Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In Celebration of Running Graduates

It’s somehow already June, which means it’s graduation time for a significant segment of the school age population. For some reason this year, my familial and friendly associations seems to represent a larger chunk of this eclectic group than I’ve previously remembered. Just last week, I actively participated in two graduation parties while missing a third because I was already too inebriated to attend. (Did I not mention this in my previous post on why I ran a lackluster 20 miler?) I had loads of fun at all the parties I attended partly because I got to party while skipping out on all the actual ceremonies…Not that I would not have tried to attend, but unfortunately clinical obligations trumps all in my line of work. Oh well. Still, in between all the celebratory merrymaking, I always took time to hoist my champagne glass, throw bathroom paper confetti, and otherwise congratulate the patron of honor for finishing school or training. What a privilege it is to share in the revelry, I’d say, Now what’re we celebrating again? Gets’em everytime!

Ironically, it didn’t dawn on me until much later when I was out on my long run the significance of the graduation event. I’ve always thought that graduation merely serves as an opportunity for friends and family to celebrate the graduate for achieving academic success and attaining a certain level of scholarly status. In this respect, the graduation celebration appears to be very selfishly driven. However, in remember back to my graduations in years past, I quickly realized that in a graduation, the friends and family who make up the audience also gets something in return. They are there to bear witness to the fact that the graduate is now recognized by the powers that be to have acquired a certain set of knowledge and skills, and therefore can be counted on to utilize and build on that proficiency in the future. So whether it’s just completing the sixth grade or finishing medical school training, each graduation ceremony can be viewed as sort of as an announcement from the graduate to the rest of world of the new skills or knowledge that he has developed and learned.

Then I got to thinking, is anything here applicable to the running world? In other words, do we as runners ever graduate? If so, what are the criteria for advancement? I’m not sure if there’s a universal answer to this question because I think running goals in general are as individual as runners themselves, but in my estimation, there are some benchmarks that are considered pretty universal. First and foremost, there is the goal of finishing races of different distances…starting with 5K, then a 10K, then a half, and finally a full marathon. Depending on the individual, each race distance conquered can be thought of as a graduation of sorts since most of the time, you have to finish a shorter race before moving on to attempting longer ones. Once you’ve completed your first marathon (and attaining the status of a marathoner), the road diversifies somewhat. Some people continue to run longer and longer distances and evolve into ultramarathoners, others train to run faster in an effort to qualify for Boston. There are still others who graduate from running, take up biking and swimming and become triathletes. No matter what the next training phase is, there are always more goals to complete, meaning more graduations to be had.

Thus, with each step in the running road map, we become a little more prolific, a little more experienced and develop a little more know-how on how to train and race well in our events. And as we mature in this running life, we should take care to teach and lead others who are not as far along as we are. Don’t forget that as we watch the massive crowds gathering at the finish line of our races, they are there not only to celebrate our running, but also to witness our announcement to the world that we are all good runners, each with an expertise and an experience to share.

So cheers to you running graduate, whatever your goals may be!

8 comments:

Laura said...

Funny you should write this. When I finished my marathon, I realized it was the proudest moment of my life, and said so to my mom. She pointed out that almost exactly a year earlier I had graduated college, and wasn't that a prouder moment for me? My answer was actually no - I found completing a marathon to be a much tougher challege. She then replied that maybe I could have saved thousands on tuition and just done more races :) Think about all the entry fees my tuition would have covered!

Jamie said...

Very cool post. I meant to tell you on your last one that I too have extremely poor results on my long run after consuming margaritas the night before. I swore them off every time before a long run but repeatedly made the same mistake...

Xenia said...

Well said.

So, as the longest race I've completed to date has been a 10K, does that make me a middle school graduate? :)

Debbie said...

Good post! So hopefully I will graduate to marathoner in October!

sRod said...

Ok, I agree with your general theory. But then you get people like me who do things ass backwards: 5 Half-Marathons, then a Marathon, THEN my first 10K (with no 5K anywhere on the records).

Frayed Laces said...

Hmm...graduated to Triathlons? I wonder whom you are referring to? Sometimes I wonder if now that I'm dabbling in Tris that I have changed from a "runner" to a "triathlete". The thing is, I always consider myself a runner, and I don't think I'm ready to graduate. There is a bit of sadness in not being able to call myself a runner. SO, can I just walk and get a blank diploma instead?

Non-Runner Nancy said...

I choose to take this personally. hee hee. I'm celebrating one year of running. I also finally ran a race that has been on my mind for years. Good to be in this place. I'd love to be a marathoner but the feet protest so for now, 1 year is worthy of celebration. :D

Thanks for always sharing your wisdom and positivity with me!!

Run For Life said...

I like this concept. :)

 
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