As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a writer. I started getting paid to write when I was about 15 and since then, I’ve written hundreds, maybe thousands of articles, about every topic imaginable. But I had never written a eulogy until last weekend.
The eulogy was for my father who died a week ago.
Writing the eulogy was easy; giving it was nearly impossible. I choked on my very first words and barely got through it. (Don’t worry, I won’t repeat it here.)
As a kid, my father and I looked remarkably similar. But we were very different people. He was the smartest man I have ever known. A mathematician, scientist, thinker, he was one of the early engineers working on rocket boosters, laser technology and even attempted to communicate with a star (Epsilon Eridani), using his lasers. (As far as I know, he never heard anything back from the star.)
My father didn’t understand sports and that’s all I lived for. But, he unknowingly, sent me on my lifelong love of running.
I went to an elementary school (famous alumni: former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman) that was so small it didn’t have a cafeteria or even bus service. You could bring a bag lunch and eat in the gym, but I never did.
School was about 1.5 miles away and one day he made the suggestion that I run back and forth to school. He had run in high school and sporadically as an adult, but his suggestion had little to do with that or even fitness. It was just the simplest, easiest choice of transportation for me (it was too cold to ride a bike) if I wanted to come home for lunch.
Today, a mile is just a warm up. But for a little kid it was a long way to go, especially during the winter. I clearly remember my early runs home for lunch and then back to school. The best part was a short cut I took every day through a beautiful wooded area, crossed with trails and mounds of clam shells that had been discarded by the Indians.
As I got fitter, I discovered I had an affinity for this. Pretty soon, my lunchtime runs became the highlight of my day. The teachers were well aware of what I was up to and allowed me ready access to the door for a quick getaway. As the clock approached noon, I got into a sprinter’s stance and retied my sneakers. The second the clock hit noon, I burst out of the classroom, flew down the stairs and propelled myself off the school steps.
I was free to run.
Pretty soon, I started to time myself, matching the school clock with a clock at home. Although I don’t recall how quickly I ran, my times kept getting faster and when I made it back to school, I just kept running around the park until the bell rang.
This had nothing to do with training; this was running for the pure joy of it. I’ve never lost that joy and hope I never do.
It was the lasting gift my father bestowed on me.
O Chris Kimbrough didn’t defend her women’s title at the Capitol 10,000 on Sunday. Chris is going to a massage school which provided massages after the race and she was one of the masseurs working. In what will be one of her last Austin-area races, Kimbrough cruised to victory at the Longhorn Run 10K the day prior in 36:10. Her husband Doug took a new position in Portland and the entire family (five girls, one boy) are moving to Portland in late July. Our loss.
O Another loss. The Big Man—Jaco Botes, all 6-7 of him—is also leaving our fair city (actually Round Rock) and moving to Washington, D.C. Jaco’s an engineer and has been running a marathon a month for a year. He’s accepted a new job with a firm that does machine-to-machine and wearable technology type of things. Sunday, Jaco ran his last Austin race—the Cap 10,000—and this morning, Jaco did his final run with his Fleet Feet Round Rock group before taking off for DC. He will also be missed, especially by all the runners (like me) who hid behind and drafted off this hulk in so many windy races.
O Desiree Ficker, a past winner of the Cap 10-K, ran it again but this time, she pushed her daughter Beau in a running stroller. The former pro triathlete might run Cap 10 next April pushing a double stroller as she and her husband are expecting a boy in September.
O Last Cap 10: If you think you saw Keith Dowland winning his age group on Sunday at the Cap 10,000, you were mistaken. That was his identical twin brother Ross who won the 60-63 age group, not Keith. Ross, who is retired and lives in Prescott, Arizona, has raced here on occasion over the years and is used to the confusion it can cause. When Austinites raced in Phoenix, they were always surprised to see Keith. But it usually was Ross.
O Former Austinite Patrick Evoe, who now lives in Boulder, finished third in the inaugural Taiwan Ironman last weekend. Evoe didn’t have a great swim (55:41), but had a solid bike (4:42) and turned in the fourth fastest marathon (2:57) to move up a few places and grab third for the last podium spot in 8:40:58. BTW: Evoe is now coaching other triathletes. If interested, go to his site (patrickevoe.com) for details.
O The Dallas Marathon honored Boston Marathon champ Meb Keflezighi with its Victory Award for Excellence. Meb ran Dallas last December as part of a relay team. He’ll be defending his Boston title on Monday and will be appearing on Sunday afternoon in Boston at a special screening of a doc about his long-time coach Bob Larsen.
O BTW: Boston weather for Patriots’ Day—Monday—looks promising. Looks like it’ll be cloudy with temps in the high 40s and maybe a little rain late in the day. If the wind backs off or swings around to the west, it might be ideal. At least, it shouldn’t be warm.
O Thinksport has made a $10,000 Thinksocial donation to the Livestrong Foundation in honor of Amy Marsh. Amy is the Austin trigal who is waging a war against acute myeloid lymphona. Even better, Team FunDo (including Lance Armstrong) raised a ton of money last weekend at a ride in The Woodlands. In addition to the money which was raised, at least 50 riders had their cheeks swabbed and registered as possible bone marrow donors. The whole shebang was organized by Lars Finanger of Slowtwitch who handed Amy and Brandon Marsh an envelope with $15,000 in cash to defray some of their medical costs.
O The Texas State Senior Games were held this week in San Antonio and several locals ran well. In the 10-K road race, Bill Schroeder of Georgetown finished second overall in 39:58 and the living legend—90-year-old Joe Barger—won his age group (he was the only one) in 1:21. Bill also won the 5-K in 19:25, while Joe took his age group in 38:41. Bill also won the gold medal in the 1500 meters, an event he has won four straight years in the Senior Games.
O Former Austinites Brian and Sarah Periman (who now live in Houston) had mixed results last weekend at the Bellaire Trolley 5-K. Sarah won the women’s division in 18:47—and busted up Brian who still managed a 19:00.
O No hoop? The new beer mile record of 4:56.25 by Aussie Jimbo Hansen might not count because he didn’t throw down his final beer over his head properly. Patrick Butler, who rules on these sort of things, admits there’s no standardized way to dump the beer over your head. He said, “We might co-opt what the Austin event organizes did (FloTrack) and have elite races dump the remaining contents into a container. The dregs of four fully-charged beers usually result in about ‘one finger’ of total liquid. We might make that a rule soon.”
o What I’m listening to this morning: “Solo Acoustic, Volume 2” by the great Jackson Browne.
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