Four months ago I wrote the first part to this piece and meant to write the second part the next day. I even included that promise at the bottom. Well here is part 2.
I find memories to be difficult things to deal with sometimes. Often I will feel a great sadness for things that are gone or that once were and now have changed. I look at different parts of the city and remember so many people and things that are all now just moments in time. I will keep these thoughts to running specifically here in this post. I can remember a six lap 10 K duel with Joe A. down by the Boardwalk and finishing at Olympic Pool. A one second difference where I threw up at the finish line. I remember my daughter’s grade 6 cross country race in almost the same place. I remember high school cross country races of my own at Taylor Creek where all the runners jumped in the creek afterwards to clean up from what was always a muddy affair. At that time this race seemed so far away from my high school, North Toronto. I think I thought that this race was out in the country somewhere. I still possess my threadbare grey and red NT t-shirt with WARRINER stencilled on the back.
I can see dozens of races in Sunnybrook Park. I remember clearly a 25 K race when for about 12 K I was in a lead group that included Peter Maher. I also remember clearly that at around 12 K he changed gears dramatically and disappeared in a matter of seconds. I still recall throwing up at the end of that race with him already changed and relaxing. Somehow I have a muddled recollection of a first Toronto Marathon that wound its way through Taylor Creek and then up onto the Danforth. I still can clearly see the Hudson’s Bay tower at Bloor and Yonge, which at the time looked about a million miles away. I was thinking about all the subway stops between me and it and then the eventual finish at old Varsity Stadium.
Many of my old race shirts were used by mice as fodder for nests a couple years ago at my cottage. That was initially very upsetting when I discovered my shirt drawer had been infiltrated by mice. MICEEEES After a few minutes of silent consideration as I looked at race shirts from the past 25 years or so, with many treasured ones in tatters, I thought about how important they were. A dozen Boston shirts that had never been worn and kept pristine, now most with mouse holes, other shirts like my first Around the Bay or a New York Marathon shirt now were also decimated. I was surprisingly able to let them go. I piled them together perhaps so that one day the bits and pieces might become one of those running quilts. I walked away really having lost very little and I was shocked at my willingness to accept the loss. In the past, people would ask me about my most prized possessions and these were always near the top of the list for they were reminders of those races. Now suddenly they just weren’t important. It seems that they were just shirts and perhaps that drawer full of medals are just medals. Maybe what I really want to keep are the ghosts, for they are really what I prize the most.
Pt 3 – maybe not tomorrow but soon.