The Courage to Start

Two years ago today, I ran my first half marathon.

*   *   *

I still laugh at the two events that prompted me to start running two years ago.  The first was my old housemate, Andy, running the Chicago Marathon in 2006.  He was someone you would consider “least likely to run a marathon.”  He not only surprised all of his friends; he also inspired me to do something great.  The second event was my course rabbit fiasco.  I still haven’t been able to live that moment down, but at least I’m laughing at it now.

*   *   *

I still remember the conversation I had with Panda that faithful evening two winters ago.

Panda: I want to run a race.

Pham: Awesome.

Panda: I think I’m going to run the same race that Andy’s doing.

Pham: Cool.  Whatever your first race will be, I’ll run with you.

Panda: Andy’s running the St. Louis half-marathon.


Panda: Thanks for running with me.

*   *   *

My seniors complained about their final paper I assigned them two years ago.  5 pages – boo hoo hoo!  So I made a bet with them.  If I could run a half marathon, then they would have to do the 5 page final.  My seniors knew very well that I was not a runner, so they took up the bet.  Needless to say, I ran the half marathon and chronicled the race as proof.  They were not happy.

*   *   *

Two years ago, I shared the video of my half marathon achievement with my friends.  That video inspired 4 others to start running.  Those friends joined me on my second half marathon.  From there, we started something new and different.  Though we’re still unknown, we have met some amazing people.

*   *   *

Two years ago, I had the courage to start.

*   *   *

Two years ago, I completed my first half marathon.

*   *   *

Two years later, I’m training for my 5th half marathon and my first marathon this October.

“The miracle isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

– John “The Penguin” Bingham


7 thoughts on “The Courage to Start

  1. Awesome. Goose-bumpy, chilly awesome.

    My running ‘career’ indirectly started at the Go! St. Louis Half last year when my wife – a very unlikely runner – ran it with some coworkers. She was instantly hooked and went on to run the Chicago Distance Classic. After being inspired by her finish times and enjoyment in both of those events, I ran the Team Ortho Monster Dash Half in Minneapolis with her last October. Me, a guy who always said he hated running. A guy who would rather ride a bicycle 50 miles than run one.

    I just ran my first marathon this last weekend and will run a leg of the Go!StL relay with my wife this weekend.

    It’s funny how the snowball rolls out of control. I haven’t even touched my bicycle yet this year, yet I’ve run 305 miles. Go figure.

    I mention the details above not to make your post about me, or my wife. I was simply struck by some similarities in how things got started.

    “I’m not an addict, it’s cool, I feel alright.” – K’s Choice

  2. So, I had this whole fantastic comment for your blog about ‘the courage to start is the biggest battle’ etc. Then, I realized I pretty much rewrote your blog. So, I highlighted, backspaced, and here we are.

    You’re an inspirational guy, and its awesome to see that it was a simple little conversation that happened between 2 friends. You could have simply overlooked your offer and made excuses of why you weren’t going to do it. But you did it. I’m proud of ya!

    Let’s go October!

  3. My story is more like this:
    6 years ago: read The Courage to Start and started running
    5 years ago: ran first race (a hilly 12k)
    3 years ago: ran first half marathon
    Today: haven’t run much in the last three years

    I’ve spent the last 3 years meaning to get back into running, but mostly failing. It’s still always that thing I’m going to do, though. One of these days. Maybe I should set my mind on another race.

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