I am not, by any measure, a great athlete. I wasn’t the last kid picked on the playground either but, you know, good friendships. I played like a bruising lineman. Sadly, the game was basketball. My trophy case is a very old shoe box. Lots of plastic in there. Nothing with my name on it. So when I tell you that at 45 years old I will be running my first full marathon (@FreepMarathon Detroit) next week, note the perspective. We come from the same planet.
One of my brothers and a close friend are hard-core runners. Multiple marathons. Boston. The whole bit. About 6 years ago, they mentioned a run they were doing for kicks. A few miles on Belle Isle, in the Detroit river, on New Years Eve. I probably hadn’t run a mile in 15 years. Folks, on the box marked “pain” you’ll see those ingredients. And I was taking them in doses higher than the recommended daily allowance. Just four miles, 38 minutes and a chapped face later, I was hallucinating my way across the finish line. I literally stopped a few feet short to embrace an old friend who had made a special trip to cheer me on. Or not. Turns out, me and a stranger in downtown Detroit shared a special moment. No lasting bonds were formed between us.
That was the beginning though, of the best thing I have done for me since… (fill in appropriate life moments here). Anyhow, I fell in love with running. This year, I finally took the plunge.
I won’t wax on about all the great things running brings. I used to get injured a lot because I am ‘big-boned’, have weird ankles and made all the typical mistakes. We’ll skip that tedious commentary too. Running is a metaphor for everything. The greater truths of life are revealed. It’s hard and rewarding. There, I think that covers it. Supplement with books as necessary.
Now I’ve got my gear right and training sorted. It’s just a question of getting it done. I’ve worked for a sub-4 hour time. It will take my best run. I am confident.
I’ve done several half marathons now and a bunch of shorter organized runs. I never miss New Year’s Eve on Belle Isle and have run it solo on multiple occasions (cowards). A big race day is the thrill. Where else does a grunt like me stand shoulder to shoulder — albeit briefly — in the same event with the elites of the sport? Thousands of people cheering and smiling and willing everyone to success. That’s pretty rare. I’ll take some.
Then it comes down to you and your skimpy gear, grinding and gliding your way to the best you can do that day, whatever it takes. Like everyone, I went through phases of gadgets that I thought would help me. Shockingly, there’s no short cut (Just like life! Ok. Enough of that.) You have music, of course. And while you are still capable of coherent thought you find incredible meaning in all lyrics. “…every ounce of energy, you try to give awayyayyy, as the sweat pour out your body…” Yes Bob! Yes! I am with you! You understand me! We are part of a greater consciousness! Ok. Easy. Easy. Relax. The medics are staring.
If I am wearing it, it better be light and it better be critical to maximizing this run. Like all runners, I save my highest scrutiny for the shoes. I’ve tried them all. I don’t really care what they look like. I will render them fashionably undesirable pretty quickly. They must serve me well. I am what is affectionately called a “Clydesdale” runner. I push my shoes hard. They serve me well. For me, the only shoe up to the task is made by ASICS: Gel Cumulus for routine training, Gel Nimbus – yes, you can picture the Nimbus2000 carrying me along effortlessly – for the long runs. I wear them until they are beat, then they get a serious wash and serve as my knock-around shoes. (For the love of Jim Fixx, I wish I had them on when I stepped on that rusty nail last week. But if that won’t stop me, and it won’t, nothing will. All tetanus shots in order. Thanks.) And so, my #BRANDLOVE for ASICS – Anime Sana in Corpore Sano (Sound Mind in Sound Body) – though both are a work in progress for me. The love is earned over years. On October 19 as I run through Detroit, over the bridge to Canada, down the river, back through the tunnel for the only underwater mile in marathon and around good ol’ Belle Isle again, I know the love will be returned by my ASICS! Thank you boys!
So, if I can go sub-4 hrs, it will be an amazing moment for me. If I can subsequently convince the Boston Athletic Association that I am over 60, I will qualify for that race. Maybe next time. Until then, follow along if you like (@TimBWalsh) and we’ll offer each other some encouragement. Whatever happens, my sincere appreciation to ASICS for making the shoes that make it possible. No matter what happens on October 19, we’ll be trotting out together many times afterwards. I love that.