The race was the Skophammer 12-hour run in San Francisco. It took place on July 21, 2001, a few months before the world would be changing forever. At the time, I had no idea my world would be changing as well.
It was just a little ma-and-pa track run on a college campus. Our peep Jami lives there (that’s her on the left in the photo), so this was a chance to go say hey while sneaking in a race.
I don’t remember too much about it. It was cold, as San Francisco always is. We feared for our lives in an Oakland hotel that featured chain link and security guards. But the race was well organized, the track was gorgeous, and the people were super-friendly. It was a good day to run.
Mo wasn’t entered, but she ran along with me for fun. From the race report:
Amanda Shepherd came up from Arizona to help Gary Smith. After about 10 miles pacing along with Gary, we decided that she might want to be an official entrant, so we gave her a number and sent her on her way, and she got in a marathon for the day!
Mo is a showoff.
I ran a lot of the race with Echo Edmonson, a really cool guy. He asked as we neared the end if this was my first time to reach 50 miles. I told him no, that it was going to be my slowest. I remember sort of a vague disappointment mixed with the happiness that comes from a day of running and hanging out with your best friends.
I think we had Chinese food afterward, and that was that. Just another run.
And that was the last real race I ever ran. The following years were filled with monkey hearts and maladies and determined comebacks that never quite came back. And that’s OK. I just keep resetting the baseline as the years go by, doing what I can. That’s all you can do, no?
Lately I’ve been hobbling along with a bum knee that makes even my 13:45 pace impossible. Depressing? Nah. I went out today on Dad’s perfect 1-kilometer neighborhood loop. The sky was a postcard blue and the temperature had dropped into the mid-70s. It was a delight. This strolling pace was good enough for Thoreau. It’s good enough for me.
But I was digging around trying to find something a couple of days ago when I happened upon this photo. It’s such a happy moment. That glow you have minutes after an honest effort in a race. I wish I’d known it was the last one.
The moral? None, really. Just remember. When you go out for that next run, or race, or year, or life, remember you don’t know what’s ahead. Make this run count.
In the words of Dr. Sheehan, “The race still asks me what it asks all of us: No more and no less than everything we’ve got.”
Never take a run for granted. Give it your best. You never know. And always, always stick around till all the pizza’s gone.
When you’re done, also in the words of Dr. Sheehan, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”
I WILL try again tomorrow. And I’ll give it everything I’ve got. As will you. Because, after all, we love running. And pizza. Mostly pizza.
It’s just another run …