Sunday, February 6, 2011

Memories And A Memorial: A Trip Back To Turpin

I have tons of pictures to share for this post, so I'm going to do my best to keep the writing part short to spare you all. "Do my best" being the key words here.

First, a bit of a rewind. Earlier this week, in an attempt to stick to my plan of doing at least one video workout a week while this winter drags on, I set out to do all three sections of my Jackie Warner DVD (upper, lower, and core). She goes through the type of workouts I did in Adventure Bootcamp this summer. Tough stuff, but the last time I did the video, I was still strong from ABC and it was fairly easy. Right, I've lost all that endurance for sure. I only made it through the upper body tract before giving up. Wow, feel the burn.

Today I got out and ran. I've been so jealous/inspired by my co-worker's husband, Matt, who just jumped on the Couch to 5K bandwagon after much deliberation. [He's been reading my blog for a while, and has been talking about starting, but now that he's finally started, he's kicking major butt. He just did his first 20-minute run last week (Week 5, Day 3). Go Matt!] Anyway, I finally got to act on my envy today and went for a run on my high school track (Turpin High School). I thought it might be fun to return to the place that has been evoking fear and loathing in me since I was 5 years old. See, my elementary school is right across the parking lot from my high school and therefore shares a running track. Therefore the huffing, puffing, sweating, side-cramping, and tears started very early and lasted until I graduated, all in the same place.

Don't get me wrong, I have tons of great memories from that track (namely from track practice and meets and marching band practices and football games), but it's definitely the place where my aversion to running started. Thank you gym teachers! I thought it might be fun to hit a new PR for distance run in one workout session ... more distance that I ran in one go on that track in the 12 years I spent there. I did it. It was a little more painful that I anticipated, but I did it.

I haven't run on a track since I started this running business nearly a year ago (actually, at the end of February, it'll be one year!) And that track wasn't exactly up to snuff; the surface was either asphalt or one step up from it. Turpin's track is nice and squishy.

Turns out flat and squishy kind of hurts. Does that make sense? My lower legs pooped out much quicker than they do on paths with slight elevation changes. What's with that?

Regardless of the quality of my workout (I'd give it a 6/10), I did enjoy running while experiencing a virtual slide show of memories. Every view, every step, every corner of that track and football field carries something for me, and I didn't even break the surface of those memories in my 8 laps today. I'm grateful to have those memories and grateful to still live close enough to get to re-live them whenever I want. What can I say ... I'm ridiculously nostalgic.

So, that was my attempt to write only a short post before the pictures. Let's get it started.

These are the stairs leading from the elementary school side up to the track. It was on these stairs (and the shorter set of stairs preceding these) that the 5-year-old Beckey began her tradition of formulating an excuse to just walk instead of run, or rehearsed faces that told my gym teacher that I was in pain and couldn't participate. But, being a guilt-ridden person from a very young age, I usually ran anyway, even if it was only in 50 meter run/200 meter walk increments.

Dun dun dun! Down the home stretch to the finish line. Those are the stands to the right and the shed straight ahead. Ah, the shed. Nothing like squishing into a wooden shed with 30 other teenagers on a rainy, humid, hot Saturday during a track meet.

A shot of the field (now artificial turf ... what's the fun in that?) with Turpin in the background to the right and Mercer Elementary to the left.

Score board!

There's the front part of Mercer. Mostly the cafeteria, gym, kiva (a weird auditorium), and offices. The field straight ahead is where I sprained many ankles during gym class, kicked the crap out of kickballs, and played some of my earliest softball games.

Hail to all at Turpin High ... hail maroon and gold. That's my high school, and those two trailers in the foreground (beyond the bushes) are the band trailers. What the heck? Where's the re-purposed U-Haul?

Ah the band-practice-field-slash-baseball-field (the diamond is out of the picture to the left). I spy a podium!

The first person to comment and correctly guess what this is and explain why it's sitting next to the track gets 30 nerd points. =)

Awe, this is my favorite part. This muddy pit, stuck in the corner of a practice football field, is the discus ring. (Click here to see what the heck a discus is.) I spent many cold days here digging a 1 kg piece of rubber out of the mud and then fliging it back into the mud, and equally as many days getting awkward sunburns waiting for my turn to spin around in circles on a slab of concrete. Wheeee! Only the backstop fence is gone! This means they are either getting a new fence or they got one of those fancy net backdrops that are portable/removable. Pssshhh ... whatever.

And now I beg forgiveness for those of you who read this and are in this picture. Let me just explain that no one could possibly look worse than I do.

Let's play "Where's Beckey?" Here's a hint ... I'm not hard to find. Turns out girl's track uniforms aren't meant to fit girls who are at least two times as large as typical track girls. This trend changed drastically when I threw in college. Big thrower girls are much more common in college. Heck, I wasn't the scariest looking thrower I encountered by far. Can we say Ohio State scholarship thrower girls? YIKES! There may or may not have been mustaches involved.

Ah, there she is. In her guy's jersey. And black shorts instead of uniform yellow. And white legs. And terrible hair. Wedged between two mid-distance runners. Hey Mr. Nester and your possibly-inappropriate pose in front of high school girls!


So, I'm about to change pace a bit. Sorry for the whiplash.

Backstory: I went all the way through school with a fella named Andrew Frank. We're talking early elementary through graduation. Andy was also on the track team with me, I believe for all 5 years. He was a great pole vaulter.

Andy went to the Citadel after high school, and then went on to serve in the Marines overseas. Unfortunately, Andy was killed on a "food distribution mission" on or right around Thanksgiving 2008. The circumstances around the event, on top of losing a former classmate, were just plain sad. Read about Andy here on Arlington's website (pictures). A friend of Andy's and another long-time classmate of mine worked with a local Eagle Scout to put a memorial together for him. The gazebo and statue have pride-of-place right in front of Turpin's main entrance. I made my first visit to the memorial today after my run and was run over with emotion.

Because Andy was my classmate and teammate, I wanted to share these pictures with you, especially those of you who also knew him.
The gazebo memorial. The main entrance is right behind, past the auditorium doors.

A straight-on shot of the Battle Cross statue

Andy's Battle Cross. These get me every time.

This is the back of the statue. The Eagle Scout who put this project together is there on the bottom.

I've already mentioned it on Facebook today, but I hope my Turpin classmates get a chance to get to campus to see the gazebo. It's pretty great.

Thanks for reading, folks!


  1. Awww . . . tearing up now.

  2. The thing next to the track is a Jarvis podium. And the person that left it out will probably get hurt because they cost a fortune!