Every religion has its Creation story. All runners do, too. And while most very fast runners generally had their beginnings on organized track teams in school or clubs, the vast majority of citizen runners we see in weekend races come to the sport later in life. Personally, I began running because my mother was Polish.
First of all, it wasn’t like Mom had been a runner, or that the Polish people were necessarily fast in the same sense that Central Highland born Kenyans and Asela-generated Ethiopians were fast – although the Poles do have a couple great 800 meter men right now in Marcin Lewandowski and Adam Kszczot. No, it’s because without realizing it, Mom attached to my small American male body what was considered by my peers to be a girl’s name, a combination that created issues that running seemed to address quite nicely, as in fight or flight.
See, my namesake is Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost items – “St. Anthony, please, tell God I lost my lunch money.” Anyway, A-N-T-H-O-N-Y is how we in the West spell that saint’s name. Thus the diminutive becomes TONY. But in Poland, they spell that saint’s name A-N-T-O-N-I. Accordingly, TONI is what I now had for a handle. And that one single letter difference is why I began running. (more…)