A past life

Watching the Olympics this week–speedskating in particular–led me to look up an old friend with whom I had lost contact. She was one of my teammates from my first athletic endeavor, the little known sport of inline speedskating. It was fun to find her–on Facebook, of course–and bring back old memories. It also gave me a chance to look back over the winding path that led me to running.

Growing up in rural Ohio in a time and place where girls didn’t do much athletic, I never pursued sports. As I graduated college and became a typical gym rat, I discovered that I liked exercise. A gift of inline skates while I was living in the Philadelphia area got me outdoors to exercise–I found I loved being outside. Then word of a local 10k skate race, in conjunction with a running race, got me to try my first sort of racing. I placed third among the women. The women who beat me, however, had these really cool, fast looking skates on their feet. I asked where they got them, and within a week made the trek to the store to get a pair.

At the store I learned of a local racing team and soon was practicing with them. One thing led to another and I spent the next several years racing all over the country with my inline skate team. We did races in distance from 5ks to 100ks. It was great fun.

When I moved to Maryland from Philadelphia, however, I lost my team. Seeking some way to keep in shape, I got a road bike. The first friend I made in Maryland turned me on to a group of athletes doing triathlons. Since I had grown up on a lake and liked swimming, I thought I’d give it a go. I loved it. At the time, running was my least favorite of the events. But I worked hard at it because I knew what an asset it could be.

Over the years I have done dozens of triathlons, from sprints to an Ironman. I still like triathlons, but much to my surprise, I found that of the three sports, running is really my passion.

You never know where life will take you, and I don’t write off the theory that someday I may end up in another sport, or doing something like ultras. Who knows? For now I can’t imagine doing anything but what I’m doing right now.

A fun fact–a few of the current Olympic speedskaters, and many from the past couple of Olympics, come from a background in inline skating. Chad Hedrick and Allison Baver are two competing this year. 

What about you–what was your path to running?

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  1. southofthecliff says

    I was a theater kid growing up, and always on the out-of-shape side. Moved to Queens, had an identity crisis, stopped acting and started running.

  2. Jill says

    That's a really fun angle to how you got to your running career! I've been running forever. I ran in high school and in college so I have nothing exciting other than I used to be a sprinter and now I gag for air on my timed miles. Guess you teach your body to learn to adapt.

  3. KBam says

    Wow, that's so cool! A coworker of mine was a speed-skater (ice) about 15 years ago so I'd been watching some of the skating. I've always been afraid of inline skates though because I have such awful balance…

    My path to running grew out of 20 years of being the fat kid, always thinking that others saw me for how I looked, not who I was. My dad and sister are marathon runners, and several friends of mine started running and doing marathons, so I decided one day in a burst of motivation to do the same. That was just about a year ago (and 40 pounds ago) and I haven't looked back. :)

  4. Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) says

    That is so cool that you were a speed skater! I bet it was a complete blast!

    Although I do triathlons, I consider myself to be a runner above anything else. I have always loved to run. I ran in high school, all through college, and just continued on. I just love to run. Some of my non-runner friends just don't understand it, but they wouldn't because they're not runners. But us runners, we get it, and that's what's so great about the sport! :)

  5. NY Wolve says

    Most people end up in triathlons after taking a break from running, so interesting you came in the other way.

    I ended up running because I always could. My parents made me (more or less) to stay in shape for football when I was a kid. And I ended up pretty good at it. I have not done the typical "Why I run" post on my blog because it is a little personal. But it was always the one athletic endeavor I could do. And have done (off and on) since junior high.

  6. misszippy says

    You all have such interesting stories–it's cool how everyone can come from such diverse circumstances and end up united with the same passion. Kbam–so impressive!

  7. Viper says

    My past sporting life was as an ice hockey player. I inline skated to stay limber in the offseason. Running didn't come until many years later.

  8. Velma says

    Great post. I came to running through rowing. I used to run a bit in high school, but I was recruited to the rowing team in college. I still remember my first 4 mile training run! I was always the worst runner, but I now love it. It is just so easy and can take you to a different place quickly.


    Great post. I love learning how everyone got to where they are in their lives. I posted a on a similar topic today.

  10. Julie says

    Wow, you have a very interesting story to share!! I was a high school track runner who loved sprinting:) I ran 100's, 200's, 400's and ran in all the relays! I was first out of the blocks because of my quickness:) I also was a high jumper! I just started running distance in 2008 but didn't race until last May. I am addicted:) I am tempted to purchase a bike unfortunately, I can't swim worth a lick! Thanks for sharing!! It was fun to read everyone's comments:)

  11. misszippy says

    Julie–I think you and I are at completely different ends of the spectrum! My body does not know how to sprint…the longer the better for me. Hats off to you for that speed–I hope you use it for many a finish-line sprint!