I remember my first run, in August 2004, like it was yesterday. I was grossly out of shape yet I was hooked immediately. Thanks for giving some Tap Room love to Saranac and Upstate NY!

  4. William Read

    As a kid, I could not do anything athletically or intellectually and by the time I reached high school my dad was very concerned. So he made me join the cross country team against my will in 1972. This was my first organized running. At first it did not feel good at all, in fact it was very hard and it hurt a lot. But I got better and it was the first thing I could actually do. I am still running at 58 years old but also doing strength training because I need that too. Nice recollection of your start.

  5. Dave VW

    AJW, good read.
    Mine is a somewhat parallel story, albeit 10 years later….in 1996 I was a cyclist & an equestrian, and determined that the two sports, one super clean (bikes & shaved legs) did not sit well with the dusty & dirty horse life.
    In conversation with my life mentor, he challenged me to get off the bike & join him in the upcoming Ride & Tie World Championships, 6 weeks hence.I enquired if the championships was the proper way to introduce myself to the sport, only to be told “Yes, it’s the best way”. I should have known, this coming from a man who’s 1st endurance race was Tevis.
    Out the door I went with my 11 year old daughter, running/heaving up the what is now a slight incline of our driveway, only to have her tell me “I think you’re in trouble now Dad”.
    On to the R&T, got launched off the steed twice (he was running a little hot), lost my partner, and in the end walked home with a treasured buckle (the 1st of 13).
    My father asked when I was going to win one of those races, but with the likes of Tom J., Jim H., Brian P., Mark R. & others, the road was long & lonely.
    The only way to compete was to embrace running. In 2001 my mentor’s son challenged me to enter WS, saying if I didn’t want to go then perhaps I could pace him. We both got in the lottery.

    Fast forward, the bike is gone, the horses are out to pasture, & the shoes get laced up most every day….and it’s back to WS with my buddy now pacing me! Yea!

  6. Nelson Prater

    I was always the fattest kid in school through high school, so running was never my thing, and for sure not organized running. It is now, though, and has been for 21 years, but still not organized. I just prefer the early-morning movement from the front door to there and back, just me and my thoughts and whatever song is stuck in my head – no watch or headphones or phone. And, it’s very good.

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