Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why I Run
Reason #1 - To Be Athletic

Running, or any form of athletics for that matter, was not exactly synonymous with everyday life for a migrant Chinese boy growing up in Queens back in the ‘80s. Because I never swung a bat or dribbled a basketball until I was eight, I was never particularly good or had sufficient time to develop skills at any sport that mattered to boys growing up. Although I was never downright horrible at anything that I tried, I always seemed to lack the instinctual hand-eye coordination that was necessary to excel. To everyone and everything that required any sort of physical talent or ability, I was dependably “average”. Even through high school and college, when my jump shot from the outside got a little better and I learned to hit singles to the outfield from both sides of the plate, I was resigned to the idea that I had already past my athletic prime and “just average” would be all that I’d ever be in the sporting world.

So when I was introduced to running two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to consistently finish races at the top 10% of my age group. All of a sudden, the “average” label no longer fit; I was actually a good runner. But it really wasn’t until I completed my first marathon later that fall, when I had to crawl to the nearest medical station for a quarter of a mile because of severe leg cramps, and somehow still managed to break 3:30 in NYC that I became an athlete. It took a little while, but I had arrived…and for that, I run.

But more important that just attaining the status of an athlete, I think by going through the training, the mental preparation, the anxiety, the adrenaline rush, and the drama inherent in the sport of running, especially marathon running, I gain insight into the world of the professional athlete, and it helps me develop a better understanding and appreciation for the ballplayers I love to watch on ESPN every night. Especially when the pressure is the highest, when there’s no room for error, when its two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in game seven of the League Championship Series and my favorite guy on my favorite team is at bat with runners on first and second with my team trailing by one and I’m pacing up and down and around the living room because I know what this guy does on this one at bat will either deliver my team to the World Series or waste another season that looked so promising at the start, and all the training and all the extra BPs and all the video he watched throughout the entire year comes down to this one at bat, I can close my eyes and see myself again at the 20th mile of the marathon, staring down the sign on the pole signaling the last 10K, and realizing that my entire year of long runs, tempo runs, and interval training have brought me to this point, and how my perception of the entire year will change depending on how I finish this last 10K, and I’m asking myself, never mind the pain, the exhaustion, the hunger and fatigue, “what’s it gonna be?” and for a moment or two, the batter and I are the same, each chasing a dream, each afraid of failing…and that’s when I know, when I truly know, why I run.

3 comments:

Eric said...

LL,

Dude, this makes for some great reading! You really have a unique ability to put your experiences into words....definitely inspiring for a lazy bastard like myself who dreams of finally going to the gym tomorrow (or the next day).

Keep those blogs comin!

Alan said...

Dude....nice post man. very inspiring. i can see into my brother's mind just a bit more, haha. Nice baseball analogy. very cool very cool.

Amy said...

Wonderful post expressing why you run. I was always less than average at most sports but find that in running, even though I am slow, I still have some of the same personal satisfaction you express. Good luck on your running!

 
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