Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jan Guenther Writes About our Friend Terry Alexander

When I look back at owning a sports retail store for the past 20 years, what I really remember and cherish are the quirky, crazy, lovable customers I meet and develop lasting friendships with. We at Gear West Ski and Run have sort of a Cheers Bar where those interested in us and the store just drop in and bring all their ideas, successes and attempts in life. I love it.

This brings me to my now lost friend Terry Alexander. I met him 3 years ago at the Minnetonka Tri parking his bike on the elite rack. He somehow stuck to us, Brian and me, like Velcro and we haven't gone a week without seeing him at least once. He built our work shower, he teaches me swimming strokes, and he complains about his fake teeth and drops off coffee. He tells stories about his lost digits and, he has been my crazy training friend. Sometimes 4-5 times per week in the summer we might bike or run together. Sure, he drove us nuts, Terry was like a relative who needed a roll of duct tape over his mouth to shut him up when we were busy and had no time to waste. But, what both Brian and I recognized and valued was his kindness and desire to do right. He tried hard, slipped up quite a bit. He was so vulnerable, so lost at times but so quickly happy given the simplest things, attention and training time :).

I have so many memories of Terry trying to "train me" for the past Ironman WI, and now for my current one. He actually was a terrific instructor when he could calm down and focus and share all the racing knowledge that he had acquired over his years as an amazingly accomplished competitive swimmer, runner, cyclist, equestrian, and fencer.

Anyway, this is my memory of Terry as I was the last one to spend time with him before his accident. Monday evening, August 1st, I called Terry (who also rented his house from us, one block down the street from mine.) "Let's go running this evening around the Lake View Golf Course!" "Awesome he says! Let’s bring our dogs! It’s finally cool and we can run easy (ha!). But we have to make it quick... my son Kristopher is coming home and I need to go to Target."

So we grabbed our dogs a stretched out our legs on the soft grass of the golf course. Terry proceeds to run full speed into a puddle, dragging his spotted Australian puppy, Pongo, and lands full in the puddle, both feet splash mud and water all over me, my dog, his dog and then he springs up into the air, his hands held high and shouts, "I love it! My life is getting so much better!” I just had to shake my head, laugh and we finished the golf course run in the waning sun. Terry was so happy and he left to drive east on the bypass to Target, to get some things for his son's homecoming.

We miss you Terry, more than we ever would have thought.

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” - Author Unknown