Thursday, August 17, 2023

I could show up

Two big things happened in the summer of 1976. The bicentennial and I told all my friends to go to hell. For me it was the summer between middle school and high school and I realized that all my friends were jocks and I hated playing ball. I was bad at it and they didn't want me around either. So I had an epiphany in that I was going to meet all new friends when I started high school. And I did. But not the way I thought I would.

Gym class really sucked. I think it's a small part of a lot of movies they made about growing up.  I really was not into learning a little bit about a lot of sports that I didn't care about. Especially because I was a spaz. But I remember in the end of September the gym class was filled up with folding tables and all the coaches were there. I remember what they said very clearly." If you get on any varsity team you don't have to go to gym anymore. And we'll actually change your schedule around so gym is your last period class and your report card will say 95". I never learned what a varsity team was but it didn't matter. None of those teams would have me. They had tryouts and I couldn't catch or throw or hit a ball. But I remember asking the track coach what I had to do to get on the team. He said two words, "Show up." I could show up.

So I joined the Sheepshead Bay High School track team. We didn't have a track so we practice by running around the block. And I made a whole bunch of friends. I became friends with the kids that would skip a lap of the block and smoke some weed. The fast kids didn't care , we weren't hurting the team. And they were the one selling us the weed.. But that's all another story. Cross country meets  were in Prospect Park. I remember that we took the subway there and stopped at the McDonald's that still on Parkside Avenue. I remember the pond that is now called Dog Beach. We called it Cadillac Lake because there was a Cadillac in it for 4 years.I remember finishing the races and throwing up on the picnic house. Big Macs came out easy. I remember not medalling in every single race I ran in all three seasons for four years. But what I really enjoy remembering is that those fast kids gave me high fives when I finished. They appreciated my effort. Let me say that again.They appreciated my effort.

So fast forward a bunch of years. I stopped running during college but when I finished up my entry level job I moved back to Brooklyn. I want to start running again and I wanted to finish the New York City marathon. So I discovered the Prospect Park Track Club. It was the early '90s. And to the Chagrin of some of the old timers there were no qualifying standards to enter the club. I found another place where my effort was appreciated. I'm not exaggerating. I've been a member of the prospect park track club for over 30 years and have never ever come in the top three in any age group I've ever been in any race. I distinctly remember running a 5K on the eve of my 30th birthday knowing that it was my last chance to be in this less than competitive age group and possibly win. I came in last (4th) in my age group that day.But no one in the club ever thought of any less of me.

A bag weighing 9 lb that holds about a
hundred finishers medals
Back in high school I never earned a medal. You have to finish in the top three to get one of those. But in the past 30 years i have received a literal sack of finisher's medals. It used to be that you had to finish a marathon to get a medal. Now they hand them out for everything.I recently cleaned up and put them all in one spot.

To the left is a sack of finisher's medals. There's probably about 30 from full marathons and a couple of belt buckles from ultra marathons. I can't bring myself to throw them away but I don't need to display them anymore. I've run some races that I've been on the organizing committee of and I've actually given back my medal because I knew it would be recycled.needless to say these medals are in a big deal to me.

a photo of myself wearing
the medal I earned
for running
all of the summer speed series races.
But yesterday's medal was different. I didn't earn it for finishing a race. I earned it for finishing all the races.My Running Club, The Prospect Park Track Club has been organizing a series of summer races for years. Every other Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. go out and bang out of 5K.  This year, they we, decided to give out a medal to everyone who finishes all of the races.

he big deal about me earning this medal is that no one thought it was a big deal. 9 years ago I missed all the races because I spent the entirety of the summer in the hospital. There was some smart doctors who were worried that I was going to die. Apparently they were incorrect. I didn't just survive as seen to the photo to the right I lived. I showed up and finished all of the Al Goldstein Summer Speed  races in 2023. 

I think I'll display this medal for a while

1 comment:

  1. Michael, I’m one of the PPTC members who been around a while, mostly wallflowering, who 1st joined because my husband did the track work within the group- but then I joined the ultra group and found my ‘space’.
    I’ve seen you from before you were sick to present and ALWAYS love to cheer you on! Last time (I think) was the NYC marathon??- I don’t remember lol- POINT IS- I loved reading your back story and it is a pleasure to cheer you on from the sidelines- and now in this space! Acknowledgment and appreciation for our efforts is joy to the soul— Thank you for sharing and congrats on such a meaningful accomplishment ~


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