In his book, Bowerman and the Men of Oregon, there are a few paragraphs where author Kenny Moore describes sitting on the stadium or track infield (grass) with Frank Shorter or Steve Prefontaine and chatting about the future. Reading that got me thinking and remembering my own experiences with what I will call, Grass Time.
I look at my running life (and maybe my whole life) in three phases: youth, middle age and maturity (better than calling it old age). In the first two phases, for the most part, I ran with and had Grass Time with people in the same phase of their running lives.
Grass time in youth is future time. In high school with Ed; in college with Geoff, Rick or John, grass time was that valuable time before or after a workout where we parked it on the lawn and yacked the time away. Some time was spent discussing the last race or the upcoming one, but mostly, quality grass time was spent discussing the future. Where were we going? What did we want? And characteristic of our time, How were we going to change the world? There was plenty of time to dream because for most of us, by the time we'd plopped on the grass, there were no pressing engagements clouding the remainder of the day.
We believed that life was completely ahead of us.
The middle age phase of my running was spent living in what I will call "the real world." My fellow grassers, like me, all had careers and many of us had families. Time constraints strangled Grass Time and the result was that Run Time became Grass Time. Because the pace and intensity of workouts was somewhat different than college, most of my running time with my friends was spent on the trails and the roads - places conducive to Grass Time on the move. Some of my fondest memories of this time was Sunday runs with the Boulder Road Runners and Monday night runs with my closest sphere. Sure, sometimes we'd review the latest race or anticipate the next. The topic, most of the time, was now! We'd discuss the fam, the kids, the pets, the job.
We believed that life was right then, right there.
In my maturity phase, I mostly run alone. Grass Time happens in my head and seldom includes me parking my carcass on any lawn contemplating my world or the future. I suppose the natural progression would be that Grass Time in the mature phase would be a reflection. "I remember back in '75 when I almost beat Don Kardong," or "that run we made from Detroit to Mackinac." Looking back, I suppose is somewhat natural. After all, chronologically there are most likely fewer years ahead of me than behind.
The mature phase implies that life is behind us.
Fortunately, we (I) control our (my) own thoughts. "As a man thinketh, so he is," right?
Grass Time doesn't have to be before or after a run. In fact, Grass Time can be anywhere, anytime and is completely self-motivated and self-directed. Grass time is by you, for you and of you!
The future is tomorrow and the next day and the next day. They are as bright as we choose them to be. And while I've seen signs on the lawn requesting that animals Keep Off, I have yet to see one that said MATURE RUNNERS LOOKING FOR GRASS TIME - KEEP OFF! So today, after my run, I am plopping down on some finely manicured green dream machine and dreaming of how great life is going to be.
Take a few minutes today and join me. It feels good!