Run Grandpa, run...

Run Grandpa, run...

Run Grandpa, run...

I had to talk to myself; I really did. With the upcoming Brooksie Way Half Marathon and its second half hills, I’ve been doing some hill repeats. I’ve picked a pretty tough climb, half a mile of a pretty darn steep incline. It’s been my hill work of choice for many years.

But, although I was planning four, maybe five, repeats, just one had me thinking maybe two would be enough. It wasn’t, but I did find myself asking, “Do you really want to do these?” The answer was easy—and not-so-easy; it was “no” and “yes.”

No, I just wanted to run the last mile home and get ready for a planned trip to a park with my grandkids. My immediate urge, a strong one, was to finish up and rest.

But, yes, I did want to do the hills, all of them. Looking at the bigger picture, I knew they were good for me, at least good for my Brooksie preparation. They would hurt now, but pay off in a couple of weeks.

“Yes” won out. I only had to talk myself into one more hill, though. If I ran that one, to get home I had to run another. There’d be no choice, no giving up—there was no other way home. And when I was done, I was glad, as usual, that I’d finished the workout.

That led me to continue thinking about my years of running, thinking that was part of a conversation with my grandson Michael a few days before. In years past, such thoughts of quitting a workout early (except for danger of injury, of course) would never have crossed my mind. It was just get out there and do it.

“In years past….” That was the conversation I had with Michael while we were on a bike ride. He was peppering me with questions about my running. “Why do you run, Grandpa? Did you always run so much? When did you start? Why do you like it?” Or something like those.

Michael didn’t get all of the details, but his questions were penetrating (those 9-year olds have a gift!), at least for me. I mulled them over the next few days, with the hill workout punctuating my thoughts. What was it Plato said, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living?” So, I examined away.

I remember the day (if not the exact date) that I began running. I’ll bet most runners can, too. It was a meaningful and special day for each of us.

Running, by itself, was never a part of my early life. I never ran track or cross country. My least favorite units in gym class were track and field (and gymnastics). Oh, I ran and ran a lot, but always with or after a ball of some sort.

The first I ran without a ball in the picture, I told Michael, was training for rugby in college. If I recall correctly, there were no substitutions in our games. There were fifteen players a side, going two 45-minute halves. No replacements, not even for injuries, were permitted. Losing a player meant playing with fourteen. In fact, I remember we finished one game with only eleven or twelve ruggers—against fifteen opponents. To get in rugby-shape, after practice we’d run for 45 minutes through the Amherst College bird sanctuary. I suppose it was a pretty run, I suppose. But it was running and I didn’t particularly enjoy it.

After Karen and I were married, I found myself with 30-40 pounds I didn’t have before. In those days, I’d get home from work before she did. One day, I decided to go for a run in the fields behind our then apartments. I strapped on an old Davy Crockett wristwatch I received from my Aunt Dolly for my 9th birthday (I remember!) about 20 years before and laced up some Bata Bullet basketball shoes. Out the door I went for eleven minutes (I remember that, too!) and then back home.

Running that day obviously didn’t kill me and I must have liked it, at least somewhat. I kept at it, although it wasn’t always easy. For years, while coaching football and baseball, with Mike and Matt coming along, running meant getting up and out there at 5 AM every day, usually with my coaching buddies Larry Bittinger and Bruce Gilbert. And now, 35 years later, I’m still at it—and I love to run!

How about you? How and when did you get started? On what paths has running taken you? I hope they’ve been as fun and rewarding as mine have been.

***At the Crim, Doug Goodhue, now age 67, ran a 63:53, a stunning time. I remember the drive home with my buddy Bob Drapal was mostly dominated with talk about that time at that age. We’re both in our 60s and were amazed. A later check of the records discovered that Goodhue’s run was almost two minutes slower than the age-group record for ten miles—two minutes! That is hard to believe. Regardless, Goodhue’s time is remarkable.

Then, a couple weeks later, he aimed for and broke the national 65-69 age-group record for 20K in New Haven, CT. His 1:20:05 broke the old mark once held by another Michigan runner, Gerard Malaczynski. It age-grades to 61:51! The masters record is 63:06.

According to Randy Step in the Running Fit weekly newsletter, Goodhue ran even splits, “two back-to-back 40-minute 10Ks.” Imagine that. Congratulations to Doug.
***Details about the 2010 Run Thru Hell are out. “It is a one-year event only,” said race director Chuck Block of Michigan Running Foundation, “with a specific goal of purchasing a wheelchair-accessible minivan so Dolores and Harrison [Hensley] can go to road races again.”

Dolores was stricken with a stroke almost two years ago. She and Harrison have been mainstays of the Michigan running scene for years. Anyone who’s done any racing in the state knows them. Each has been the recipient of Michigan Runner’s contributor/volunteer of the year award. Race proceeds will be used to buy a specially-equipped van that will help them travel to events.

There are changes in the race. In the past, Hell has been in August. Runners went through hell in more ways than one—Hell, Michigan and the heat and humidity of a Michigan mid-August and the dusty, hilly courses. This year’s race, though, is on Halloween morning, October 31, at 9:30. It’s still at the Hell Creek Ranch in Pinckney.

And, the 10-mile (for “runners” Harrison’s tee shirts read) and 4.8-mile (for “weenies” his tees joked) distances have been replaced by 10K and 5K races. Block explained, “I didn’t want this to be just the same Run thru Hell because that was put on by Harrison and Dolores. But this race is for them, so I wanted it to be different.”

He went on, in what is a testament to Dolores and Harrison, “Something I would like everyone to know is how the entire running community in Michigan got behind this race. The running stores in Michigan will be funding most of the expense of the race. Bauman's is providing the awards and screen printing. Playmakers is helping with the shirts. Running Fit will supply the port-a-johns. The Hansons will provide the refreshments. Total Runner will provide the bottled water. John Gault and Greg Everal will d-tag the race at no cost. and Michigan Runner magazine are running free advertising. It is such a great thing to see the entire Michigan running community unite to help out one of their own.”

Information, both online and mail-in registration, and a donation page for those who can’t run that morning can be found at the race Web site: