Updated: Thursday, 07 May 2009, 6:00 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 07 May 2009, 4:57 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Believe it or not, there was a time when there was no such thing as a hike-and-bike trail in Austin.
Jack Pope has no trouble believing it. When the now-retired Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and his family moved into a spacious ranch house on Stratford Drive, that part of town looked completely different.
"There was no hike and bike trail," said Pope. "There was not even a paved street through Zilker Park, but we lived here."
It was the 1960s and a physician named Dr. Kenneth Cooper was introducing the world to a new word: Aerobics. Cooper challenged Americans to hit the trail or the road or any surface they could find and start moving. Pope became a believer.
He, his wife and son and the family dog found an isolated spot of land in the Southwest corner of Zilker Park and fixed their eyes on a landmark of some sort off in the distance.
"We determined that we were going to run what we estimated to be a quarter of a mile and we started out and we ran," he said. "Of course, nobody made it but the dog."
The judge kept at it, though, and worked his way down to a seven-minute mile. As the speed increased, however, so did his age and his aches and pains. The times slowed down until finally, the run became a walk and the walk became something else.
"I'm at 96 now and I still go and I can make the distances, but now I mosey," he said.
During one "mosey" some four years ago, Pope climbed up on a curb to avoid an oncoming car in his neighborhood. The balance began to go and the judge sped up in a vain effort to avoid a fall.
When he woke up, he was in an ambulance. Paramedics told him he was on the way to a hospital. He argued, demanding to be taken back to his house. The medics pointed out the blood pouring down his face and told him they were worried about the possibility of blood on his brain.
A wave of common sense enveloped the then 92 year-old and he settled back for the first hospital stay of his life.
When he recovered, he adopted a cane and hired caregivers to accompany him on his moseys and kept at it. Pope turned 96 on April 18. He wanted to walk 9.6 miles on that day but spring rains delayed his training schedule.
He refuses to give up on the idea, however, and he is building up from two- and three-mile walks six days a week to reach his goal.
"I just hope that I don't run out of the desire to continue before I have to stop," he said. "I'm just playing it day by day."
Day by day and step by step, that is.
Jack Pope shared his exercise routine with everyone in this helpful clip: