It’s been a long, long time since I’ve posted. Now, my lovely wife has tagged me with a Trendy Blog award. Since I haven’t posted in well over a month, it’s difficult to say I deserve a “Trendy blog” award. So, I won’t be playing along with the tag game, but I will take the poke in the back and actually post.
With the heat index expected to climb over 100 degrees, Alice and I woke up at 5 am to hit the Pinellas Trail before sunrise. After about a mile of running, we could barely make out a lone figure in the dark distance. As we approached, we could see he was carrying a long stick and wearing only flip flops and long boxer shorts. He appeared to wobble a little along the trail. Since Richie and I have encountered many a drunk man on the trail early in the morning, I was about to call for an impromptu fartlek to put some distance between us and this mysterious man.
Before I could, he broke into a pretty decent jog and off he went. Eventually, he pulled off the trail and we passed him. Before long, he was aside us.
“Forerunners?” he asked, referring to a popular running club here in St. Petersburg.
“No,” I replied, “you?”
“Nah, too old and slow,” he said as he picked up the pace and left us behind.
We continued for another mile, climbing over two overpasses. At the bottom of the second, we encountered him again.
“How far are you going today?” he asked.
“8 miles,” I replied. “It’s Alice’s first 8 miler. How about you?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been out here since 3 already.”
“Really?” I asked, “Do you do that a lot?” He seemed surprised.
“You’ve never heard of me?”
“No,” I confessed.
“Go to….no don’t do that. Just Google ‘Larry the Flip Flop Guy’. There’s an article about me”.
“How long have you been running in the flip flops,” I asked.
“About 15 years I guess.”
“So you didn’t just read Born to Run and start running in sandals like everyone else?”
We chatted for a while before Alice and I stopped for a quick drink. We then passed him as he walked up an overpass.
“You’ll be turning around soon?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I replied,”probably on the other side of this overpass”.
“Catch you on the return then!”
Alice and I made it over the bridge and down the other side. We ran out to about 4 and quarter miles, then turned around. When we did, Larry was nowhere to be found. We joked that we’d probably Google him and find out he died in 1999 or something like that.
About a mile later, we spotted him in the distance. It turns out, Larry’s pretty fast when he wants to be. We caught him on another overpass and I stayed with us until we stopped for water again, asking questions and doling out advice the whole time. He runs the trail almost everyday, averaging around 120 miles a week (down from over 200 miles per week in his prime).
Larry stayed with us for the rest of our run. It was definitely one of the most interesting runs we’ve had. When I got home, I did Google him. Here’s what I found: