Day #42: What to do with all those old medals…

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But this time is different. This time I will deal decisively with the past. I will stare the memories in the face and throw them away…

We have company coming, and so we are cleaning up. Having moved 6 times in 13 years of marriage, one would think that the dross of the past would have been jettisoned by now. But some things cling to us just as we cling to them. And one set of items which fits into this category is the tangle of medals and ribbons of running triumphs past.

It happens that I found again the many medals and ribbons scattered kind of conspicuously upon the floor in a corner of our family room. Sometimes the kids will take out the shiny mementos and pretend to be twin champions or princesses adorned in oddly colorful necklaces and broaches. But most of the time, the old discarded memories lay there still and cold on the floor, pushed out of the way – and into the corners when company calls. Days after the visitors have said goodbye, the metallic and silken memories slowly ebb again towards the middle of the room – and towards, as it were, life.

But this time is different. This time I will deal decisively with the past. I will stare the memories in the face and throw them away.

Can I do this thing? Sever the ties to the past. Toss the glorious golden memories of the track and of fresh cut Maryland grass and the smell of gym bags and spikes and icy hot and cross country meets? How can I ever cut those ties? And why would I? Sometimes, as it happens, I’d like to…

But each time I pick up the mess of medals, tangled from years of forgetting, I go right back. Right back to the fence at Pallotti High School’s infamous cross-country course where Tronn and I sit, legs bent, hands supporting our precarious perch, and “survey our kingdom.” And again I am running the undulating course, past the resevoir, making the sharp left turn, my spikes scraping on the buried, also forgotten concrete – and all the while Tronn hot on my tracks, both of us running like mad to win, to crush our competition.

…Tronn would breath nearer to me on the uphills. I could hear his breathing and soft footfalls; then, I would gap him again on the downhills… Or was it the other way? I can no longer remember who the hill runner between us was…

The course finally opened up to a series of enclosed fields and we ran around the red flags on a slanted perimeter. The footing was questionable here and difficult and it paid to have gotten out alone in front on those terrible hills of the past. A little more struggle and the drag race is on. Crimson flags fade to a near horizon where our parents – if we are lucky – and our coach and the timekeeper are all waiting, staring into the future – looking for the winner to emerge. The group of coaches, parents and officials are always surprised somehow, though the winners rarely differ  from week to week, month to month…

Sometimes – more often as we got further on in high school – Tronn and I would sync our pace and strides during the last 200 meters and sprint as friends forever for the finish. The judges were used to this and would grant us the tie, each scoring 1 1/2 points.

Somehow, unfortunately, life cannot work out forever to finish in a tidy tie. Now, the selfish ambitions have us clawing to win – at all costs. And so I wish, sometimes, that I could go back. Back to when Tronn still breathed on this earth. Back to when the medals – not cold in my hands – were still warm with the thrill of a battle waged. Of a race well run.

Race today,

~Coach Reed