NIKE AND MR. BOWERMAN


I hadn’t gone far, not quite two miles, with not even a good sweat in the cool, foggy morning air. I was high, running easily, playing my usual mind game of imagining the cheering crowds at the imaginary finish line, me breaking the tape and then flopping down on the wet grass to celebrate the usual morning run. For several years we had run around the Lake chasing the resident geese out of the way and dodging dogs and people. Dr. Advice was beside me as usual, playing the role of the race announcer and critiquing my unusual running style, when suddenly without warning I found myself on the ground writhing in pain. The culprit was a board sticking up a bare half inch and my moving toe had connected with it. As it turned out, it was the finish of that race and all others to come when an x-ray showed a broken tendon in my right foot. The prognosis was not good. The loose half of the tendon had windowshaded up my leg never to be seen again.

runners 2

Early in the 1960’s a friend called me one morning about 6 a.m. and asked if I wanted to go for a run. Unaccustomed as I was to even being awake at 6 a.m. and not knowing anyone who ran in public unless going to a fire, I foolishly said OK. What began as a slow jog alongside the side of the road for the two of us, began a daily habit which soon had us switched to the high school track at 5:30 and included several other men and women. We all felt so superior and healthy.

All this time unbeknownst to us, Bill Bowerman, the great track and field coach at the University of Oregon, was working on an idea to make better running shoes for his runners. In 1970 he famously used his wife’s waffle iron to stamp the rubber sole of a running shoe which then became the iconic look of running shoes today. Together with Phil Knight, a business man in Oregon and graduate of the University of Oregon. they began the company known as Nike. My daughter then working in the sports department at the University of Washington sent me one of the first Nike shoes.

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It has been eight years since my accident, and I still miss those early morning runs while waiting for the world to wake up. Today I use a cane which amuses me sometimes because when my friend and I were very young we decided that if we ever grew old we would carry a really classy cane with a silver handle to discourage all intruders. My cane is not classy and there have been no intruders that a Jack Russell couldn’t discourage, but it works. One of my grandsons promised me he would pick me up one in London someday, but he never did. I found a shop in Nottinghill which had some lovely canes, but I didn’t need one then so I moved on.

I have discovered that if you can no longer manage things the way you would like, you can make adjustments. Sort of like that old saw about one door opening etc. My walker with its storage basket/seat is perfect for carrying things room to room, or stashing tools when gardening and purchases at the store. I can recommend one to everyone. My daughter was quite impressed when I used it to bring dishes to the table.

I began feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t go for a walk, so we bought a wheelchair. The first day we used it to walk around “our” Lake, the wind came up and Dr. Advice caught a cold and was in bed for four days! The chair stayed vacant in the garage for a month or so as a catch-all storage, but it’s there when needed. I met a nice lady at the store where we bought it who had purchased the same model for her husband, but when she took him out for a spin the first time, it tipped over and out he went. No idea if she ever got the hang of it. I guess I was lucky that I didn’t tip over.

The whole point of life is making the best of it. I’m glad I danced, rode horses, climbed mountains and ran. It’s time to move over and let the rabble run past.

JANUARY PEOPLE


Who are “the January People”?  My friend, 90 years old, has shown up at her gym daily for as long as I can remember. (Maybe that’s why she is 90 years old).  She obviously has missed out on a lot of late parties, but you can’t argue with the results of a daily workout.  According to her, the January People are the ones who begin showing up at the gym right after New Years, dressed in new colorful workout clothes made of spandex, and each clutching her blue yoga mat like a security blanket.  They all sat down on New Years day during the football game, making their New Years resolutions, and a daily workout headed the list.  They attack each exercise, eyes never leaving the instructor except to look and see what the other people were doing.  They begin drifting off as the month begins to wane, until there are only a couple left by Feburary.  These are the January People.

Years ago a group of us began jogging on a daily basis.  We began with 2, and several others joined us at 5:30 in the morning.  We ran for a couple of miles, working up a good sweat, went home and cooked breakfast for husbands and kids.  Gradually, one by one, the group dwindled down to my friend and me.

Resolutions are like that.  They look good on paper, but they are hard to keep.  Most people by nature, are procrastinators.  Dr. Advice in contrast, is the only person I know who believes in tackling a problem head on.  I have learned for instance, not to mention  a minor repair just as we sit down at the dinner table, because he will gladly leave a hot meal growing icicles while he makes the repair, the phone call, etc.  He will leave a TV movie, no matter how interesting, to finish a job.  It is a great quality, and one I wish I could share, but my nature is to take it easy, if it’s here today it will still be here tomorrow.  I’ll admit, if the house were on fire I would grab my iPad (if I had one) and my dog and run like hell.  My secret weapon is “I don’t make the resolution in the first place.”