Ron Marinucci March Column

Ron Marinucci March Column

Provided by Ron Marinucci

With credit and apologies to both William Shakespeare and John Steinbeck, this has been the winter of my discontent. Normally winter is my favorite running season. The cold doesn’t bother me. I merely bundle up with several layers of clothes and out I go. If the temperatures drop below 10 or 15 degrees, I’ll toss on a second pair of gloves or mittens and don a ski mask.

I love the crispness of the winter air. Running in a soft snowfall can’t be beaten. It’s so very beautiful!

But back to my “discontent.” This has not been a good winter of or for running for me. I can only speak for me; others may have found the past few months to be much better than usual for the state of Michigan. For instance, I can remember only one run in that softly falling snow and that seemed to be a squall that ended quickly. Yet it’s been more than that.

While most folks celebrated the often warmer than seasonal temperatures, I haven’t been one of them. Where I usually run—the trails, back roads of dirt and gravel, and the shoulders of primary roads—has been conducive to good or easy running. The trails, usually snow-covered, are mostly ice. The back roads and shoulders have been, alternatively, too mushy or full of deep ruts.

During the warmer spells, muddy slop must be negotiated on the roads and shoulders. Tracks from cars and trucks, when the temperatures dip, become hardened, frozen ruts. I’ve taken to more walking if only to prevent ankle twists and sprains, well, more ankle twists and sprains. It seems I finally get over one of them and quickly pick up another.

Although they appear to be fully recovered or close to it, my running buddies, Michael Holmes and Carrie Farnum, have suffered through some health problems. But the illnesses, some sneaky viruses, have lingered.

And usually, by January or February, I have received my list of potential races to cover for Michigan Runner. Not this winter. With MR no longer publishing a hard copy issue, there’s been no calendar of races from which to choose, either to race or to cover. I suppose, after almost 40 years of covering races for the magazine, it’s not unusual to miss the calendar and scheduling my running year around it.

My grousing complete, it was wonderful to get in a week—a full week!—of outdoor bike-riding in the middle of February. I don’t remember doing that before, ever. It was great, even feeling the aches in muscles I haven’t used since November. In a similar vein, my Michael was able to get outdoors for a couple of days to take BP, batting practice.

Yet another plus from this winter has been walking. I’ve really come to enjoy it. I don’t walk very fast, certainly not as fast as Karen or Carrie, but I plod along. Previously, I had used some, but not much, walking as cross-training, usually on easy days. It allowed me to get outside and burn a few extra calories without the pounding. Now, in addition, I take some walking breaks in my running. Oh, they aren’t long breaks, either in distance or time. And I don’t walk on every run. Some days I now forgo my run and just walk. I like it. The only drawback to walking is time; it takes so long. But then again, as slow as my running has become, maybe walking doesn’t take that much longer.

I am looking forward to spring-time running and only not only because of the better and, I hope, more consistent footing and conditions. I’ve had several e-mails announcing The Stroh’s Legend Run in May. Yes, that Stroh’s. To be held in Detroit, near the old Tiger Stadium, the event includes samples and free tours of the brewery after the 5K race. I am interested and so are two of my running buddies, Bob Drapal and Carrie. You can find more information at; search under “Calendar.”

“I think had I leaned a little, I would have won.” So said 92-year old Dixon Hemphill of his “upset” loss to 99-year old Orville Rogers in the 60-yard dash at the USATF Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships in February. According to the Runner’s World Online article, complete with a video, Rogers, trailing most of the sprint, nosed out Hemphill at the finish, winning by .05 seconds. Their times were 18:00 and 18:05, respectively. While the times seem quite slow, watching the video led me to question whether I could run that fast. I have my doubts.

The two have developed a healthy competition over the past years. Hemphill did best Rogers in several other longer distances.

The ages of both Hemphill and Rogers led me to remember a column by Joe Henderson, many years ago. One of my favorite running writers, Henderson suggested that “endurance running” might also mean more than long distance running. It can also reflect sticking with running throughout our lifetimes. More and more, as I approach my eight decade and 50 years of running, I have come to embrace that additional definition. And Hemphill and Rogers surely exemplify Henderson’s thoughts.