On March 4, 2017, I embarked on yet another 26.2-mile footrace in Albany, Georgia. Restless from a lack of sleep and stomach distress the night before, I still managed to blaze through the quaint city at a respectable 7:21 mile pace. How I felt good in that singlet as the sun warmed my back and a gentle breeze danced through my short hair. Three hours and ten minutes – or less – that was the goal for the day. The finish time? 3:12:26. I thought I would be mired in disappointment as another attempt to qualify for the famed Boston Marathon fell short, but it was a grand day. It was a bittersweet symphony.
In 2016 I completed an eight-race series on the trails at various Georgia parks. In 2014 and 2015, I cherry-picked races of interest from a training and work standpoint, but I decided to go all-in last year and play in the dirt at every single venue. As I look back at these races, I’m struck by a constant presence at each one: socks. More specifically – Swiftwick ASPIRE TWO Quarter Crew Socks. I donned the same black pair at each event, which now has me wondering whether they became, in effect, a superstition of sorts. This decision to reach for the same yarn every month further reminds me of a truly memorable song from 1972.
The Oscars. Actors honoring other actors for their vivid portrayals of people in film. Though I usually forget to watch this premier awards show, it appears that viewership is on the decline. According to a February 2016 Deadline article, the 88th Academy Awards was “an 8-year low for the telecast” with 34.4 million viewers. Still, 34 million is a sizable number of people who tuned in to see Spotlight win Best Picture, Leonardo DiCaprio win Best Actor for The Revenant, and Brie Larson win Best Actress for Room. Speaking of the spotlight, millions upon millions of runners acquired their own pieces of hardware (e.g. medals and belt buckles) in the year 2016; furthermore, three merit a second mention of their astounding accomplishment. Welcome to the 2016 Running Oscars.
Like millions of others, I thought the “Got Milk?” marketing campaign was highly effective in terms of increasing milk consumption (I still remember the iconic 1993 “Aaron Burr” ad and the corresponding peril of too much peanut butter). Unfortunately, we were mistaken. According to a February 2014 New Yorker article by Kirk Kardashian, milk isn’t as popular a beverage as others in a rapidly changing market. “The daily consumption of fluid milk – as opposed to milk-based products like cheese, yogurt, and butter – has steadily declined from .96 cups per person in 1970 to .59 cups in 2011.” The “Got Milk?” campaign is now gone for good, but the message it put forth endures.
I’m in the final weeks of preparation for an early March marathon, and this will be my tenth 26.2 race. Some days my legs feel like pistons lifted from a Ferrari 488 GTB, pulsating up and down with a vibrant energy that simply will not cease. Other days they are rusty anchors from an aging ship, dropped to the sea floor with an audible thud. But I persist because runners run and legitimacy is what seems to steer my body from one workout to the next. I was reminded of this in a recent long run with a song by Stanley Kirk Burrell. He’s better known by his stage name, MC Hammer, and both he and I are unequivocally “2 Legit 2 Quit.”