Sunday, January 31, 2016

Are you smarter than a marathon runner?

Last week during an episode of Jeopardy, there was a rare three-way loss: every contestant got the Final Jeopardy clue wrong, and had bet everything they had. I'm not even going to pretend that it was a coincidence that I happened to be watching when this unusual turn of events went down. Jeopardy airs at 7:30 pm where I live, and we're almost always watching it because a) it's usually on while I'm making dinner, and b) I am, and have always been, about 75 years old on the inside. The category was state capitals, and the clue was "A 1957 event led to the creation of a national historic site in this city, signed into law by a president whose library is there now."

One can imagine the satisfaction I derived at nailing the answer immediately: Little Rock, Arkansas. And then the thrill of watching the answer stump all three of those contestants and send them packing? People, this is the stuff that dreams are made of. I'm not a trivia buff, and in fact have a pretty lame memory for facts and figures, so I don't generally do very well at Jeopardy. But having just been to Little Rock four weeks prior to run the Three Bridges Marathon, I had also just visited the Clinton Presidential Library, and the historic site at Little Rock Central High School. This was where nine courageous black teenagers (the Little Rock Nine) faced an angry mob and a blockade by the Arkansas National Guard as they integrated the previously all-white high school in the wake of the Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of of Education ruling, a pivotal moment in the early civil rights movement.

Running gives me so much. It has kept me strong and energetic as I've crossed over into my fourth decade. (Wait, I guess technically I'm now in my fifth decade?) It keeps me sleeping well at night, and ensures a healthy appetite and (mostly) stable moods. And racing in marathons all over the country has given me even more. It's taken me to important places in our nation's history that I might have otherwise missed, like the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. It's reminded me that art and beauty can be found anywhere, including Fargo, North Dakota. It's given me running friends who live all over the country, and countless delicious new foods to try. From the Cuban coffee and guava pastry in Miami, to the beer brats and Bloody Marys of Wisconsin, to the glorious cheese steaks of Philadelphia .... this land was made for you and me.

I'm currently wrapping up week six of rehabilitating that calf muscle that tore in mile six of the Three Bridges Marathon in Little Rock, which for reasons that still elude me, I finished anyway. So the bottom line is: yes, you are smarter than a marathoner. This one, anyway.


Rehab update: I walked 10 miles this week (plus the 10 or so that I meander per week with my dog), did some strength training, a mile in the pool, and one gentle session of yoga. The calf is holding up and I am pain free, although I feel it tighten up when I walk uphill, so I know it's still delicate and I am being careful with it. Next week I intend to add a few more miles of walking and some easy cycling into the mix, and I'm currently targeting February 14th as my date to try a first gentle bit of running. Eight weeks from the injury, and the day that we celebrate love. Sounds on target to me.

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