Long running

For parts of my life, I ran long distances for exercise and sanity.  It started in high school when I joined our cross county team.  I was classically built for the event: a tad over 5’5″ and under 120 pounds.  I had all I needed except speed.  It matter little to our coaches since they already had their “horses” and just need filler for the meets.  My assignment was to not impede the other runners.

My usual finishing position went in the books as “also ran”.  My efforts did nothing to change the competitions’ outcomes.  “Also ran” is an even mix of non-recognition recognition and why did I bother.  Decades later, I found dignity in being an “also ran”.

To me “also ran” means someone who entered a competition with little chance to win awards but runs anyway.  The battles are with ourselves and our past efforts.   Getting an “also ran” tag meant we were there.  It says we tried.

In 1980, I ran a Philly half-marathon.  I finished one minute short of my goal of under two hours.  I was lifted enough by my accomplishment to not really care.

I read a follow up interview with the race’s winner, Rod Dixon.  He had finished almost one hour ahead of me.  To his credit, he hung around the finishing line after the awards ceremony and cheered for the many finishing their personal odysseys.  It was exciting to see a member of running royalty cheering home runners like me.  He was feeling the connection runners have.  So was I.

Months later and in a different setting, Dixon gave an interview and spoke about talking with an “also ran” about the four hours plus needed to complete his marathon.  He was truly impressed by the man and said, “You actually ran for over four hours!”

Did my “also ran” runner’s heart good to hear such praise.

 

 

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