Most people think of me as a bicyclist or, maybe a hiker. That’s because they weren’t around when I was a runner. After losing 70 pounds and quiting a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit, I had energy to burn. I bought a bike. Soon the days shortened and my bike without a light became dangerous to ride. So, I switched to running.
My first run lasted all of a quarter mile until I stopped gasping for air. Day by day, I added distance and speed. It helped that I was living in Providence RI and, for a summer, Berkeley CA. The weather in both places is ideal for running. More than half a lifetime ago, I ran my first marathon, the Ocean State Marathon in Newport RI. 3:10:18. Lord was it hard!
A couple of years later I ran a 3:04:29 in Troy NY. Then, I played a volleyball game and my left knee popped. I tried and tried to continue with running but my body no longer wanted any part of it.
The irony is that distance running, as hard as it is to do physically, is really not about the body at all. It’s all about the mind. Any meditation teacher will tell you that meditation is about calming the mind. Clearing out thoughts and mental restlessness. Getting rid of the monkeys (or squirrels) in your head. This is what happened to me on every long distance run. Once I trained my body to handle the task, my body would go on auto pilot and my brain would calm. I missed this aspect of it terribly.
The only thing left from my running days are a drawer full of t-shirts. In the early years of our marriage, Mrs. Rootchopper took up quilting. We talked about creating a quilt out of my old running t-shirts but scores of other quilting projects took over, including quilts for Project Linus.
Night after night she quilts away at the dining room table. It’s such a common sight that I don’t pay attention and try not to interrupt her. This is pretty much what happened over the last month or so.
Little did I know that she was crafting the running quilt all that time. Here it is presented to me as the best 60th birthday present. What an incredible surprise.