Bitter Air


The leaves remaining on the trees were brittle and brown, waiting only for the next hard breeze to blow before falling. Most trees were bare, already fully surrendered to the short, cold November days.

The calendar said there were still three weeks of autumn left, but late fall is winter’s twin.

I had woken up with nothing planned on a vacation day that would be lost if not taken. When I was younger, I may have let it go, but time is too precious to me now.

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Like Yesterday


When I was in high school, the South Carroll Invitational was the largest cross-country meet of the season. Teams from three states gathered on our home course.

At the end of the school day, I simply walked down to the locker room, got dressed, and stepped into a fall running festival.

Earlier in the day, my teachers didn’t know I wasn’t paying attention in class. My nerves wouldn’t let me think about anything other than the meet.

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Setting an Example


In 2008 Mirna Valerio was over three-hundred pounds. She was having chest pains and difficulty breathing. So when her doctor asked her if she wanted to see her son grow up, she didn’t need him to elaborate.

Her first mile, a mix of walking and running, took her almost eighteen minutes.

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I was just twenty years old, and I was dying, a term used to describe a runner who has expended every physical resource, and whose pace has deteriorated to a crawling shuffle.

The 1981 Baltimore Marathon finished at the convention center. I was still miles away from there.

Two hours earlier, I waited at the starting line with more than two-thousand others, the cold late November wind made me wonder why I thought running a marathon was a good idea. Up until that moment, the marathon was alluring, something I thought all serious distance runners should do.

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Why we run


We are most true to ourselves when we’re young. As children, we’re transparent, uninhibited.

We are honest about how we feel. Love, joy, and sadness are expressed in the moment we notice them. Forgiveness is easy. Life is simple.

The emotion that changes everything is fear. Angry words, unfortunate events and misguided people crash into our lives, and we’re never the same.

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Keep Running


I was fifteen years old, and I left my driveway to run up Carroll Highlands Road. Two doors up, I passed Scott Swartz’s house.

Scott and I were both three years old when he walked down to my house and asked if I wanted to play. After that, we spent the next eleven years inseparable in our free time.

His mother died when he was five. I was too young to understand the pain he must have gone through, but he adopted my family, or we adopted him; I’m not sure which.

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Something of ourselves


Ed Powelson was the athletic director at North Carroll High School for decades. In 1988 he graciously allowed me to coach the cross-country team there. I’m not a teacher, I had no coaching experience, and I was just twenty-seven years old.

I don’t know if he had any reservations about letting me coach. If he did, he didn’t show it.

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The Calling


Just before the start of the Women’s Invitational Mile at the 2015 Music City Distance Carnival, Sonja Friend-Uhl’s mind wasn’t where she wanted it to be. It was immersed in the heavy load of life, just like most forty-four year old moms.

The race didn’t start until ten at night, Sonja’s bedtime. And, the late start had done nothing to cool the angry June Nashville air. All around her, some of the most talented open and collegiate middle distance runners in the country were warming up, seemly far more prepared for the race than Sonja was.

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Finish what you start


Just before the start of the 2015 Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, Nick Agoris waited in the chilly gloom with a mass of runners

Nick is a coach, probably the premier independent shot-put coach in the mid-Atlantic region.  He’s mentored dozens of Maryland State High School Champions.  And, in many cases, his direction has helped individuals receive scholarship awards that they never would have received without him.  Nick changes lives.

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It was spitting outside, a term my mother used when I was young and the rain was so scant that you couldn’t see it falling. 

While spit may have a negative connotation to you, this was the angels spitting, and so the drops were holy water.

I began my run with angels’ spit on my glasses.

It was early on a Sunday morning, and I shuffled in front of Westminster High School, my car parked in the empty lot behind me.  If the run went as planned, I’d be doing ten miles, looping around the grounds that connected the high school with the YMCA.

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