Humbled but loving it

by altardy on August 11, 2009

This is a story of keeping “Average Al” humble. During the week leading up to the May 22-23rd weekend I searched all the race websites most of you look at to pick your races. By Friday I had selected 2 and Saturday headed to Worcester, MA. to run in the Seven Hills Foundation 5k. I arrived my usual 1-1 1/2 hours early because I like to have the time to register if I haven’t already, ask about the course, stretch a bit and get ready for the start at a leisurely pace. I arrived early and found myself to be almost the only one there. I could see that the only other people there were a small group, in the middle of a field, under a canopy. They did have a table and other things that assured me that I was probably in the right place. There were a series of different fields and they were in the middle of them all. I made my way to the group to find out about the race. As it turned out it was the 1st annual Seven Hills Foundation 5k and was Ryan and his friend Andrew’s senior project. What a great thing for a couple of young guys to be doing. The Seven Hills Foundation is a local charity that tries to reach out and help people in many ways. Check out for more info on them. I was also able to find out that the course was the cross country course used by the high school teams. It crossed one of the soccer fields then went up into the woods and came back to the fields. The loop was about 8-9/10 of a mile which meant when you came back to the field the 3rd time you had to do a bit extra around another field before the finish line. Both runners and walkers began arriving and soon there were 30-40 of us. What I did notice was that of the runners there were only 4 of us that were not from the local high school cross country teams. And 1 of the 4 of us “oldies” was a national caliber steeple chase competitor. You should understand that I always feel that you are guided to places even though you may not understand why sometimes. Well, to the starting line the runners went and we were off. We circled the field and up into the woods we went. It truly was a beautiful course and since I used to run cross country in my high school days it brought back some memories. So up the hills, through some wet areas, and over tree roots we went. When I popped out of the woods this 1st time I was about 100 yards behind the last runner but everyone was still in sight. Around the field again, up a hill and into the woods we went for the 2nd time. About 3/4 of the way around the 2nd loop I could hear a gazelle–I mean another runner coming up behind me. Sure enough it was the kid that was leading the race and he was lapping me. On his way by he said some great encouraging things to me while I was thinking I wanted to trip him and teach him to be passing a world record holder less than 2 miles into a 3.1 mile race. ONLY KIDDING!!! Turns out he and his dad did triathalons and he “dusted” all of the runners. Well by the time I came out on the field the 2nd time I could see catching up may not be one of my options. So around for the third lap I went and then to ad to my ego check I had to run that extra distance around another field and finally circled the last field to the finish. Did I mention that it was a soccer field??? So the guy who holds a long distance running world record was watched by all present as he made his way to the finish line—DEAD LAST. I knew at that point that I wasn’t here to prove my running abilities. So I turned my attention, while licking my wounds, to the others. Ryan (pictured above with his brother-Ryan’s on the right) had a cell phone that had internet access. I had him link on to my website and told all students that were around us that they needed to go to school Monday and tell everybody they could they had beat a world record holder. They were all curious to see the site and read some of it and I think beating me might have helped make their day. But who was the real winner that day? The foundation received money they really needed because 2 seniors used their senior project to benefit a great cause that, in these times, could use every nickel. The 2nd picture is myself, Bill Stock of the foundation, Ryan, and Andrew. AND at that race the baton was passed on to one of their friends who was a junior as his senior project for the next year. Go and enjoy this race next year and enjoy the enthusiasm of youth on a great mission. This is how great things start- with a vision and age has no boundaries when it comes to vision. By the way I was at the Red Hook Brewery 5k the next day in Portsmouth, N.H. to help my ego re coop. Great Job Guys. Walk Proud. Thanks for a great memory.

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