Rocket City

Rocket city 1991/93
Beyond the Peak of One’s Athletic Power
What to do now…….
In 1989 I secured a job in Boston as a librarian at the IRS District Offices located in the JFK Building at City Hall Plaza. I started each day early in the A.M and took the first commuter rail train out of S. Acton at 5:33. This meant getting up at 4:30 in the morning so a morning run was out of the question.
On the bright side I got out at 3:30 in the afternoon and generally I was home and out running by around 5:30 and that became my new running routine only rarely getting in a double which had always been at the core of my program. I was transitioning from the athlete focused on his running above everything to what… I did not know.
Married for a few years and hoping to have a child which was becoming a disappointment as we sought help from the medical community to get us pregnant, specifically Frannie. I went to a urologist and well, without going into too much detail regarding his opinions his diagnosis he was adamant that running was the culprit and that my sperm were too tired to swim the way they should.
So for a time I cut way back on my running which was already a lot less than it used to be but that didn’t help speed up the sperm. So I went back to running 60 or 70 miles a week total in my evening runs after work and also over the weekends.
It was then suggested by one urologist that I had varicose veins in my testicles and should have surgery. Ya– ha, need a second opinion so it was off to another specialist and he said no way and not the running either not the problem and then he examined my penis and as he was doing so lets out a 
“ Wow! Look at this!”
At that point I had an anxiety attack and I passed out.
This all went on as we entered the 90’s. Frannie and I had had enough of being inspected, injected, dissected, neglected and selected and decided to try and adopt a child. Have Mercy.

Life always has some test to take or some hurdle to clear.
Throughout this stressful period I was running even competing sometimes but my heart wasn’t really in it and it didn’t bring the same joy it used to but “time wounds all heels.”
I had begun running for the Central Mass Striders I’m not sure why but ah yes I think I was still interested in coaching even after my few years coaching at U-Lowell while finishing my undergrad degree and then being rejected by about 50 universities and colleges and a couple of running clubs.
So I began a bit of coaching with them but very limited due to my long commute from my home in Clinton to Boston and back each day. Some of the guys were hoping to get a qualifier for the Olympic Marathon Trials and in December 1991 were travelling to the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville Al.

I went with them as a kind of “player coach” and the plan was for me to set a proper pace and whisper words of encouragement in their ears, but I was never very good at that nor coaching in general though I don’t think I ever upset their chances.

At the half I was running with longtime CMS’er from NH Scott Clark. We were 1:10 and change, perfect pace for the qualifier.

We were also far behind the leaders and outside the top ten.

Scott began to falter around 25km and urged me to go ahead after the race telling me “Hodgie, you looked like you was just idling.”

I continued to run an even pace and by 23 miles I had tracked down all but one fella a English bloke whose name escapes me and I hunted him down through neighborhood streets until I pulled even.

We ran a bit together but he was shattered so I figured to put him out of his misery with a little surge which surprisingly continued all the way to the finish line in 2:22:43.

A few years earlier this effort I would have not been impressed with or happy about but today I was bemused. Must be all those miles of trials miles in the bank.

I had missed the Olympic Trials Qualifier but I had no intention of running the trials anyway so that meant nothing. I had a good time talking with the media after the race with Benji Durden a fellow older war horse with me, Benji a winner in the Masters Division.

The race was a big deal in Huntsville Rocket City and I had to pretend it was a big deal to me personally but it wasn’t and don’t get me wrong I had fun put in a solid effort but with nothing in my future running plans to be pointed for just older and everything had changed.

But so far I had only just begun to decompress from my former athlete life so a part of me just kept acting the same.

The best part was the prize purse I won allowing me to pay some bills that my meager government salary otherwise just barely might cover.

I made some friends in Huntsville AL and that would be my good fortune the following year when I returned to defend my title under some duress. Me against myself.