I have done some early spring cleaning today and came across this old newspaper clipping of a race that I ran back on January 1, 1979 (Yeah a long time ago).
I am pretty sure I remember where I finished in this race – last — at least I never saw anyone behind me. This was the only race in my life I have ever finished last. As soon as I finished I kept running to my car and drove away as fast as I could – I didn’t even take my finishers tongue depressor – I was too embarrassed about who I had become and what had just happened.
I was 21 years old, single, lonely and trying to drown the weight of the world to get it off my shoulders, in ways that were unhealthy and looking back very self-destructive.
The last-place finish was a testament to my over-zealous training regimen from Thanksgiving through Christmas that year – I had very few runs, for not too many miles during that time frame. Too much beer, booze, food, too many nights at Bobby Byrne‘s Pub and the Holiday Inn – had gotten me fat and way out of shape (no drugs or tobacco – I never did those). This race was my attempt to go ahead and jump-start my fitness program and to start building-up my self-esteem.
I am number 72 with the black watch cap and “old school” nylon warm-up suit. (Go straight up from the word Starts).
The biggest reason for my poor finish was due to being hung-over and too much partying for the two months before this photo. Unfortunately, instead of motivating me to do things differently or building up my self-esteem, this race had the opposite effect. I wallowed in self-pity and continued down my path of self-destructive behaviors for a few months after this race.
With a little help
Thankfully, a couple of my good friends (Rick and Kim), along with LT Perry & LTJG Currier took an interest in getting my ass straightened out and helped me decide to make a career of the Coast Guard – I certainly was a mess back then. Doggy Moore gave me this clipping as a reminder, after I had cleaned myself up. I have kept this newspaper clipping to remind me of that low point in my life and how lucky I am to have had others support, to help get through this dark period of my life.
While I have raced some and run a lot since this race, something died in me that day and I never really got it back. When it comes to running an organized race, getting to submitting the race application or showing up the day of the race became very difficult and I would find reasons to not go to a race – if I could. Once I was at a race I was fine, but getting me to sign-up or show-up is something that I have always found difficult ever since then – old memories die-hard.
What memories mean to me
It is amazing the feelings that an old newspaper clipping can bring out in you and help you to realize something very important about your life and yourself. I failed terribly (in my mind back that day) and how I let it affect me negatively for so many years. Even those years I was running good, in the back of my mind, when I submitted that entry form or to get to a race races I always thought back to this day when I had finished last – (even if I knew I wouldn’t finish last) and it scared me.
I didn’t need much of an excuse to bail on a race and did so many times over the years because of it. I have learned not all running injuries are physical and sometimes the emotional injuries are the most difficult to recover from.
The first race that I didn’t think about what would happen if I was to finish last, was this year’s race out in Belgrade on January 14th – I ran for the sheer joy of running, instead of being afraid to finish last – I didn’t finish last, but I was a lot closer to the back of the pack than the front and you know something I enjoyed that race.
The reality is that
Memories – Some of them are painful, some are good, but they all are a part of who we are. This is one of those more painful memories for me and a part of my life that I am not very proud of. However, it is one that I am glad to say, that I have finally gone beyond.
I have a race calendar and am looking forward to entering in to more races this year than I have done since 1986. 🙂
Different Person today
I am a different person/runner now and many of the demons that pursued me then – have been faced and vanquished. While that person in this picture is me – it is a different me and is just a memory, not who I have become and enjoy being.
I hope that you don’t mind my excising another demon from my past – now to get my application in for my race on April 7th :-).
I wonder how many people in this picture are still running? I am glad that I am.
If you know of anyone who ran in the late 70’s in Falmouth, Mass, who might have been here take a good look at the clipping or send the photo to them.
It would be great to hear from anyone who was at this race and what they remember about it and where they are in the picture.