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Btb ran: It was June 1st, 1996...
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- 4 miles
- 00:26 time
- 06:30 pace
- 337 calories
It was June 1st, 1996. Like most days, Lance Hugelmeyer, accomplished and well respected in the running community, loving husband and father, community servant, headed out for his daily run. His chosen route for the day was his favorite 4 mile loop, around the lake. Lance never returned, felled by a heart attack during his run at age 56.
Some 15 years later, I walk into the office of Dr. Alexis Hugelmeyer to get my first treatment from her for a nagging running injury I'd been having. Unbeknownst to me, Dr. Hugelmeyer was Lance's daughter in law. Her first reaction upon meeting me was "Oh my!". It seems I bared an uncanny likeness to her late father in law. The similarities extended into my mannerisms and the way I spoke apparently. Dr. Hugelmeyer kept saying again and again how similar we were. She even asked her husband, Lance Hugelmeyer Jr., to come to her office for my next appointment, to meet me. He too agreed that the similarities were amazing.
When you called Dr. Hugelmeyer to make an appointment, it was her mother Susan who would answer the phones. Susan would always say to me "Oh, you're the one who Alexis talks about, who looks and acts like Lance". We got to be good buddies over the phone. It turns out that Susan has been battling, and losing her fight with cancer for quite some time. I was always happy to lend an ear. When Susan's condition became critical, she was put in the hospital for her final weeks. I asked Dr. Hugelmeyer if it was ok to visit her mom, and get to meet her face to face. Dr. Hugelmeyer said that her mom said she didn't want visitors, but would ask her anyway. Turns out her mom welcomed my visit, which honored me immensely. Much like Dr. Hugelmeyer's reaction to first meeting me, Susan's reaction was the same. "Oh my, Alexis was right!". We had a very nice time together. Susan passed away a short time later.
There is a running race held each year in Lance's honor. It also doubles as the Long Island Championship. The "Run around the Lake" is a 4 mile run that follows Lance's favorite running loop. There is a plaque on the side of the road where Lance was felled by his heart attack. I knew of the race, but had never run it. I promised Dr. Hugelmeyer that I would win my age group at the race in honor of her late father in law and the rest of her family.
My training has been curtailed for quite some time due to various injuries, with an ailing hip being the current issue. Rowing has kept me in surprisingly good shape, as was evident by the 3:18 marathon I was able to run 4 weeks ago. Since that marathon, I ran a half marathon the following weekend, then some miles the weekend after that for Father's Day. That has been the extent of my running. Was it enough to win my age group at this competitive race? All you can do is try your best and hope it's good enough.
The course starts and finishes on the high side of the lake. That means that the first part of the course is gradually downhill, with the 2nd half of the course coming back uphill, making it a challenging finish. Combined with the 80* temperature at the start, it was going to be a tough run. Peeking at last year's results, a time of 26:00 won my age group. I gave it my best shot, and finished in 26:03. Given the warm temps, I figured that was a pretty good time and was optimistic that I had a chance of taking first in my age group.
Results were posted, and I saw that I was 20th overall out of around 900 finishers. But when I scrolled over to the age group placing, my jaw dropped when I saw that all I got was 4th. My heart sank. If I had dropped down to the age group younger than me, I would have won that age group by 2 minutes. Go figure. Tough age group I'm in, and I applaud the winners. Hopefully next year I can actually train for this race, and honor my promise.
The race this year also honored fallen Navy seal, Lt. Michael Murphy. Lt. Murphy was a local resident, killed in action while fighting in Afghanistan. Many of his fellow comrades were on hand for the race, and many did it in their full gear with backpacks. They look like kids, many of them. The finishing stretch of the race was lined with pictures and other memories of Lt. Murphy. It was very touching and emotional. Many of the seals were wearing shirts that had this saying on the back - "The only easy day was yesterday". Please honor Lt. Murphy by reading about his heroic actions - http://www.navy.mil/moh/mpmurphy/bio.html
Finally, while the race activities were going on, there was a lot of police activity out on the lake. Patrol men on the shore, out on the lake in boats, and overhead in a helicopter. I learned that a swimmer had gone missing the evening before, and was still being searched for. I prayed for his safety, hoping that it was a mistake. It turns out it wasn't a mistake, and tragically a body was found later that afternoon. Details then emerged of the circumstances. The victim was a father of two young children. They were at the lake cooling off that evening, when the father was asked by some others at the lake if he could swim out to retrieve a toy motorized boat that had died about 200 feet off shore. He began swimming out, but before reaching the boat, went under and never came back up again. While his children watched on shore. I broke into tears when I read the story. I cannot imagine the sorrow and horror of the tragedy.
So this race turned out to be more than just a race. It touched me in ways I never expected. It involved 3 people, who's days started probably just like many of their days do, but ended very differently than expected. You never know. You just never know.
So I still have promises to keep before it's my turn.