I was co-captain of the cross country team in high school, but didnít do much running after that until my late 30s.
I did keep in good shape playing racquetball at the old YMCA on Lenawee Street in Lansing when I was working downtown for the Department of Social Services. I continued playing after I took a job with Farm Bureau Services out on west Saginaw, but a few months after I got fired there (summer of 1979), my savings began to melt away and I decided I could no longer afford the membership fees at the Y. I took up running to keep in shape. I was living in the Heritage Arms apartments on S. Washington at the time, so I jogged around the track at nearby Everett High School.
Through an agency, I found a job in New Orleans and moved there. My first race was in December 1980 at age 38, and it was not a 5K, but a 15K. My time was 62:38, a pace of 6:43 minutes per mile. That race was in New Orleans City Park, as was the next, a 25K in January 1981. Time: 1:48:15, a pace of 7:00.
In April 1982, I ran the Crescent City Classic, a 10K that started in the French Quarter (photo from Times-Picayune below) and ended uptown in Audubon Park (next to the Audubon Zoo). There were 9412 runners and I finished 363 with a time of 38:24, a pace of 6:10.
I ran it again the next year. This time, I finished 393 of 15,000 runners, but my time wasnít recorded due to a breakdown of the chutes at the finish.
I was working for Gulf Systems, Inc. at the time and Paul Freese, my boss, was an enthusiastic supporter. He is in the middle below, and at his left is co-worker Harris Segal.
During the1983 race, the big toe on my right foot started hurting like there was a stone in my shoe. There was no stone. My toe had dug a hole in the insole and the rough edges of that hole caused a blister to form and bleed. I was later diagnosed with a pronation problem, most severe with my right foot. Now I wear $300+ orthotics, but I still occasionally hit my left shoe with my right when Iím running, eventually wearing a hole in in the top, at the base of my big toe.
At both Crescent City Classic races, the first 400 finishers were awarded a race poster, a numbered print. The print number corresponded to the runnerís finishing place. I got mine framed and I still have them:
Those were the days before sophisticated race timing systems using computer chips. Your start time was the gun time, no matter how long it took to get to the starting line. Now (as of the 2010 Capital City River Run in Lansing) a computer chip attached to the back of the bib is magically read as you cross the start and finish lines, recording precise times. The running shoes were not nearly as advanced then, either.
My first and only marathon was in 2009, at age 66. I ran the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City in 3:50:04, coming in second in the 65-69 age group and qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Here are some race results. And here is a photo from the 2012 Capital City River Run (a half-marathon):