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RUNNING – Why I Run | Ann Stuntz

By Ann Stuntz, aka Rebekah Barricklow’s mom

I am a baby boomer and a running-boom baby. I started running a little bit in college after giving up basketball due to an injury. But it wasn’t until Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Steve Prefontaine, and Nike inspired me and many many others in the mid to late 1970’s that I really wanted to be a runner too.

At the same time I was being inspired to run I was also starting a family. Running was, for years, what I did I when I could find the time. I would leave the babies and toddlers with their dad and sneak out the black door and run as hard as I could for my 2-3 mile loop, knowing that when I got back there would be a crying child waiting at the screen door. There was no such thing as a jogging stroller back in those days.

Once the kids got old enough, I was able to get out more often but never really had enough time to train well for any of the races I entered. But, I loved the “fellowship” of runners, the atmosphere of races so much so that even running in total oxygen debt to complete depletion was worth the price paid. So, I carried on.

I ran with my daughter, Rebekah, in her first race when she a preschooler. She blasted away full speed for the first mile and cried most of the 2nd mile. The seed was planted. As a family, we did a variety of races together while they were in elementary school and they all swam competitively year round through high school. I coached their age group swim team and assisted with their high school teams.

Running was part of the mix for us all but for me, and later Rebekah, it was our sanctuary place. It was a place to be alone and also a place for connecting. While Rebekah was “slowed” by pregnancies and recovering from pregnancies we would run together as she pushed whatever child in the stroller. It was “our” time and always at a conversational pace. Then she regained her fitness and I began slowing down so when we run together we have to be creative… she runs up the hills and back to meet me or down the side streets and then back. Mostly we run at our own paces with our own plans and goals, and 30 miles apart. But the fellowship is still there and we check in with texts almost daily with our reports of what we did.

Running was, and still is, my meditation time. It is a time when I can get lost in the rhythm… breathe in, breathe out, 82 steps per minute. Most of the time now, in our days of technology, I run with music, using an app that plays at my cadence. But back in the days of “boom boxes” you couldn’t take the music with you. But, the rhythm was there with the sounds of my breath and my feet striking the ground and I had no trouble getting lost in the run. Running has always been my time when words and agendas and lists give way to the centering of my being into the run. My mind and my body and my soul are fed.