"These are the days these are the days you'll remember, never before and never since I promise, will the whole world will be warm as this" - Natalie Merchant
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I run many of my long runs with my good friend, Mohammed (Moha) or Ken. We have been running together for many years now, and with us each being in our sixties (Good Grief!), the topic will inevitably turn to how we "Usta" run, not how we're doing it now. I keep saying I'm going to get a shirt from the United States Tennis Association that has plastered "USTA' across the front. Seems appropriate. Anyway, once in a while, when my mind draws a complete blank of what to write in RWA, I can always go back into the vault of my mind and come up with a few things remembered. Things me and Moha and Ken talk about just about every week. Here's a few:
Nike elites - these were the first pair of real running shoes given to me by Versal Spaulding back in the late 70's. I had just began running about 6 months prior and Treated Versal's wife in my clinic. He owned the first Running shoe "store" in Birmingham, I believe it was called Running South. His "store" was actually a garage with boxes of running shoes stacked up against all the walls and a few metal folding chairs strewn around. I had been happily (ignorantly) running in a pair of Puma's I had picked up at WalMart. These things were stiff as a 2x4, but what did I know? Versal gave me a pair of Nike Elites. These were the the most comfortable things I had ever put on my feet, including socks - and they had about as much support as socks! But they fit like a glove. Looking back, these were probably what we would call today "zero-drop shoes". I wore them everyday...training, racing, whatever. A few months later, I had a rip-roaring case of Plantar Fasciitis, but to this day, my first pair of running shoes were my most comfortable ever!
NY marathon @ channel 13 - Back in the early 80's, all of my running buddies were into the marathon scene. There was no African invasion from Kenya or Ethiopia. We cheered runners like Rodgers, Shorter, Virgin, Benoit, Salazar. These were our American running heroes and we salivated to see these runners, so when a marathon was being televised, it was a BIG thing. Well, one time the New York Marathon was being televised live on NBC. At the time it began at 8 AM, so there was one problem. This was a Sunday, this was Birmingham, Alabama, and this was the Bible Belt. The NY Marathon was NOT going to bump church programming off the air and was not going to be televised here. Fortunately, one of our running buddies was Mike Royer. For those of you not from Bham, Mike was (and still is) one of the premier news anchors in this market. So, it's nice to have friends in high places and I remember about 10 of us cramming into a little Channel 13 office studio to watch the direct feed of the NY Marathon. It was 3 hours of great fun analyzing, joking, and making memories. As Bob Dylan said "Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat, if our lives could be like that".
ERG - Don't remember what was served in my first marathon in 1979, but in my 2nd one a few months later, I remember rumblings of a replacement drink along the way. No, not Gatorade, which I don't believe was widely distributed yet. This was ERG - Electrolyte Replacement with Glucose. Exercise physiology was somewhat new to us new runners, but we had been reading that we needed to replace glucose during the run. I remember bananas and defizzed coke was pretty popular, but this was SCIENCE! It was awful! It tasted like sweat! But, we drank it and we felt stronger! Ah, the power of the mind!
Casio - Casio was the leader in running watches back in the day. Weren't really fancy by today's standards. I, mean, they really were pretty simple. You pushed a button and it started this DIGITAL chronograph that told you to the second what your time was. You could stop it and restart it. The first ones had no memory, so it was simply a stopwatch that kept your time until you cleared it and that erased your time! My first one had a stainless steel band and wasn't water resistant, at least not very sweat resistant. While running a marathon in Indiana, I actually heard this crackling coming from my wrist. I looked at my watch and saw these strange alien symbols flashing on my watch that neither looked like numbers or letters. That was right before the watch went completely blank! What a cool watch!!
Polypropylene - These days if you know anything about dressing for long distance running, you know never to wear cotton. Even at the smallest 5k's, you expect some type of technical wicking shirt. Well, back 30 years ago, all we had was cotton, UNTIL, along comes Polypropolene. It was a slightly thick, tight material, that was said to draw the sweat away from your skin during running - in other words, a miracle fabric! I don't remember what this shirt cost, but at the time, it was pretty steep. So, when Athlete's Feet was having a Gambler's Sale for 5 days, I was ready. See, they had 20% off the first day, 30% the second day and so on till Friday when things were 60% off. Well, on Monday, ol' Al goes on down, finds the new Polypro shirt, hides it deep under the women's underwear in some corner, and Friday, there it is, still unfolded. A score that I'm still proud about. Don't remember if the shirt was any good, but I'm sure it was worth it.
Ok, that's enough reminiscing for now. Gotta watch the Super Bowl. Not really interested in either team, but it is the Super Bowl. Alright, here's how old I am - I went to Super Bowl II in Miami. Green Bay Packers vs Oakland Raiders. Vince Lombardi's last coaching game, my ticket was $8, and the halftime entertainment was the Florida A&M Marching Band! Holy Crow...just Holy Crow!!
Got lots more stories, but I'll tell them to you when I see you on the roads - Al
"One child lost is too many...one child saved can change the world"