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Friday, February 17, 2012

The Presence of Greatness

It's marathon week here in Austin.

Even though I'm not running a race this weekend, I still want to be a part of the fun throughout the event. Every time I'm ever gone to a race expo, it's been with the specter of a marathon hanging over my head. Without any concern about my body's imminent demise, I was able to take in the information around me without worry.

Though I didn't need any new running gear, I wandered through some of the booths just to see what they had. I got my running stride analyzed for the first time, and found out that it was pretty much exactly what it was supposed to be, which is surprisingly comforting. I took in information about every race in the area, and was even given a couple local runner publications that listed out all races within a reasonable distance for the next few months. I'm pretty sure I know everything I want to run, but it's good to have options, I suppose.

Full of yogurt and protein shake samples, I headed over to the main stage for the actual reason I'd come to the expo. Bart Yasso of Runner's World and the legendary Dick Beardsley were speaking, and I wanted to make sure I saw them.

The presentation (such as it was), was thoroughly enjoyable. They didn't have a prepared program, but rather sat around telling stories. There were several tales of the absurdity of being a running personality (including a surprising amount of nudity) and they were hilarious. I highly recommend seeing them if you haven't. Both are speaking at the expo tomorrow, together and separately. They fielded questions for a while, mostly about the current state of running, and it was great to hear their point of view on the subject.

Above all, though, was one particular story. Beardsley told the story of the 1982 Boston Marathon, which he lost in a sprint-out to Alberto Salazar. I won't retell his story here, as you should really hear it from him if you get the chance. What made the story special was thinking about the perspective.

Here was one of the greatest American runners (5th-fastest American-born marathoner of all time), talking about feeling exhausted and scared in the heat of a race. He speaks of moments in the race like they happened yesterday, and I can absolutely relate. There are races and runs I can recall with absolute clarity, down to the humidity in the air and the blisters on my feet. While I don't have iconic races that the world remembers, I think of my runs the same way as this legend.


Tomorrow morning, they'll be doing a shake out run around the lake, which I'm planning on joining. I'll get my own run out of the way super early, give the dogs some time of freedom, and then head down. When two of the biggest names in running come to town, you can't really pass up a chance to run with them.

At least I can't.

Friday's Run:
52 Degrees / Rainy and All-Around Gross
6.75 Miles

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