Tales of Running: First and Last Impressions

When I was in middle school, my dad signed me and my brother up for a lacrosse camp.  We went to this camp once a week (or twice--I don't clearly remember the frequency) for several weeks.  I wasn't entirely into lacrosse but I was mildly curious in it and more interested in it compared to football or baseball by this point. Like most programs, they broke us up by age, so while I hung out with the youngest kids, my brother was with the high school kids.  My group was paired with Coach Logan.  My first impression of him--through the haze of the 12-13-year-old know-it-all attitude while trying to climb or aspire to a higher run on the social hierarchy that was developing--was rather sad.  Coach Logan was quirky, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic.  But to my developing and judgmental mind, he was someone who must be high and an idiot.  I remember we ended our practices with "Indian Runs" (I do hope they have been renamed since then).  For those not in the know, this is where players run single file and the last person in the line must sprint to the front of the line.  But Coach Logan didn't just want us to do run (that I could actually handle; despite disliking running, I could tolerate Indian runs, because it was the only time I go to zoom past my teammates).  He wanted us to call out an "Indian chant" while we did it. I remember a profound sense of thinking he was an idiot.  It was likely one (further) reason I lost interest in lacrosse.

Fast forward to freshman year of college at Salem State (some 5-6 years later).  My brother had already been there a few years and was getting involved in the lacross club.  My brother convinced me to join up and play in the spring.  Of course, when I did, I came to find that the coach of the program, was none other than Coach Logan.  There was no chanting this time around, but his approach and attitude was still the same.  He clearly knew the sport, but his  demeanor seemed to rub me and coupled with my previous experience with him, it was hard for me to break out of that frame. I lasted maybe two months.

Over the ensuing years, my brother continued to interact with Coach Logan.  Trevor eventually became and still is the Salem State Lacrosse Coach and has helped develope the club into a Division 3 program.  I've not have substantive interaction with Coach Logan during much of the ensuing years.  But very quickly, in the last year, he popped back up on the radar.  Last fall at the Wild Turkey Run on Thanksgiving, my brother, sister-in-law and myself were doing the run.  Sure enough, Coach Logan showed up.  I found out later that he did a lot of these runs and that my brother saw him regularly.

But in mid-August, Coach Logan showed up on my radar again.  In fact, he showed to my last three races, the trail run, the 25K, and the 30K.  As I prepared to the trail run, I turned around to see Coach Logan walking up the pathway.  He recognized me and we started chatting.  He listened to my experience and how bad I had gotten into running.  He was delighted and excited to hear about it.  We shared a discussion on vibrams and his excitement and enthusiasm were palpable.  He talked about the idea of humans getting back to being "human" and thoroughly using their bodies as the gifts that they are for many people.  It was an interesting conversation to have because it seems so much a part of Coach Logan and part of his overall personality that I clearly disregarded when I was that middle-school punk.  He introduced me to his wife and several of his friends that were at the event.  He spoke kind words of me and to me.

Sure enough, the following week at the 25K, bright and early, there he was as I walked up to the registration table.  All smiles, inviting, happy.  His happiness at seeing me there served as some of the motivation needed in the day to get me through the trek.  He was there at the end of the race to congratulate me.  At one point, he introduced me to a friend as an "inspiration" for the challenges I was tackling with my running.

On Sunday, September 16, I did the Nahant 30K.  It was one of the harder challenges in my life.  And somewhere around the 12-13 mile mark, I came around a bend, and who was there cheering me on:  Coach Logan.  He was a marshal for the race and this was his spot to direct runners.  I smiled, gave him a thumbs up and kept plowing forward.  The way the race was set up, we turned around and would be passing him again.  Again, the smiles, the cheers, the thumbs up.  The encouragement, enthusiasm, and sincerity writ large across his face.

That is the last impression I have of Coach Jim Logan.  He suffered a heart-attack at the race and died later that day.  I found out on Monday and was hit hard by it.  A 65-year old man who two weeks prior had run a 25K race--not as a new challenge, but just something he did, like all the other races he participated in.  A man who circled around my life and inspired me.

When I think about the nearly 20 years I've known of the man, what saddens me most is that I thought so little of him for most of that time, never understanding or appreciating the fullness or actually knowing the man.  That daunting influence of a first impression from my childhood kept me from seeing the man that he was.  It's a shame because he clearly had a big heart and understood things about life and running that I wished I had understood years ago (though who knows if I wouldn't have actually been ready to hear it--until I did finally "get it").  I won't ever get to fully know the man that Coach Logan was, though his lasting impression weigh heavy upon me. and I'm likely to carry his thoughts with me on many a run in the future.

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  1. I heard about what happened but didn't know you knew him. Sorry for your loss but glad you did get a chance to learn from him and become inspired as an adult. You were lucky to have this positive influence and encouragement for your running and life in general.

    Sorry also to tell you that Indian Sprints still exist....did some this morning, minus the chanting.

  2. Thanks Ang. And I figured they still existed...despite the name :)


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