My wife and three rug rats headed out to Levelland Texas Wednesday afternoon. (Levelland is located 30 miles west of Lubbock with no windbreak except for a barbwire fence somewhere up in the panhandle near Amarillo.)
Thanksgiving Morning I was to be met by Bill Roger (no, not the Boston Marathon Champion) to ride over to Lubbock and run the annual Turkey Trot put on by the West Texas Runners Club.
Bill has always run as long as I can remember. I was raised in Levelland Texas, a town of about 13,000, and Bill’s running has become a community staple. Bill will turn 70 this next year and has been running for over half of his life. That running has included completing 45 marathons, twice qualifying and running the Boston. I remember in my preteen years thinking how anyone can run over 25 miles at a time. The Roger’s have been friends of my family for nearly all my life and 15 years ago when I ran my first marathon, I turned to Bill for advice, instruction, and encouragement. Bill is a crazy cut up and keeps me in stitches so the half hour drive over to the race was a good time to catch up.
Bill retold of the many times that he and his running pal, Larry Bird, would show up to races together and approach the registration table announcing that Bill Roger and Larry Bird would be running in the race. Bill chuckled when all heads would turn to check to see if the Boston Marathon Champ would be paired up with the famous Boston Celtic. Oh, that trick never got old.
Larry Bird (left) and Bill Roger (right) Pre Race Camaraderie
I was reminded this weekend that Bill was running marathons before running marathons was hip and cool. There wasn’t a whole lot of training programs and many amateur runners learned things the hard way. Like the time he decided to carry a Hershey Chocolate bar for a marathon. “Dave, you know that a Hershey chocolate bar has 12 squares. So at every 2 mile water stop I would eat a square. The problem is I didn’t realize how hot it was going to get and by mile 6 I was drinking that chocolate bar out of the wrapper and wearing the rest of it.” We laughed.
The stories would go on…and on. Many of which I had heard before, some I hadn’t…but the laughter never ceased.
Bill has been featured in Runners’ World magazine. Not for his incredible running prowess but for all the change (money) he has found while running. I remember walking into his workout room in the backyard and seeing literally thousands of pennies, quarters, dimes, and nickels glued to the wall. There was hardly a space that had not been covered by money. After the RW feature, he was advised to take it down because of possible theft. He cleaned up the money and took it to the bank…seven 5 gallon buckets of pennies….enough money to buy 2 treadmills and a TV so the he and his wife Sally could workout and watch TV.
Bill had decided not to run the Turkey Trot this year because he has been having some severe foot issues. Despite the foot pain he did manage to get in a jog before he picked me up Thanksgiving morning. I was going to run the 12K…don’t ask me why the Lubbock Turkey Trot is 12K (7.45 miles). So there we are at the pre race and I am pinning on my number. Bill says, “you know you’ve had a bad day if by the end of your race the safety pens are rusty.” “Have you ever had that?” I ask. Bill dryly responds, “Yeah, Chicago Marathon.” And we laugh.
Bill Roger with me, being his goofy, silly self.
The race went well. I came in 5th for my age group and would have had PR’s at both the 5K and 10K splits.
We made it home by 11:00 AM. I shower and change into the Roger Staubach Football Jersey, the football legend I grew up idolizing. Roger saved me $1600.00 once during a silent auction when he shook my hand…but I digress and that is a story for another day. You have to wear such jersey if you are going to go play backyard football on Thanksgiving with your 7 year old son.
Luke and Me playing some Thanksgiving Day Football
Thanksgiving day went off well and a my brother and his family got to celebrate it together with our parents.
All the grand kids with my parents
To wrap up the weekend, I get a call from my buddy Rick Gaston. He ran the 28 mile (over 9000 ft of elevation increase) Quad Dipsea race on Saturday. Not only did he run a great race but met David Goggins, a Navy Seal, Endurance Ultramarathon freak and someone I really admire. Rick tells David about his Marine buddy who lives in Texas and asks if he can have his picture taken with him for me. Goggins says, “Of course and tell him SemperFi.” There are a couple of more guys who will become legends. Read about Ricks' epic race cutting 35 minutes off of last years time at Ricks Blog .
David Goggins & Rick Gaston - post race Quad Dipsea
I will end on this note. I came home and cracked open the email. I had a message from Patton Gleason asking to contact him if I wanted to go for a run this weekend. Truthfully, I don’t think I can keep up with Patton. Patton leads the marathon training programs for Luke’s Locker and is one of the coolest, fastest, and most gracious guys around. He will be doing the Bandera 100K in January and to make the Whiterock Marathon interesting this year he is running 24 miles to the start line to make it a 50 mile day. Yeah….he’s on his way to legend status.
On Friday afternoon, I went for a 12 mile run. My 10 year old nephew, Jeffery, ran the first 4 miles with me at about an 8:50 per mile pace. He hung tough and frankly I was proud of him. At about 3.75 miles, I started messing with his mind by saying we had 2 miles to go. He was hurting and gasped…”We only have run TWO MILES?”…of course we had only a few hundred yards to wrap up the run. He was relieved to see his dad at the corner to take him home while I continued. Who knows, I may become his Legend.
Look around, there are people who inspire you…they’re legends…at least in my book! Do something epic and become their Legacy….and somebody else’s Legend.