Marathon Journal: For 12/30/16

“Are you really running a marathon?”

It’s a question that has so many implications. On what hand, it’s a question of awe, like “I couldn’t do that. You’re effing, crazy.” On the other, it’s a question that suggests a certain disdain and maybe even jealousy. I never know how to interpret the intentions of the questioner, so I just answer, “Yep.”

“Are you doing Boston?”

That’s the next question that usually comes from people when they find out that I’m running a marathon. I get that Boston and New York are the biggies, the ones with the crazy prestige, but is it possible that the Kardashian effect of being famous for no reason other than being famous is at work in these two bloated races? I mean 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles, right? So what difference does it make if there are thousands of people running the race or just one? Distance is distance and time only time.

In the interest of full disclosure, I never qualified for either Boston or New York in my running heyday. I’m not bitter about it either. Both of those races have a tradition and standard that makes them special. Promotion and history also make them important races. I would never want to be bitter or arrogant by dismissing what those races stand for and have done for charities and the sport of running. However, I think that achievement of running a marathon by only Boston or New York smacks of elitism or backwater ignorance of what runners go through in all marathons.

It’s not the distance. It’s the test. Be it 5K, 10K, or those first few steps towards a new year’s resolution, it does not matter. Being in the game is what matters.

Sorry for the rant…

So the training this week has been tough. I decided to shut down and let my calf feel better. Those who are following along know that basketball has become my Achilles heel and I keep straining my calf playing. As a mark for AARP, I probably should be thinking of not playing the game, but effit, I love the game. Of course, that makes distance running a bit of a challenge. Calves are important for running, but there are workarounds.

The first has been rest, stretching, and water. The more I rest, stretch, and drink water the better my leg feels. The second has been a documentary I saw on Netflix called, “Finding Traction.” (Long story short…it’s about a woman doing an ultra-distance.) It’s awesome because it shows the struggle and potential that is involved when a person decides to test themselves against themselves.

That’s what running a marathon is about. It’s not about the charity. It’s not about the distance. It’s about the runner. What is she willing to do to finish? What are his goals?

And that spirit that is in all of us.

It may not be expressed by running a marathon. It might be expressed by volunteering or becoming an advocate for a cause. The journey may reveal itself in the pursuit of artistic creation. It might just be shown by being a good person every day. Running is only one expression of our potential and it need not be limited to a timed event over a given distance in a “big time” city.

Sorry for the lecture…

As I’m writing this post, I’m listening to a Bruce Springsteen concert I saw in September. It was my first and you know what they say about the first time… Well, this concert was nothing like that because I have vivid memories of being at Citizen’s Bank Park under near 100-degree heat with my son and standing for nearly four hours rocking out. It’s the same feeling I’m trying to capture in this run. I’m getting older. I haven’t been exercising as much as I did when I was young. I still think like a youngster and I’m having a hard time accepting that I have to slow some things down.

I see in that concert a guy who denies accepting whatever limitations age brings. I watched those guys deny time, age, heat, Mother Nature, boredom, and whatever else comes with a rocking chair, a front porch, and whatever pill is supposed to make us stand up and be felt. I’ll let the couch be a part of my life, but I won’t let it rule who I am. My spirit wants to do something, something more than I think I can do right now.

That’s what that concert meant to me. That’s what this “race” means to me.

I suppose that’s why I’m running this marathon of mine. Not for any glory. Not for any pseudo-fame. For me. To prove that I can. It should not be measured by New York, Boston, or the Rock and Roll series. My 493 laps around the indoor track at my YMCA has all the challenges of those races, distance, endurance, and monotony. I’ll be my own crew without any volunteers and for an hour or two, I’ll have thump-thump music from the classes taking place on the gym for below. That has got to be on a par with Heartbreak Hill…

Enough, my friend’s Christmas gift has me going Hemingway (not really, Hemingway, it’s an expression…)

For the week, lots of stretching. Today I played basketball for about fifteen minutes as we were short players at practice. My calf is a little sore, but it’s my middle finger on my right hand that is swollen and blue. I’d show you, but people might be offended.

I could care less about the swelling. It’s part of putting yourself out there.

Thank you for reading about my little marathon journey. Remember, this is about finding purpose in the run. I also have a practical purpose of raising funds for charity. My charity is the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to donate to their fund the link is below. However, any charity could benefit from a donation, so if you want to donate somewhere else, I’d love that just as much.

Donate Kennett YMCA: Thanks, everyone!

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