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More than a little perspective as Father’s Day approaches

June 18, 2011

Pull-ups: 36 today / 700 June

Push-ups: 166 today / 3,341 June

There’s this guy in Austin with whom I’ve competed in at least 16 races.  His name is Scott Birk and, according to (where our race results are collected), I am 0-16 in head-to-head competition with Scott.  Athlinks automatically determines likely “rivals” and he has been at the top of “my” list for quite some time.

While I don’t know Scott personally, he has impressed and inspired me.  Not only is he 12 years older (though by looking at us many might expect our ages to be reversed), he is an enormously big, strong guy.  I’m talking 16-inch biceps kind of big. Well over 6′ and probably 220lb+.  And solid.  You just don’t see runners that big very often.  And certainly not guys running as fast, as far, and as often as Scott.  Somehow he does it all with a good attitude and grinds out the training miles year in, year out, while juggling a full time job and family.  I mean, look at this guy:

I recently referenced Scott in a conversation with ultra-running-guru-friend Olga Varlamova.  While I struggle to get marginally quicker while fighting to not lose too much weight, this guy just effortlessly flies by me in every race carrying at least 50 extra pounds of lean muscle.  Some guys have it all and the rest of us just work as best we can with our limited talent.  That’s what I was lamenting a couple weeks ago.

Scott died this past Monday when he was hit by a car while crossing the street out on a training run, within walking distance  from my neighborhood.  He is,  appropriately, being mourned and celebrated. A recent interview with Scott was released for the first time yesterday.  I could relate to Scott’s pride in his wife’s running, as each mile Alison runs means more to me than most of my races.  The part about Scott helping his son with his middle-school cross-country running really tore my heart out.

While mulling over the enormity of his family’s loss I was able, at least for a little while, to not give a shit about hitting my next PR or how many runners are faster than me or if I’ll have a chance to run Boston or my first 100M or R2R2R or whatever else.  I just wanted to wrestle-snuggle with Sagan, and he didn’t mind a bit.  When he falls asleep in the next few minutes, I’ll have some time to sit on the couch and watch mindless t.v. with Al.  That sounds perfect.

Come tomorrow, I’ll hopefully be eager for hitting my mile repeats hard.  I think I might just have some extra motivation to see what I can do and a hard running day sounds like a good idea.  But, if I don’t, that’s ok, too.  A 6:45 mile or even a missed workout doesn’t seem quite so catastrophic right now.

Too often in recent months I’ve been reminded how fortunate we are to be doing anything we enjoy.  Being able to run is something I’ve never taken for granted but there are a lot of other things that I think we’d all do well to appreciate more than we do.  I’m sure going to try.  Here in Austin on a scorching hot Father’s Day Eve I’m going to go put a pull-up on my sleeping son and give thanks for the opportunity to do so.

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  1. alison permalink

    I’m leaving a comment so you’ll know I read this, but really I just want to hug you in person when you wake up. Happy Father’s Day. We love you.

  2. olgav100 permalink

    That is beautifully written. I wept when I read that. What a loss for a family…

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Ditto to olgav100’s comment. Michael, Scott would have been honored to have you for a friend. Your tribute to him is from the heart. I hope his family has a chance to see what you said about him. (Mom)

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