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Joseph E Bird

Let's talk about reading, writing and the arts.

Month

January 2021

just an old t-shirt

More discoveries in the closet. This from a collection of about 30 t-shirts from races I ran in my running prime. The Charleston Distance Run is 15 miles, including some brutal hills. I loved running it.

So I’ve got shirts from a lot of races. Some of you may remember the Carbide 10k, another really hard race in the hills behind the Tech Center in South Charleston. Then there’s the Poca River 15K along the beautiful Poca River. The 20k from Fayetteville to Oak Hill, again in the rolling hills of West Virginia. The Coonskin Park 10k, maybe the hardest 10k race I’ve ever run. Back then everything was 10k. I went to California one year and ran the Brentwood 10k. That was cool.

But what do I do with all the shirts? Put them back in the box and take them out again in another 30 years? Remember the old days when I was a real runner?

In 1985 (before many of you were born) running was big. There were over 1400 runners in the Charleston Distance Run that year, including the Norwegian legend, Greta Waitz. She won the New York City Marathon nine times, including 1985. And there she was in Charleston. That year I ran the 15 miles in 1:37:50. That’s a little over 6.5 minute miles. Out of over 1400 runners, that was good enough for 160th place. My neighbor across the street, Dave Kline, finished in 1:25:14. Now Dave was a runner. But if I had run that same time in 2019, I would have finished in the top ten. In 2019 there were less than 400 runners.

Times change. Now all the races are 5k. And nobody wants to run hills.

I still do. I may not be as fast as I once was. I’m not interested in the 20-mile training runs it takes to run 15 in a race. I still do a little speed work, because, yeah, I get a kick out of winning the old man’s division.

And the truth is, the longer I can do that, the longer it will take me to get old.

bucket list from the past

This is what happens when you clean out a closet. I came across this hand-written list from years ago. Not sure when, but most likely from my junior high school days. All the things I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime.

1. Learn to snow ski. I did. Even made my own pair of skis. I used old belts for the binding. Seriously.

2. Visit St. Albans, Vermont. I’m from St. Albans, West Virginia. Haven’t made it to Vermont. I guess there’s still time.

3. Build an underground hut. I don’t know why. Never did it. Never will.

4. Learn to pick padlocks and combination locks. Because that would be so cool. I still want to learn to do this.

5. Perform magic in front of a large audience. I learned a few card tricks in my day, but I’ll be happy to let this goal slide.

6. Master escape tricks as Houdini did. I once made my own wooden stocks to escape from, but I never became a great escape artist. I’ll let this one go, too.

7. Learn to scuba dive. I actually considered this a couple of years ago. May still do it.

8. Explore the Atlantic Ocean in a submarine. That’s a big step from scuba diving. I’m surprised I didn’t say I wanted to build my own submarine.

9. Learn to fly an airplane. The company I work for used to have an airplane. I flew in the co-pilot’s seat many times. I learned enough about flying that I was confident I could crash the plane within sight of the airport.

10. Learn to fly a glider. It’s just an airplane without an engine. Piece of cake.

11. Build a hovercraft. This is classic Joe. I figured I could do it with an old lawnmower.

12. Build a man-powered glider and/or a regular glider. What’s a man-powered glider? Yeah, I can build anything.

13. Go into space and/or visit the moon. It was the middle of the space race. Every kid wanted to go to the moon.

14. Learn to play the banjo. I can play the guitar. And I’m still thinking about the banjo.

15. Find out all possible about the Lost City of Atlantis. I know nothing more today than I did back then. Must have been a passing interest.

16. Live to the year 2000. Seemed so far into the future. Now it seems so far in the past. Time, it swallows everything. From the Amos Lee song, What’s Been Going On.

17. Get patents an at least three inventions. That’s just too much like work.

18. Write a book. Yes! I’ve written five! Six, if you count carnival dreams, my collection of stories, now available on Amazon (shameless plug).

That’s it. Guess I’ve always been a dreamer. Still am. And I think that’s a good thing.

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