I started running back in the day when the first “waffle” shoes from Nike came out and were sold in the Bronx from the back of a van. My first pair of running shoes as a high school freshman were leather Puma. At least they weren’t high top Chuckies, which is the pair of sneakers I had up until then and were our equivalent of Michael Jordan’s.
I ran cross-country, indoor and outdoor track for four years in high school. For indoor we’d do an hour and a half train trek to the 168th St. Armory in Manhattan to work out and for meets. Before they spiced it up– it had a flat, splintery, wooden floor. Rattlesnakes in the stands and dragons in the stairwells. Yeah. Cross-country was mostly at Van Cortlandt Park where they still run the same trails. The Flats, Cemetery, the Cowpath. Sound familiar to anyone? Coaches used hourglasses with sand to time us.
At West Point I joined the Marathon Team. I did multiple New York, Boston, Jersey Shore (aka Jooisey Shore), Marine Corps in DC and some others. My first was NY in 1978 before it was really, really big. I was booking, hit 20 in a little over 2 hours and then hit the WALL. Last six miles took an hour and a half. I learned from that. Boston was the easiest since it actually loses elevation from start to finish. One year I wasn’t in the greatest shape after an injury (or walking the Area for punishment tours at West Point, I can’t recall, but there is yours truly tooling around on the left) and a buddy and I decided to just sort of cruise it. That worked until we hit Wellesly and all the screaming co-eds. Next thing we were clicking off six minutes miles and finished under 2:50.
I remember the runner’s high when you’d be just sort of floating, feeling like you were hardly breathing or exerting yourself. After that, I continued to run to work out. Plus it was “Army training”. I tore my Achilles doing martial arts in the early 90s and was never really able to do much distance after that, no matter what kind of shape I managed to get in. Go over eight miles and I could feel it start to give. So. It was a long time since I’d had the runner’s high. But I continued to trudge it out. I’d take Gus to the woods on Whidbey Island, then in NC and now here and we’d meander along on the trails. Becca was smarter than either of us. Any time she figures we were doing an out and back run, she didn’t bother with the out. Running was never high on her agenda.
But Gus is over 8 now and he’s a big dog. We’ve learned that the hips for big dogs are key. And Gus also had a knee operation. I could tell even though he still wants to run (he was whining this morning, wanting to go) it wasn’t good for him. Dogs don’t know how to take care of themselves in some ways and its our job to do that for them. Plus I don’t know how to take care of myself very well without Deb to remind me. Anyway, I decided to follow Gus’s example. I’d been splitting time between running and biking anyway and now I’m just biking.
We moved in January to a house not far from the Greenway here in Knoxville. I can go down the driveway, catch the Greenway in a quarter mile and bike to the TN River, follow it around downtown, across the river, through iJams Nature Center to Forks of the River. Knoxville has a great system of Greenways and parks.
I had a mountain bike I’d bought in Boulder, CO when we lived there and I took it to Whidbey, where the weather is tough on things. I finally accepted it was time to get a tune up so as I was leaving for a conference I dropped it off at the local bike store. While I was gone, the bike guy called my wife and told her he wasn’t going to tune it up. He wouldn’t take responsibility for any work on the bike. Apparently it wasn’t in the greatest of shape. So I got a new bike. That was in 2009. Yesterday, I stopped by REI and saw their new line of bikes and made an impulse buy (most unusual for me). Okay, the impulse was, I liked this bike, looked it over, went home, looked it up on line, emailed my son the physicist and mountain-biker, asked my wife (I guess she’s unusual, because she always says DO IT! whenever I ask about buying something), did some more research, then went back and bought it. For the shrink I had who told me I needed to be spontaneous, that’s about as spontaneous as I get.
Today I’ll be driving up to North Boundary at Oak Ridge and doing some trails to test out the new wheels. Also its where I get my Y-12 glow on. My running shoes are sitting on the shelf in the garage, gathering dust. It was fun for over four decades, but it was time to move on.
Nothing but good times ahead!
Oh yes– today’s bundle special free: Military Science Fiction 2: The Rock and Atlantis Devils Sea.
Originally published at bobmayer.com on April 30, 2017.