A Wee Spring in Your Step

Apr 1 • FEATURE SIDEBAR, NEWS & VIEWS, Op-EdNo Comments on A Wee Spring in Your Step

Some people wake up every day to fight the good fight: good versus evil, black versus white, Democrat versus Republican. Armageddon is coming. If you’re not for us, you’re against us. I’m more inclined to wake up, lace ‘em up and go for a run. For some people, life is more a journey than a battle; less combat, more cardio. When there’s a battle, it’s finding the heart to take another step.

I told my friend Joe Six-Pack, the company softball player, that I started off my spring by running the Wrightsville Beach Marathon. This event is fast becoming a Wilmington tradition. Race director and 2014 Myrtle Beach Marathon winner Tom Clifford has grown his Without Limits coaching/fitness business and developed a local event to fit the community. He’s helping to put spring in a lot of people’s step. There are distances to suit every fitness level. The race’s timing near the first day of spring gives people a good reason to stop eating Christmas cookies and stick with their New Year’s resolutions. As Wrightsville Beach and “Mayfaire Shopping City” are beginning to understand, the event is good for local business. I told Joe a few of my Wilmington Roadrunner friends even got to jog a few miles with the invited speaker, Frank Shorter.

Joe Six-Pack looked puzzled, “Who’s he shorter than?”

“No one,” I said. “9/11 wasn’t the beginning of terrorism, and last year’s Boston Marathon bombing wasn’t the first modern major athletic event affected by tragedy. The 1972 Munich Olympics, the first in Germany since the 1936 games, were supposed to highlight how sane we’d all become since Hitler. Instead of ‘Die Heiteren Spiele’ (the Happy Games), 11 Israeli athletes were massacred. Quite a dilemma. What to do? Quit? We chose to take a breath, begin to mourn, and then take another step. Frank Shorter won the marathon on the last day of the games. He and the legendary Steve Prefontaine made distance-running cool.”

“Who?” Joe asked.

“Stream the movie, ‘Without Limits,’” I shook my head. “I’m tired. I jogged a few miles with my cousin, Scott, as he completed the inaugural Cape Fear Badwater Ultra-Marathon last weekend. Scott’s 50-miler helped fund treatment for a child struggling with cancer.”

My friend shook his head: “Shoot. Why run unless something is chasin’ you? It’s not even a skill! Everybody can do it. All you have to do is take another step.”

Thank you, Joe Six-Pack. I think I’ll gas up the engine, hit the accelerator and practice making NASCAR left turns. Then, I’ll hook up the XBox and zap a zillion bad guys from the comfort of my recliner. After that, I’ll box up the running shoes, beer-up, and learn how to hit that nasty slow-pitch curveball. Those are skills only a few have mastered since the cosmos began some 6,000 years ago on a farm in Iowa.

That’s all it takes? Is to take another step?

If perseverance were as prevalent as Joe Six-Pack seems to believe, who would need Prozac? Finding a way to take another step when weighted down with our modern afflictions and addictions isn’t easy. It’s a mistake to dismiss not one but two core survival skills in one breath. We’re not trees. Our evolutionary survival depends on movement. This is true even as we become more sedentary, diabetic, technologically dependent and, of course, depressed about it all. Our earliest hunters weren’t brilliant. They ran their prey into the ground: The Persistent Hunt. Then again, the combination of delay of gratification and determination is pretty smart. That’s called “GRIT” in the achievement literature. Even Einstein downplayed his natural genius in favor of his persistence, stating, “I’m not smarter, I just stay with problems longer.”

I’m taking another step on April 25th at Ashley High School, not so much because I love running but because I value persistence. I’ll be part of the Wilmington Roadrunners Club contingent at this year’s Relay for Life. We’re helping “run cancer into the ground.”

If you’re not sure whether you can take another step toward any of your goals, I’ll share what Scott said during his journey around Bald Head Island, “There’s no minimum pace.”

Take a step.

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