05 January 2012

Busy Weekend Bits

Last weekend’s bang-bang racing double made for more stories and tales than a mortal human could absorb in one sitting, even one used to my verbosity. Having told the tales of the tape a few nights back, I offer here some tales of, well, amusing bits.

Reunion: Saturday being an open meet, you never know who you’ll meet (pun intended). It would be easy to say that pretty much everybody was there, though that’s a bit of a stretch. Let’s just say there were a number of surprises, all pleasant. Besides a great turnout from my newly adopted Greater Boston club, also present was a customer of mine with whom I’ve tried to line up a run for some time, a young lady who ran on the track team I coached a few years back, and most pleasantly, one of my biggest smile-generating coaching subjects, Nick.

Coaching middle school teams at a small Catholic school is, as I’ve noted before, is generally not an exercise in high-brow athletic accomplishment. It’s a joy of course, which is why I’ve done it, but the focus is on fun, fitness, and personal improvement, not championship attainment. Yet each year I’ve had the pleasure of having one or two gifted athletes, offering the chance to push those few a little harder in the limited time we got together. These are the kids that you can push harder because they want to be pushed, they respond, and they grow into it.

Nick was my star of the Class of 2010, and now, as a sophomore at a nearby Catholic high school, he’s met significant success in various sports but has now gravitated to a running focus. Makes my heart all warm and fuzzy, it does… I’ve cheered as I’ve heard of his exploits since graduating from my team. And there he was, cheering me on for a change!

Nick, your coach is very proud of you!

Collecting the Forward Payment: On the topic of never knowing who you’ll meet comes this interesting story. Back in November, the USATF New England Cross Country Championships was my first race with Greater Boston. I arrived somewhat lost and confused, not exactly the deer in the headlights since it was daytime, but not far off. My apprehension was quickly broken when another GBTC master recognized me and pulled out of his back seat the shirt I’d designed for the Wolves race I’d directed for my local Highland City Striders club a couple years back.

At Saturday’s meet he related that something stuck in his head from that day and he’d finally remembered what it was. He recalled my race so fondly because I’d made a point of mailing him his medal after he’d had to depart shortly after the race. The irony was that there had been debate in our club on whether to do this, with several advocating that if winners couldn’t stick around for their awards, well, too bad, not our problem. My take? You callous fools. How hard is it to mail a medal and make someone happy? I exercised race director’s discretion and mailed the uncollected awards.

Two years later, I was now teammates with the recipient of one of them. He remembered, and appreciated it. And I was so pleased to know that a simple act brought happiness. It’s common to talk about paying it forward. Just do what feels right. It might come back to you.

Wicketh Funnieth: I hath to thay, thith ith my favoith thtory.

Sunday marked the fourth time I’ve run the Freezer Five, and the third time I’ve scored a masters award. There are a bunch of things I love about this race, but I’ll mention two in particular. First, I love the awards, which are both useful and cool, being sweatshirts with what I think is a great logo, and second, I love the awards, because they’re consistent yet varying, so I’ve built up a great colorful collection which just increased in size by fifty percent. As you can see, I now have three: 2007, 2008, and 2012.

It wasn’t until a couple days after the race, however, that I noticed something a little amusing…

2007 saw the 26th annual Freezer Five. Sweatshirt award pictured.

2008 saw the 27th annual Freezer Five. Sweatshirt award pictured.

2009 saw the 28th annual Freezer Five. I missed it due to foot surgery.

2010 saw the 29th annual Freezer Five. I didn’t make the podium that year, still coming back from the surgery break.

2011 saw the 30th annual Freezer Five. I missed the race that year.

And then…2012 saw the 31th annual Freezer Five.

Look closely at that sweatshirt. Yes, the thirty-oneth. Not making that up. Thirty-oneth.

Ah well, I love this race anyways. And I’m looking forward to seeing if next year is the thirty-tooth.

Finally, Absolution: Finally, being, as noted, Catholic, I must offer a confession. Forgive me readers, I have sinned. I looked it up, and discovered I’d lied. As it turns out, I ran a few open meets the summer after my freshman year of college, the summer of ’82, just as my First Lap of running was coming to its faded end. So no, it wasn’t quite thirty years since my last competitive mile, merely twenty-nine and a half. And it wasn’t high school. And you don’t care. But my conscience is cleared. Now I’ll go say a few Hail Marys and we’ll call it a night, OK?


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