2010.02.17 Once a runner, never a runner

Written by David Green.


I visited with a friend from high school recently whom I had seen maybe only once or twice since we occasionally bumped into one another at college.

He asked if I was still running.

Still running, I thought to myself. That implies that I was once a runner. I was never a runner. Not really. I could recall wanting to be a runner and trying to be a runner, but I never liked it all that much.

I don’t recall how I answered his question other than saying that I wasn’t running, but it did get me to thinking about my life as a runner.

I suppose it began on Cawley Road when Susan Webster’s dog, Pepper, would chase us around her house. I was terrified of that little dog. I’m guessing that if a person would have suddenly turned and yelled and Pepper would have skedaddled in the other direction, but I never thought of that at age six.

On a safe run, I would leave Susan’s front porch and make it all the way around to the back without spotting the little Devil Dog. Most times he would be encountered halfway around. I would suddenly reverse course, with those little teeth gaining on me all the way up the steps and onto the low brick wall.

In my junior year of high school I went out for track and became a half miler. That was in the days of Mr. Ritsema, who trained us by making us hold onto a T-bar attached to the rear of his car.

I won my race occasionally. I think I placed third at the league meet or maybe it was the county meet. Was I that good? Probably not. I got in the slow heat at the regional competition and missed a trip to the state meet by a second or so.

That was the closest I became to becoming a runner. I’ve been in the slow heat ever since.

Before leaving for college I bought a pair of Puma running shoes. They were the latest thing. The Bryner boys were with me when I made the purchase—I must have gotten a ride to the big city with them for shopping—and Jim thought it was rather ridiculous. He already had a year in college and knew those things were not needed. [Note of interest: Everybody, I mean everybody, wears “running shoes” now. Very few of us did in 1968.]

I don’t remember ever running in college except in the required gym class.

I was soon to enter my bicycling era (sort of running on wheels), but when I moved downtown in Portland, Ore., I bought another pair of running shoes. I even went out running in them half a dozen times, perhaps.

When I returned to Morenci, I might have run along the creek path a few times. Maybe I was just frantically searching for Ben who was overdue from a hike.

My wife and I try to be walkers now, and sometimes we run a 100-yard stretch of the 400 yard loop. (No, we haven’t completed our metric conversion).

I was on a massage therapist’s table recently (man, she really knows how to hurt a guy) and she asked about my exercise. I told her I walk and I run up and down the stairs.

I explained the latter activity was intentional. I really run up and down the stairs. It’s great exercise. I don’t know if I would really classify it as running. It’s just repeatedly climbing and unclimbing stairs.

She was asking because of the word “run.” Very hard on the body, she said. Maybe she was sizing me up for return visits because she does a lot of work smoothing out the bodies of runners.

I don’t know if she meant it this way, but I took her words as sage advice: Running is hard on the body.

I put her words to practice immediately. I still won’t become a runner.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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