In the continuing autobiographical saga, I’m sometimes asked what I do for fun beside play music. I’ve been thinking of late how long I’ve been running. It started with my high school cross-country team (Davis, CA), now almost 50 years ago, and has continued most of my adult life. For many years it was a way to stay fit for other activities (primarily cycling — I raced until I was in my late 20s), and then became my primary fitness and outdoor activity.
These days, thanks to advice from former Olympian Jeff Galloway (http://www.jeffgalloway.com) and his great book Running Until You’re 100, I make it a point never to run two days in a row. As Jeff advises, as one gets into one’s 60s, more recovery time is needed between runs. You can run longer when you run, but you’ve got to rest more, or your body will really start to argue with you. (Most non-running days I bicycle or use low-impact aerobic machines at the gym.) As the years have gone by I’ve gotten slower and slower (and heavier and heavier, but hey, it’s good glycogen storage!), but the compensation is that I take in more of the scenery (there’s plenty of that along the beautiful running trails of Sacramento, CA), and spot more dropped coins along the way.
My most significant mentor and inspiration has been Gary Tuttle, the former national champion at 15K and 25K, winner of the Bay to Breakers race (photo below), and former holder of the American one-hour record (12 miles, 811 yards — that’s a 4:49/mile pace for a whole hour!).
In 1976, the year I started my law practice, in Santa Paula, CA, Gary returned to his native Ventura, nearby, and opened a running shoe and clothing store, Inside Track. From then until his retirement and sale of the business to a younger runner a few years ago, Gary was “Mr. Running” in Ventura County, coaching, encouraging, promoting running events, and inspiring the Team Inside Track running club. He organized training runs with different routes and distances for various abilities, so that no matter how fast or how slow one was, everyone ended up at the same place after their run. Usually a place with beer. The Club took bus trips to faraway places, like the annual Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco and events in Las Vegas. Having fun by running well was always the primary goal, but great party times on the bus were a natural bonus.
Using promotional materials and ideas from Runners World Magazine, Gary put on weekend family fun-runs that got both of my daughters running at a young age, and introduced them to training and fitness concepts that took them through intercollegiate college athletics, and remain part of their lives today. And in 1999 when I determined after years of 5Ks and 10Ks to run my first marathon (Los Angeles), it was Gary who coached me right through race day. (Successfully, tho’ at slightly over four hours, I was not among the runners who took home new cars and thousands of dollars!)
Gary wore out shoe leather (or rubber, in the case of his running shoes) in his campaigns for City Council in Ventura. He served for eight years, and was a model elected official when it came to really listening to the community, learning, and working hard to make the City a better place for everyone.
These days Gary’s enjoying “retirement.” His daily regimen includes some of his favorite activities, such as gardening and bird-watching (Gary kept a pair of binoculars on the counter at Inside Track and would rush to the front window every time an exotic bird was spotted in the city park across the street) and coaching high school basketball. As well as running. After all these years.
Thanks, Gary. And I hope we’re both still running at 100.