Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Power of Illumination

Tomorrow is the New York City Marathon. I know that my sister Jill and my brother-in-law Russ have each competed it in previously. I do not know if either is doing so this year. If they are, I wish them well. Each of them illustrates the difference between being "a runner", which they both are, and "someone who runs", which I am. I have had the pleasure of running with Wilma on a few occasions and she is as effortless as I am strained in our strides. While I have never run with Russ I understand from Kara and from simply reading the results of the events he participates in the level at which he does what he does. Again, I do not know if either is competing in New York tomorrow although if I remember correctly at some point in the not-too-distant future Russ is going to take part in back-to-back long distance events in Orlando - running a half-marathon and a marathon in the same weekend or some such thing. Simply amazing.

While their participation tomorrow is unknown to me, I do know two of the day's participants. Good luck to Raoul Bustillo - who is fast becoming one of my favorite members of the plaintiff's bar - and Cyndy Benjamin - who has long been my favorite softball pitcher. The time might come where I have the courage and the intestinal fortitude to sign up for a marathon. It might. It has not happened yet. And tomorrow is not looking too likely either.

As one who runs, I take inspiration from the "regular folks" like me who compete in - and complete - this event. Long after the men and women who win have crossed the finish line (and perhaps even after they have given interviews, showered, eaten their post-race meal and flown or driven home) thousands of people who run shall make their way across the finish line. If it is not something you do, then I suppose attempting to communicate to you the feeling associated with the finish of a race shall fall short. Suffice it to say that irrespective of distance there is a feeling of accomplishment connected to finishing a race. Whether you are the first finisher or - much like I am - the embodiment of running mediocrity nestled comfortably in the middle of the pack - the knowledge that you have just finished pushing yourself as hard as you could both physically and mentally and that in doing so you have done something that most people you know will not even attempt to do on that particular day (or perhaps any day) and something that is good for you is almost indescribable. There are a lot of things in this world that can knock us off of our pins if we let them. When I run in a race, I find myself protecting and retaining little bits of my self-worth. The feeling of having accomplished something is a powerful thing.

Also running tomorrow in his first New York City Marathon is Edison Pena. Mr. Pena was one of the Chilean miners who was trapped for more than two months below ground. Apparently, he is a runner. Or perhaps he is simply a person who runs. I know not. I know that to keep himself strong and focused and energized during his long ordeal in the mine, he ran every day. He ran every day wearing mining boots. He ran every day wearing his mining boots while using his miner's light to illuminate the darkened paths in the mine over which he ran. In the process of doing all of this running, he injured his knee. No matter. Knee injury or not, Edison Pena will be among the runners lining up at the start of the Marathon. He hopes to finish in about six hours.

Being a native New Jerseyan, I learned in school all about a fellow named Edison and his ability to illuminate. Tomorrow, the lesson continues.


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