While living by myself in a little cottage on Mount Bonnell outside Austin in the early nineties, I was without a significant other for the first extended period in my life. Fortunately (though I didn’t think so at the time) I had the solitude needed to turn my attention toward my own wants and needs rather than those of a mate. And I had the opportunity to become very clear about the attributes I wanted in my next relationship. The list I created during those five years was long and very specific, and around ten of the desired characteristics were non-negotiable—physically attractive, athletic, willing to be authentic and vulnerable, dedicated to spiritual/psychological growth, belief in equality for all, intelligent with sense of humor, among a few others. About the only quality I didn’t specify was age, which as you’ll discover, was probably fortunate.
Near the end of my five-year retreat at the age of fifty-two, I joined Austin Fit, a marathon training group, with three goals in mind: (1) complete a marathon; (2) find some running buddies; and (3) meet attractive, athletic women.
Between twenty to thirty runners in the intermediate-level Green Group met early each Saturday morning at Town Lake. It was summer, and as usual, hot as Hades in the capitol city of Texas—highs in the upper 90s to lower 100s. Of course, Austin runners (approximately ten percent of the city’s population at that time) were accustomed to being thoroughly sweat-soaked by the time they hit the quarter-mile mark during the summer. With the encouragement of our coaches, we ran increasingly long distances on the trails around the lake (ultimately up to twenty-plus miles) in preparation for the Austin Motorola Marathon that would take place on February 18, 1996.
After running together week after week for longer and longer distances, the size of our group dwindled to seven runners. My initial impression of the single remaining female member of our group was of a very attractive, assertive woman of indeterminate age who looked pretty damned good in running tights. Her name was Shonnie Lavender. (more…)