Sunday, July 1, 2012

From the Win by Sharon Lurie

© 2012 David's Harp and Pen

Mood: Runny

DISCLAIMERS: This blog is based, in part, upon actual events and people. Certain actions and characters have been dramatized and fictionalized, but are inspired by true events and real people. Certain other characters, events, and names used herein are entirely fictitious. Any similarity of those fictional characters or events to the name, attributes, or background of any real person, living or dead, or to any actual events is coincidental and unintentional, so I don’t want to hear from any running clubs or athletic associations accusing me of slamming marathons and those who compete in them, because I am not.  Even if I was, the reader could easily attribute it to jealousy on my part.  The fact of the matter is, the only marathon I have successfully competed in is the “Twilight Zone” New Year’s marathon on the SyFy Channel.

Several months ago, Jedi(tor) told me he planned on running in the Nissan Saint Jude Children’s Hospital Rock ‘n Roll Country Music City of Angels Marathon and Half-marathon of God in Christ of the Latter Day Baptists with Signs and Wonders Following.  Parts of the purpose of the race were to raise money for sick children and the Japanese auto industry, and to give country musicians another venue to play music.  I asked if I could watch him run because, number one, I have a cousin who regularly runs marathons and I wanted to be able to bond with him and, number two, I wanted to cheer Jedi(tor) on as he completed this completely insane and ridiculous noble and worthwhile endeavor.  As of late, I have found that when I show support to my friends and loved ones as they do things I don’t completely understand, I am giving to myself as well as them.  The half-marathon was no exception.

Before the race, the only things I knew about marathons were they were 26.2 miles and that the first marathon runner finished dead.  I was immediately concerned for Jedi(tor)’s well being, but was assured that since he was running the half-marathon, he was only in danger of finishing the race half-dead.  Jedi(tor) is one of those incredibly athletic and rugged outdoorsy types who can conquer any sports-related task he sets his mind to.  This is because he is very determined and also because he is an alien, having crash-landed on Earth as a baby after his parents sent him here in a space ship shortly before his home planet Krypton exploded; of course, his Jedi powers also help, but mostly it’s the super powers.  (This also explains why he can type 800 words a minute and lift semis with his pinky toes.)  Any who, he told me about his training regimen, which, surprise, surprise, involved a lot of running.  While on the surface, all of this seemed crazy to me, to be honest, I was envious of his discipline and his focus to run so many times a week without fail.  I secretly hoped that by watching a race live, some of that discipline and focus for physical excellence might rub off on me.

I agreed to meet Jedi(tor) at two different points on the racecourse as well as the finish line.  Part of my job as a marathon runner cheerer-on-er was to hand him a packet of GU as he ran by.  Because this was my first venture as a marathon spectator, I wanted to do a good job to ensure it wouldn’t be my only venture as a marathon spectator.  Upon my arrival, I quickly discovered I had much to learn about what it means to cheer one’s runner to victory.  The people around me had all sorts of stuff:  custom-made tee shirts that said, “Team So-and-So” (whatever the name of their runner was), pom-poms, water bottles, and even cowbells with pictures of their runners on them.  Me?  I had GU and a snake backpack.

Anticipation mounted as the first wave of runners passed by.  What a cast of characters they all were, too!  Some of them were extremely focused, not looking to the right or the left, gazes steely, engrossed in the race.  Others hammed it up for the spectators, flexing their muscles or gesticulating to the crowd to get them to cheer louder.  Still others were decked out in fanciful costumes.  Some ran the race in three-piece suits.  Some were dressed in drag.  One man dressed up in what I can only describe as Jack from Jack in the Box after some ritualistic animal sacrifice.  Then there was the runner dressed up as a superhero.  What can I say?  I am a geeky fan girl to the core and am a sucker for a man with heat ray eyes, a utility belt, and a cape.

I’m happy to report I didn’t miss Jedi(tor) at the first two appointments.  I handed off the GU at the first one without incident.  At no point during or after the race did I see him stumble or break a sweat.  One might say I am exaggerating, but I am not.  After all, he is a Kryptonian transplant who derives superpowers from the Earth’s yellow sun.  In fact, one of the pictures of him on the racecourse shows he is completely airborne.

As I waited for him to pass by at our second agreed upon spot on the course, I stood in the shoulder of the road.  To my delight, several of the runners, all men and all gorgeous, ran up to me and high-fived me as they ran by.  Unfortunately, all of them were running so fast that I couldn’t catch up with them in order to give them my phone number.  If any of them are reading this now, my name is Sharon Lurie, I am single, I have a wonderful personality, and I am on Facebook and Twitter.

Unfortunately, I missed the experience of watching Jedi(tor) cross the finish line, thanks to a Nashville police officer who will at some point in the future be receiving a strongly worded anonymous email sent by me from a bogus Yahoo account.  I did eventually find Jedi(tor) amidst a slew of beer stands.  (All the runners received a free beer after the race because the beer somehow keeps the runner from dropping dead.  This would have been helpful information for the first guy to run a marathon.)  It was a joy and a privilege to see my editor and my friend celebrate with his friends from his running club for a job well done.  And for him, it was a job well done, given that he finished at 3868 out of 22,277 other runners (in the top 17%).

So what did I learn?  Not much, at least not at the race itself.  Well, that’s not totally true.  I learned, first of all, when running a marathon in full costume and makeup, pay the extra couple bucks for the waterproof makeup.  Second, if running in a business suit, avoid tweed and wool and shoot for the single-breasted.  The big take home for me was a Wikipedia search that afternoon.

Many stories I hear from runners (and athletes in general) is that the race is something that symbolizes or helps them overcome emotional obstacles they are facing in life.  I hear phrases such as “running for the win.”  However, the first marathon was not so.

According to Greek legend, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier and messenger, ran 26.2 miles without stopping from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to let everyone know that the Greeks had successfully defeated the Persians.  Upon arriving at the magistrate’s office, he said, “Hail, we are the winners!”, then collapsed and died.  (NOTE TO READER:  When fighting major military battles, followed by long-distance running, always carry beer.)  I had thought Pheidippides’ trek was to warn the Greeks of an oncoming attack or get reinforcements.  That made the urgency of his journey easy to understand.  However, he wasn’t running that day to help his Greek countrymen attain victory.  He was running and was able to endure to the end because of victory.

In the church circles I run in, I hear a lot of talk about endurance in faith not because we are fighting for victory but because we have already won.  God told the Israelites under Joshua to go in and possess the Promised Land, but God said repeatedly that He had already given them victory over their enemies before a single sword was drawn.  It is hard to persevere when we don’t know what the outcome of our physical, emotional, and spiritual expenditures will be.  However, God assures us that in all things we are more than conquerors.  Victory is certain.  It’s just a matter of getting there.  In other words, we don’t run the faith race for the win but from the win.

Part of my goal in attending the marathon was to support my friend.  However, Jedi(tor) letting me watch him in the race gave me something very special:  a reminder that no matter what, I always have the view from the Winner’s Circle.

The End


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