Tuesday, October 15, 2013

GIVE YOURSELVES A ROUND OF APPLAUSE

Forget about the government shutdown, Miley Cyrus, and Breaking Bad. The real news in the month of October is...marathons.

What a month!

I checked on the site, Running in the USA, and found that there are 127 marathons listed in the U.S during the month of October.

In the past two weeks, marathons have been contested in 32 states. Sunday's Chicago Marathon attracted over 40,000 runners. The Baltimore Marathon, over 20,000. Major marathons, thus far in October have fielded over 200,000 participants.

In America, where we frequently read media reports of dangerous obesity levels, more people are participating in more races than ever before. If you plan on running a major marathon in the spring, you better register right now.

This marathon boom is a tribute to all of you, and it is a terrific boost to cities, big and small, all over this country. Races run in major metropolitan areas and at off-season resort towns provide enormous economic benefits to those areas. Runners and their families spend money, fill hotels, and patronize restaurants. Races are good for runners, and runners are good for races.

Few non-runners can truly appreciate the dedication it requires to run 26.2 miles. At the Twin Cities Marathon expo I spoke to a runner from Arizona, who awoke at 2:00 a.m. in July, in order to complete his 20-mile training run. He had no choice, there were days in July when the temperature topped 120 degrees in his home state.

Mothers often log countless miles on the treadmill, while their babies sleep, in order to produce the mileage necessary to complete 26.2-miles. Oh, and I must give an extra shout out to the women runners out there. For the most part, you take care of us, the kids, AND you run. For that, you deserve extra rewards.

A big, delicious meal, or a couple of cold beers are often sacrificed in the name of a training run. Friends can't believe how early we go to bed, and we amaze people by how slowly we walk. Little do they know that earlier in the day we ran for 2 to 3 hours.

And for what? A medal, a T-shirt, banana, yogurt, and an electrolyte drink.

Ah, now that's where I'm preaching to the choir.

We all know it's much more than that.

It's the thrill of seeing a sign that reads "26," and knowing that, in less time than it takes you to circle the track, you'll cross the finish line.

It's rising of goosebumps as a crowd of thousands cheers, but, remarkably you pick out your family, filling you with emotion.

It's the "finishing move," the fist pump, the arms in the air, the biceps kiss, blowing kisses to the crowd. The smile that crosses your face, the tears, the satisfaction.

It's the feeling of knowing that those pre-dawn training runs, the windy days that slice your face like a scalpel, the soupy humidity, the nagging aches and pains, and all the sacrifices were worth it.

You set a goal and you achieved it. You disciplined yourself to accomplish something few can accomplish. You gave up 3, maybe 6 months of your life, and it was all worth it. Your body has never hurt so badly. You can barely walk. The next day you'll be descending the steps sideways, and, you'll be figuring out how you can run faster next time.

You have earned much more than a medal. You are a marathoner.

Special congratulations go out to my daughter, Kelly, and her fiancé, Mike Silvestrini, for completing the Chicago Marathon, and for raising over $6,000 for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, in honor of Mike's mother, who lost her battle with leukemia two years ago.

Another friend, Felix Shipp of Grenada, Mississippi, also complete Chicago, raising money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Jackie Shokey turned in a fine race at the Baltimore Marathon on Saturday.

To them, and to all of you who put it on the line in races, you deserve a round of applause, and I applaud all of you.