Sunday, January 24, 2010

Still baffled about the surge

Across America, there has been a wonderful surge in distance running. First, there is the great Renaissance of running at the elite level. The American are finally giving the Kenyans a run for their money! An American (Meb Keflezighi) has finally won the NYC Marathon, and Americans were on the platform for the 2009 Boston Marathon. I understand that surge. Then there was the Surge Beneath the Surface, written by running historian (I wish I had that job) Roger Robinson. Now, I feel a little obligated to plug that second article as I'm quoted in it. Irregardless, running is sweeping the nation. More people are signing up for races than ever, and even though there is an obesity epidemic in this nation, more people are running these days, which is excellent. That surge makes sense, too.
Since I've started running, I've noticed a third surge as well, and that's what has baffled me. There has been an increase of runners in my life. No, it's not that I've just met more people who run (although that has happened as well). It's that people whom I've known for years have also decided to make the transformation into running.
  • My mom ran her first 5k in December.
  • My dad is training vigorously with my triathlete buds, and contemplating a triathlon in June.
  • I have given a couple of talks at my school about how to train for a marathon while in school. What?
  • Students have asked me to meet with them for advice on training. I'm still baffled - when did I suddenly know what I was doing?
  • In the summer, at Beloved Summer Job (Center for Talented Youth), my friend Jenny and I made a pact. If I qualified for Boston, she would run a marathon in 2010. I did, and so the plan is that we will run the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon together, and I will pace her through it. I'm very excited about being a part of her first marathon experience. Months ago, I received the following e-mail from her,
Your running inspired me.
My running inspired my son
My son's running inspired my daughter
My family has inspired my nephew
My nephew has inspired his mother, my sister.
  • My triathlete buds call me their running coach (and they call my dad their swimming coach). What the what?
This whole experience has been very gratifying, in so many ways. I didn't realize that I could cause others to get excited about running and exercising. I just knew why I was doing it, for those moments of pure delight in a run. Yesterday, on my 16 mile run, the sun was out, so people were out running around the National Mall, and everything sort of fell into place. Endorphins are an amazing thing. I think Kathrine Switzer said it best in Marathon Woman,
"The best part was at the end of every day, when I had a sharp sense of having accomplished something definable. I won a little victory every day that no one could take away from me."
Each day I run, it is a small victory. It's not life changing or mind-altering, but it is a small joy. And if that small victory is why there has been a surge, then it makes perfect sense.


  1. Good post, dude...although I wish you had written "what the what" somewhere...

  2. That is awesome that you've inspired so many. I'm hoping to run MCM in 2011. : )