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?