Tag Archives: 30 Year Club

A New Age For a New Year

While most folks are focusing on the year ahead part of my mind remains in last year. Last year was one of my most memorable years of running. Not because of fast race times but more because I am still running at my age and competing at a solid level.

The year began in Boston where I shared the road from Hopkinton with more than a dozen friends from my training group. But imagine, the true highlight was not the Boston Marathon but a race back where my running career started in prep school, Flint Michigan and the Crim 10 Miler. I was very honored to join 19 other runners as we were inducted into the “30 Year Club”. A club that has at least a 29 year waiting list to join!  Yes, my 30th running of the Crim was very special.

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The start of the 2016 Crim 10 Miler, for a few brief miles there were only 3-4 runners ahead of me and over 10,000 runners behind me. (30 Yr. Club runners get a 15 min. head start)

Unfortunately for me, the year ended with knee injury. Adding to my grief was the fact that the injury was not running related. I had twisted my knee only slightly on a wet floor and that’s all it took to hamper but not prevent me from keeping my streak alive and running each and every Brooksie Way Half Marathon.  My knee required significant rest and rehab. In other words, I was gaining weight and running much less, not a good combination for a competitive runner. This is why part of my mind is back in last year, yearning to return to my pre-injury fitness level.

Last December I also turned over another calendar in my life, not only moving up to a new (older) age group but also hitting that special number many people focus on since the start of their careers.  The magical number of 65 years old!  Most people see that as their retirement age. Not me! Thanks to my career as a runner I do not intend to retire anytime soon. Which also works hand in hand with being an architect too.

For you see the architectural profession is one where most practitioners do not even begin to hit their professional prime until the have 30, 40, or more years of experience.  It is not unusual to see many talented architects practicing their profession well into their 80’s and beyond.  My doctor tells me I should zoom past my 80’s and would not be surprised to see me running at 110 or more!  Of course he also always follows that with a cautionary note for me to drive carefully too.

This is all quite a contrast to my father who passed away 34 years ago this week at the age of 52.  I also recall my maternal grandfather turning 65 and his retirement from a life long career at Chrysler.  I was 14 at the time and remember my grandfather complaining that it was not fun growing old. I witnessed his life in retirement and thought that was just the natural course of life.

Five years later I started my college days at University of Detroit, only a few blocks from my grandparents house. I visited each of them every Sunday for the day (and a good home cooked meal too). What I witnessed was the slow decline of my grandfather’s mind as dementia eroded the balance of his life and placed a tremendous hardship on those around him. He left us at 74.

Today, as I both look back and ahead, 74 seems so young! When I turn 74 I plan to join the Crim’s “40 Year Club”!

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Old school sketching, design, and detailing

My point to all of this is that the number associated with one’s life on this planet does not necessarily need to align with society’s expectations. In today’s world it is much more common for older adults to be very active and participate in marathons, triathlons, and generally simply being physically active. For those who have been blessed to enjoy their career path, they stay in the work force as long as they can. Both the physical and work activity help to extend the lifestyle of active people.

So as I begin 2017 I am happy to still be working full time and looking forward to another year of competitive running. The numbers would indicate that I should sit back, relax, and watch the world go by.  Sorry, that has simply never been my style for the past 65 years.

Thank you for taking a moment to glance at my blog, I resolve to be a more consistent contributor this year, and I wish you all a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, an Active New Year!

Coach (and still Architect) Lee

 

 

 

Morning’s Dawn

It’s a Saturday morning in early August, shortly before 6:00 AM and I am turning onto I-96 headed out to Kensington Metro Park to connect with 30 or more runners all of whom will be running 10 miles or more.  I am not thinking about my run this morning but rather a special run just weeks from today, The Crim in Flint Michigan is perhaps the premier 10 Mile road race in the world.  There may be a few folks in Washington DC who may argue the Cherry Blossom, or Marine Corp 10 Mile races are the best but in reality each of these races are a distant second to the Crim, for they lack the soul of the local community that the people of Flint provide.

The sky is a beautiful mix of dark to light as the sun begins to reveal this day and  I am thinking in a few weeks I will have just arrived in my secret parking area  downtown Flint at this time in three short weeks, except the sun will be about 30 minutes behind me.

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Racing along the bricks to the finish of The Crim, 2015

Well that was a very quick three weeks ago already, how did August fly by so fast? It’s here, Crim week, the week that ends the 4th Saturday of every August. After months of enjoying many beautiful Michigan early morning sunrises during my morning runs I realize that the morning runs have morphed into pre-dawn runs, thus marking my calendar as “Crim Week”. While I miss the early morning sunshine I welcome the relief from our high temperatures and humidity. Another sign that the big race is just ahead. Nearly 16,000 runners are also praying our current break from the summer heat will continue, at least through Saturday morning.

Unlike the recent few years, I am running less this week as I taper my training in order to be well rested and hopefully race strong Saturday. For many of the past several years I was always training for another targeted race such marathons in Detroit , New York, Raleigh, or Chicago and the Crim represented a tough training run for those marathons. This year is different, not because I am not running a marathon this fall but rather because of an email I received from the Crim organizers nearly 11 months ago. I was notified that the 2016 Crim would be my 30th running of the Crim! Surely I thought they had made a mistake for I had figured I would not be able to join the 30 Year Club until 2017 at the earliest. I dug up all of my running logs (yes I have records of every training run and race I have done since 1984!) and I realized that I failed to count my very first Crim in 1984, so in fact yes this will be my 30th Crim!

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RF 501 Traditional Pre Race Photo

With so many Crim races in the past, there are so many personal routines that have evolved into traditions. Visiting the race expo on Friday, driving home (1hr each way) only to rise early the next morning to return to Flint before sunrise, my pre-race breakfast, my secret parking area, adding to my collection of Crim memorabilia (especially coffee mugs), driving through nearby Grand Blanc where I grew up, enjoying a post race Popsicle, and downing a beer and pizza in the parking lot along Harrison Ave. and many more.

Yet each year there is something new to add. In recent years I have competed in the USATF US National Championship 1 Mile event on Friday, organized teams to compete in the team event, annually update my “Touring The Crim Course” a guide to how to race the course, and generally been a self appointed ambassador for the event by encouraging those new to running to race the Crim.

This year is very special for there will never be another initiation opportunity for me to join the 30 year club. Imagine, gaining entry to a club that has a 30 year waiting list! I plan to take full advantage of this special moment and I look forward to my special induction ceremony along with another 18 other runners this Thursday evening in Flint, and my special 15 minute head start in front of 16,000 +/- other runners including many world class elites from all over the world. For a few miles I will be racing in front of this incredible pack of runners, then of course reality will quite literally catch up to me.

I have prepared well this year, ran many hills, many early morning sessions on the local

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Nothing like celebrating after a hard 10 miles of racing

track, attempted to eat properly, and generally maintain a positive attitude. Nothing within my control will cause me to not enjoy the balance of this week, race morning, and the post race celebration.

Thank you for taking a moment to read this post. I promise to report back soon.

Run Happy.

Coach Lee

PS:

I also need to recognize that there are 19 other runners who have competed in every single Crim since the first race in 1977. They too will receive special recognition this week as a new club is formed, The 40 year Club! Congrats to all 🙂