Friday, January 10, 2020
I went out for track with visions of Jim Ryun dancing in my head. I had seen him run the previous spring at the Kansas Relays on a world record setting distance medley relay. I wanted to run the mile, but it didn't exits at that time in the world of eigth grade high track and field. I had the stubborn determination to be a distance runner.
I would spend my summer running about 200 miles in preparation of joining the Abilene High School cross country team. I would make the varsity on a team that would eventually place third in the state of Kansas. Unfortunately, I would transfer to another junior high in Lawrence, Kansas before that trip to State happened.
But I was a runner, probably logging north of 300 miles in 1970. The total was certainly well less than the 750 miles I logged in 2019. That total is the lowest I have run since 1971 when I ran my first competitive mile, a school record at South Junior High and a city record for one, very short year. I would make the Lawrence High varsity cross country team as a sophomore that fall.
2019 marked only the second time since 1971 that I ran less than 1,000 miles in a year. Having knee surgery at the end of November 2018 didn't help. A brutal summer of heat didn't help. Having a grand daughter nearly killed in a car crash didn't help. And turning 64 didn't help either.
I managed to run only one race in 2019. A 58 minute 10K in Naples that I thoroughly enjoyed my slowest time ever by four minutes. It matched my total number of races from 2018, a half marathon in Riga in 2:04 that I thoroughly enjoyed, my slowest time ever by 10 minutes. I know that if I forced myself to race more, I would train more. My duties with the Fort Myers Track Club and owning my own running store has actually hurt my ability to race more than it has helped. But that's a me problem.
The fact is, I am still a runner. I may have plugged away at a barely sub 40 minute four mile this afternoon but it was a run nevertheless and I rue the day that I might not be able to lace up a pair of running shoes and hit the road. I kept threatening to stop running and racing throughout my 40's and by the time I turned 50 I began to realize what a gift it is that I can still run and race. I don't care about my times... much. I just enjoy the feeling of pushing myself, something that I rarely if ever do in training runs anymore.
I see it as a gift and one that is not to be taken for granted. Here's to another 1,000 plus miles in 2020.