//Heard Around the Lake: News, Notes and Idle Gossip (March 13, 2014)

Heard Around the Lake: News, Notes and Idle Gossip (March 13, 2014)

CADENZAWords are just words, but two of the words I detest the most when referring to you and me are “joggers” and “addict” (as in running addict or even worse, running junkie). I’m not a jogger and even though I do jog occasionally (i.e., jog recover), I’m not sure what the distinction is between runner and jogger. But I know what the differences are between true addiction and running and any comparison between the two makes me want to hurl my breakfast taco.

I’ve written about this before when some non-thinking, non-runner labeled me an addict because I run every day. Being labeled that was revolting as I draw a line between my healthy habit and drugs, booze, tobacco and all sorts of other disgusting addictions.

Nevertheless, I buried that absurdity and forgot all about it until a little incident a week or two ago that brought it all into focus for me.

It was a typical easy morning run as I tried to recover from the Austin Half Marathon and at the same time get ready for the Army Half Marathon, up in Killeen. As is normal for me, I was doing strides on a beautiful Austin golf course where I do a lot of stealth running before the sun comes up.

Anyway, I was just finishing up on my final hole of the golf course when a guy in the maintenance crew rolled up in a cart and cut me off which was weird. The maintenance guys never say much to me, other than an occasional “Buenos dias” as we have an unspoken truce. I never touch their greens and as long as I don’t, they don’t seem to care where I run.

But this time was different.

“Hey man,” he said to me, “I see you running out here every morning and–”

I cut him off. “I have permission.” (I did get permission several years ago from the head of golf who has since left, but this always seems to work whenever I get questioned.) “Don’t worry about me. I’m gone before anyone gets out here to play.”

“No, no I don’t care about that. I’ve just noticed you running and you really seem to enjoy yourself out here.”

“What? Well yeah, it’s a great place to run and I make sure never to break anything out here.”

“It’s just that I used to run in high school and I’m trying to start up again. But it hurts and it feels like I’ve never run before. I can’t seem to run longer than a couple of miles.”

The guy—I’ll call him Mark—quickly told me his back story. He had been a prominent golf course supervisor at some of the more prestigious courses in Texas, but had lost everything—family, job, dignity—and ended up living in his car. He explained to me he had been a crystal meth addict for 20 years and finally wound up in prison.

“That must have been awful,” I offered, not having a clue about addiction or prison.

“It saved my life,” said Mark. “Prison was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got clean and when I got out, joined Narcotics Anonymous. Been clean for two years now. But I am an addict.”

I’m not and have a tough time relating to addictions, be they alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, etc. Thank goodness, I simply don’t have an addiction personality, be it running or anything else.

But this guy did and he went on to tell me that for years all he ever thought about was getting high. If he wasn’t high, he thought about scoring. If he was high, he thought about getting higher. The only thing I know about crystal meth is what I learned on Breaking Bad and I knew it wasn’t pretty.

Nevertheless, Mark was trying to stay straight and sober. He had started running on Lady Bird Lake on his days off, but it was slow going and his feet hurt. I could believe that. Mark was wearing crappy, broken down sneakers—that was probably all he could afford—and I offered him a pair of running shoes to get him started.

After a couple of more minutes of me explaining how to get back into running, I had to go—and so did he. But he told me to drop the shoes off at the Pro Shop with his name on them and he’d pick them up. Not a problem.

But when I dropped the shoes off later that day, the Pro Shop attendant looked at me like I was crazy and told me there wasn’t anyone who worked here by that name.

And maybe he’s right. Since that day, I’ve run on the course numerous times and though I have looked for Mark, I’ve never seen him again.

Maybe it was just a dream, but I doubt it. This poor guy was trying to reclaim his life through running and if I could help, I would.

But please don’t lump me with him by calling me a running addict because I’m not. I don’t have an addiction issue—and he does. I get that non-runners don’t know what to make of us sometimes and without thinking, call us all sorts of names.

But that’s their problem, not our’s. I’m not an addict and don’t have a running addiction. Suggesting that any of us do, trivializes the seriously addicted who take one step at a time.


O Had a family medical emergency last week so wasn’t able to complete last week’s Heard. So some of this week’s news is a bit dated. Sorry. It’s even hard to write this week’s Heard in light of the tragic events in front of the Mohawk this morning at SXSW. But, I’ll press on.

O The 31st Chuy’s Hot to Trot 5-K on May 4th will be the final one. This terrific race—a long-time Austin perennial on the spring racing calendar—has been held in south Austin the past four or five years at the Chuy’s Arbor Trails (off MoPac at William Cannon). Chuy’s has talked about pulling the plug on this race for a few years as race numbers have dwindled. According to Brooke Cox of Chuy’s. “It was a tough decision to make, but there is now so much competition on the Austin race circuit that our donation to our charity {Special Olympics Texas} hasn’t been consistently high enough for what goes into putting on the race. We are going to focus our charitable efforts in a different way to, hopefully, make a greater impact.” Major-league bummer.

O Catching up with a number of races two weeks ago. First, at the Napa Marathon. A huge contingent of Austinites traveled there in search of personal bests and, an astonishing number, succeeded. (Too many to list here.) Fastest Austinite was my buddy Eric Storey, 43, who registered a huge PR in 3:08:05 (63rd overall and ninth in his age group). Some others who placed in their age groups: Becky Urhausen in 3:18:19 (third in 40-44 and fifth overall women masters), Anne Hughes in 3:22:52 (second in 50-54) and the ever youthful Mariano Camarillo in 3:22:56 who won the 55-59 age group.

O The 3rd Woodlands Marathon didn’t have quite the optimal conditions that the Napa crowd had (it was warm with disgusting humidity), but Rio Reina of Austin ran his first serious marathon in 2:30:41 to finish fifth overall (first American). Joseph Mutinda, who won the Austin Marathon two weeks before The Woodlands, doubled back to finish second in 2:19:40. Marlene Hicks, 48, of Georgetown was 14th overall among the women in 3:28:15. Sonya Manson was second in 45-49 3:56:17. Anita Quirino of San Antonio was fifth in the half in 1:21:52. In the 5-K, former UT runner Brock Simmons was the overall winner in 16:15.

O Down in San Marcos at the Moe’s Better Half (March 2), David Davila was the overall winner in 1:21:09. Taylor Stephens was second in 1:26:05, Collin Bond was third in 1:26:37 and Walter Smith was fourth (and first masters) in 1:26:52. Sarah Mark repeated her ’13 victory by winning the women’s in 1:31:15. Samantha Evola was second in 1:33:05 and Ivi Kerrigan—Estonia’s gift to Austin—was third and first masters woman in 1:34:45.

O The ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run 10-K in Houston (March 1) had an Austin flavor to it. Sammy Kiplagat, who lists Georgetown as his hometown, won in 30:43 with David Fuentes of Austin third in 31:42. The women’s division was won by Betzy Jimenez Childers, who goes back and forth between Austin and San Antonio, in 35:50 with Liza Hunter-Galvan of San Antonio second in 37:11 (she was also the first masters woman).

O Last weekend in San Antonio was the 13th annual Prickly Pear 50-K and 10-miler, held in McAllister Park. Our man in San Antonio—Chris Serra—reports the 50-K was won by Matt Smith in 3:49:37 and Matt Williams won the 10-miler in 58:05.

O The Endorphin Book Club doesn’t meet again until April 7 (at 6:30 at Whole Foods on the second floor outdoor pavilion) which gives you plenty of time to read this month’s book: Duel in the Sun by John Brant. The book is about the ’82 Boston Marathon duel between Alberto Salazar and our own Dick Beardsley who will be at the book club meeting—in the flesh—to separate fact from fiction. The book club meeting is free and open to anyone who wants to discuss the book.

O Noted age-group triathlete (and famed games developer) Glenda Adams is pulling up stakes and moving to Wisconsin. Adams took up running 12 years ago to lose weight (she lost 85 pounds) and became a familiar face in road races and triathlons. She also competed in several world champs.

O I know this is late (unavoidably so), but former UT runner Phillip Wood, just 22 years old, was killed by a hit-and-run driver on MoPac 10 days ago. Wood, who ran at UT from 2009-10 and was from Yardley, Pennsylvania, was walking along MoPac near Windsor Road early on a Sunday morning when he was struck by a car traveling on the far inside lane. Wood was pronounced dead at the scene by the unidentified driver of a dark blue Ford or Toyota pickup. No arrests have been made in connection with this.

O Deena Kastor, the ’04 Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon, will make her season debut at the Dallas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on March 23. Kastor, who is now 41 years old, is the American record holder in the marathon (2:19:36) and half (1:07:34) and will certainly have a shot at breaking Colleen de Reuck American masters record of 1:11:50, set in 2006. Because Kastor will also have a good chance of breaking other US masters marks in Dallas, the race will place additional timing mats at 15-K (49:51), 10 miles (55:36) and 20-K (1:08:47) in case she breaks some other records en route.

O Big props to former Austinite Matthew Maton who was named the state of Oregon’s high school cross-country runner of the year at the 62nd annual Oregon Sports Awards. Little wonder. Maton, a junior at Summit HS in Bend, won the Oregon state championship and was undefeated until the Foot Locker Nationals in which he finished third. He also placed third on a US junior team which raced in Scotland.

O What I’m listening to this morning: “One More From the Road” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Might be the best live album by the best guitar band.

Have any news for me? If you have something, send it to wish@texasrunningpost.com.


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