January 30, 2010

Tale Of The Tape
By Fred A. Lawson

From 1979 thru 1982 I ran  in several 10,000-meter races.  10, 000 meters equals 6.2 miles.  My story is about one of those races.

In April of 1981 a running buddy of mine asked to run with him in The Symphony Run; a 10,000-meter race held on the Ball State campus. The purpose of the event is to raise money for The Muncie Symphony Orchestra.

There had been at least a four-month lapse in my training.  I had a new girl friend that had many talents; cooking, baking and making sure I fell a sleep at night with a smile on my face.

Now there is not much I won’t do for a friend, so after a ton of begging, pleading and a few  “Please Fred” thrown in, I agreed. Russell and I would use this as a training run with Russell agreeing to running at my pace, no matter how slow it was.

Gentlemen Start Your Egos!

Russell and I were among about 500 contestants that day. The race was two laps around the Ball State Campus, starting and ending in the Village. The gun fired and off we go.

As agreed, I am setting a very slow pace. We laugh, run and joke; it’s a beautiful April day, the sun is shining and the birds are singing.  All is right in the world.

About a mile into the race, Russell looks over at me and says “ Fred you’re not in very good shape, you haven’t been training!” “ I’ve been saying that for about a week, ” I replied.

Russell shakes his head,  “ I thought you were kidding.”

After a few more yards I turned to my running mate and said. “Run the rest of the race at your pace and don’t worry about me.”

Russell puts his hand on my shoulder,  “Are you sure, Fred?”

“Yes, I’m sure, now get out of here.” So off Russell went, leaving me in the dust.

A Walk In The Park

After a few minutes of running alone, I thought, “ Why am I running????  I could not come up with a suitable answer so I stopped running and started walking.

Now this was much better! I stopped and checked out the spring grass and the daffodils that were blooming.  I waved at the people that were sitting on their porches and they waved back.  I stopped at a water station for a drink and chatted with the staff. Life was great and I felt great and glad that Russell had talked me into coming. I was no longer racing; I was just out for a stroll.

A Dash For The Cash

Thirty minutes after the race started, I turned a corner, just ahead of me was the Village; the first lap was almost over.

People lined the street on both sides so I decided to sprint through the Village past the people and get the first lap over.

As I picked up my pace I was smiling, I was having fun. I was about 600 yards from the finish line when someone yells, “HERE HE COMES!!!!” “HERE HE COMES!!!!”

I glanced behind me, there was no one there and then it hits me like a lighting bolt. These people thought I was the leader of the race!!!!

At that moment I wanted to disappear off the face of the earth, slide into a crack in the sidewalk.   “Beam me up Scottie.”  Please!

The crowd was getting louder; the finish line was getting closer. “WHAT TO DO???” “WHAT TO DO???” I had two choices (1) run through the finish line with arms held high declaring victory  or (2) turn around and run the other way.

I was about 100 yards from the finish line when I spotted an alley between the buildings.  I determined that this was my best course of action and I took it.


“EXIT STAGE RIGHT!” As I disappeared into the alley the crowd let out an AAAAAAHHHHH……like air gushing from a hot air balloon.

I ran to the end of the alley, made a left turn into another alley and came out about a block from the Village. My heart was pounding in my ears and I was covered with sweat, but I had escaped with my pride intact.

I have told this story many times over the years and almost everyone that hears it says that I should have thrown up my arms and broke that tape, but it never mattered to me because I walked away with a “Blue Ribbon Memory” on that April day long ago.