Memory is a tricky thing. Writing these blog posts while referring back to my 1988 Training Log has made me aware of that. Memory is inexplicably selective. We remember some things vividly, while other events that should have been important leave only a hazy trace or nothing at all in the memory banks.
Thus it is that I have only the vaguest memory of being in a race with Zola Budd. I don’t remember speaking to her, or even being close enough to her in the race to see her, yet I finished only eight seconds behind her in this Cross-Cup final race! In two weeks I would be in Auckland, New Zealand, racing with the Canadian team at the World Cross-Country Championships.
I was genuinely surprised when my Training Log told me I had finished only eight seconds behind Budd. Frequently, as I copy entries from my Training Log, I find out that some of the running stories I’ve retold many times, thinking I remembered them well, were…lies. At least, they had some mistakes in the details. I would have sworn I was telling the truth until I saw the evidence against my memory in my own handwriting.
I quite often ponder the ways we try to hold on to the past, and how current technologies are changing what we preserve and remember. I just moved to a new home. I didn’t bring a lot of furniture with me, but I brought many boxes of my life’s written work, from elementary school stories, high school and university essays, Print Futures assignments, training logs, book reviews, to the personal journals I’ve kept ever since I was eleven. In addition, I have letters and postcards from others. I brought many photo albums and scrapbooks filled with newspaper and magazine clippings from my running career.
Now I almost never write anything on paper. All my work, creative expression and journal writing are done on my computer. Will these things last? The computer uses less space than paper, but you have to be well organized to be able to retrieve what you want. Then, as computers crash or become obsolete, everything that has been saved has to be transferred to another computer or it is lost forever. It’s hard to be vigilant about backing everything up.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I especially miss looking at real photo albums. I remember the first photo album my mom and dad made showing me and my two brothers as kids, from babyhood until we were young teenagers. All of us must have looked at those (mostly black-and-white) photos hundreds of times. Almost every one of those photos became a treasure engrained in my memory.
Digital photography makes it so easy to take countless photos and share them instantly. I love the way PhotoShop allows me to be creative with photos. But still…having thousands of photos on my computer isn’t the same as being able to pull a photo album off a bookshelf and browse through its pages. I haven’t taken the time to organize my photos so that I will remember where all the good ones are, years from now.
Now that I’m keeping up this blog, I’m thankful that Paul took all my running newspaper clippings out of shoeboxes and made scrapbooks. I’m also thankful that packing for this move led me to discover old running magazines, results and photos that I had forgotten I had. I even found my personal journal from 1988! My Training Logs are pretty dry; they just give a factual summary of my workouts. Now, when I want to write more about the details and emotions of my Olympic experience, I’ll be able to refer to my journal, as well as to letters Paul wrote to me from Brussels. I won’t be limited by my selective and faulty memory.
I’m interested in how my readers hold on to important work or memories. Does anyone keep printed or physical copies of writing and photos anymore? How do people meet the challenge of organizing the vast wealth of text and photos we possess on our personal computers?
Olympic Training Log
March 12, 1988
PM: Raced Cross-Cup Final. Came 4th, 19:11. Tooby 18:29, Collard 18:58, Budd 19:03. Pleased with race, ran very aggressively. Very tough course, very muddy with a couple small hills. Stomach bad after, but recovered. 5½ miles counting warmup.
March 13, 1988
AM: Did track workout by myself—Paul’s calf still injured. Track very wet, snowing and raining. 6 x 4½ las. Times 5:35, 5:29, 5:27, 5:27, 5:27, 5:29. Pleased because I had to run wide. 4 x 200m (outside curve), about 34 secs each one. Ran home. Felt good today. 9½ miles counting warmup. Right achilles very sore again, calf stiff.
March 14, 1988
AM: Swim 50 lengths 38:30. Felt great and pool empty—should have been faster.
PM: Weights—“push-endurance” plus hamstring curl and leg extension, backward leg press, hyperextensions, abdominals on Universal. Worked hard 63 min.
March 15, 1988
AM: Rode bike to Von Karman. Did 42-min warmup run, moderately fast. Then 8x up and down on slightly graded part of road. Push up—easy down to total 5 min for each interval. Times up: 2:06, 2:08, 2:07, 2:08, 2:08, 2:07, 2:10, 2:08. Working very hard. Jogged back to Von Karman. About 13 miles. Injuries not bad. Achilles still quite sore. Rode bike home easy way.
PM: Ran 38 min at good pace in pouring rain—did circles around lake. Felt very tired. About 6 miles.
March 16, 1988
AM: Swim 50 lengths 37:50 in spite of a lot of kids.
AM-2: Weights—“pull-strength-endurance” plus situps, snatch, squats, hamstring curl, side leg-raises. Worked hard 64 min. Very tired today and Achilles still very sore.
AM: Rode bike to Von Karman. Did 10-mile run by myself. Conditions good, time 63:48. Achilles hurting very slightly, sore after. Have very sore tendon on top of left ankle.
PM: Jogged to track, did 1 mile warmup at good pace—felt energetic even after this morning. 5 x 800m [short track] with 1 min rest. Times 2:21, 2:20, 2:20, 2:18, 2:18. Jogged home. 4½ miles. Achilles sore to start, warmed up a bit but got sore again—very bad after.
March 18, 1988
AM: Swim 50 lengths 38:45—pool crowded.
AM-2: Weights—“push-strength-endurance” plus hamstring curl and extension, backward leg extension, hyperextensions, abdominals on Universal. Weak today—tired from yesterday. Achilles still very sore.
This week: 48½ miles running, 2 Von Karman bike trips, 3 swims, 3 weight workouts.