When I am running, my life becomes as carefree as a child; I am free from deadlines, demands and dependability. I run because it is a simple and convenient hobby that does not require any equipment such as a ball, bat, or club. However, running is more of a lifestyle than a pastime. In fact, running persuaded me to further my education. I was at a College to help my daughter get registered when her XC coach learned about my desire for running and told me I had eligibility. I had no interest in getting a college degree, but running XC was an opportunity that I missed out on. In my freshman year of high school I had determination and great potential, but I was a juvenile delinquent and was arrested and incarcerated before my first race.
Having served a prison sentence and gained the identity of an X-Con really affected my self-esteem toward living a productive life and I eventually returned to a State Correctional Facility. I thought this cycle would become the norm of my life, but I started running and I became liberated in the process. The long runs compelled me to take moral inventory of my life and presented me with a positive attitude that allowed me to make it meaningful. I didn’t run long distance to get in shape for a race; I was rather shaping my character. To exercise a phrase from Rudyard Kipling’s poem entitled IF – if I can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run. I ran many miles to compensate for a shameful journey and the mileage equated magnanimous.
Although training and racing had provided me with self-esteem I had yet to discover self-awareness. My running had become an obsessive hobby. It developed into a routine that if adjourned for any reason made ill of my temper.
The following is a poem written by my daughter, Richara.
You are a running fool
Sometimes you’re cool
At other times you’re a challenging duel
Sometimes I don’t understand you
Can you give me a clue?
Through all your competition
What was your mission?
Maybe it’s all your past bad decisions
Or perhaps on your heart, life made an incision
Where inside lays your pain, which evolves into anger
Nevertheless, I forgive you and thank you for all that you do
For supporting, helping, even the yelling
You are a running fool, but that makes you cool.
Her poem intrigued me to do some serious soul searching. And the long runs that followed were profound revelations. I have won many races, but the most important race of my life was a race I ran when I was ten years old. My sister and I were outside competing against each other in some foot races, when a man, who we did not know, approached us with a rewarding challenge – he would give me fifty cents if I could beat him in a race around the block. I was the fastest kid in my neighborhood, so I certainly accepted. My sister started the race with a mark, set, go and the man took off so fast that I just knew I would eventually pass him. He was running as if this was a sprint. I knew just how fast I could run around my block and I was confident in my pace, but when I got around the corner he was out of sight and I never caught him. Neither my sister nor the stranger was in sight after I crossed the finish line. Later that night I learned the race was a scheme to rape my sister.
I ran many miles contemplating about how our lives would have been different if I had won that race. My dad might not have died from having a bad liver. He blamed himself for not living in a better neighborhood and became an alcoholic. Perhaps my sister may possibly had fewer seizures if she was not victimized, which would have also extended her life. Perhaps I would had cared more about myself and others. I will never know but the mileage exhibits alternatives. So, I run and recite the words of Rudyard Kipling, If I can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run – my life would be manageable!