2010.02.17 Once a runner, never a runner

Written by David Green.

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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • 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.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.

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