Jim Ewing taught English at Howard Payne when I arrived there. He was a distance runner, and he'd come to the U.S. from Scotland to be on the HPU track team. He'd been a star of the team, and he was still a runner. Four or five years after I met him, he finished first in a marathon in San Antonio. I wouldn't be surprised if he were still running somewhere or other.
Because I couldn't play handball at the college, I talked to Jim about running. He said it didn't require any talent, just persistence. I certainly lacked the talent, but I wasn't sure I could be persistent.
He explained that he liked the idea of training with LSD, which surprised me a little, since Howard Payne was a Baptist school. But then he told me that he meant long, slow distance. That was the key to success. Well, that was fine with me. In addition to lacking talent, I also lacked speed. Compared to me, statues are speedy.
I thought over what Jim had said, and I figured maybe running was for me, in spite of my bad experiences in Corsicana years earlier. After all, being slow and lacking talent, I had two of the three qualifications he'd mentioned.
I never dreamed of training with him. I knew he was too fast and too good. It would have been embarrassing to try to keep up with him because I knew that by the time I'd gone ten yards, he'd be somewhere in the next county. I thought, however, that I might be able to sneak out on my own.
But there was a catch. I was now married, with two little kids. Finding the time to run wouldn't be easy. Jim told me that if I really wanted the exercise, I could find the time. He suggested the weekends to begin with, and if that proved workable, I could try to get more time on the road going out in the late afternoons when I got home from the college. I lived near the location of an old army camp, Camp Bowie. There were lots of deserted roads to run on, and traffic was light. Hardly anyone would see me, and for the most part I could stay well away from the main roads. He encouraged me to give it a try. If I didn't like it, or if things didn't work out, I could quit and try to find some other way to exercise.
I told him I'd think it over.