July 2021-Tom Horan

Sometimes I hate running. Not just a little…but so much that I wonder why I run at all. And I would guess that most of you who’ve run for a while have felt that way too. Why do I sometimes hate it? Because it can hurt, especially if you do it right. Bonks, skinned knees, nausea… sometimes it really stinks. But most of the time, it doesn’t. That’s why…

Sometimes I love running. OK, most the time. In particular, I love running Black Hills trails on a cool summer morning or evening, and that smooth runner’s high that I get after a good run. It doesn’t always come, but when it does, it’s remarkable. It might come on my drive home, or in the middle of a cold beer with friends afterwards. I rarely share with those around me just how blissful I am in that moment. I imagine they’ve experienced similar private moments.

Truly, this sport has changed my life. It has changed my thoughts, my friends, my day to day, my body, my goals, my self-worth. It has shown me that I can achieve far more than I ever imagined, if I just commit and do the work. I’ve also learned the hard way that there is no free lunch in running. Skip the work, and you’ll pay the price. Running takes time; running well takes a lot of time.

Unlike many of the runners in this group, I have not run my entire life. Yes, I ran as a child, primarily as a matter of survival, being the 7th of 11 children and the youngest of five brothers.  I dabbled a bit in middle school track and I played soccer from grade school through high school. But then I didn’t run…for 21 years. During those non-running years, because I was relatively thin, I figured I was fit. At the young age of 39, I tried running again. I found out in a hurry that I was not fit, not even close. I could run maybe a minute before my lungs and legs started to burn. But I stuck with it. Why? I suppose it was because I identified as a fit person, or maybe because I improved at it.  Speed and distance both increased as I became more committed. Running solo on trails became my passion. I could get lost in the woods for hours and hours. That was 17 years ago, and I’ve pretty much stuck with running the whole time with the exception of a 2-year break that I took during a stressful time.

In 2016, at the end of that 2-year break, I was out of shape again. I found the Black Hills Runners Club through a professional colleague, Dan Bjerke. He invited me to a Thursday evening group trail run at HLMP. I joined the group for that run and almost died trying to keep up. Of course, I was hooked. Since that time, the trail group has had a big impact on my life. They’re good people, with a penchant for difficult runs. The more difficult, the better. Running with them has opened up opportunities for me to participate in greater distances and a wider array of venues.

As far as running achievements go, I’ve done 5k’s and one 100 miler and most everything in between many times.  I feel lucky to be doing the Boston Marathon this fall for the 2nd time, and excited about bringing my kids along this time. In the past couple years, 2020 and 2021, I’ve acted as the president of the Board of Directors for BHRC. It’s been challenging and rewarding. I’m proud to be just one participant working with a whole group of individuals who love this sport and this club, and are committed to making it successful. They are unrelenting in that effort and I applaud them. We’ve navigated through Covid and other challenges in the last two years, and I’m sure we’ll continue to persevere through whatever faces us next. We have to, for the success of the club and our community.

I don’t have any running philosophy to share with you, no wisdom or experience. I only know that I love running and it has changed my life. If you’re new to running, beware. It might change your life too.