One of my traumatic memories of High School was the constant need of our English teachers to have us “get” poetry. One such poem that was foisted on us during our sophomore year was the “long distance runner”…which began:
“The loneliness of the long distance runner
Is due to the onlyness of the long distance runner…”
As I reflect on these words, I remember our friend Tim Harrington. Tim moved to the Spring Branch area in 1968, his dad was one of the thousands of Exxon employees transferred to Houston to work downtown. His Mom collected porcelain owls and both would spend their Saturdays during the fall listening to the Rice Owl football team on the radio while working in their yard. Tim, his big brother Brian and his little brother Tom became part of the neighborhood. Brian was a weight lifter and wanted to become a doctor. He is now a pediatrician in San Antonio. Tom wanted to be a trucker and the last we heard he had achieved his goal….
Tim was a track and field runner. He would get up before sun up and begin training, running the buffalo bayou and the streets of the Wilchester and Wilchester West neighborhood in all kinds of weather. At times he would train with Don Hensley or Keith Winzenreid, but many times Tim would run on alone. He was ranked in the top five in the state for Cross Country his senior year at Westchester and was a top track runner in the 880 and mile events in district and the city.
Tim was thoughtful and polite, but strong willed, as most long distance runners must be. During our senior year, we approached the school administration to let a number of students hold a “spirit run relay” from Westchester to Conroe the day of the football game. Not surprisingly, they said no, so Tim took the day off and ran to the game that Friday night. He sat in the stands, exhausted, as the rest of us who did not have the guts to skip school and join him looked on in awe and admiration.
Tim was a huge fan of the music of the Moody Blues and King Crimson. He would listen to their music for hours, talking about the guitar work of Robert Fripp and the differences in the use of the mellotron and synthesizer with the two rock groups. During the summer, he used to lifeguard at the Wilchester and Wilchester West pools.