Wednesday walkabout – October 16, 2019

I went for a hike a day early, so I will write with tired legs. I shouldn’t be too tired as I ran into an old friend hiking this weekend on a local trail. He said he was walking after minor surgery, so he could start training for a 50 mile race. Yikes! It put my three mile walk to shame.

I used to run road races, but would never be confused with a fast runner. Once, as I neared the finish line of an 8K race, a girl nudged her father at one of the turns and said “Dad, look at him!” Unfortunately, she was pointing at me. The longest road race I ever ran was a 15K. To my surprise, they put out a list of how we finished. I came in second….from last. I did notice one person who cheated cutting off part of the course, so I actually finished third from last.

I was one of the boys who grew up fast. I was 6’0″ tall in the 8th grade. But, my foot speed was slower than when I was a quick football player in the 6th grade. I did eventually get faster, but would not ever be considered fast.

To my chagrin, my high school basketball coach also coached the cross country team. So, we had to run cross country to train. The coach liked to make us run gassers at the end of a long run. Gassers are finishing off with two 880s, four 440s, and eight 220s. At night, I would sometimes wake up to leg cramps, which was not fun.

This will sound strange, but I would rather run an 880 over a 440 anyday. On the latter, you feel like it is a sprint, so you run out of gas at the end.

So, I think I will leave the running to my friend. Hiking is much more sustainable.

 

I just felt like running


In my younger days, I could do my best Forrest Gump impression and go for run. Unlike Forrest, there would not be older men looking out the window saying “That boy sure is a runnin’ fool.” And, I would not be running across country so much that interviewers would ask me why I ran. I would spare them the Forrest answer of “I just felt like running.”

My running post college was around a desire to get a collection of T-shirts, preferably long-sleeved ones, from the various 5K, 8K, 10K and 15K races. I was not into longer races and I was no threat to run a marathon. The road races came in handy as milestones to make me run to practice. “Well I better run a few weeks before, so I do not kill myself in the next race,” was the thought process. Nowadays, I am a walker and hiker. Running causes too much stress on the body, if you don’t have a regular routine, so the slower pace better suits the old bones.

Please note, the walking pace is not that much slower than the jogging pace had become. For some reason, I was a fast boy, but I think the bigger I got, the slow motion knob seemed to be turned on more. A few funny stories that my friends and I encountered illustrate the lack of speed this big, tall guy had even on his best day.

  • A good friend was jogging in a race on this woody 5K trail near where we live. He was one of the few people that was slower than me, only because I was younger. He could probably dust me today. He heard two women come up behind him nearing the end as they said “I think we can catch him.” My friend practically killed himself making sure he finished ahead of these two women.
  • In another race (a 10K), he and I had a small bet that I could finish ahead of him. He had actually goaded me into the race as he knew I was adding too many pounds. After some training, the race day came. I was ahead of him as we neared the last 1K when I heard this “Keith, I am going to catch you!” So, like he did with the two women, I practically killed myself to beat him. What I did not know he was spent when he yelled out, but he did not want me to know, so he hollered out his challenge.
  • Yet, to illustrate how slow I had become, I was running in an 8K race. The crowds got a little thicker as we neared the end. With about 1K to go, I apparently was wearing my suffering on my face, as I saw a little boy point me out to his father and say “Dad, look at him.” From the mouth of babes…..
  • In my younger days, I ran cross-country in high school. But, before you get too impressed, note I was a basketball player whose coach was also the cross-country coach, so I was obligated to be on the team. I have two memories, one funny and one painful. The painful one was running intervals (or gassers), which is running a series of sprints that went something like 2 x 800m, 4 x 400m, 8 x 200m. Living in Florida, in the middle of the night I would cramp up from the dehydration. Ouch.
  • The funny memory is about a fellow basketball player named Gary who had a unique style. He broke the 5K cross-country run into a series of sprints with walking intervals. So, I would pass Gary, then Gary would pass me. This would go on for the whole race until he tired, which usually meant I carried the day due to attrition. Yet, note we both were well back in the pack. So, my speed was indeed relative.

I actually have fond memories of the running. It is exhilarating to expand your lungs and do something. The pleasure of nearing the finish and completing the race is a great moment, even for the slowest of runners. Your only race is to finish and maybe beat a personal best time. I did run a Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta where the number of people is astounding. When the gun shoots to start the race, you stand there for about fifteen minutes until the crowd starts to move.  Just do not fall.

I also ran a 15K race where the namesake created a trust fund after he died to help keep the race going. It was called the Charlie Post Classic. I had the pleasure of finishing third from last in that race which was at Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, SC. Seaside, you learn quickly the difference between running down wind and up wind. On the latter, I was definitely in slo-mo mode. But, yes I did finish and not every one did.

So, if you see this walking fool on the trails, know he is running in his heart. Not much faster, but indeed running. Me and Forrest, Forrest Gump.