There are a lot of great stories that come out of big races. People take up running, struggling to make it a half-mile without having to stop. Months later, they’re crossing the finish line with a bunch of mile behind their backs, a finish line under their feet and then a medal around their neck.
A friend of mine named Dan is one of those guys. He is a classic story of a guy who was a committed non-runner who made a total about-face.
Usually this space on Fridays is reserved for the Weekly Stoke, but we’ll do a different version of that now. The following is taken from a Facebook post he made Friday, five days after pounding out 13.1 miles at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. His words speak for themselves, so I’ll let Dan do the talking now.
We have all seen them, those obnoxious little white ovals stuck to the back of other people’s cars proudly displaying their accomplishments…13.1, 26.2, 5k,10k or whatever. Until Sunday I looked at those stickers as a symbol of signs of a superiority complex or as an outright plea for affirmation and frankly I saw them as just that…until Sunday.
As I was plodding along on my own 13.1 mile journey I had time for some self-evaluation (what else can you do when running?) I thought about the events that had brought me to that place, to mile number 8 of 13.1 and I realized that the 13.1 on that sticker was WAY more than a just an arrogant advertisement of accomplishment, sure it is all about bragging rights but it is also about so much more.
For me it is about the day in August that I decided that I needed to get off the couch and it is about the fact that I had to walk for the first few days because I was too out of shape to run. It is about getting up at 5:30 in the morning to run one block and walk two, telling myself “just do more today than you did yesterday, even if it is only running one block further.” It is about the 150 or so miles that I ran before I decided that I might be in good enough shape to train for a half marathon, and for sure it is about the 280ish miles that I ran during training.
For me that stupid little sticker represents me basically running from Wichita, KS to Dallas, TX in this process (not all at once), and forcing myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other even when I did not want to, but it also represents something else. It represents the support I had from friends and family, Craig my running buddy who got up and went with me even though he did not run in the race. Corey and Eliya Bolgrin my brother-in-law and sister, even though we did not get to run together as much as we wanted to it was still fun when we did and you are both great encouragers (and Corey it was fun to get to run the race with you, thanks man!) Bob Doucette, always encouraging me to get out and run in spite of the cynicism that I had toward running for so long.
So will I have one of those stickers on my car, maybe but only because I now understand how much work goes into earning that sticker. Even if you have always been a long distance runner all of your life, you don’t just wake up one day and run that far (I’m sure there are a few who do, but EVERYONE hates them…right?) And to my friends who are just now getting into running or are thinking about getting into running I just have this to say…I was the guy who “ran only when being chased, and that was negotiable” and now it doesn’t totally suck and it is even kind of enjoyable (some days still suck) but stick with it. You don’t have to run like the wind or run from here to the moon in the first month, just keep putting one foot in front of the other at whatever pace you find yourself at and keep telling yourself to do more today than you did yesterday and who knows, we may pass each other in a race one day.
Well said, Dan.