Years ago, my friend from college asked me to join him in running the “Pleasant Run” Run. It is a 5 mile race that was taking place in his neighborhood in Indianapolis. Having not run since grade school, the thought of running five miles at one time without stopping seemed so daunting. I still remember how intimidating it was to go to the track and try to run an entire mile all at once without stopping.
I kept at it, though, and gradually increased the laps I ran on the track each week until I had run 5 miles. The 5 mile race itself was a lot of fun. There is a real sense of accomplishment that I still feel when I set a running goal for myself and then work to achieve it.
Fifteen years later, not only am I an avid runner, I am the founder of Hometown Happenings, a company that organizes runs and walks throughout Northwest Indiana.
The mission of the company is threefold. First, we create events that anyone can come out and participate in, from elite runners to occasional walkers. Second, we strive to support the local business community. Finally, we find some way at each event to give back to our community. For instance, at our Beast Boot Camp 5K on May 9th at the Lake County Fairgrounds, participants could nominate a local Veteran who we would then receive a free dinner at a participating restaurant. This year, we are also forming a running club called the “Hometown Treaders” to give people the support they need to stay fit and active between our events.
I have not given up on my own goals, however. My best year of running was in 2010. This year, I would like to beat both my fastest 5K time and my fastest half marathon time. To do this, I am concentrating more on cross training. I attend a boot camp class at the Southlake YMCA in Crown Point twice a week. I also ride my bike on days when I am not running. In between all the activity, I try to drink more water and eat healthier in general.
I have met some of my best friends through running. In general, runners are very nice, supportive people. It does not matter to them your fitness level. All that matters to anyone is that you are trying. If you find you need some motivation, find a buddy. Ask a friend or coworker to partner with you. Join a run or walk club or a training program. Give yourself a goal and attend one of the many local races.
Running has provided me with some of my best friends, better health, and a sense of self accomplishment. Having received so much from running, I feel an obligation to share the gift of running with others.