A Little Bit of History

You know you’re getting old when your own history comes back at you, and it’s not quite as you remembered it.

Case in point… In today’s mail, I received a package from my son Simon and his wife. In addition to two lovely photos of me and their three-month old baby, there was also some stuff from my distant past. To be specific, my bib number, Certificate of Completion, and a few photos from the first marathon I ever did, the 1980 Toronto Labatt’s Marathon.

1980 Toronto Marathon stuff

I’ve previously written about that race on this blog (here), because it was the start of all that I’m doing now. But it seems that the mists of history obscured one important thing – I was faster than I remembered. For a long time now, I thought I’d finished that marathon with a time of 4:30 “and change.” As it turns out, my real finishing time was 4:24:48.7! I’m pretty proud of that revised time, though, I confess, am somewhat embarrassed that I’ve been getting it wrong all this time.

As well as what’s in the above image, there were other photos in the package. There are a couple of me just before the finish, on the track of the University of Toronto’s old Varsity Stadium. And there’s this fuzzy headshot photo of me after the race was done and put to bed. I look wiped-out tired, in a world of hurt, and exultant. It’s a strange, heady mix – very much a “first-time marathoner” photo.

Tired but triumphant

Oddly enough, the bib number, certificate, and photos look as fresh as if October 5, 1980 happened only yesterday. In contrast, my body, mind, and spirit bear all the marks (positive and negative) of the past 31 years. Opening that package was like having my past open up before me. It was an odd feeling, but a very good one!



  1. Hey Alan
    I read your blog quite alot I just wanted to say thanks for posting it makes me happy to know that there are others on their barefoot journey out there. Your quite the inspiration to me and your posts make me smile tons. Ive shown a few of my friends and they have become religious readers of your blog !! To my point thats so great your family did that 🙂 (looking great in that photo btw) My question is does your family run barefoot too?

    1. Thanks for those kind words, Samantha. To clarify, though, the photos from 1980 were taken by a friend. And my wife doesn’t run at all, barefoot or otherwise.

  2. Very cool. Could the difference between the race time you remember by “actual time” and “gun time”? It seems like it could be.

    Those items are in amazing condition. Oh, and, em, cough, nice shoes 😛

    1. You’re being ‘way too kind, Daniel. No, the difference was definitely due to the fog of age. 🙂

      Shoes? I was pretty darn proud of those shoes! They were the third pair of Brooks shoes I’d owned, and I wore each pair down to the point where they resembled old carpet slippers than proper shoes. Same with my running shorts. I’d bought them two years before that marathon (after losing close to 50 lbs.), and wore them until they were in absolute tatters.

    1. Head-spin indeed! I’m still recovering. 🙂 As for “looking good,” well, I was 32 years old, a young husband and newish father, and waiting to go overseas to a new job. It was an interesting time in my life – not all good, to be sure, but interesting. I’d started running a couple of years before that, to lose weight and as an escape from the growing complexity of my life. I’m not sure all of the strain that showed on my face in that face was solely due to the marathon. 🙂

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