With the passing of my 30th running anniversary I have spent a little more time reflecting on what led me to begin running. Like most young boys, I loved everything to do with sports and guy things growing up. I remember watching the Olympics on TV at a very early age in the 60's. I'm sure we watched the little bit of coverage that was available for the Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964 but I don't remember any details. By the 1968 Mexico Olympics I was 12 years old and have a lot of memories from that year. It was also the first year I saw them in color. I had watched the track meets on weekends leading up to those games and was familiar with all the Americans entered. I was especially eager to watch Jim Ryun in the 1,500m
1968 is also the year that the Aerobics book by Dr. Cooper came out. My brother and I measured a 7 lap to the mile course around our parents 2 acre yard with a yardstick. For most of that summer we competed for points in running walking basketball and any other thing that the book said would earn points in the charts. That lasted a few weeks before we moved on to other things.
By the time the 1972 Olympics rolled around I was in my early teens and had began to be distracted by other things besides sports. I was also going through a rebellious period and was beginning a lifestyle that let's just say, was detrimental to my good health. Even through that time I vividly remember much of the 1972 Munich Olympics and watching an American, Frank Shorter win the Marathon. The thought of running 26 miles I found mind boggling.
Most of the next 4 years I will not discuss in this forum so we will fast forward to 1976. I was now married and realizing that my health was not good and my life was on the wrong track and as previously mentioned, smoking two to three packs a day. One day at work my boss showed me a magazine article on the running boom. I had know idea what they were talking about but a picture of Jerome Drayton leading the pack and eventually winning the 1976 Boston Marathon stirred something inside. I was living in a duplex apt off of New Bern Ave in Southeast Raleigh at the time. I had been trying to cut back on smoking using all kinds of filters and low tar and nicotine brands but kept going back to my previous level of smoking. So inspired by the article I measured a mile around the neighborhood. It was hot and muggy, I had no running clothes and was running in Dime store basketball shoes. I think this probably lasted about 3 weeks before I gave it up. It would be another year before that June 8th day on Lenoir St. 30 years ago that I tried again and stuck with it.