Winter Closing In

I spent the winter of 1981/82 living in a beach house on the beach in Marshfield MA. My friend Earle helped me move from my little cabin in Norwell which property located on the North River was being sold very sad but this new abode would be another short stop in my peripatetic life. 

Earle came by with his ice cream delivery truck and we packed my few belongings in the back with the frozen goods.

The house was outfitted with everything I would need except maybe a source of heat it being a summer residence and not too well insulated and with some very spare heating panels it was hard to get the thermostat even to 60. It did have a fireplace which was nice and I had some wood left from my cabin days which Earle and I moved also in the ice cream truck. I hunkered down snug as a bug.

Marshfield was in the running news recently when Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi warmed up by running the Marshfield marathon on January 1st 2018 in arctic temps. 

In November of 81 I was about to become jobless and I had just received my last paycheck from Reebok and we had agreed to part ways. I was coming off a 22nd place finish in the NYC Marathon running 2:15:33 a mediocre performance. I had only run New York because I felt pressured to do so by Reebok which back then was not a big player in the North American market. 

1981 was injury and rehab and struggle but I was beginning to come round and I had a meeting scheduled with New Balance to discuss rejoining them after my stint with Reebok. I was excited but cautious as I put in the miles along the scenic seashore and spent my days plotting out the coming year. 

I reflected on where I’d been how fortunate I was even if my athletic career ended tomorrow I had traveled the world and had many opportunities and adventures but of course I wanted more. I needed to get my swagger back but my physical injury had damaged my psyche and my trajectory had been up up up and then down down now it was steady as she goes climbing back up.

In my life I had met some characters done business with some people who had my best interest in mind and some others who were Boris Badenov’s. Whether it was planning my running or planning my life I made decisions by feel and I could do fine without the many things most people require or aspire to. 

There is something special about living by the ocean a sense of vastness puts you in your place and falling asleep to the lapping or crashing waves at night. This environment helped me to keep things in perspective.

My girlfriend Frannie lived and worked in Boston and I would visit her every week when I went up to do workouts at the BU old Armory Track which she lived close by to. A few nights running intervals on that steeply banked track the custodian would flash the lights at us as a warning that he was about to lock up so we were never entirely sure about getting our workouts done.

I did rejoin New Balance and started working there part time in running promotions and marketing with Kevin Ryan from New Zealand now living in the states. 

Frannie came down to Marshfield some weekends and we did whatever it took to stay warm in that little beach house. I got to know a few of the neighbors I was the crazy dude always running in everything Mother Nature could throw at us. 

In February I traveled to Japan for the Beppu Marathon where I would meet up with New Balance teammate Randy Thomas. It was the biggest marathon win I would ever have

When I arrived home at the beach house my young neighbor had left a note and a drawing of me breaking the finish tape in the door well. His family had also collected some packages that I mailed home. It was cool to have some caring people who watched me heading out for yet another run sharing my good fortune. 

The packages contained several awards from the dignitaries of the different prefectures that the race course traversed. I laid them out on a dining room table which of course I had never used for that purpose and some friends and neighbors came over to check out my haul. 

I also bought a Sony Betamax  and had been given a copy of the television coverage so we had some fun watching that.

In April just a few weeks before the Boston Marathon we had a major storm

The waves were crashing into the house and I nearly abandoned the place. Of course it was a hot sunny dry day for the marathon and I dropped out dehydrated at 21 miles.

Winter on the beach was nearly over along with my time living on the south shore. I decided to move to Natick to be closer to Boston and my new apartment would be one block from the 10 mile point of the marathon.

In four years I had lived in five different communities and had a stretch of 10 weeks living in first Tampa and then South Miami FLA. I had also traveled to London Sydney Tokyo Beppu Fukuoka Caracas and Beijing. 

My peripatetic life had a few more years to go and a few more winters to train through but nowadays I have made my peace with winter and I don’t fight it as much I get my workout in shoveling snow and going for a long walk/run or snowshoe hike. 

Life’s a beach.

Urge For Going

Joni Mitchell