Today I was thumbing through the January/February 2010 issue of Running Times. I came across the following quote which was also carried in the New York Times:
“It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours. It used to be that running a marathon was worth something—there used to be a pride saying you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’” (Adrienne Wald, a college cross country coach).
Yo Adrienne, please reboot your ego. Hopefully when you login again you will know, as a runner, what running is really about. If you don’t, you should read a few books by George Sheehan, who taught us that running is just as much about self awareness as it is times and competition. Sheehan once wrote that “the mind’s first step to self-awareness must be through the body”.
If you still don’t understand what running is about, then I suggest you go out on a Sunday and volunteer as a support crew at the finish line of a marathon. But don’t quit after the fast runners are done, wait there until the 6, 7 and 8 hour finishers to come through. You will likely see people who are in their 60’s and older. You might even see people who’ve never done anything athletic in their life, some of whom have struggled for years with physical or emotional problems. When these runners cross the finish line after battling for 26 miles, look into their eyes. When they look back at you, tell them what you really feel.
We runners are all individuals, and we all come in different shapes and sizes, and with varying abilities and ambitions. A fast pace for one, is ultimately slow to another. But we runners share one thing in common, something we should be loath to forget. When we run, we feel alive.