Dave Griffin on Running – The Carroll County Times – Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dave Griffin on Running – The Carroll County Times – Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tomorrow will mark the 116th running of the Boston Marathon, and despite my confirmed entry, the airplane ticket and the hotel reservation, I won’t be running.

Only those closest to me can really understand why I want to run Boston.  They know my story, and they shared my excitement when I ran my qualifying time at the Gettysburg Marathon last May. 

Before that day, I thought Boston would be a simple celebration of my running life, a victory lap of my own personal design.  But after I qualified I wanted Boston to be something more, so I developed a training schedule and followed it closely.  I was running longer and harder than I had for many years.

It’s a mistake to think you know everything, even about yourself.  Thirty-six years of running has taught me a lot, but apparently not enough to get me to a starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

The added training was more than my right knee could stand, and what began as a familiar ache continued to worsen even as I was running less.  The MRI showed bruising and a stress fracture on my medial condyle, in the same area where I have arthritis from a much older injury. 

The doctor who described the diagnosis understood what this race meant, so he was reluctant to tell me not to run.  But after he described the risks, the choice was pretty easy.  I want run for as many years as I can, not risk it all on one final twenty-six mile race.

After four weeks of rest, I can begin running again, though gradually and cautiously at first.  Just like I’ve done more times than I can remember, I’ll be starting over.

When I do, I’ll begin with the oldest and least capable body I’ve ever run with.  I can feel the slow creep of age, and I don’t like it very much. 

But there is a part of me that will always be young, where my dreams linger, my heart feels and my spirit lives.  That part wants to run forever.

We waste too much energy on our physical self.  We think it’s our billboard, and we spend countless hours and dollars on the design and presentation.  And even as we work to present ourselves to the world, we fail to see ourselves clearly.  I know that’s true of me, and I suspect it is of you as well.

So this time, I’ll try hard to let go of a racer’s image, one that will slowly dissolve with or without my approval.  As I do, I’ll cling to my own running spirit.  I’ll embrace it for the freedom and the joy it gives me.  Sometimes, I’ll even let my eager spirit test itself for its own sake.  

And if I ever make it to the starting line in Hopkinton, I’ll pass over it graciously, and run the Boston Marathon not for the runner I used to be, but for the man I’m still becoming.