Since the Vancouver Falcons club (VFAC) is putting on their annual Dave Reed Classic 5K race this Saturday, I decided to write about Dave, one of my oldest running friends. Dave, a member of both VFAC and the Phoenix Running Club, died in 2008, too young at 54, after contracting a deadly infection.
I met Dave in Toronto in about 1977, when we both became members of the fledgling York University Track Club led by George Gluppe. In a few years our club had joined up with the giant Phoenix Track Club, and our young endurance group included many national and international-class runners. We got together for big track workouts and distance runs three or four times a week. Dave and I often did tempo runs together as well, since he lived only a few kilometers away from my parents’ house.
Dave was an instrumental training partner who helped me make the leap from running 34-something for 10K in 1982 to 32:18 in 1983. He was much faster than me, but we were well-matched over the 10K distance. He didn’t like running hard for longer than 5K, and the 10K played havoc with his mind. In fact, he never beat me in a 10K race in those days. Invariably, I would pass him somewhere in the fifth mile, when his grit deserted him (he described this as “hearing the pitter-patter of little feet”), and I’d get too far ahead for him to catch me, even with one of his spectacular sprint finishes.
My tempo runs were a regular part of my training schedule. I did them every Tuesday and Thursday morning; later, on the same days, I would do track workouts with the group at York University. The tempo runs were done at very close to an all-out effort; I tried to run faster each time. Dave and I had two routes. One was around four miles; our record for this course was 22-something. The other course was longer, about 5 miles, and included some giant hills. Both courses were run mostly on grass and well-trodden dirt paths.
Between 1982 and 1984, when Dave and I did these tempo runs regularly, I was a student and then a lab technician at York University. I had a long bus and subway commute to get there every morning. That meant that our runs had to start at 6:45 or 6:55 (depending on which course we were doing). Dave knew that if he wasn’t at the door by the agreed-upon time, I’d leave without him.
A typical summer morning’s run is very clear in my mind.
Almost immediately after getting up, I’m dressed and ready to run. I don’t need any coffee to get me going, and I can’t eat anything before running hard. At the last minute, Dave rides up on his bike. After about five seconds of small-talk, we’ve started our run. No warmup for me: Dave’s had his vigorous bike ride. My parents’ cul-de-sac leads right to the chain of small grassy parks, schoolyards, ravine paths, and the golf course that make up our route. We only have to cross one road. I don’t recall ever stopping to wait for cars—we must have been fast!
Dave helps me push the pace, often surging in front of me when I start to flag. In my mind, I see him leading me up a steep hill near the end of our run. It’s already a hot summer morning, and we’re both covered with a slippery layer of sweat. Dave is shirtless. His generous mop of red curly hair must make him hotter. The low morning sun lights up all his body hair, producing a brilliant halo around his running form.
My eyes are peeled on my watch as we sprint to the end of the driveway, our finish line, trying for another PB day.