When I ran the Boston Marathon in April ’07, I figured it might be my last. After Boston, what's left for the amateur runner? It’s the pinnacle—the only major marathon for which entrants must qualify. I decided to move on to new challenges.
What I didn’t count on is that my next challenge would be fighting a recurrence of melanoma, which put me on an extended hiatus not only from running but from nearly all physical activity. I started this blog to report on my medical progress, and to record my thoughts about the experience. For most of last year, I was a former marathoner.
In the tradition of over-the-hill professional athletes like Brett Favre, I’m here to announce that I’m coming out of retirement. On Oct. 4, I hope to lace up my size 10-1/2 Brooks Adrenalines and run the Portland Marathon. There simply isn’t anything else out there at which I’m any good that gives me quite the satisfaction that running does. And if you like to run long, you eventually run marathons.
So that’s my plan. I’ve been establishing a solid mileage base for several months, and about three weeks ago registered for Portland. The marathon is less than eight weeks away, so I’m into the really tough part of my training regimen (40+ mile weeks). It appears I'm up to it physically and psychologically, although I’m not accustomed to running in the heat and humidity of summer. All of my other five marathons have been in spring. My times have suffered in the past week.
A couple people I know have asked why I’m running another marathon—my mother, of course, being one of them. Here are five reasons that come to mind:
1. Because I can. A year ago I couldn’t. When you’ve done something well in life before, most of us want to do it again. Like brewing the perfect cup of coffee. Or having s-e-x.
2. Because it means I’m healthy. If I wasn’t running, I wouldn’t have the sense of well-being I feel right now. For a host of obvious reasons, I may not be able to run a marathon in the future. My athletic “career,” if that’s the right word for it, won’t last forever.
3. Because it’s a spiritual experience. Like Eric Liddell, on whom the movie “Chariots of Fire” was based, when I run I feel God’s pleasure. Running gets me high.
4. Because I like the jingle of the finisher medals that I’ve hung in my office. Every time I open the cabinet on which they dangle, I’m reminded of what it's like to accomplish something bigger than myself. It’s a cool sound.
5. Because I’ve never run Portland. My other marathons, in addition to Boston, were Newport (three times) and the Columbia Gorge. I grew up in Portland, and I'd like to experience the city in a new way.
There are a lot of other things that factor in, but that should give you an idea of why I’m doing this. I’m not doing a marathon just to raise money for Acorn Outreach, although that too is a motivating factor. If you haven’t already been to my fundraising page, I invite you to take a look. Here’s the link.
I came to running fairly late, which might account for why my knees are still up to the challenge. I love it, even when I’m hating it. And one more thing I know for sure, running may not add years to my life, but I know it adds life to my years.