Wreckage and Running

About eight years ago an arsonist set fire to the grass by the back fence of the house where I lived with my then-wife and still-daughter. Before the FD arrived the aluminum shed by the fence, and most of its contents, were destroyed. The remnants were put in another shed.

This week my now-former wife Joni and I made a deal: I would clear out the shed sufficient space for my kiln, potter’s wheel and other art supplies, and then some, and I would be able to keep them there until I found a home for them. (My current apartment is unsuitable.) While doing the clearing out I found three fire-damaged but interesting items that hearkened back to my long-distance running days.

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Here is an undated, unsigned page with two drawings on it. The upper left is a slight aerial view of runners at a race, probably at or near the starting line. The lower right is Mary Decker, who was declared Sportswoman of the Year by Sports Illustrated in their double issue at the end of 1983. (Since then she became Mary Decker Slaney.) I did this page in the mid-80s, most likely in 1984, the year I finished my first marathon. From 1982, the year of my first 10K, to 1993, I participated in more than 50 footraces.

The drawings show my draughtsmanship strengths and weaknesses at the time. I had excellent eyesight and a steady hand. I would not be able to do the pen-and-ink Mary Decker drawing, whose arrow is only 4-1/2 inches in length, today, at that scale and with such detail: I’ve lost both visual acuity and dexterity. But I do tend to finish what I started MUCH more than I did then. Both of these drawings are unfinished, and though there is a freshness and charm to that, there is also unprofessionalism.

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This is a letter I wrote to my cousin Livia Householder. She and I ran the 1986 MetroChallenge 10K, a course that looped around the then-thriving MetroCenter Mall, while she was visiting from California. I was giving her the benefit of my three years’ serious running experience. Alas, we did not run the MetroChallenge in 1987.

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Here are George Gilman, friend and fellow Glendale High School graduate, and I approaching the optional finish line of a race that came to be called P.F. Chang’s Rock & Roll Marathon. (I forget what it was called the year we ran it, which I think was either 1992 or 1993.) We had just decided to call it a race at the half-marathon point and not circumvent the finish line to do the second half. George is wearing a shirt he and I both earned doing America’s Finest City Half Marathon in San Diego. I’m wearing a shirt he and I and Dr. Augusta Simpson, another classmate, all earned in a half-marathon in Glendale whose name escapes me, whose course, near what was then the Thunderbird School of International Management, included a lot of rugged desert terrain, including dry washes and cross-country up&downs. That race was either 1991 or 1992.

These images speak of a time in my life that I am not quite sure is over. I hope to get back into running. Last year I managed to jog more than a mile a few times, but I could tell I was playing with fire. If I can get my weight down to 160, my running days will resume.

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3 comments
  1. calmkate said:

    Great to reflect back and see how we have improved/grown. What do you do to keep fit now?

    • Kate, I took a job that requires me to be on my feet the entire shift. That and hiking is most of my fitness regimen nowadays. I do so hope to get back into running. THANK YOU for your welcome comment!

      • calmkate said:

        Hiking is great but that standing in one spot can be painful. Do hope you get back to running. I had a friend who was still doing marathons in her 80’s … not for me! I cycle and walk. Good luck

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