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The Last Windrow: Happy his running days are over

I was blazing down the road when she passed me up and I felt a strange twinge just behind my knee cap. Many years later, I still feel it. My last high-speed exercise. I should have known better. Graphic - Metro Creative Graphics, Inc.

An organization in our community had a "fun run" last weekend. Even though the north wind was blowing about 30 miles-an-hour and temps hovered in the low 40s, the runners showed up, pinned on their numbers and took off down the race route with smiles on their faces and yells of encouragement from their family and friends.

I'd like to say they were still smiling when they returned, but that would not be quite the truth. The smiles were there, but a bit more serious in nature. Some came limping to the finish line against a strong north wind and some decided that a fast walk would qualify for going the distance.

Since this was a fundraiser for a worthy cause, all of the participants were winners in their support of the cause.

I never was a real runner. In high school it was determined by my baseball coach that I had adequate speed between home and first base, but woe be it that I hit a triple. I lugged into third base barely in front of the throw. I was dynamite when it came to sliding into home. My bulk put the fear of God into the catcher, and at high speed I was a train wreck ready to happen. Spiked baseball shoes can be dangerous.

The farm that I was raised on didn't require fast running most of the time. It didn't take much speed to climb off the tractor seat to unplug the two bottom plow. Speed was not necessary when it came to feeding the mouth of the grain hammer mill. You did the slow walk to the milk barn knowing full well what was in front of you.

Gathering eggs from beneath a hen required only fast reflexes when the chicken decided she didn't want to be molested. I still have peck dents in the back of my hands.

I only saw my dad run the number of fingers I have on two hands. One of those times happened as a result of him forgetting to pull the kickers off a milked cow. He let her out of the stanchion, kickers attached, and she proceeded out of the barn kicking up both heels and heading over the hill. I can still see my dad, his running form silhouetted against the setting western sun, running behind the cow trying to release those kickers before the cow injured herself.

It wasn't funny then, but the thought of it brings a smile to my face now.

My running came mostly as a result of hunting activity. After winging a flying rooster pheasant, I was usually in full pursuit of the wily bird as it ricocheted between corn rows and hemp rows. To catch a running rooster pheasant, all my leg muscles were put into play. I often think of what that chase might have looked like on video.

Later in life I found out the best cure for this was to train a black Labrador dog to do the running. That move probably saved me a heart attack or two.

I was also known to run while hunting coyotes and fox behind trail hounds. There is nothing quite like running through foot deep snow, up a steep hill in an attempt to throw a rifle shot or two in the general area of a running coyote. I missed many times more than I hit because my lungs were gasping for any amount of oxygen they could pull from the atmosphere.

I slept well after a day on a coyote's path. I think those races probably enhanced my chances of having an artificial hip put in place many years later.

My last fast run was inspired by my then 12-year-old daughter, who loved to run. She challenged me to a 50-yard race to the corner of the blacktop and I took up the challenge. I remembered my blazing speed on the way to first base after a bloop hit. I was blazing down the road when she passed me up and I felt a strange twinge just behind my knee cap.

Many years later, I still feel it. My last high-speed exercise. I should have known better.

And so, I was very impressed by all of those "fun run" runners last week. After recovering for a few minutes after the race, they were smiling again instead of gritting their teeth. And those little kids never did seem to run out of energy. I only remotely remember having the feeling of that much vitality.

It is the running season in the north country. Gone are the snowbanks and frozen water that deter runners throughout the winter months. You won't find me entering any of those races. I've been there, done that and am kind of glad that time is over.

No, I'm really glad that time is over!

See you next time. Okay?