When the days grow longer and the light expands our days, all I want to do is run. I run in the evenings after the kids have had dinner. I run in the afternoons. I run so much that my winter body, not used to such demands on my hamstrings, cries out.

But the pain is a good pain. I feel my legs when I go down the stairs. I feel my sides when I empty the dishwasher. Most of all, I feel my head, clear after so much clutter. Nothing clears my mind like running. The changes are good.

Running Imogene with Andy Photo Credit: Jesse McTigue

Running Imogene with Andy
Photo Credit: Jesse McTigue

I didn’t always feel this way about running. I remember my dad, a lifelong runner, trying to get me into running during middle school. We’d run mile-long runs together. Running felt awkward. And hard. So hard. I whined, I walked. What is this sport you love? This is supposed to be fun? I quit, dismissed my father as crazy. Went back to riding skateboards with my brothers and playing soccer in the streets.

Then spring came. I didn’t make the lacrosse team that I wanted to make. My running times during tryouts weren’t fast enough. I came home and knew I had to do it. I had to swallow my pride and ask my dad to help me to run. Really run.

“No belly aching this time,” he said, poking me in the belly. I nodded. “No, really,” he said, as he laced up his shoes, “you got to really want this.”

“I do,” I said.

Thus began our regular runs in Baltimore’s spring weather. My father, a doctor, worked long hours, so I ran when he ran. Sometimes the runs were in the early morning before he headed off for 12, 13-hour days. I was quiet then as we puffed along our neighborhood streets, my mind still mostly asleep. Sometimes the runs were in the evening, after he’d come home. He was quiet then, tired after operating all day, but still we plodded along, watching as Baltimore’s fat red sun settled into the city’s smoggy skies.

“This is getting easier,” I told him one night, “I’m not thinking about every step.”

He held out his hand for a high five. “Good, now, you’ll be a runner for life.”

I didn’t realize then that what began as a simple quest to make the lacrosse team—something I haven’t played in over 20 years— has indeed become one of the many loves of my life.

I run when I travel. I run when I’m home. I run after a tricky day. I run after a great day. I puzzle things out as I move along on Telluride’s streets, watching the sun sink a little closer to the mountains. Sometimes the running is easy and I feel as if I’m flying. Often, the running is hard, and I feel every step. But always my mind is better and stronger when I’m done. And always, there’s my dad beside me—whether he’s out here visiting or not—always, he’s right there beside me, ensuring that I love every step.

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