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The Turning Point: Eric's Blog Posted on March 12, 2014

Sometimes you don’t realize what the important moments are in your life until you are looking back on them years later. They come to you cloaked in seeming insignificance, so as to happen without making much of a sound. They slide right through your day without fanfare, giving no cause for pause or reason to ponder their meaning. This happened to me on the first Sunday in May of my freshman year of college. I woke up late in the morning and was rubbing the sleep from my eyes as I pulled back the curtains from the large picture window in the living room. What I saw outside would change my life. But first, I have to tell you how I got there.

I started running in high school. As a kid in small town Nebraska, sports were everything. There were just over 40 kids in my class, and nearly everyone participated in sports. Of course, since we’re talking about Nebraska, where everyone in the state bleeds Husker red, the sport of choice for most boys was football. Having not yet hit my growth spurt, standing 5’3” tall, and weighing about the same as most large dogs, I knew football was out of the question. So I joined the cross country team.

I wasn’t bad at running, but, since I was only doing it because I felt like I needed to in order to fit in, I didn’t put much effort into it. Therefore, I wasn’t exactly great at it either. I mean, I did all the workouts, there just wasn’t any heart in it. Unfortunately for Coach Nielsen, that meant to fit in with the team, I was going to be the joker. I was constantly goofing off and complaining about the workouts. Whether it was hill repeats or an easy two miles the day before a race, you could be sure that I was complaining about it.

The summer after my senior year, I didn’t run at all, which wasn’t that unusual. Since my heart wasn’t in it, I usually didn’t run much during the summers anyway. When fall came around I felt the slight pull of running calling me back. This was the time that we would usually begin training, and my body was used to it. However, I decided that since I was now balancing college classes and working part time, I’d need to take time to “adjust to the college lifestyle,” whatever that meant. For me, it meant I wouldn’t be running so I could spend more time hanging out and exploring my new freedom with my new friends.

Fast-forward a fall and a spring semester, and there I am, dragging myself out of bed late in the morning on the first Sunday in May. How do I know the day? Because the Lincoln Marathon is always the first Sunday in May, and that’s what I saw going right by my house when I pulled the shades apart. Now, since I was getting up so late, it wasn’t the leaders speeding by my house. In fact, it wasn’t even the middle-of-the-packers jogging by. Who I saw were the people near the back. These are the people who had made a commitment to finish the marathon come hell or high water. People pushing through injuries. People who would be out there almost twice as long as the winner. I distinctly remember seeing an old man with a knee brace on kind of doing a shuffle-jog. These people had already run roughly 20 miles on worn-out bodies, and here I was just moments ago thinking about how dreadful it was to pull myself out of bed.

It was that moment when I decided to start running again. I had no desire to train for the marathon. No, at that moment I still thought that was a thing only a crazy person would do. But I told myself I would start running again. And I did. I started out with pretty low mileage. But, I would soon come to room with Kyle, a member of the University of Nebraska Cross Country and Track teams. At some point he convinced me to come do some of their “easy” 5 mile runs with them in the morning (actual practice was in the afternoon). It took everything I had to just stay with the group that first morning, but I kept coming back. Soon I could keep up. After a while I could chat with them. On a whim, I signed up for a 5k and ran faster than I ever did in high school. It turns out that with running, you get out of it what you put in to it, and with a little hard work, I found out I could be a pretty decent runner.

Between then and now I’ve raced everything from the 5k to marathons (yes, plural). Along the way, I’ve enjoyed numerous sunrises, great runs with great friends, the strange mixture of exhaustion and satisfaction you get from a hard workout, and the exhilaration of racing. I’ve met most of my best friends through running. And somewhere along the way, I fell in love with running.


*Eric Mellow is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles Team*


by Mark Spewak

1 Comment

Sarah Gauld on On 03/13 at 08:41 AM

Great Blog Eric! I hope your foot starts feeling better so you can get back out there and do what you love! Run.

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