You Never Forget Your First Time

AJW reminisces about his first-ever run.

By on February 12, 2016 | Comments

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?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.