Chasing Ghosts

"Time and tears ago,
I chased my dreams without a single fear
That I'd ever miss the treasures of my youth.
But recently I thought I'd take a trip back through the years
And it hurts me just a bit to face the truth." - The Rarely Herd. Part of Growing Up (That Gets Me Down)


Last weekend was the 3rd Annual Solanco Alumni XC Meet (which I also waxed poetic about last year).

Highlights:

1.Last year, I lamented the fact that I was one of only 2 guys from the White Snake era. This year, we had four additional runners from my time, 3 of which I can take credit for (though Facebook certainly helped). I cajoled local legend Connie Buckwalter into coming, as well as Chris McAndrews and Alan Martin - the two guys who handed me my hat week in and week out during the late 80's.

Just seeing Chris for the first time in twenty years was a HUGE highlight. It sounded as if he hadn't changed a bit and that's one of those things I say as a sincere compliment. He cracked me up back then. He cracked me up now. Though he didn't run, he looked fit as could be and I'm hoping he comes back next year.

2.Seeing Dr. Tom Regan. In addition to being my former dentist, the good doc was the brother to Kevin Regan. Kevin was another great Solanco runner in his prime, who died in an accident far too young. An award was named in his honor for a student athlete, particularly in distance running, and I was fortunate enough to receive that award at my graduation. It's a special honor from my past and seeing the doc always reminds me of Kevin and receiving the award.

3.Seeing my high school coach. Young men may be fortunate enough to have a few people responsible for making them who they are today. Art Harrington was one of those guys for me. He was a hero to me back then and he's still a hero to me now. He was our Lombardi. We feared him and loved him at the same time. Over time, the fear factor diminishes (though it never goes away) and the love goes up proportionately.

4.Chasing ghosts. Last year, I wrote about chasing former state champion Glenn Wimer. This year, I beat Glenn. It could've been the downpour, or the fact that he's 14 years older than me, or the fact that he - like many runners including All-Americans - don't go all out in this race. Either way, I came to the line before him this year and that was kind of cool. It's the cross country version of going to an Old Timer's baseball camp and ripping a line drive off a former big leaguer. It doesn't mean you could've done it in your prime, but it's fun to do it that day.

On the other hand...
1. My other same era buddy, Brett Shelton, kicked me to the curb this year. He put thirty seconds on me from the get-go.
2. I was thirty seconds slower this year, though the downpour conditions and tall grass make the course difficult to compare to last year.

That being said, this is the only race I do all year that is always bigger than "me," meaning I care about who's there and who I get to see more than I care about my performance. That's not an excuse, and I was ticked to come in six places lower than last year. But regardless of my time or the results, I spent the day surrounded by tradition and greatness and friends. When you do that, the other stuff fades away pretty quick. I'm very grateful to current coach Scott Weaver and fellow alumni Mike Cavanaugh for starting and managing the race - one of the highlights of my year.

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