I wasn't born a runner, but by the time I was a young lad I knew I was faster than most. Quicker may be the appropriate term. You ran in spurts then. Tag, baseball, and kickball didn't require running great distances. It felt good to be picked first and you don't want to lose that feeling. Such is life. You grow older and suddenly there are other fast kids. Sports changed as well and having speed wasn't all you needed. You needed specific skill sets and at times a Dad who schmoozed the coaches. By the time you enter high school one sees the pecking order. As Bear Bryant once said, "Be good or be gone."
I always understood this.
In 1976 our high school entered the sport of cross-country and I eagerly signed up. We knew nothing. I mean it was so bad it was funny. For practice we ran around the pond a few times and ran sprints. After this brutal 2 week training regiment we headed to Union HS for our first meet. I was a sophomore and when that damn gun went off I did what everyone else did or tried to do...I ran at the front. After a half-mile my lungs were on fire. I just kept chasing, but they got farther and farther away. I was disappointed. I was 3rd overall and first on the team in 17:50.
After my 3 years in HS was over, we finished with a 5 - 27 record. The best part was we managed to win that very first meet by one point. I was in the back of the bus heading home. Suddenly I was allowed to sit with the other non-athlete upper classmen in the back. The results of the meet were being passed around without any fanfare. The sheet read: Union 28 Laurel 27.
I yelled up at the coach, "Hey, why didn't you tell us we won?" He asked what I was talking about. I said, "In cross-country the low score wins!" "Oh," he replied. "I thought it was like football."
That's when I became a runner. I knew stuff.