Saturday, March 26, 2011

Who's on First?

" A heckuva lot better than being the shortest player in the minor leagues." -
Freddie Patek, Kansas City Royals 5'4" infielder, on how it feels to be the shortest player in the major leagues.

Sometimes when I write this blog, words just flow out of my fingers and when I finish, I look at the post and say "wow, where did that come from?". But, as Satchel Paige once said, "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits". So, without a definite theme rattling around in my head, I think I'll just jump in the pool and see what happens.

Last week, at the Oak Mountain 50k, it was Africa-hot, and I have to hand it to the 89 runners that hung in there to the finish. We had about 14 DNF's, but in that heat, I would have expected a bushel load more. Working the dual aid station at miles 14.5 & 26.1, I had a great time being in the middle of it all. I am always amazed and rewarded by how grateful most runners seem to be towards the volunteers during the race. The thank-you's they throw around are so genuine and you both know it has become a team effort - sorta like a NASCAR team of the driver and the pit crew. To give you an idea of what can happen to the best of them in the heat, Vince Molesky came out of the woods in first place at 26.1 miles and looked strong with just 5.8 miles of mostly downhill to go to the finish. SEVENTEEN minutes later, Birmingham's own Owen Bradley emerged at the aid station. We told him how much he was behind. He grabbed some drink and off he went back to the woods seemingly for a 2nd place finish. Well, the Fat Lady hadn't quite burped up her song yet, because Owen caught a rapidly sinking Vince with a half mile to go and won in 5:01! That is incredible to make up that amount of time in less than 6 miles. Congrats Owen.

Speaking of volunteering, let me give you an example of how low my running life has fallen. Now that I know my Boston Marathon qualifying days are over, I decided to volunteer for this year's race. After all, all of the race volunteers get neat jackets FREE, and if there's one thing I definitely need, it's more gear. So I wrote the Volunteer Director an email, explained that I was from out-of-state, but had run the race 5 times and would now like to "give back" (like the jacket had nothing to do with it!). Yeah, c'mon, just fill out the online form and thanks for volunteering. I put the finish line as where I wanted to work, picturing myself putting a mylar blanket around Shalane Flannigan or Kara Goucher!!! Well, here's a kick in the pants - yesterday I got a letter from the BAA that said they had more volunteer applications than they had slots...thanks for your interest...try again next year...see ya!! Not only can I not qualify to run the race, I can't even qualify to be a frickin' volunteer!! Holy Crow. I used to be somebody. I was having flashbacks to some of my college rejection letters. Oh well, guess I can't be too sad - I'm still visiting my family in Boston, will get to run the morning of the race, then walk the half mile or so from my son's house to the 23 mile mark and yell at Ken to get his butt in gear, stop whining, and get to the finish line before the third wave catches him.

This week begins baseball season. Although it is something very special to me, here in the southeastern portion of the US, baseball season is just a filler between Spring Football and Fall Football. I don't outwardly argue that's bigger than all of us...but it makes me sad to see that, just like all other sports, baseball has been reduced to a pure business, much more than a game. We don't root for players anymore, we root for the shirts that the faceless players wear. But, as clear as yesterday, I remember a day in probably 1955 or 1956, that my father took me to my first baseball game at New York's Polo Grounds, home of his beloved Giants. As we walked through the concourse towards the entrance to our section, I was almost hyperventilating with excitement. When we emerged into the sunlight and could see the field below, I still remember vividly how incredibly green the grass was. And I remember the sharp contrast of the uniforms of the team the Giants were playing because they were lined with a brilliant red - the Cardinals? The Reds? The Phillies? Don't remember that. For a short period, every season renews that excitement and those memories of days way gone past. I don't love baseball like I did back then, but I sure do love to think about when I did. Play ball!

Talk about an athlete. While running this morning, I was listening to a podcast (yes, when I run alone, I'm plugged in...except on the trail) that reported that Lance Armstrong was seriously considering doing the Hawaii Ironman this October. Supposedly, he's swimming times that would place him in the top 10-12, obviously the biking leg wouldn't be a problem (really??), and he has Alberto Salazar coaching his running. He's told Alberto that if he can get his marathon time down to 2:30 without that swimming and biking stuff, he thinks he could do a 2:50 in Kona! You gotta love it. I do.

Ok folks, that's about it for jumping around this week. Not much substance, but thanks for sticking with me during my blogger's block. I intentionally didn't mention the current state of my basketball bracket, but I honestly believe a blind monkey throwing darts at a blank bracket would be doing better than me. Hope you all have a great week and I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

1 comment:

dkdk said...

AL: On behalf of all the people who you have graciously lead on Sunday morning runs, paced in marathons and who read your inspiring blogs, you will ALWAYS be a somebody to us. If they don't need volunteers, I can think of 20 places that do. You rock!