With the Chicago Marathon joining every other major as a no go for 2020, what keeps you going?
Take away the social fabric of our sport and do you still have a place in it? I once posed the question “Would you run 100 miles and never tell anyone?” That is one of my litmus tests for being a real runner. Self accomplishment. Not for the popular feedback or woot woot admiration. Doing something just for you. Challenging yourself, volition realized reward enough.
Consider the source. In the 1980s no one cared if you were a runner, you were actually more likely to be ridiculed than lauded. In fact, that isolation was a keystone to running at that time. Lone wolves running away from the bonds of civilization. Miles fully immersed in the natural world. Training partners? I never had a real one until Linda came along. I did workouts with similarly (or more so) talented runners, using those carrots to push myself, explore my own limits. But those were anecdotal. Asterisks in an otherwise solitary career.
Our sport has changed and changed some more. The culture at times completely foreign to me. Do I still have a place in it?
Yes. Running will always be very personal for me. That hasn’t changed, never will. I don’t need high fives. What I need is the chance to get out and press on, to evaluate and critique daily, couching each effort with the query, “Have I done my very best today, am I satisfied?” That alone can never be taken away.
The crowds, the masses, they have their place in running. And I have mine. The Long Distance Runner.