Thursday, March 31, 2011

Introduction (or re-introduction, as it may be)

On a recent Saturday, I was going through some old financial files trying to pull some information together.  No, the IRS is not after me.  I’m simply in the process of refinancing.  While going through the filing cabinets, I came across many saved mementos of my writing past.  I called Kelli, who is my running and life partner, over to show her some of my archives.  She had not yet known me during my writing days, and I wanted to give her a brief history.

First, I showed her a contract that Amby Burfoot, then executive editor of Runner’s World, sent me for a piece they wanted to publish in the January 2000 issue.  It was called “Roads Scholars- From Running I have Learned”.  When she saw how much it paid, she said I really needed to start writing again.

Then There was the letter from Becky Lambros, at the time the Executive Director of the RRCA, congratulating me for winning the Jerry Little Memorial Award as Outstanding National Club Writer.  I will never forget the thrill of going to the awards ceremony that year, and enjoying dinner with two of the most outstanding writers I have ever known…Joe Henderson, long time author of running commentary, and Rich Benyo, editor of Marathon and Beyond Magazine. 

 Rich Benyo, Me, and Joe Henderson

I felt like this was a “Field of Dreams” for me, actually being able to spend time with these two great legends of the running community.  Although I had corresponded with both of them before, and in fact written several articles for Rich in the past, I had never met either one of them before that weekend, and we left that convention as friends.

I found another file that had some old Chattahoochee Road Runners newsletters, from when I had been newsletter editor for this fine running club.  It took me a while to initially learn the software to create the newsletter, but once I did, the newsletter became a high quality monthly chronicle of the club’s life, and in 2005, was honored with the coveted “Small Running Club Outstanding Newsletter” award by the RRCA.

Shortly after that, my life changed in many ways; some good, and some a little less desirable, but the bottom line is that I got busy with things other than running and writing, and they both got pushed to the far background rather abruptly.  But on that recent Saturday morning, it was fun walking through memory lane with Kelli and showing her a snapshot of a very exciting time of my life.

This is not to say that things haven’t been exciting since then.  If anything, they have been much more exciting as I have successfully transitioned careers, met the true love of my life, welcomed a grandchild into the world with another one due any day now, and seen my daughter blossom from my little girl to a her own person, wearing the hats of mother, wife and business professional. But as for my life as a runner, running is no longer who I am.  It has just became something I do.

That same evening Kelli and I ran a race called the “World’s Hoppiest 5K” road race.  At the starting line, I was standing with Tim Bagley, part runner and part race director, and got to talking about an old print publication, very popular in Georgia running circles.  About a year and a half ago, he and I were kicking around the idea of a new print publication with Will Chamberlain, but it never materialized before Will’s untimely death earlier this year.  I told Tim that in today's world, I really would have no venue for sharing my thoughts even if I did start writing again.  He volunteered to allow me a blog spot on the Classic Race Services page of Facebook if I ever again did get inspired to write.

Then, after the race, I was approached by someone whom I had never met, but who recalled when I used to write the column “Thoughts of a Roads Scholar.”  Back in the days of Gary Jenkins’ Georgia Runner print publication, I had a regular column for over 10 years and would write monthly muses based on my personal observations of runners, especially myself.  This is where I got my writing start, and it was the springboard for everything else I ever was as a writer.  My simple goal as a writer was always to entertain by capturing the thoughts of the common runner, and expressing those thoughts in an uncommon way.

I’ve always been a firm believer in Kismet and that everything happens for a reason. I also believe that there is no bad fortune, only positive experiences and opportunities for learning , self-discovery and improving one’s direction.  that day, my past writing life seemed to be popping up around every corner, and up every hill.  It was even there at the starting line and at the finish line.  It was pleading with me to make the past the present.

That night was not the first time I have been reminded of the now defunct column.  Kelli, upon reading some of my old essays, has continually encouraged me to start up again.  My father, who was my running inspiration nearly 30 years ago, and my staunchest supporter in running, writing, and life, also asks on a relatively regular basis if I’ve writing anything lately.  At least he used to, but after enough responses to the negative, has stopped asking.

So, today is my first step in repeating history.  Consider this a re-introduction to those who have read my thoughts in the past, and a first introduction to those who are reading me for the first time.  My goal once again will be to entertain to the best of my ability by capturing the funny stories and the true battles that encompass every runner.  I have nearly 30 years to draw on, but one can’t live totally in the past.  So my plan is to refer to the past but to live and write about the present and future.  As with all things, I do believe the best is yet to come.

My name is Michael, and I am a runner and a writer.