WALKING WITH LARRY has become a weekly routine for me. Out of shape and with all sorts of medical issues, I turned to Larry Tolbert for advice on how to begin to take better care of myself, and not only did he give that advice, but he also created a time schedule where he makes sure I keep to that advice.
Last winter, we began meeting in the mornings at the Switzerland County YMCA, where Larry patiently showed me how to use the different machines and - most importantly – what they did for me and how they could impact me in both positive and negative ways if I didn’t use them correctly.
Now, for all of you who know Larry, you know that he’s a man who has worked hard his whole life. As our Standard Oil man and the proprietor of our gas station; and then after his retirement, a man who both worked at and now volunteers at the YMCA, as well as unselfishly taking on many volunteer duties around the community.
For a retired guy, he’s pretty busy.
In fact, he’s earned the right to throw away his alarm clock and roll over each morning for a couple of extra hours of sleep; but instead he’s up and moving, because someone ‘out there’ needs his help.
Larry’s mornings start with a workout with Rod Dickerson. I’m not sure what goes on early each morning; but they’re finishing up as I arrive, and Rod usually looks like Larry has put him through his paces.
This winter was particularly hard on me, as I battle rheumatoid arthritis. The cold weather played havoc on my joints, especially my legs; and threw all sorts of other medical issues into chaos.
It got so bad that I had to stop working out with Larry. He didn’t forget about me, however, and each time I saw him he would ask about my health and what the doctors were doing to try and correct my issues.
And when we could get back to work.
As Spring approached, I got some clearance to begin walking; so when I told Larry I was coming back, but it was only to walk, he generously encouraged me and again made a schedule for the walking to begin.
For both of us.
Now, after you’ve gone through a workout early in the morning; most would beg off of taking 30-45 minutes to walk around a trail - but not Larry.
Always careful to make sure that I’m not hurting myself; he now takes on the duty of time keeper on our laps around the walking track outside of the YMCA building.
I’m keeping a journal of distance and time; and with the path Larry’s chosen - not too many steep hills, up or down, protecting my knees and ankles – we are walking at around an 11 minute per lap pace.
We started with three, but this week as we neared the completion of the third lap, I suggested we take a fourth.
“No problem,” he said. “If you want to go on, I’ve got the time.”
So we made another lap, and as we travel along the trail, we talk about Martins nesting and the warm sun of a Spring morning. We talk about how society has changed, both since he was a kid and when I was. We pretty much talk about everything, and most mornings we have to stop and decide if we’ve gone our full complement of laps, or if we have to do one more, because we lose count.
Our morning walks for now are on Monday and Thursday mornings. We meet in front of the YMCA about 7 a.m., and usually it’s 30-45 minutes before we’re through. Sometimes the arthritis means that we walk a little slower, but as Larry reminds me, “You’re still ahead of the guy who’s sitting on the couch.”
Our walks calculate to 1 1/2 to 2 miles each morning, but since we’re walking together, it seems very short. Randy See passes by a couple of times, since he walks a different course in the opposite direction; and at the completion of each lap there’s usually someone entering or leaving the YMCA, and since everyone knows Larry, they all wave and say hello; while Larry questions them on how their exercise went that morning or encourages those about to begin.
We all know that we all make commitments to getting in better shape and getting more exercise; but we also know how difficult it is to do it alone.
That’s why there aren’t words to thank Larry for all he’s done for me and is doing for me. I’m walking and enjoying the morning and sharing time with a great friend.
If you find yourself in that same frame of mind that I was in, I invite you to get up, put on some walking shoes; take a deep breath and head to the YMCA at 7 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. I won’t be there next week, because I’ll be traveling; but I can assure you of where I’ll be on Monday morning, June 24th.
I’ll be out in the fresh air and enjoying the morning, just like I do twice a week; and soon, probably more.
Because I just love:
Walking with Larry.