As an ex collegiate athlete, I’m no stranger to athletic exertion. I spent the first 22 years of my life being yelled at by coaches and pushing my body to the edge for athletic achievement. It may come as no surprise that my attitude about extreme workouts has changed somewhat since my exit from the world of NCAA athletics. Don’t get me wrong – I still exercise nearly every day, but now when I start to get tired, I slow down. If I feel a cramp coming on, I’ll walk for a bit. And if I have a choice between running and riding a bike, I’ll always opt for the lower impact option.
This new attitude about exercise has also influenced my opinion about one of the most extreme athletic achievements – running a Marathon. Not only do I know that Marathons are not for me, but I also never quite understood why anyone would do it. Long distance running as a sport by itself has always baffled me. To quote a high school friend (who ran on the cross country team) "In every sport, the worst day of practice is the day you have to run. For me that’s every day." Up until this weekend, I always wondered if the people who signed up to run Marathons were a little bit crazy – or if they even knew that the legend that spurred the event revolved around someone running 26.2 miles and then promptly dying.
Oddly enough the answers to all my questions about Marathons became clear last night. After spending the last three months helping my girlfriend Miranda Prepare for the New York City marathon (which she rocked today!), last night I found myself in the middle of 200 volunteers who had each raised thousands of dollars to support the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Just over 10 feet away from me, Michael J Fox himself was giving a speech to thank the volunteers over a pre-marathon pasta dinner.
Through the light of flashbulbs – each trying to catch an image of Michael – I looked around at all the people who were undertaking the ultimate athletic challenge to benefit such a great cause. Some of the people were young, some old, some were families running together, couples running together, and some of the runners (incredibly) actually had Parkinson’s disease! The scene was inspiring. It made me realize that the reason you run a Marathon is not only to compete in a sport, it’s also to show the world what you believe in and how far you’re willing to go.
Way to go Miranda! 26.2 Miles in 4 hours and 21 minutes. Over $4k raised to find the cure for Parkinson’s disease.