As a kid, I’d hear this line every once in a while: “When you’re older…” Another one was “when you’re ready”. Both basically equating to: “Kris, you’re still too small and you don’t realize that just yet. You just have to wait till you’re a bit bigger and certain things happen at certain junctions in time. Just be patient.” Two things stick out clearly regarding these statements from my parents. First of course was football. Another was track. Less so track. I could not wait to play ball for the same team both my Dad and his Dad played. I’d hear all these stories and that’s all I could think about later that night. But there was always something that was restricted to a kid that an adult would otherwise not think of. I was reminded of this for some reason when I stumbled on the image above of myself competing at the 1994 Penn Relays as a senior for my alma mater Upper Perkiomen H.S. Clearly I was old enough to compete in the event and clearly I had my parents permission to attend. And I want to say it was during the school day so I clearly had the “hall pass” from my administration. Regardless, competing in an event like the Penn Relays was the sum of all my work, training, running and of course hoping for one of those chances to get to do something “when you’re older”. Presently, as I sit here in my studio just up the lane from 44HQ, I kind of don’t need permission anymore to do just about anything. Of course my wife and I talk about big financial moves or repairs but for the most part, I head out the door for a ride when I want no questions asked. Or I plan tooling, purchase material and see it done. (I’m kind of simple actually.. Bikes, making bikes and how to make bikes). With all the tooling I have been making recently this thought had popped into my head a bunch but was firmly catalyzed once I found the above picture. But back to that time when I was younger. You see, I had a childhood which was surrounded by good story telling. My Dad’s a good story teller. So was his father, Poppy. Then there’s my Dad’s best friend Marshall who can have you rolling on the floor with laughter or on the edge of your seat waiting for what’s going to happen next. True craftsman of the spoken word we’re talking here. So of course, as a young tike, I’d revel in these stories. Most stories were about the past and with that came a lot of history of my home town and the people who resided. Many of which I knew or had heard of in some way previously through a story. But I always came away really inspired. My head was abuzz and all I could think of was “when I’m older, what kinds of stories will have?” Or “I can’t wait to be bigger so I can do some of that stuff!”. Some stories were about what had happened just that day or when we’d go over to Marshal’s shop he’d have some tall tale from the week about some eccentric client with a bird atop their head. (I can’t recall the specifics of that one, but I do remember laughing so hard I had tears coming down my cheeks). With stories come imitations, gestures and occasional big boy language for effect. The story associated with the above picture seemed to have a recurring theme associated with it. See that picture is from a 4×400. I’d typically run the last leg. And the 4×400 is typically the last race in the meet. An old friend mentioned recently: “No pressure everybody, just win this race, and you win the meet!” It seemed to come down to that just about every damn time we’d come full circle no matter who we were running against if memory serves me correctly. And me being the last leg to run, well there’s no pressure of course. One of those meets was over at Perkiomen Valley. Due to rain, a few teams were not able to compete on said dates so the coaches got together and we had kind of a “make-up” meet. I can’t recall exactly how many but I want to say there were at least 3 teams present. Upper Perkiomen. Perk Valley. Lansdale Catholic. So the story goes we were doing well somehow. Unlike most meets, I think the 4×400 was run at a different time during the day and the last race was to be a 4×800. Now, I was a middle distance runner. 200 meter and 400 meter. The 400 meter was my “specialty” if I can call it that. I kind of like that it’s a one lap sprint. Occasionally I’d be thrown at a 800 but it was more of a “cool down” and not as a competitive race for me. That is until a coach arrived my senior year and got us all in just about the best cardiovascular shape of our lives (at least I felt I was). Anyway, that kind of opened up me to running more 800’s. Basically a 2 lap sprint… What’s fun about relays is the anticipation of your turn. Every body’s at the line waiting for the next runner to come in and hand off the baton to the next runner. Well, with 3 teams there competing (or was it 4? Maybe Phoenixville was there too…), it was sure to be a great send off for that last meet’s event. Anyhow, first leg heads out and we’re in good shape. Second leg comes around and we’re losing some ground. 3rd leg came to hand off to me where I was running the last leg but I had a bit of a gap to make up. So I led out the 3rd runner pretty far to get a running start. Actually I led Jason out so far he had to dive to make the hand off which drew some “Oh’s” from the crowd. And then I was off. It’s funny about a race like this is you hear everything until you have the baton or the gun goes off. Then you don’t really hear anything. Focused on the task at hand and your breathing. First lap I was focused on closing the slight gap that had formed. Breathing was good and my stride had some pop. Headed into the second lap around turn two is where I caught the lead pack but they were working together and actually boxed me in (we were no longer required to run in our lanes). I had to essentially slow down, break stride and go around them which I distinctly recall hearing a coach yell an expletive about in the turn… But I had a plan. It all happened in a few strides but I was out of the box, around it and right on the tail of the lead runner. Now, I had heard some stories before but instinct took over: I locked onto that kid like glue. I matched his stride even though I could have easily passed him. I got real close to him and started pushing him without physically touching him. I matched the swing of his arm with mine. What I was looking to do was get in his head and wear him down on the back stretch. Meanwhile a crowd had formed around the center of the back stretch and I recall a friend yelling “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, PASS HIM”. That’s when I broke out of form and looked her right in the eyes and winked. The expression on her face was dead pan. They were yelling because another runner was coming up from behind and I could hear his foot fall. But I knew he was making up a big gap I had created by pushing this leader and essentially wearing him out. Well I let the other runner get just on my heals when I turned on the gas and the rest as they say is history.