The Talking Dog

November 8, 2010, Streak show

Amongst formerly trapped Chilean miner Edison Pena demonstrating the power of the human spirit, Subway sandwich shops' pitchman "Jared" cheapening the whole thing by his commercial presence (fortunately, most media refused to cover him), and the usual world class super-elite runners (sadly, the world record holder and many people's "greatest marathoner ever" Haile Gebrselassie announced his retirement after dropping out in the 16th mile; his countryman, Ethiopia's Gebre Gebremariam won the men's race and Kenya's Edna Kiplagat won the women's race, with American Shalane Flanagan taking second in her marathon distance debut), not to mention numerous other celebrities and 43,000 or so others in presumably the largest marathon ever staged, your talking dog kept intact his streak of running every NYC Marathon since 9-11, finishing yesterday just barely in the expected range (that's between 5:20 and 5:40, a minute or so faster than Senor Pena!) for TD's 10th NYC finish in a row (and 28th marathon overall... plus this year's 4 ultra finishes). A brisk day in the mid-40's and a relentless wind took their toll... as did the possibility of lingering fatigue from the 50-miler of three weeks ago... but none of this was going to force a surrender. "More training outside" (such as... any) might be next year's plan... along with that 'speed work"... whatever THAT is! We'll somehow need to knock off 130 minutes or so for Boston qualifying... that, or turn 80 and knock off only 40 minutes... hmmm....

Anyway, what I love most about the marathon is its elemental simplicity: the clothing and the sneakers and the timing equipment and the elite training methods may be space-age, the paved roads and urban backdrops of the high industrial era... but the act of propelling oneself over the distance is entirely primal... our forebears did it to run down their food, or to out-run the possibility of being food. One foot in front of the other... nothing more. (The barefoot running craze is alive and well as I saw one man... barefoot. I'm not sure that makes this more simple... or harder... but good for him for trying it.) Some days are better than others... and like everything else, the challenge is getting through it on days when everything isn't clicking into place... knowing (or sometimes just hoping) that the preparation has been adequate for nearly all contingencies.

Yes, yes... a metaphor for everything else. I'm sure many, if not most of the participants can check their marathon off their life's to-do or bucket list; something so pointlessly American in that-- an experience to be had, checked off and thrown away. I hope that many more will see it as I do-- an ongoing challenge. Something to be endured to be sure, but also something to learn and to grow from. Marathoning's popularity has a way of increasing in comparatively difficult economic times here in the USA... and God knows, that's where we are now. One hopes this is because so many realize that joy and fulfillment are to be derived not from material success... but from valuable experiences, and meeting the challenge of something like a marathon is just that.

Well... God willing, we'll see you this time next year for a report on TD's 11th. Until then... this has been... "Streak show."