Thursday, July 30, 2015

At the Buzzer

No matter how much humanists talk about "objective values", the phrase always sounds vaguely confused.-- Richard Rorty

Running is one of the purest, most beautiful sports I've ever had the pleasure to participate. There are reportedly about 55 million runners in the United States. Approximately 18 million runners completed a race last year. Amazingly, very few people will get their friends together with chips and guac to watch the "match-up of the century" at the Boston Marathon on a 150 foot big screen television with triple HD with 4D and surround the block sound. No one is going to stand up and scream at the television and call Ryan Hall, or Kara Goucher, or Paula Radcliffe a bum while simultaneously flinging a foam finger at the screen.

The purity of running, as opposed to other sports, lie in the fact that it is very difficult to fake it. By fake it I mean that you can't just have a monster "game" and get the MVP. It is hard to sneak up on the running community and come out of nowhere to win a race. I've seen Lebron James have a bad gam and then come through in the final minutes. We all remember the Michael Jordan "Flu Game" when he was sick and still willed himself and his team to victory. I recall Kirk Gibson hobbling around the bases in the World Series. Or going back even further when Willis Reed came out of the locker room to uplift the Knicks. These are all great stories that couldn't possibly happen in competitive running. Runners still need to go out and put in all of those miles and have a good performance to win. I've seen boxers get beaten down for eleven rounds and then score a knockout in the twelfth and final round.

The beauty of running is that it can be a solitary or community sport. The vast majority of my runs are alone and in the dark. I love the solitude and the meditative state that I can enter on the road for 6, 10, or 13 miles. That said, I've enjoyed running in groups and having conversations with folks that just "get it". Besides, what other sport can you line up right beside an 80 year old, an 18 year old, a woman, and a man, right next to each other with the same chance to finish ahead of the other one. Not even in corporate America, judging by the pay scale, can a man and woman line up equally. The Women's and Men's marathon records are only about ten minutes apart and Ultra-Marathons have even smaller gaps with women routinely beating men, like Ann Treason back in the days.

I played football for 13 years, boxed for 7 and played basketball for a bit. I cannot, at my age, be very serious about my career in the aforementioned sports. As a runner, I can continue to get better. EVERY... DAMN... DAY.

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