Friday, April 15, 2011

Momenti di Gloria

I don't have all that much - or any - background in running. Pretty much everything I know I've learned in the past year. There are still gaps. Last night I had to ask The Mormon's First Wife, who is a running coach, about a funny feeling in my leg and what to do about it. I just don't have the experience yet; I know this. I've always been a learn-as-you-go, follow-Wikipedia-down-the-rabbit-hole type of person.

For instance, watching the opening scene of Chariots of Fire again this morning, I noticed for the first time that they were all running barefoot. I've seen the movie probably half a dozen times, and I love that opening scene for the music alone, but this is the first time I've watched it since I really started running, and so it's the first time I've looked at their form, and their feet.

So of course I looked up the history of running shoes on the internet. Apparently 'sneakers' - i.e. shoes with rubber soles - were first patented in 1832, so in the 1930s when the events of Chariots of Fire took place, they had them. The 'best' shoe for runners available then would probably have been made by the founder of Adidas.

So probably they were just running barefoot because it was on the beach.

I had a really good run last night while thinking I wasn't having a great run. Ended up doing the 5.85 mile course from the store at an average 7:55 pace - first time I've done it at a sub-8. I was -

Sorry, I totally forgot what I was talking about there, because a cat laid down on my shins and starting trying to eat my toes through the comforter.

The shoes they're showing for this final race scene aren't terribly different from the track shoes they sell at the store. They're probably mostly leather and canvas, according to the internet, and not good for more than a couple of races owing to the stretching that would occur, but in form they look the same to me.

I found these, which are incredible to me: The Puma Computers

They have to be so heavy! Plus, I sometimes kick the inside of my calf with my opposite heel when I'm tired or just getting it together (it can be two or three miles before my body sorts itself out some days) and kicking with these would leave bruises, I imagine.

That being said? They're so nerdy they're awesome.

One of the things about Chariots of Fire that I both like and dislike is Eric Liddell's religious conflicts. I realize that it's a thin sheet of ice I've just skated onto, but I'm simultaneously annoyed by his religious convictions the same way many of the other characters are - I mean, it's the Olympics, man, and you've got a real chance to win your events - and yet I totally understand his assertion to his sister that God likes it when he runs.

I'm not religious like he is - missionary trips and evangelism and all that - and I don't really understand people that are, at all. In fact they kind of offend my sense of individualism. But I do find something spiritual in running sometimes.

I joke that running is my religion but it's not quite that simple. Running is my outlet for a near-religious sense of the physical and what the body can do. I'll never be an elite like Eric Liddell, but every time I run I prove to myself that I can run. I used to think runners were, to borrow from Magneto, "Gods among insects." It represents something to me, and maybe that something is in the same vein as what Eric Liddell (at least the Eric Liddell in the movie) is talking about.

The difference is that Liddell has this framework of rigid Presbyterianism for everything in his life. If something is good to him, it is because it is of God. Me, I think humans are mostly responsible for themselves. What the human body is capable of - what my body is capable of - it's a kind of miracle, yes, but what makes it miraculous to me is not God. It's the fact that I don't think God is involved in it at all, and yet it works.

Like, sometimes I'll be reading about the digestive system, and how we break down food into basic fuel units, and I just think, "How the hell does something this complex happen?" I'll finish a run, and think about it and go, "How the hell did I do that?"

I think it just annoys me that Eric Liddell possesses this amazing talent, and he puts it all off on God when the real miracle is that it's not outside of him, with God, at all, but inside of him. He worked hard, trained hard, and I think you should own yourself.

I have four, maybe five friends running in Boston on Monday, and they've worked really hard. They're in amazing shape and when (not if) they do well it'll be because of that, because they deserve it. I'd wish them good luck, but they don't need it.

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