3 June 2009: Get moving is a good life lesson

Get moving is a good life lesson

“It’s not where you start, but how you finish.” Bolder Boulder motto

For those able—and willing—to participate in such events, lines like those can be inspiring. They can be as well for those unable to actively join in on the fun but enthusiastically become virtual runners.

Whenever I top a 14er or ski on a powder day, I think of those who have genuinely told me, “I wish I were able to do that,” but honestly cannot. And I feel compassion for them.

The athletes I admire most are those who participate despite their disabilities, like Special Olympians, wheelchair racers, and handicapped skiers.

Others don’t run or ski simply because it is not their cup of tea, but get involved in other challenging activities such as waterskiing or skydiving, neither of which is my cup of tea.

The sad truth is too many don’t do simply because they don’t like to do. They generally prefer the couch with remote in hand, getting wasted early in the day, or listening to Rush Limbaugh, each of which produces mind-numbing results that can lead to stroke and arteriosclerosis.

Depending upon the event, we choose to participate or to observe, except for the clueless that choose to do neither.

The key components necessary to being a successful participant include incentive, attitude, training, and the right equipment.

Incentive is the easiest. It beats the alternative: poor health and a possible early and painful death.

Attitude is critical because if you hate what you’re doing or find it boring, you won’t do well. It comes down to coming to terms with the aches and pains, even loving them, and focusing the mind during trying times, which, in the case of running, is by the third stride.

Training requires discipline, which ultimately evolves into compulsive behavior. If you do not feel guilty about not running simply because a monsoon is blowing or not skiing because it is 32 below zero with zero visibility, you’re not disciplined.

Being properly attired and equipped by spending a month’s rent or mortgage payment on the latest is a prime necessity for two reasons: top-notch footwear can make the biggest difference in performance and you need to avoid looking like a dork strung out on anti-endorphins.

My running shorts are of some lightweight fabric weighing a few grams. My shoes are even lighter, made of anti-gravity material that allows me to run swifter than Hermes, the Greek messenger god, or about half as fast as Ethiopian Tilahun Regassa, who ran the BB 10k in 28:17.

A couple of years ago the BB’s motto was a fine one as well: Run to live.

But then, running to live is obvious. Imagine if the cable’s motto read, “Sit on your couch to live,” or the alcohol industry’s, “Drink early and often to live,” or Rush’s, “Be obese and obnoxious like me to live.”

So, I’ve put my finger on it: Rush needs to run the Bolder Boulder to create endorphins to counteract the anti-endorphins he creates in himself and his listeners. Seeing him lumbering through the streets of the capital of the People’s Republic would certainly be a sight to behold.

Each year, I enjoy running the BB with Helen, my 72-year-old sister who recently ran a half-marathon—13.1 miles—in 1:58.

Helen didn’t take up running until later in life, and when I asked her how old she was when she started, she pointed to her husband and said, “When he retired!” which didn’t give me her age at the time, but made clear the incentive.

The one race I work rather than run is the upcoming Slacker, a half-marathon starting at Loveland and finishing in Georgetown.

I get the privilege of working the last little hill, which looms as Mt. Evans to most participants, on Main St. right before the Public Service Museum. I play John Philip Sousa on my boom box to encourage and cheer them on.

I am always in awe of everyone who participates, from those who finish in just over an hour to those trudging in at four hours, and every year there seems to be at least one participant pushing or pulling an oxygen tank.

It’s pretty simple, really: in the marathon of life, we’re all athletes with the same starting point, the womb, and finishing, hopefully, in one of two places, six feet under or ashes to the wind.

As each person nears the finish line, the big open question for him or her will be not where, but how: How will I finish?

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