T-shirt super store

If you’re a runner, and you enter races regularly, you probably have a pile of t-shirts. I did an inventory count today, and I have 31 shirts.

Whenever I bring out my valuable collection, I have my attack cat, Gloopy, on guard.

Whenever I bring out my valuable collection, I have my attack cat, Gloopy, on guard.

Pictured below is my favorite one right now. I really like the long sleeve tees. Also, I’m working on a career change, hoping to break into the field of male modeling. Beside a nice-looking shirt, hopefully you’ll find my pose professional and fashion mag-worthy.tshirt favorite

I have a hard time getting rid of my shirts. I’ve thrown away a bunch that wore out, but with a sizeable inventory, they last a long time. My oldest one, pictured below, dates from high school. I won it because I ran lots of miles the summer before my senior year.tshirt rogers

I taught English in Japan in the late 80’s and early ’90’s and have one surviving shirt, shown below. Back then, the standard way to enter a race here in the U.S. was to send the entry form by mail with a check enclosed. In Japan, I was told only executives and the very rich had checking accounts. To enter a race you had to buy a money order-like thing at the post office that took a long time to processtshirt japan

After graduating from Washington State University, I got a job offer in southern California and did a bunch of road races. The below shirt is the only one left from that era. Many years later my daughter found it and wore it frequently when she was in high school. tshirt ventura

It’s a treat to get a sweatshirt for finishing a race, and I really got my money’s worth with the below one. It was my cool weather top for several years. I’ve been in a running outfit rut several times, but this one takes the cake.tshirt sweatshirt

I’m hoping the misprint on the below shirt will make it a valuable collector’s item in the future, and I’ll be able to retire on the money I get selling it to a museum. They kept the same design from the previous year’s race, but failed to attach the correct suffix to the 23.tshirt misprint

Even though I often take the no-shirt option when I sign up for races, sometimes there isn’t a no-shirt option. Other races have such nicely designed shirts that I can’t pass them up. Therefore, my collection continues to grow.

Choo-choo trains and snow bombs

College distance runners usually do as their coach says and work hard at team practices, except sometimes. Mischief happens now and then, especially in the off-season when there’s no meet coming up.

On a snowy, winter afternoon when I was on the track and cross-country team at Spokane Falls Community College, I talked my teammates into leaving the road we were running along to drop snow bombs on passing cars from a railroad bridge, pictured below, which passes over Greenwood Road in Spokane. If you work in security or are an executive for Burlington Northern Railway, please stop reading this now.

RR bridge below

The snow was pretty fluffy, and we didn’t roll giant snowballs or pack it tightly- we dropped slightly larger than throwing size which we were confident wouldn’t cause any damage.

It was quite a drop from the bridge to the road below, so releasing our snow bombs at the right moment wasn’t as easy as it seemed. In addition, the road below wasn’t a busy one, so our opportunities were limited.

I studied so hard and long before practice that my eyesight was blurry and I couldn't make out the sign posted on the railing. If I had read, it I would've immediately abandoned my plan.

I studied so hard and long before practice that my eyesight was blurry, and I couldn’t make out the sign posted on the railing. If I had read it, I would’ve immediately abandoned my plan.

After several attempts, we started honing our skills and had a couple near-hits. Then, we got interrupted.

Because the bridge and the approach to it is on a curve with steep embankments, and our attention was firmly focused on dropping snow bombs, we failed to notice the train.

You’d think we’d hear the rumble and the loud drone of the diesel engines, but it wasn’t until it was nearly onto the bridge that we noticed it.

It was a very good thing that all of us just happened to be runners. We sprinted off the bridge and watched the train rumble past.

We failed to score a single hit with our snow bombs, and after the train moment, we no longer had an appetite for more tries. We made our way down to the road and resumed our run.

My first race

I started a running career at John Rogers High School in Spokane, pictured below. I was a baseball player before that, but in my freshman season, I tore up league pitching with a batting average of just over .200. I had a goal of getting a college athletic scholarship, and it wasn’t looking like baseball would do it for me.Rogers hs2

Photo by Colin Mulvany, Spokesman-Review

The few times I was in a distance race in P.E. or racing other kids informally, I did pretty well. So I decided to give distance running a shot by turning out for track my sophomore year.

After two or three weeks of track practices, coach entered me in the mile in our first match, a practice meet against East Valley High School. At the starting line were two experienced EV runners, our team’s top runner – a senior, and myself. A newbie in a field of four left me scared and nervous enough that if anyone tried talking to me, my quivering lips would’ve reduced whatever words I could utter to gibberish.

At the last moment I got a gift of company. A fellow sophomore teammate got put into the race. Normally a quarter-miler, I knew he was no threat to win. I’d have someone to run with.

The race started fast and I stayed with the pack. However, the quarter-miler dropped out before finishing the first lap. I instantly felt dread.

I finished last, however I stayed close most of the race. My senior teammate eventually pulled away, finishing in first, twelve seconds ahead of me. I ran a 5:01, and my times got faster with each race.

Because of our team’s schedule, I only ran three days a week, and my weekly mileage totals were very low. But our interval training was tough, and to this day, I have unpleasant memories of workouts that were especially painful.