Running T-Shirts Rekindle Memories

Running T-Shirts Rekindle Memories

Running T-Shirts Rekindle Memories

By Cheryl Hart

As each new year begins, I am suddenly overcome with an urgency to clean out closets and drawers. Every year my running T-shirts begin to take on a life of their own as they gradually fill up most of a dresser.

When my sons were small, the T-shirts even crept into their drawers as they wore some of them as pajamas. Zachary had the Junction City Railroad Days shirt because he loved trains, and Nick wore one from Harrodsburg Pioneer Days 5K because Daniel Boone was his hero.

Once and for all, determined to weed through all of them, I pulled out the drawers and began the necessary eviction process.

That ugly tan one must go – but wait! That was from my very first marathon – the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona . What a special feeling that was to cross the finish after 26.2 miles, having gained the new status of “marathoner.”

There are holes in this long-sleeved shirt along the arm where it says, “Delta Dusters.” My old racing shirt for the Delta Airlines team. We wore these on the pine-covered trails in Finland , where I ran my fastest half-marathon. Maybe if I wear it again, it will bring me good luck.

Gosh, this one is almost an antique. A 1979 Peachtree Road Race shirt from the 10K in Atlanta . That''s the first year my whole family ran it along with 20,000 others in celebration of the Fourth of July. I remember one of the runners carrying a big American flag the entire race.

Now this one looks small enough to fit a child. The 1980 New York Marathon was my favorite marathon. It was so windy that year that they couldn''t keep the carpet down on the Verazano Bridge , so we had to run across open grating. But the enthusiastic crowds lining the streets carried us through all five boroughs and made us feel proud to be runners.

Oh, here''s another New York Marathon shirt from 2000. That was the year I ran it with my son and his best friend – their first marathon. I choked back tears when we crossed under the finish banner together.

The Chattahoochee River to Ridge Run was my favorite cross-country run. It began at the river and followed an old logging trail up along the ridges of the national preserve. The scenic course took us over fallen trees, around fishing ponds and through ankle-deep creeks. The long-sleeved shirt depicts the challenging terrain.

Every year, I would sit with all my memories in piles on the floor around me, until I realized my defeat and would begin the slow process of refolding and returning them to their designated drawers. The dresser was always just as full of shirts as when I began, but now just folded more neatly.

An afternoon spent reliving old races can fill us with lingering satisfaction built from years of challenges, struggles and victories. Each of those shirts represents roads that led us to where and who we are today.

But it is important to clear the drawers to make room for the roads and memories that await us in 2006. Mary Lambert, author of “Clearing the Clutter,” believes that it is important to clear out in order to move on.

“You may believe that your possessions are visible symbols of the person you are,” says Lambert. “You may be subconsciously building a memorial to your past – and if you let something go, it seems as if a part of you is going as well. But once you have started the process of release, new energy and new opportunities will come flooding into your life.”

I have the ideal solution for those of you who need the drawer space, want to move toward new goals and yet still want to hold on to the miles of memories.

A quilt – made from your favorite old shirts.

Years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting Faye Webb, a gifted quilter to whom I proposed the idea of a running T-shirts quilt. I had seen a small advertisement in the back of Runners World Magazine for running quilts, so I can''t take credit for coming up with it on my own. Though she had never made a quilt like this before, she was willing to give it a try – and it was beautiful. Since then, she has made more for me as well as others that I have sent her way. I am willing to share her with you now.

You can wrap yourself in the warmth of the memories while curling up after a hard winter''s run, picnic on it in the summer, or pass it on to your children for a keepsake. I have a friend who had one made with shirts from her marathons from every state, which she mounted on a wall.

Local T-shirt quilting companies are: Campus Quilt Company, 502- 968-2850 or and Keepsake T-Shirt Quilts, 502-451-5049.

Cheryl Hart, owner of 2 nd Wind Motivation, helps individuals and corporations establish and achieve goals. She is also a certified fitness specialist and spinning instructor. Cheryl was formerly Kentucky ''s NCAA Woman of the Year and National Inspirational Athlete of the Year. She is a member of Team USA , winning silver medals in both the 2004 World Triathlon and World Duathlon and most recently the bronze at the 2005 World Duathlon Championship in Australia . Cheryl has a B.A. in English from Centre College, where she served as communications associate, cross-country coach and sports information director. To contact Cheryl call 693-7443, e-mail or visit

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