25 Years of Running, My Retrospective. Chapter 3: Joy for These Times
Finding a destination: “the radiant city”
It’s June of 1988, Medina, OH. I’m 14 years old. It has hardly rained in a month. Occasionally trace amounts of precipitation fell that summer. Even early morning temperatures were often hot. I wake-up, do 100 sit-ups and head out the door at 7am every MWF to continue pushing farther and farther along E. Smith Rd. A guy in the Rustic Hills neighborhood lets me cut through his yard to get to Rustic Hills Dr. Then I go to East Smith Rd, down the steep hill, past the horse farm (now Champion Creek house development), up the curvy hill by the Ebner house, past the Torok’s place, and past the hermit’s “Honey for Sale” sign. As I get to town, there is a spot where the sidewalk starts/ends. Like many kids, I’d always wondered where the sidewalks ends. In Medina, the sidewalk started/ended where you crossed in/out of the city limits. On East Smith Road, this was at the big, newish middle class house development. The trees along the sidewalk are small and while they give me no shade from the heat, I worry about them as the drought goes on and on. Since I’m a kid and don’t drive, I never know where I’m going. I’d never looked at a map of town. I just keep going farther on this one road, much as I followed a creek in the woods – no destination in mind. I just explore little by little so I don’t get lost. I discover that after the big middle class development, East Smith Road goes into a more commercial/somewhat industrial part of town. When I get as far as the lumber yard I start to realize where I am (and how far I am from home!). I knew the lumber yard was near our church and our church was just blocks from the town square. This was exciting mostly because I didn’t know anyone who could run that far – ALL THE WAY TO THE SQUARE! As far as I knew, the only people who ran all the way to the square were the people who lived in town. Knowing where I am, I turn on South Court Street, run past the Methodist Church and the sporting good store (All Sport) and up to the historic town square (circa 1870’s).
I drank from the Fountain
The square is also an exciting destination because it’s got a drinking fountain – a big, granite memorial drinking fountain. The hydration pack had not been invented yet. The Old Phoenix National Bank thermometer usually reads about 100°F. I get a drink and jog the 4 miles home. I am happy. I’m maybe as happy as I ever was and ever will be, sort of…
Closer I am to fine…
I had a pink Sony Walkman, but it jiggled on my shorts too much, so I was left with my thoughts for entertainment on this 8 mile route I’d settled on.
When I ran by the Methodist Church on South Court Street, I always looked at the sign by the front door that had the service times and the title of the next week’s sermon. The sermon title was something to think about. In many cases, the title was more to think about than the sermon. When I was a kid, Methodist ministers seemed to all be schooled in the “3 point sermon.” This way, by the end of the sermon, few people knew what the point was and couldn’t remember anything. So it was a good deal to see the title all week, get my own idea about it, and then I didn’t feel bad if the minister made no sense to me on Sunday. The sermon title I remember the most was “Joy for These Times.”
Joy for These Times?! I’m so happy because I love running, I have a little garden, I walk in the woods, I do 4-H stuff. I worry that I run slow (I do run slow). I’m so worried because when will it rain? Farmers are losing their crops. The grass is brown. There is a 7 day-a-week sprinkling ban. Will the grass die? Will trees die? There is a hole in the ozone layer. Aerosol cans have CFCs. There this greenhouse effect that makes the planet warmer. The rainforest is getting cut down. I spent 8th grade English writing a 20 page paper about pollution. While writing that paper, I read a book from 1971, “Now or Never: the fight against pollution.” by D.S Halacy. I know so much about pollution and worry about everything I put in the garbage. There is no residential recycling yet. The landfill is getting full. What happens if the landfill gets full? What if toxic things leak into the ground water? Am I supposed to be happy? Really?…but I am. I am happy. I’m living a structured, disciplined life with a schedule of my creation. I come home from running, and plug the tub drain so I can save the water from my shower for my vegetable garden. I save the dish water for the flowers. I pray for rain. I am happy.
Next chapter: July 4, 1988, my 1st 5K
Medina, OH is named after Medina in Saudi Arabia. The name means “the radiant city” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medina)