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Why I Run

John Rowland

Posted on September 22, 2018 12:16

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Most of us have certain people who exert a very positive and lasting influence in our lives. For me, one such person was Coach Tucker.

It all started with a little Fun Run on a warm and humid Saturday morning in Texas several years ago.

As some may know, a Fun Run is usually a low-key/low-stress 1-mile jog, normally for the kids and other people with dogs, baby strollers, handicaps, too much weight, etc. It's usually complemented with a harder, more serious race -- a 5K, 10K, perhaps something longer.

Anyway, I decided to run a Fun Run mile for, yep, the fun of it. Starting off in granny-gear, I managed to finish the mile in decent fashion, basically thinking no more about it or about running in general.

Or so I thought.

In the days and weeks that followed that Fun Run, my mind was taken back in time to around 1977-78. For some reason, I thought about Coach Tucker, who had been a faculty member of a public high school that I attended in the San Joaquin Valley city of Bakersfield, CA.

Tucker, among other capacities, had been a coach in football and track; an old-school disciplinarian, and yet a gentleman's gentleman; an effective hybrid of the old- and new-school if you will.

Of course, there's varying degrees of old-school -- some rather extreme.  Everyone has their own example: the earlier teams of Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes going berserk, Lombardi or Frank Kush are but a few. It's a totally open subject.

But wherever Tucker falls on the old-/new-school spectrum, he made a real positive difference in the lives of those he encountered -- certainly in mine.

So as a member of the track team at this Bakersfield high school, I ran (what was back then called) the 100- and 220-yard dash; short sprints basically, no distance.

Tucker was one of our track coaches.

The thing of it was, I was running track for all the wrong reasons: to put off doing homework, stay in shape for the upcoming football season, laugh and joke around, check out the girls in shorts, whatever -- anything but for actually running track itself.

Seeing right through me on all of this and knowing that I only ran short sprints, Tucker called me out on it one day.

In a moment of (somewhat) tough love, he told me, "You know, with your ability, you should try running a longer distance, like the 440; something where you have to work." Ouch.

Of course, he could not have been more dead-right. I was busted.

I had always coasted through track practice, never really working much or applying myself. Tucker knew this.

So back to the present.

Seizing on this conviction -- on this calling-out, I have been guided to run longer distances these last few years.

I committed my very first race solely to Coach Tucker.

And while subsequent races (including last Saturday's 5K - September 15) have been partly dedicated to certain family members or close spiritual friends, they've all been, in large measure, also devoted to Tucker.

Thanks Coach . . .

John Rowland

Posted on September 22, 2018 12:16

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Source: HuffPost

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