Saturday, December 11, 2010


Yearn to understand first and to be understood second.
Beca Lewis

First of all, I'd like to thank Valerie for opening up Boutwell Auditorium for our Sunday training run last week. We had a warm place to gather before and after our run on a cold morning, PLUS Val provided us Starbuck's coffee after the run!! Now, I can get used to that. Thanks Val. Tomorrow, we're back at Brownell for 15 miles for the full marathoners and 9 for the halfers.

Recently, I heard an interview with Arnold Palmer (the golfer). The interviewer wanted to know why, with all of Palmer's fame and fortune, he was still golfing semi-competitively at age 81. Palmer answered by saying "If you have to ask that question son, you don't understand sport". I wondered how many folks fully understood that answer, but I certainly did, and I loved it. Yeah, I guess it's something like an addiction, but it more defines the person you are. It's deep in your gut.

I'm often asked why I run, and I have yet to give an answer that satisfies me, never mind my inquisitor, and I don't expect to give one here. I've been running for more than three straight decades and have gone through many different phases. I've come a long way since lacing up my shoes in High School and racing around the oval track TWICE and thinking that was a long way. And once HS was finished, I pretty much gave up on running. It wasn't part of me, and the only time I wanted to be part of it was if I was playing some team sport that required me to get from here to there in the quickest way possible. As I got a little older, wider, and less athletic, running sneaked in the back door of my life and took a hold of me and hasn't let go yet.

We all run for some reason, though we may not know exactly what it is. If it's for some extrinsic reward as it's motivation, your running days are probably limited. Trophies, awards, pats on the back, and awed non-running neighbors reach their saturation point and just doesn't provide the kick-in-the-pants it once did. But, if you take the journey along the twists and turns that happen as you pursue the elusive answer, you realize the motivation to get out there when there is no pat-on-the-back is purely intrinsic. You do have it deep in your gut.

When I head out for a run by myself, I'm in charge of pace. I'm in charge of route. I'm in charge of distance. I can, or should I say "used to", run a hard training session so my lungs feel like they want to pop, or I can take a run that doesn't resemble much more than a mosey. I can run for just a little here-to-there, or I can decide that today is a good day for a 20 mile run. Sometimes that good day doesn't turn out to be a good day at all and I struggle home. And mistakes are tough, but because it's deep in my gut, I know how to fail forward. Baring catastrophe there will be many more runs. Many more successes. But each time I stumble there are only endless reinforcements in my mind of how that has never stopped me. Oh yeah, I'm a ton slower, and a mildly technical single track trail may as well be a Black Diamond ski run, but I'm in charge. Running has been a constant for half of my life. I've gone from being fairly competitive at long distances to a point where my racing pace is no different from my just-got-out-of-bed morning run pace. I forget recent events, but my memories of the good old days are etched forever in stone. Etched in my mind and deep in my gut. There are 500 reasons TO run - friends, eating, health, attempts to confuse the Reaper - but these are not reasons WHY I run.

So, when somebody asks me why I run, I guess I can just tell them because running in the rain is one of the most relaxing things I can do...because taking a header on a muddy trail somehow makes me feel good...because getting up at some ungodly hour on a holiday for a run before sunrise feels like the right thing...because running with the temperature well below the freezing point of my spit is completely contradictory to how much I hate cold, yet I'm bundled up and enjoying being out there...but, I think I'll just say I run because it's deep in my gut. I don't understand it completely myself, but as long as I can remember how to lace up my shoes, I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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