Steamboat Springs Off and running
The birds are singing, the snow is gone and it's that time of year again when I want to try to get back into top physical shape.
Notice the key word is try.
After 10 years living the lifestyle that most reporters become accustomed to long and unpredictable hours I've slipped into my middle 30s without a dedicated fitness program.
Well, unless you consider going to the bowling alley twice a week the same as going to a gym once a day.
Two winters ago I tried to return to the sport of running. It was something that I had enjoyed all through high school and college.
In the not-too-distant past, there was a time when I could run several miles at a time and would do so almost every day. When I was done, I felt good with the realization that I had set a goal and accomplished it. It also kept me in pretty good shape.
Even in high school, after I got a job at a local retail store, I would return home at 9 p.m. each night and hit the road to jog around my parents' neighborhood for an hour. Back then I had no idea what a sore muscle was.
In college I mixed running and mountain biking and knew my way around all of the back streets of Boulder by the time I graduated. The routine of running every day survived nights out on the town with my beer-drinking buddies, several demanding jobs and a couple of late-night shifts each week on the college newspaper staff.
I liked to run because it was cheap. All you really need is a pair of good of shoes and an old pair of sweats back then it set me back about $60, one time.
To tell you the truth, if you could find a pair of shoes for $50 in Boulder, most of the locals wouldn't have noticed if you skipped the sweats. But remember that was in Boulder.
My downfall came when I arrived in Steamboat Springs back in 1990 and my fitness programs came to an abrupt end. Now if I'm running somewhere it's because I'm late.
Part of it was the job and the other part was the weather. At first I stopped running because I was completely overwhelmed. I was just out of college and I spent 60 hours and seven days a week focused on one thing my job.
By the time things had calmed down, getting into shape was the last thing on my mind. I was in my 20s and it seemed like all I had to do was grab a dumbbell for a couple of curls or log a couple of miles on the road once in a while. I thought getting back into shape would be a breeze right.
So a couple of years ago I decided to start running again. But after a week of battling snow and cold I gave into the pressures of my warm house and my comfortable chair. I also realized that springing back this time wasn't going to be as easy.
It's funny but running four or five miles when I was 18 seemed a lot easier than running one or two now. The hills were not as steep, the night didn't seem quite so dark and time didn't seem to be so valuable back then.
But trying to use my age or schedule as a reason not to get back into shape in a town like Steamboat Springs would be crazy.
This weekend, roughly 100 runners proved that running on a regular basis in Steamboat Springs is possible, and not one of them was looking for an excuse.
The runners who took part in the Spirit Challenge covered a wide variety of ages, but many of them are as old if not older than I am and I tip my hat to all of them.
Many of these athletes arrived at Steamboat Springs Middle School with just one goal and it was not to win.
They came to prove to themselves that they could compete. Not necessary with other runners, but with their own limitations.
Running is a sport that is as much about defeating inner demons or reaching a personal goal as it is about catching the guy who is just a few steps in front of you.
The Steamboat Springs Running Series has provided a fun format for the past several years and under its current leadership promises a strong future.
But I also feel that running is a sport that doesn't demand competition. There are many runners here in Steamboat that prefer to stay active in the sport outside the realm of competitive events.
These runners battle there own clocks and their own muscles simply for the feeling of accomplishment that comes when you meet personal goals.
There will always be excuses when it comes to staying in shape and believe me, I know most of them. But at least for me, it's important just to keep trying.