The Pittsburgh Marathon is Sunday. People running. Lots of people. Running really, really far. And I’m excited. I’m going to be there all day in Oakland covering the race, and watching as people push themselves to accomplish something that I, to be honest, will never do. Let me tell you why:
My excitement for the marathon was inspiring. It inspired me to put on my running shoes (bought solely for form not function) and take a jog. My goal was from Friendship Park to Whole Foods and back. Roughly 2 miles. I’m not sure why I chose that as my goal. It probably was because it was the only direction going downhill from my starting point. I walked a block, pulled myself into a trot, and finally into a legit jog as I hit the downhill. And it felt good. Real good. My body was using dormant muscles. My heart was pounding and I could feel the strain in my chest. Part of me felt superior to all those walkers I imagined myself passing.
I made it all the way down to the intersection Friendship Ave ends at Baum. The light was red so I waited. And while I waited I decided to jog in place the way I’ve seen other runners do. The way other runners have done while I silently mocked them from my car. I jogged in place. I felt good. I felt free.
Then I stepped in a hole in the sidewalk. My ankle collapsed in on itself and I found myself writhing on the ground. All that running goodwill gone as I cursed the ground, I cursed my shoes and I cursed my self.
When I finally got the gumption to dragged my wounded limb back up the hill towards home I was dirty and bruised and irritated. And then I remembered one important fact. I’m not a runner. I’m a guy who likes the idea of running but can’t even go on a leisurely spring jog without hurting myself. I’m the guy who goes to the Marathon and cheers those courageous competitors on with all the heart and soul I can, and then goes to get a beer with them afterward.
That’s what I’ll be doing on Sunday. Watching people run, really far. Being impressed by those who make it to the end. Be impressed even by those who don’t just for trying. And then afterwards I’ll get a beer in Oakland. I’ll buy a beer for someone who wanders by still wearing their number. And Wife and I will talk about the incredible thing we just witnessed. A group of people pushing themselves farther and harder than most for no reason other than to just see if they can.
If you’re in Oakland feel free to join Wife and I in our spirited enjoyment of this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon. We’ll probably be the ones in matching track jackets.