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One man's treasure is...

Runners have a love affair with their equipment - no, I don't mean that equipment! You know, items like shoes, and singlets, and race t-shirts - even rings. Things they wore quite regularly back in the day when they were young and foolish.

I'm never surprised when a friend uncovers a pair of spikes that were last worn in 1971, or another one dons college gear with a logo that is no longer in existence, proudly displaying the rare item as though it had been discovered alongside the sarcophagus in King Tut's tomb.

At the University of Iowa we trained in a gray t-shirt and black cotton shorts, our matching gray cotton sweats just as plain, the only adornment on all the clothing a S, M, L, or XL at the neckline top. I suspect the theory was to make sure we didn't steal anything - but it still didn't work. This school-issued gear was in my dresser for years.

Most of these items were thrown away as time passed, the equipment eventually thread-worn and faded, sitting at the bottom of drawers because they didn't fit, no longer seeing the light of day. The moth-eaten MS Half Marathon shirt from 1979, a black Iowa singlet that, if pulled over my head for old times' sake would look like a snake had swallowed a bowling ball.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if spouses tossed many of these, shrugging shoulders and pasting a bewildered look on their face when asked if they had seen it. "No...I'm not sure what you are talking about" - quickly turning so the guilt wouldn't show.

You mean that ratty old...

I still have the dark blue Adidas Tokyo spikes from my college years, a t-shirt sold at the 1972 Big Ten XC championships where I participated, and my letterman's ring with the golden I - all the items either no longer fitting or about thirty years past expiration dates.

We hold on to these keepsakes as though trying to hold onto our youth, much like the 1985 sci-fi movie "Cocoon," where residents of a retirement home are rejuvenated with a youthful energy from contact with the Antarea cocoons from 10,000 years ago. We should all be so lucky.

Just remember - that was a fairytale.

Instead, maybe its time to hold onto the memory with a picture of each and then "rip off the band-aid" - tossing old shirts in the rag-bag and selling items that may be of historic value to someone, because the truth is we are the only ones who treasure the keepsakes.

Swedes call this annual act "vårstädning" - the cleansing process of shedding possessions. It can be a painful procedure - like getting rid of a childhood security "blankie" but I've always said it's better to look to the future than live in the past.

We all need to step back and gain perspective, remembering the other half of the adage above is... "another man's trash." While we wear continue to wear these things proudly as the years pile up, family members tend to stay an extra pace away, wondering if maybe the marbles have finally gotten lost. If we're living in never-neverland.

So please don't convince them their notions are true! Vårstädning.

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