Well, it’s been three weeks since the Boston Marathon, clearly the pinnacle of my amateur running career from an emotional and symbolic and enjoyment standpoint, if not from a performance standpoint. The soreness lasted a couple of days, but the psychological high held on significantly longer. Because I didn’t have this photo yet available to share when I last posted a blog entry, because I love this shot, and because there really isn’t another obvious photo to pair with this particular entry, the following image is of the moment I described in my previous post, when the entire Dana-Farber team applauded the group of us known as Living Proof, the team’s cancer survivors and patients who were about to run Boston. Simply an incredible moment, captured beautifully here.
Because of the sheer emotional impact of running Boston, my hometown race, for Dana-Farber, I expected to announce around this time that my days of running full marathons would be over, that I would still run to stay in shape and enter the occasional local 5k, 10k or half-marathon, but that I would quit the cycles of long Saturdays of training for 26.2 miles due to the fact that my Boston experience of 2016 is something I’ll never be able to equal, much less top.
As a lifelong sports nut, I should have known better. How many athletes do you see who go to the Olympics and then abruptly retire, who reach the World Series or Super Bowl mid-career and then call it quits immediately afterwards because there’s no longer a greater event for which to strive? I’m sure if you thought hard enough you could come up with a couple of examples, but they’re much more the exception than the norm. Much more common are the athletes who, even if they know what they’ve just achieved is something they’ll never exceed, nonetheless stay in the game for many years afterwards because the game has become a part of them, and a part of them they enjoy and of which they are proud, at that. World Series champions become minor league coaches years later. They have become baseball men. They like baseball. And, just as the World Series was not the reason they originally started playing the sport, the fact they’ll never see the World Series again doesn’t make them want to leave. Because it would all be worth it even if the World Series never happened.
I’m finding that my feelings about marathons are the same as that. I didn’t take up running with the Boston Marathon seriously on my radar screen, and it certainly wasn’t the reason. So, if I never exceed the exhilaration of running Boston for the first time, well, so what? I love having another race as a goal. I love the challenge of pushing myself to be better. I love serving as an example for other patients and survivors of what type of comeback from cancer is achievable. I love the whole thing, and would gladly run a marathon on a desolate road with nobody watching.
And so, as I am sure you’ve gathered if you’ve read this far, I have no intention of retiring from running marathons. After running in the Madison-to-Chicago Ragnar relay with a team of coworkers in early June, I plan to begin training in earnest for a fall race. Which one, I am not yet sure. I missed the deadline to apply for Chicago in my rush to depart for Boston last month, so that’s out of the picture. Currently I’m considering the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (flat and fairly close to home), the Fox Valley Marathon here in Illinois (the course is a couple of miles from my house, so really close to home), and the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa (much farther away, but some friends are running it). I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of those or suggestions for other races in the comments section below. I’m very open to ideas at this point.
One final development to share that has a bit to do with sports, but nothing to do with running. About a year ago, I took an online test to apply to be a contestant on Sports Jeopardy. I’d essentially forgotten about it until a few days ago, when I received an email out of the blue telling me that I’d passed the test and was now invited to a live audition next month in New York. I feel like this is the sort of fun opportunity one shouldn’t turn down, so sure enough I will be taking a quick jaunt to the Big Apple in a few weeks to audition for a network sports trivia game show. There’s no telling if I’ll get tabbed to be a contestant on the actual show, but if that happens I do think I’ll compete respectably at worst and, depending on the competition on the particular episode, could even stand a fighting chance to win.
If nothing else, trying out for Sports Jeopardy should be good for an entertaining blog entry or two. So, stay tuned. You have been forewarned.