Not that my lunch mates were history, just a part of it. Jack Welch set up the lunch with his friends, Joe Henderson and Jacki Hansen, both acclaimed, for different reasons, in the running world. Joe wrote extensively about running, on everything from running form to his adventure with an ultra to an insightful piece on the late, great George Sheehan as Sheehan moved from the front of the pack to the back during his battle with cancer. Joe was also a middling good runner, by his own admission.
Jacki Hansen was more than middling. The lady set the World Record not once, but twice in the marathon. She joked during the lunch that she was all "lungs and legs" though I suspect a mighty heart rests in her diminutive frame. She also has a book out - Jack mentioned it to me when I asked whether there was a full-fledged running museum.
Both are friends of Jack's and watching the interactions brings a swathe of the running world to life. Behind the stories in the press of world record efforts and training programs, these are warm and inviting people striving to reach the pinnacle of their sport (in Jacki's case) or the best in a challenging genre (in Joe's case.) Both do a tremendous amount for the sport.
Me, I didn't have much to add. I listened a lot, and recognized names, but I don't have the backstory to contribute to the conversation. Instead, I watched as friends, for their friendship spans the better part of four different decades and still going strong, caught up after too long apart.
The subject of Boston came up and I found that Jacki had been there, coaching. She was the first to say that she had been safe and hadn't been at risk behind the finish line barriers. Still, my eyes got a little damp as she showed me her pictures from the marathon, showing me the pictures from her phone. The teary eyed part happened first when she recounted having a runner still on the course while Jacki was in lock-down and unable to go find her runner.
The second time was when I flipped to a picture of an American flag at half mast. The picture was from L.A. ,from when she got back from and immediately went to find a tribute, to find "something that was good" about the event. She found it in her fellow runners.
As I said earlier, I think that there's a pretty big heart that went with the legs and lungs.
Joe has an impish side, something I didn't realize from his writing. His comments were on the money, though he deflected attention from himself and toward Jacki. He's written a dozen books (I brought my favorite with me to get signed - yes, it's a total fanboy move but he wrote some great stuff.). He told me to stick with Jack if I wanted to learn a thing or two.
Seemed like good advice. Bet I could learn a lot from Joe too, but his dance card is full this weekend.