Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Run With The Dirty Angels

Waking up this morning I realized that I had been remiss in not using this space on even a single occasion during this past week to give a well-deserved shout out to the Sheehan Family and all those responsible for putting on the George Sheehan Classic.  The race, which is a fun and challenging (including but not limited to "Ball Buster Hill" at Mile 4) 5 mile jaunt through the streets of Red Bank, New Jersey, has been held annually there since 1994.  It honors the life, legacy and memory of Dr. George Sheehan, who was a physician, a philosopher and a runner.  He is a man sometimes referred to as "the father of the running boom" in the United States.  The fact that I am often referred to as the "lazy, drunk uncle of the running boom" is neither complimentary nor particularly relevant to this story.  The less said about that, the better.

Last Saturday morning in Red Bank dawned as the prototypical Jersey early summer day.  It warmed up rather quickly and when the course moved inland the air got almost thick enough to chew in spots.  Neither detracted one bit from the event or the experience.  Red Bank is a quite beautiful little town, situated as it is on the Navesink's banks.  I spent a considerable portion of my pre-race "prep time" walking along the waterfront and using my phone to take pictures of the sailboats in the river and the shoreline. 

Did it help my race performance?  Of course not.  Big deal.  I entered the Sheehan Classic with a reasonable expectation of finishing somewhere in or about the middle of the pack.  Mission accomplished.  I doubt highly that the fifteen minutes or so I spent taking pictures pre-race as opposed to stretching had much of an impact on that result. 

One of Dr. Sheehan's sons (I do not recall his first name) spoke to the runners as we stood at the starting line waiting to begin.  Among the things he shared with us was his father's mantra about running:  I do not run to add years to my life.  I run to add life to my years.  As mantras go, that one strikes me as particularly solid.  And in consideration of the fact that last Saturday was not only the day on which the Sheehan Classic was run but also the day on which Clarence Clemons died, Dr. Sheehan's philosophy strikes me as something that suits every person and every pursuit.  It certainly seemed to fit the Big Man to a "T".

I am already looking forward to next June.  I welcome the opportunity to add a bit more life to my years. 


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