me, tony, and meaningless running
posted: June 26, 2013
Jason is teacher, runner, writer, eater, and key leader at our Kenwood Towne Center store in Cincinnati, Ohio. His goal? Challenge people to rethink and recharge the way they interact with the world, every day.
I used to have a friend named Tony. Well, he’s still my friend, but the exact nature of our relationship has changed.
Tony is a walking boot.
Let me set the scene: It’s late October of 2012 – three weeks before the Indianapolis marathon, which I had been training for since the beginning of the summer. After a 22-mile run along the beautiful but occasionally brown Ohio River, I felt a stabbing pain in my left foot. Imagine, every time you take a step, a little gnome tapping a ball-peen hammer against the thin fan of bones in your left foot. Imagine that, and you have my life last winter.
before there was tony, there was runcouver
But let’s back up. Two months earlier, I was in Vancouver, running my asana off in the inaugural SeaWheeze half-marathon. I was beyond running – I was flying.
During the one hour forty-four minutes and twenty-three seconds of running, did I really soak up everything that was going on around me – sky dancers rappelling off buildings, mermaids and mermen in the water by the seawall, or even that many of the people next to me were running their first-ever half-marathon? I do know that I was extremely focused on me. But more so on a number – and I wonder what, or who, I missed as a result.
before there was runcouver, there was boston
Sometimes I think I got into running out of fear.
It’s possible that, on some subconscious level, the reason I started pouring so much time and energy into this largely individual sport is because I told myself I was no good at team sports. I was a pretty decent baseball player when I was younger, and then suddenly I wasn’t.
But then I think, no, I started running long distances because of that morning I watched the Boston Marathon from a friend’s front stoop at mile 25 on Beacon Street. I was moved to tears as I cheered my throat raw for a bunch of complete strangers. One of them was a man pushing his son in a wheelchair; I later found out they’d been running marathons together for nearly three decades.
All of these people were engaged in something that occurred to me as both impossibly challenging and yet extraordinarily simple. They were running. Without stopping.
And I wanted to do it too.
SeaWheeze 2013 and what matters now
So I’m running the SeaWheeze again this year. Tony is in my closet now and though I’ve had moments during my training when I feel – or I think I feel – a bit of pain in my good ol’ left metatarsal, an echo of that tiny hammer tapping, on the whole I feel pretty damn good.
I’m slower now. But as always, I’ve been getting by with more than a little help from my friends, and it’s been through them, through running with our lululemon run group along the tree-lined streets of Hyde Park in Cincinnati, that I’ve begun to figure out that running itself doesn’t mean anything.
You choose what it means to you.
It doesn’t matter why you started running; it doesn’t even matter if you finish the race. If anything, it matters that you run, walk, roll, or cheer with a smile on your face.
But if that doesn’t happen, odds are I’ll be grinning at you as you pass me this August, and loving every minute of it.