"Well, if I die
On top of the hill
And if I don't make it,
You know my baby will."
I think about the thing I love to do most these Bob Dylan lyrics pop into my mind. It takes me back to the many enjoyable and sometimes miserable runs I've shared with Steve Riley. Running is by and large an individual pursuit. But sometimes you find people that are running soul mates. Steve is/was that for me. We would have a great time discussing Dylan, Steve's love of motorcycles, skydiving, or the hells of teaching (Steve's profession) or television (my profession).
The only other person that could top Steve in the running category was Tom Dowling. He was my coach and a very special individual. Tom had that unique gift of making you feel that you were the most important person in his life whenever you spent time with him. Just about everybody I know that was coached by Tom would attest to that. Getting to spend an hour with him on the trails of Overland Park was a treat. Tom would tell delightful stories about his high school running triumphs or discuss his love of eastern philosophy. To give an idea of how we felt about Tom a group of us would refer to him as "The Lord" when speaking about him.
Tom left us all too early in 1995. It left a large void in a lot of lives. But thanks to Tom there are two men in my life with whom I share special bonds. Tom introduced me to them long ago. They both live in Kansas City and keep my ties to the place I consider home strong. They will be lifelong friends, just like Steve Riley. Hopefully the time will come when I can return to that place in the Midwest and share a few runs with my friends and hopefully I won't die when I reach the top of the hill.