Tell me I can’t, and I will. Runners are the most contrarian, stubborn, and independent people I know. When my orthopedic surgeon said I should give up running and try swimming or biking, I smiled and thanked him for the advice. But, by the time I was seated behind the wheel of my car I was already planning for my next race. Try something else? F@#k that! I’m a runner.
When I ran high school cross-country back in the mid-eighties, the varsity team was split down the middle. Four preppy honor students, and three guys who could have walked off the set of The Outsiders. The former followed the training plan down to the last detail, the latter had a habit of getting lost on long runs. But, both groups had a competitive fire that burned white-hot.
Regardless of our differences, we ran hard for each other. We may not have been friends, but we were teammates. Alone, we were rebels, outliers, and misfits. But together, we were a tribe. The hurt we suffered in our struggle to win forged a bond unlike any other. Grassy hills and rocky trails across the world are stained with the blood, sweat and tears of boys learning to compete like men.
In 2013, when I ran my first New York City Marathon, I rediscovered my passion for running. I was surrounded by warriors and heroes of all ages. Fifty thousand runners from all walks of life united in their quest to run 26.2 miles from Staten Island to Central Park. Men and women of all ages running solitary races, yet buoyed by the efforts of those around them.
The fire still burns. The bond remains. Boston is calling. Go ahead, tell me I can’t.