A very good friend recently completed her first half marathon. And not just any half marathon, either. It was the 50th Caesar Rodney Half, held mid-March in Wilmington every year since 1964. The pressure of running her first 13 mile race, in front of people she knew, in the single largest race in the state must have been tremendous.
Afterwards, it was like watching an actor who had never had a starring role in as much as a commercial all of a sudden win an Academy Award. She thanked everybody from her training partners to her friends and supporters to the guy at the deli counter and even the folks from whom she bought her running shoes. But she took no credit for herself. Odd.
The professional athlete, who earns a living as he or she pursues sport, usually has a large support structure behind them. This cadre of supporters includes coaches, massage therapists, teammates, researchers, and nutritionists. These athletes are very good and even the slightest omission in their preparation can be disastrous.
But for most of us, we just run. Some of us will use a coach or a team setting. Some of us will utilize the services of massage professionals or dietary gurus, some of us probably have an active account and huge credit limit with Barnes & Noble for coaching books and "how-to" guides. The generality of it is, we run.
In my mind, there is nothing more courageous, more inspiring and more captivating than watching someone who has never done something commit to actually attempting it.
Whether the deed is completed is secondary to me – it's the ATTEMPT that is brave.
I graduated from high school in 1981. My father was a two pack a day smoker of unfiltered cigarettes (a habit left over from his Marine Corps days of the early 1950s). That spring before commencement, he committed to me to stop smoking (cold turkey) AND run a 5k race with me two weeks after my graduation.
The Capitol 5000 was one of the biggest races in central PA during its day. It was held in late June and drew some zippy runner-types. My dad lined up with the rest of them (and me) and attempted a 5k! He broke 25 minutes… first race ever. In 1982, he ran under 24 minutes. And then never raced again… and hasn't picked up a cigarette since, either.
My running and the running of others may have influenced him to get out there and attempt it, much as my half marathon friend had been moving in the direction of a 13 mile race since the first day she laced up a pair of shoes and, bravely, headed out the day for a walk/run. But you know what? No coach, no massage therapist, no teammate can instill bravery in the attempt… that was all them.
Page 2 of 2 - At the recent Indoor Track & Field Master's Championships, held in Landover, MD, I witnessed a 95-year-old gentleman run the mile in 14 minutes. He didn't get there by accident or fairy dust or support from a national shoe company. He got there by showing a little bravery. It was all him – and some help of the local deli counter dude, I'm sure.
Former Lock Haven University stand-out runner Andy Shearer is the Middletown Athletic Club secretary/treasurer. Shearer has been running since 1978.