The other night I as a read Amby Burfoot’s book, The Runner’s Guide To The Meaning Of Life, I found the perfect words to talk about my post Marine Corps Marathon experience with Shalane Flanagan.
When I ran into her post race at MCM, near the Nissan For Endurance Booth, I felt GIDDY. She remembered who I was [yes I do realize it had only been a day, so of course she did :)] and was more than happy to chat about MY race experience. When we were standing there it was hard for me not to feel like I was friends with her. That in some small way she really cared about the race she was asking me about, that she understood me and what I just went through even though I am light years slower than her.
Essential Traits Of A Runner
You can’t go far in running with out respect. First you have to respect the distance, which is often said about marathons but applies equally to all distance running. If you don’t understand the many ways running can challenge you body and mind, it can overwhelm you.
Second, there’s the mutual respect all runners feel for each other. It doesn’t matter what your 10K time is or how fast I’ve run the marathon. The experience is what matters, and the experience is basically the same for all of us. An exercise physiologist can essentially “prove” that a 4-hour marathoner “works harder” than a 2-hour marathoner, even though it seems ludicrous to say this about the slower runner. But when different runners begin talking about a marathon, or any other running, they realize they’ve been through essentially the same thing. A true runner understands this.
Whether you finish a marathon in 4 1/2 hours, 3 1/2 hours or even 2 1/2 hours…..we all are covering the same 26.2 distance – a marathon is a marathon.
I look at runners like Shalane as celebrities because I’d rather meet a talented runner than a Hollywood Celebrity any day. Shalane is inundated with fans, people who want to tell her their story, or have sign something meaningful, when she goes to these expos and races.
When I was interviewing her I asked her if she liked coming to expos or if it was extremely overwhelming.
She said that though it messes with her training she loves talking to other runners and hearing their stories. At times, she said, it can feel incredibly selfish to train the way her and Kara [Goucher] do. Coming to expos or going to races and meeting people who look up to them, people who they are inspiring, helps them to feel that they are doing what they are meant to do. They are making a difference in the lives runners around the world. Going to an expo gives them a chance to meet some of these people and hear a little bit of their story.
Have you ever met Kara or Shalane? What did you think of them? Have you read Amby Burfoot’s book? Did you like it?