Saturday, January 18, 2014

You Can Always Add, But You Can't Take Away

"You don't have to do something epic. Just do something." - Tia Bodington

In the past week, I was presented with, and humbly accepted the Birmingham Track Club's Lifetime Achievement Award. This is a very coveted award that I am still trying to grasp the fact that I was even considered as a potential recipient. This was totally unexpected and greatly appreciated. Having been a member of the BTC since it was 2 years old (1978), I've seen many changes since we were just a bunch of goofballs who wanted to wear the same shirt. If you were a member of the BTC, you were considered FAST. I mean, this was THE TRACK CLUB, not the jogging club. Everybody knew everybody and everybody knew everybody's times and everybody's birthdays (so you knew what age group they were in). Few folks in the Track Club ran just for fun. Almost everybody raced. There were no 5k's back then...just 10k's (with a 2-mile Fun Run), Half Marathons, and the occasional Marathon. In 1981, I ran a 41 Mile Ultramarathon up in Tennessee with a couple of BTC guys. The next year, we had 11 BTC members descend on that race, all sporting our "Birmingham Track Club Ultra Team" tank tops. We smoked the competition and I've been hooked on these crazy long races since. But, the Track Club has changed it's focus and now we are a group of all types of runners and walkers. There are fun runs, social events, and and many more group runs all around the Birmingham area than my rattled mind can keep track of. Over the many years (sometimes you just don't like that word "many"), the BTC has always been an integral part of my running life. I began running when I was 31 years old (we won't count that one High School year that I just ran to get a HS Letter), and I'm still moving forward almost 4 decades later.

I run. I have been a runner for almost 36 years since I first ran around the UAB track for 2 miles back in '78. That seems like an absurd statement because that first run nearly killed me. I do not feel old enough to have done anything for 36 years. I've been a Physical Therapist for about 43 years, and I love it, but I take pride in the fact that part of my personal identity is deeply intertwined with running and endurance sports. I am tickled that my old favorite running shoes from those early years, the Nike Waffle Trainer, Elite, the LDV, and my all-time favorite running shoe, the Saucony Freedom Trainers are part of the "vintage collection". Me, vintage? Ouch.

I often get asked by old friends, patients, and acquaintances, "Do you still run?". Well… yes of course I still run. That question seems so silly to me. My pace can now be timed with a sundial, but running is such a natural part of my life is like asking "Do you still brush your teeth?"... "Do you still eat?". Yes, why wouldn't I still run? I am a runner. And running has helped me meet so many truly good people along the way. At he BTC End-of-the-Year Party, I was approached by several folks thanking me for training them to run their first marathon. Most of them don't run long distances anymore, but I am so thrilled that they still lace up their shoes and get out there for a run these days. At least I didn't kill their enthusiasm way back when. I am still a runner and they are still runners. Isn't that cool?

We can never live our lives perfectly, just as all our runs are certainly not perfect (Ha! That's a good one!), but perfect days or not, there's no guarantee how any of us will be remembered by family, friends or colleagues. Who we are is hard-wired in our DNA, and I guess you thank your parents for that. I guess me being a member of the Track Club was the social equivalent of my dad being a member of the Moose Lodge (honestly, kinda like Ralph Kramden was a member of the Raccoon Lodge in THE HONEYMOONERS - boy, hope I didn't lose a lot of readers there!!). But, my "club" was a little more physical than the Moose (Meese? Mooses?). I can't even begin to estimate how many runners have trotted along side me down the road or trail, in sun, rain, cold, and whatever, and I would just think we were having a good time. But it's all part of shaping a fragment of a lifetime.

It is how we live over the long term, what emotions we evoke, whom we lift up, inspire or sometimes disappoint, that determines our legacies, great or small. We all want to be remembered in good light, but it just happens. Surround yourself with good people, treat them how your parents taught you to, laugh a lot, and most of the time, the sun shines. Yes, I got a Lifetime Achievement Award and the BTC has about filled up a Lifetime, but I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I achieved to deserve it. But I sure do appreciate it. Wonder if the guys in the Moose Lodge had it so good. Now, let's go for a run (real slow!).

I'll see you on the roads - AL

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

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