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Talking isn’t running either (but it’s nice to have a groupie)

My blogging colleague, has once again taken issue with my personal limitations - my uninspiring goal to sub-four in a marathon and the fact that I - gasp - walk at water stations.

Sigh… Who knew a race report could be so controversial? That my report on getting from point a to point b on the morning of August 25th could draw up such raw emotion?

It seems my blogging colleague, Rory, has once again taken issue with my personal limitations – my uninspiring goal to sub-four in a marathon and the fact that I – gasp – walk at water stations.

A little bit about Rory:
– He’s a teacher (he talks about that a lot)
– He’s super fast (He’s run a marathon in  just 2:36:30)
– He wrote to People Magazine to complain when they celebrated Katie Holmes Marathon finishing time of  5:29:58 (I can totally kick her ass)
– His rants feature a slightly fetishistic level of content about me ( some examples here and here. Sadly this site doesn’t archive comments)

But instead of getting into a personal debate with my chief detractor (I’ve already blogged about my thoughts on his theories), I thought I’d take the time to consider what constitutes a worthy achievement. Just what makes an accomplishment laudable?

I look no further than the Paralympics for some answers. For almost two weeks, blind folks have been swimming laps; the limbless have been sprinting; the chair-bound have been playing rugby and oh, so much more. With a few exceptions, none of these amazing people would stand a chance against a so-called able-bodied athlete putting in the same training…heck, I think there’s a chance I could pick a few and beat them.

But every single one of them is an achiever. Every single one of them has set a goal that was beyond them when they started. Some of them have met, or surpassed those goals. Some of them may never reach them. But all of them are worthy in my books, even if they use crutches to get them there.

In fact, we all use crutches of some sort. In my case, I use running buddies, music, raucous crowds and huge races to get me through. Oh, and I also walk through many water stops.  For others, it might be pain killers and cortisone, it might be a supportive family who takes care of life while they do their 100 mile weeks, or simply a single-minded focus on how smug we will feel if we finish ahead of the pack.

However we get there, respect is due because we don’t really know we can, until we do.

My kids went off to school last week. If there’s one lesson I hope they’ll pick up there — and at home — it is that doing their best, not being the best, is important. I also trust that my childrens’ teachers will help them set goals that are ever so slightly beyond them, regardless of whether they have the talent or brainpower to top the class. Most of all, I trust that the teachers will not give up on my kids altogether if they aren’t in the top quartile. No responsible adult would approve such an approach for our kids, so why would we apply it to adults?

In the event, it’s all about self-improvement, not self-righteousness.

The explosion in running is like that. Not everyone can be the best, but  — and pardon my language — there’s no bloody way they should give up on their goals.  To suggest that would be counter-productive, counter-intuitive and, well, unworthy.

In closing, I’d like to feature a few significant things that involve walking:

– The day Jesus went fishing without his boat
– The Dandi Salt March
Michael Jackson’s moonwalk
– Lou Reed (on the wild side)
– The Von Trap’s escape from Austria (where would we be without the Sound of Music?)
– My awesome age-group second place in Savannah Georgia.

Oh, and just in case anyone’s doubting, my goal for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is to sub-four hours.

What an achievement that will be.

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