Cultural Mondays: ING New York City Marathon.

"I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart."
(from rebelrunners.com)

There is something about individual competition that requires complete physical exertion that can get any spectator at their core. I wish I had a better word than "get," but that's the only way I can describe it. It's the raw emotion one witnesses as a person pushes themselves past what they thought possible that can bring anyone to tears. I stood on 67th and 1st today waiting for my fabulous little sister Kathryn to run by me, feeling a little less attached to the event than past years. Or so I thought. Suddenly the little boy hanging off the wrought iron fence next to me started shouting "Pa-pa! Pa-pa! Pa-pa!" With thrill and urgency in his voice. I followed his eyes to a middleaged man who had pulled over at the side of the race to say hi to his family. His son finally jumped off the fence, pushed through other spectators, and kissed his father. As the man ran off, I watched the women he had hugged wipe away the tears behind their sunglasses. And there I was again: at the finish/sideline of any marathon/Ironman/Half Ironman, Ive ever been to. I was got, and the tears came.

I don't think there are the proper words to describe why challenging yourself to push past presumed physical limits is as emotional as it is. Sure, its inspiring, but there are many inspirational things that don't grip you, as I said, at your core like this. It is also indescribable as to why people choose these challenges. I wish it was, but most words fall short of sufficient reason for the grueling and time consuming training for non pros. They fall short of insight as to why the blind, and amputees, and other Achilles athletes sign up. Why everyday people wake up before the sun, miss out on social events, pay hard earned dollars, and nurse injuries, to cross the finish line.

What every finisher knows, be it a half marathon, a marathon, or anything else, is the personal reward, the accomplishment felt, and the raw emotion we could never experience on a regular basis is worth every pre-light hour, every missed dinner party, every extra plane ticket, and every extra day of hobbling. The reminder that being too comfortable in our day-to-day lives is often a bad thing.

Above is this years male winner, Meb Keflezighi--the first American male to win since 1982. He cried at the finish for his friend who passed during Olympic trials two years ago -- Ryan Shay. I like the quote above because what athletes and runners learn during their events is always applicable to greater life. Our brains and our personalities can take us long distances. But at the end of the day, when we don't have much left in us, it is our heart that will carry us home. Our heart that will take us further than we ever thought possible.

Congrats Buddy. Your 4:29 is awesome.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks sissy. 4:27 though, thank you very much :) Some papa-razzi told me.