In 1972, a very skinny man named Frank Shorter entered the Olympic stadium in Munich at the end of the marathon, ready to seize the gold medal. I took one look at his arms and thought, “I could do a sport like that (not fully realizing what a phenomenal athlete Shorter was).”
It was a few more years before I started running, but when I did it took hold of me like no other sport ever has. I’m not a gifted athlete, but if you’re willing to endure the pain, you can still become a decent runner. I managed to qualify for three Boston marathons, but have never seen the front of any marathon (though in a small marathon in Idaho, I did crack the top 25, but was still way, way, way behind the winner).
I’m heavier and much slower now, but I’m about to check off a bucket list item this weekend (October 9) and wanted to share it with you. I’m running the Munich marathon, which finishes in the same stadium where Frank Shorter crossed the finish line to win his Olympic gold medal. I’m reading his recently released autobiography on the way:
This will be my fourteenth marathon, and it may be my last. It’s so difficult to train in Houston during the summer, and since I still essentially work two jobs, it’s doubly difficult to find the time and energy to do what’s necessary to run a decent time. A twenty miler in Houston in August doesn’t take just three hours; it consumes an entire day as your body tries to recover. I’m just not sure if that’s a justifiable use of my time.
So if the Munich marathon is the last one I finish, it’ll be poetic. Lisa’s planning on renting a bike and checking in now and then (the marathon isn’t a big deal in Munich—spectators are limited).
If I’m slow to respond to posts on Facebook, this blog, or Twitter, you’ll know why. Lisa asked me to leave my laptop at home on this trip—this will be the longest I’ve gone in over thirty years without writing something. But she’s shared me with my computer our entire marriage, so it’s only fair I give her these two uninterrupted weeks.
I’m not going to push the pace at all. This is a leisurely run through one of my favorite cities in the world, during my favorite season, enjoying my favorite sport, while getting occasional glimpses of my favorite person riding a bike, and ending up entering a stadium where one of my favorite athletes did something that changed my life. For me, it’ll be an act of worship.
Thank you for reading this blog, my books, and coming out to hear me talk on occasion. You all have helped create a season in my life I never could have dreamed of, for which I’m truly grateful.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst