This is a post in my ongoing series where I am looking back at over my 40 years as a runner.It doesn’t seem possible, but that is how long I have considered myself a runner. No I am not an élite runner and truthfully, I haven’t run in all that many races, I have mostly just run.
I have broken these posts into where I have lived and run. Some places will have their own post and others will be combined. This post will be about the years 1982 to 1984 and I was living in the:
Washington, D.C. Metro Area
We moved to Washington, D.C. area in the Summer of ’82.
We lived in Alexandria over at the Mt. Vernon Square Apartment Complex. Which had a path leading to the back road and up this big hill and about a mile away was the Mt. Vernon Bike trail. I ran on the bike trail a lot while we lived in Alexandria. It was a lot safer than running on the roads around Rt. 1.
Moss Brown, Inc.
One of the first things that I did when we moved to the D.C area was going to the Moss Brown, Inc. Running Store, which no longer exists under that name. I had shopped from their mail-order catalog several times while living in St. Ignace and wanted to see the store.
I was impressed.
While there I bought my first Gore-Tex Running Suit complete with Running hat and mittens. I don’t know what happened to the hat, but I wore the suit until after I retired and had to eventually throw it out in 1998 or so, there just wasn’t a lot left to it.
The mittens, finally wore out and couldn’t be repaired a couple of years ago – those I still miss, they were perfect for running in nasty weather.
It was the best money I have ever spent on running apparel.
However, I never went back there after the first time, it was too difficult to get to and the prices were out of my range in the store. I found a running store in Old Town Alexandria that was comfortable to be in and I spent a lot time and money there. I want to say that is was called the “Run In” but I am not sure.
Coast Guard Running Team
I got involved with the Coast Guard Running club that first summer and participated in it for 2 of the 3 years I was stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters.
I somehow got talked into running the Marine Corps Marathon in August of that year (2 months prep is enough prep time for a first-time marathon – right), probably after the Coast Guard Day run.
Looking back I definitely hadn’t trained enough to realistically finish well, but I gave into peer pressure and started the race.
Marine Corps Marathon – 1982
|1982 Marine Corps Marathon t-shirt
The biggest things I remember about this race were the number people pulling their shorts down male and female in a field just after the start and that I was running at about a 7:00 minute pace for the first 8.0 miles then my right knee (I have always had issues with it) didn’t like the idea of running anymore and I pushed to 13 miles, when I stopped and got in the meat wagon for a ride back to the start.
During that ride I vowed to train and finish next year’s race.
Marathon Training 1983
This race I actually trained for semi-correctly. Of all the training logs that I have had over the years, this is the one that I have been able to keep intact. When I go back through this log, I see so many training mistakes that I made, but the memories are there and it takes me back to another time and place.
I ran three races that year besides the Marathon:
2/5/83 – Fort Hunt Park 8.0 miles/57.23 – Place 112
4/2/83 – Hains Point 10K/42:57 – Place 35
8/6/83 – Coast Guard Day 5 Miler – Station Alexandria 5.0 miles/32:17 place 11 (2nd in my Age Group)
Looking back I could have run in a race every weekend, but for some reason or other, I just never got involved in the racing part of running during this period. Which was strange because I am a fairly competitive person and enjoy the racing and social part after the races?
During the summer I would go down to the “Run-In” (?) running store and run with a bunch of people on Wednesday nights, it had become my hangout after work (my 1st wife worked 3-11). We would take off in Old Town Alexandria and run down the Mt. Vernon bike trail. I was usually in the middle pack that did the medium distance of 6-8 miles. Then we would go over to one of the local establishments and do some carb loading.
Most of the time I ran at lunch time, my bosses were very supportive and I was running with a lot of officers and such, so no one complained if I ran 5-8 miles at lunch and then quickly ate at my desk. We would run around the 14th street bridge, the Reflecting Pool, around the Monuments, down through Hains Point, over in front of the White House. To me Washington, D.C. is tailor-made for running.
The only bad thing was during the summer we had to go past the fish market to get to all the great courses and then go back by it again to get back to work and boy did it stink on those many hot days.
While working up to the Marathon, from June through the end of August I averaged 50 miles a week and my biggest total was 64.7 miles for a week.
Even back then, I was injured off and on and found that I had to be very careful when it came to my training, otherwise I had a lot of inconvenient aches and pains, that interrupted my running.
The funniest “injury” was when I went swimming in the Potomac River while partying with a bunch of my first wife’s friends from work and got Poison Ivy on over 80% of my body (it wasn’t funny then) and had to go on steroids for 2 weeks. The steroids did work to get rid of the poison ivy and I can see why so many athletes took them, they do make a difference in your performance. Never took them again, they scared me to be honest.
Marine Corps Marathon – 1983
I had trained well for this marathon and felt ready. I went over to the registration area the day before and picked up my race number, t-shirt and bought a souvenir beer mug, which I still have.
We had the customary spaghetti supper with the Coast Guard HQ Running Club, watched a slide show of earlier years experiences and got our race singlet.
The race start was slow with that many people running, but once I got past the first mile, I got into a sub 7:00 minute pace – my goal was to qualify for Boston and I really thought that I could do it.
I kept clicking through the miles, it felt like a great training run, only there were so many people out cheering us on. I hit 20.0 miles in just over 2:15:–, so I only had 6.0 miles to go and 45:00 minutes to do it. I was feeling pretty confident about breaking 3:00:00 hours.
Unfortunately, about a half mile up the road, I got distracted by a very well endowed female spectator who was jumping up and down, waving her arms around, cheering rather vigorously, without her supporting gear on, (yeah I know – focus) and I stepped wrong in one of the infamous Washington, D.C. pothole. I had avoided them all up to now, the streets in Washington weren’t known for being well repaired.
I immediately felt a lot of pain in my right knee – yep it was always the right one and had to stop for a minute or so for the pain to subside and wipe a few tears of rage away.
When I started to run again, it hurt like hell.
|1983 Marine Corps Marathon
I had made a vow the year before that I would finish this year’s race come hell or high water!
I wasn’t going to ride in the meat wagon to the finish line 2 years in a row.
I went into survival shuffle/walk mode, I would “run” 50 yards or so and then walk a ways, I can’t remember having been in so much pain. But I kept going alternating running/walking, I was simply focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I was limping really bad and was doing the one stiff-legged shuffle. I remember a Marine stepping in front of me and asked if I was alright.
I mumbled something and moved around him and kept moving. The more I kept moving, the more my right hip began to hurt as well.
It was not the way I had expected, when I got to the finish line, all the emotions came out tears of relief streamed down my cheeks and I had to be helped to the recovery tent, where I stayed for a couple of hours.
The knee and while it hurt to walk on it was bearable, but the hip hurt like hell and the corpsmen gave me a pair of crutches to get home with.
I had finished.
It wasn’t easy and I had endured the pain in my knee and hip to do it.
I told myself that I would never run another Marathon and even though I have trained for a couple, I have never started another one for various injury reasons.
No, I didn’t qualify for Boston, I finished in 3:45:46 a very respectable time for my first marathon.
However, I knew I was injured when I finished.
I took a week off from running and even though my hip still hurt a lot, (the knee felt pretty good) figured I would try a short run, but only got about 100 yards down the road before I had to stop, turn around and limp back.
I went to medical and after a week of tests and driving to Bethesda and back, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my hip and told it would be 12-18 months before I would be able to run again. They put me on crutches for a month and said no weight-bearing exercises or activities for three months. It took a long time to heal from that injury and I got into some very bad habits, during this recovery. But those are a different story.
Started Running Again
The next summer we moved to Woodbridge, VA and I slowly started running again, mostly on an old powerline just down the road from where lived – it was rough going, but there was no traffic and easier on my body than tar. By the time we moved to Connecticut in October of ’84, I was back to running 20 miles a week again and beginning to be my old self.
The reality is that
my experience in running while living in the Washington, D.C. area was really a great experience.
If I had paid attention to running instead of having wandering eyes, I believe that I would have finished the MCM in 1983 just fine and my running experiences might have been a bit different, which would have changed a couple of other things.
What might have been is one of those games we all play, but in this case – I really do wonder.
Looking back to my running days from 82-84 were some of the more memorable in my distance running career – which were capped off by finishing the Marine Corps Marathon.
So I can legitimately claim the title of Marathoner (just not recently) and smile when others are talking about their experiences running one. I don’t know if I will ever run another one, my body breaks down too much when I am putting in the mileage necessary to be able to run one.
Only time will tell.
However, if I never do another marathon, that does not make me less of a runner. I have to focus on the fact that I can keep putting one foot in front of the other. As long as I can keep doing that, I am pretty damn happy.
I have gone too many time without being able to run lately and now I just want to enjoy it and maybe do a lot more trail running, where the pressure to meet a certain time are a lot less.
I hope you enjoy reading these recollections, I know that I am enjoying going through the pictures, yearbooks, journals and reflecting back on these parts of my life.