Yes, I am a pirate two hundred years too late.
— the prophet jimmy buffett
if you had asked young gary if he thought old gary would make it to the big milestone, he would say “LIVE UNTIL I’M 40? NOT LIKELY!!!!”
so i feel a bit apologetic to tell him that we’re running past the 60-year marker with a pile of running shoes that cost more than young gary earned in a year. journalism wasn’t the cash cow back then that it is today.
i didn’t have much of a plan in the early days. i just loved to run, so that’s what i did. 5ks led to 10ks led to marathons led to ultras led to crazy ultras led to marathons led to 5ks led to pleasant strolls along the bay. but the one thing that stayed the same over the years: there’s never been a day in the past 37 years that i haven’t had the urge to pull on a pair of shoes and go find some joy. what more can you ask in a lifetime?
what i learned:
- just do it. this could be a slogan. we tend to put things on the back burner. don’t put off that goal for a year or two or 10. don’t. you never know what’s up ahead. don’t squander your life. live it. run. suffer. celebrate. repeat.
- squirrels are evil. don’t trust them.
- socks are for suckers.
- running friends are the best friends. they know your essence. they share your love. don’t take them for granted. but it’s ok to drop them in the last mile. because. racing.
- explore. it’s a big world. when you’re flying, you look out the plane window and see those trails and mountains and roads. go find as many as you can. they’ll be there forever; you won’t.
- gu expiration dates are just a suggestion. no, a dare. ignore them. trust me on this one.
- worry about times. and don’t worry about them at all. this makes sense if you think about it. don’t.
- if you can’t run, walk. or bike. or swim. or do something that gives you that daily hour of play called for by the prophet sheehan.
- always honor the running gods. give it your best, whatever that is.
- if you come across a moostachioed pineapple with a vaguely european accent, keep walking.
- beer. or popsicles. or whatever your celebration is at the end of a run. never, ever forget to celebrate.
- ignore all of the above. dr. sheehan said it’s an experiment of one. write your own rules.
i don’t know for sure what young gary would say if we met up at a race. hopefully he’d be satisfied that we’re still lining up after all these years. and i’m still looking for the perfect pair of shoes. and driving two hours next weekend for a 5k nobody ever heard of. maybe we’d get along.
mostly, i think he’d like that i’m still looking at those trails and thinking, “man, i’ve got to run that.” and i will till i die. we’d be good running partners. come to think of it, i guess we are. i never quite got around to growing up. running will do that to you.
On to the seventh decade …