By Lorraine Kennimouth-Williams
Although I have been exercising for as long as I can remember, I started running because I thought, “it looked like the cool thing to do,” but that’s not why I continued. I started running when I was in my early thirties and living in Germany. Since I taught classes to the military, most of my time was spent around American service members who, by virtue of being in the service, were required to run.
One day while teaching class I mentioned that I would really like to start running, and a military Chaplains’ Assistant took me up on it! He told me he was a runner and needed a running partner to help motivate him. I volunteered for the task at hand. Terry Blomquist became my running buddy! We ran together for several years, and he turned out to be the most amazing mentor ever. Terry and I never ran races; we just “ran.” The longest we ever ran together was 6 – 8 miles – all trail. I had no idea back then what fast was and didn’t know how fast I was! It was all fun and fitness.
At some point during my running I injured my knee and the docs couldn’t figure out what was going on so…. Terry left to return to the States and I stopped running! I stopped running for a VERY long time; in fact I didn’t run for close to 12 years!!
In April 2006, both my husband’s job and mine took us from Washington DC to Lakewood Ranch where the weather was amazing! Through work, I had daily interactions with a Captain who owned a running store and was also the President of the Bradenton Runners Club (BRC); it was he (and the amazing weather) who got me back on the road to running again. When I talked about my desire to run, he essentially would tell me to “put up or shut up”; his attitude gave me the push I needed! Steve Litschauer introduced me to the wonderful folks of the BRC, and it was there a runner was reborn.
I initially started out as one of their slower runner, but it didn’t take long before I was running with the best of them. The Bradenton Runners are the most amazing group of people you could meet; they are the “Runners runner”! Always looking out for the new guys, so inspirational!
One of the most inspirational individuals at BRC I have had the privilege of meeting is Chuck Vanduzee. Chuck is 70+ years old and has run 320+ marathons! Yep – Three Hundred and Twenty plus marathons to date! Chuck got me through my first long run. It was out at Anna Marie Island, and it was 11 miles long. At the time, I had not run anything longer than 8 miles; he talked me through the whole run! I had no idea what he was doing. I just remember him asking me a gazillion questions and showing interest beyond belief in everything I said; it was only when I had finished I realized what he was up to. Chuck is my favorite runner of all time!!
Why do I run? The age-old question…. Not everybody has the passion to run long distance. Many of my friends are extremely athletic with no desire to run long distance – EVER! It is not for everyone. I do it because I enjoy it. I believe it would be close to impossible to run 4+ hours straight if you didn’t enjoy it. I find it to be meditative, challenging, competitive, willpower building, motivational and much more. And…. I still believe I do it because I have something to prove to myself every day. I have an obsession with follow through, maybe because I didn’t witness it as a child growing up. If you say you’re going to do something then do it; simply follow through. Running gives me that – a huge sense of accomplishment. There are many times during a marathon that I have so wanted to just STOP, give up and walk away, but my strong conviction with follow through has never given me permission; it just keeps me going.
We can do anything we want in life; the only thing standing in the way is ourselves. The minute we see this and accept this, life becomes so much more manageable. Running has taught me this wonderfully important message. Therefore I will keep on running.