Gratitude: 25 Years Running

There have been a couple running milestones I missed commemorating here because I haven’t been as prolific this year as I’ve been in the past. The first was my 25th Runiversary. That is, the 25th Anniversary of the day I started running which passed unceremoniously on March 4th. The second is Global Running Day which happens each year on the 1st Wednesday in June. So, yesterday.

While I never actually miss – or at least haven’t for as many years as I recall being aware of it – running on Global Running Day, it isn’t always something that goes beyond the run and a post on the ‘Gram: #GlobalRunningDay. My Runiversary, however is usually a personal big deal, perhaps coming in only behind my birthday and Christmas.  I mean I celebrated my 20th year by organizing a group run with friends and then by getting a commemorative tattoo!

So why did a milestone as big as 25 Years go by without acknowledgement? Perhaps because the entire year seemed like a blur and I hadn’t run a single (“official”) race the entire last year of that 25 and honestly the first part of the first year of the “Next 25 Years” didn’t seem to have much to offer either in the way of goals or accomplishments.

Global Running Day 2021 this week was marked with a 5 mile run that I put off until early evening so I could run the first half of it with my running partner and life partner, my fiancé, Kurt. He’s still in physical therapy (“Let’s add conditioning“) and only cleared for a shorter distance. I had already started the first phase of marathon training. We found a way to make it work (as we always do).

Middle Fork Savanna. Lake Forest, Illinois. June 2021.

It was about seven o’clock, sunny, warm and breezy. We chose a nearby forest preserve that we practically had to ourselves at that hour. During the first half of the run with Kurt, I thought about how much it means to me that we share this love. Part of what we love about each other is that we share this love of running and all that goes with it. During the solo second half, I thought about the last 15 months.

While running didn’t always feel like running with no “real” races (“Do virtual races count?“) for which to train, I did run. During my 25th year running, I ran six virtual races and two virtual multi-run challenges totaling 425 miles (“How virtual challenges are keeping me motivated and saving my sanity“). Between August 2 and October 31, I ran every street in Vernon Hills, Illinois (“More lessons learned running every street in a new town”). For 8 of the last 11 months, I ran a “monthly” Half Marathon, just to prove I could.

And for the past several weeks, I have been compiling a digital album to commemorate my First 25 Years Running. In 2013, I began photographing all of my race shirts for the project – and to deal with my obsessive compulsion to keep every shirt (after 320 races, that’s A LOT of shirts!). What’s amazing is that only 15 shirts (or photos) came up missing, but my New Jersey runner friends are helping me fill in the blanks.

On March 4, 1996 when I first laced up a pair of Asics and headed out for a training run, I was in search of an adult sport, having always been an athlete growing up. Nothing else. But through running I found a way to better mental and physical heath. I have found a way to fundraise for some causes that are very meaningful to me. I have explored new cities, foreign counties, and some beautiful scenery not-so-far from home. I have made more friends than I ever imagined I would, and connected with one wonderful human being in a way I never thought possible. 

While goals, challenges, and organized races may seem to give running purpose, running is simply about running and what it does for the soul of each individual runner. Now, three months into the Next 25 Years Running, I take the lessons of the last 15 months with me as we get back to in-person racing – and in-person connecting. Grateful for every mile.

3 thoughts on “Gratitude: 25 Years Running

  • June 4, 2021 at 6:48 am

    Mary.. I have four running heroes in my life… Pat Coyle who you don’t know, Bill Welsh, Grete Waitz and you dear friend… We go way back and I am the better for that experience….

    • June 4, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      Wow, that’s pretty great company! Thank you, Mark. A lot of what I know and love about running – particularly the behind the scenes race logistics – I learned from you! One interesting tidbit about this digital memory album that I’m working on: I couldn’t find the picture of the race shirt from the 2014 Bill Welsh 5k in Staten Island, but I did have a picture of Bill at the start of the race wearing the shirt, so I included that in the album. You just made that memory more meaningful!

      • June 4, 2021 at 3:35 pm


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