By 2012, I had been running for a couple of years but was suffering from a serious hip injury that kept me from running consistently.
At the time, I really looked up to Empire members Andy “Mr. Durable” Howard and Bryan “Zen Master” Porter because they were both running impressively, were just a bit older than I, and were more experienced. Andy, at age 50, had broken five minutes in the mile and had run the 400M in 58.09, setting the Empire record. And Bryan, also at age 50, ran 5:02 in the mile and 59.8 in the 400 meters at Empire track meets that year. I remember that 400 meter race very clearly because I called off 30 seconds to Bryan when he passed the 200 meter mark.
However, during this period I stopped showing up to ERC events because I was embarrassed about my injury. Being very competitive, I was really uncomfortable showing up for an event if I couldn’t run, or if I could not run my best effort.
Andy was and always has been known as rarely afflicted by injury, Mr. Durable so-to-speak. Except for when he got injured walking up Fountain Grove Drive, but that’s a different story.
However, shortly after this, Bryan started experiencing various injuries, and, much to my surprise, he kept showing up at the Empire races, racing the best he could. This was difficult for me to understand at first. How could someone show up for a race, dealing with aches and pains, and run slower than they normally would? I spoke to him numerous times about his experiences running while enduring his various physical problems and was impressed by his positive attitude and personal fortitude.
It’s easier to give up than to keep showing up.
But Bryan kept showing up, and he truly believed that if he had patience, his injuries would subside and he would return to normal again.
His viewpoint definitely had an impact on me. I started to attend Empire races, and even if I couldn’t run, I started to take photos for the club as a way of participating in the event.
In terms of my injuries, I started to strategize about how I could keep training while managing my various ailments. As it turns out, this has been one of the keys to my running success: not expecting the aches and pains will go away, but instead getting them treated and to keep on running continuously.
I talked to Bryan again at the first Tamalpa track meet this year, and he showed up to watch but did not run.
I sent him this Facebook message afterwards:
DM: I’ve been spending some time reflecting on being older and running. After I spoke to you at the Tamalpa track meet, I thought that you were inspired by belief, meaning that your inspired by the belief that you will get better if you remain positive and keep training. Do you think that’s right?
BP: Yes. I really do. It’s in me.