I recently put my running shoes back on for the second time in 2012 after an almost seven year hiatus from running. It is still your voice I hear inside my head after 15 years being off the track, away from Hickory Hills and the streets in the town that is one mile squared..
Some things you don't forget, somethings just stay with you forever I guess.
I wonder if now at 77 you know what an impact you had on some of the lives of the girls you coached? If you remember us like we remember you?
I remember you "borrowing" a bicycle to follow behind us, that crazy big red van, and your voice. Oh your voice. The voice that was like a megaphone without being an actual megaphone. I can still hear you say my name. Or your way of motivating us in a way that only you could.. You were one kind. There was no one else quite like you.
10 weeks ago when I started training the first time around I got hurt almost immediately. This time it was my hip instead of my shins and an MRI that cost $400 instead of weeks at the chiropractor. And no, I wasn't even rollerblading. I'm just old this time.
After multiple stress fractures and hearing several orthos say "running just isn't your sport" "pick up swimming", I really started to doubt myself. I hate training. I've always hated training. I'm just not patient with it. I just want to be in shape. The best shape. I.want.to.be.fast. Now. I hate lungs that are out of shape. Legs that are heavy and slow. I hated intervals, I hated trips to Hickory Hills. But you knew this because you knew me. I used to think you planned this stuff on purpose on the days they served chili for lunch. Or the long runs when you followed us in your big red bus, good times.
I can still hear you. Pick up your dairyaire. If you ran any slower you would be standing still Baker. BAKER..my 82 year old grandmother runs faster than you. Dig, Dig, Dig. The only person that's going to beat you in this race, is you. Now get on that track and move it. OH MY GAWD..Are you even running out there? A woman that is 8 months pregnant just ran faster than all of you.
How mad you made me. Pissed off is more accurate really. It was your purpose and I ran better that way. You pushed me to do better just to prove to you that I could. To prove to myself that I could do it. It made us all want to win. You always got us to give you our best. I never wanted to let you down.
When I got hurt this time, I was frustrated. I was mad. I was defeated. Maybe this wasn't for me. I'm old. I'm out of shape. Maybe I'm just not a runner after all. It's been so long. Swimming really wasn't looking to bad. And then Claire said, "I wish I could call Katie H. on you right now. Can you even hear her now?" And she was right. And I knew it. Maybe I just needed a megaphone in my ear.
Its been 3.5 weeks now and I'm up to 2.5 miles again. When I'm tired and want to stop, it is always your voice that I hear screaming in my head to finish that extra .5 miles. Grandmothers everywhere are faster than me but you always said they were anyway. Someday that grandmother may be me. Most likely, it will be because of you..
Wherever you are, thank you. Happy Birthday.