Running Through A Life On Hold

By Sal Citarella

(Note: This started out to be an article about one current subject and then, after reading an article in a recent RG, I sort of got off on another track. Hopefully, I’ve merged the two.)

Definition of virtual:

Being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted.

Definition of virtuous:

Morally excellent

If you’re like me, your life is largely on hold. If you’re like me, you’re also retired and have too much time on your hands. Sigh, what a dilemma! (Notice, I didn’t say anything about also being “old;” not ready to admit to that, just yet.)

I signed up for a favorite trail run back in February and was really looking forward to it. It’s now November, I’ve had another in a long line of birthdays, the race has been delayed again, and my enthusiasm has somewhat waned. With no opportunity to test myself I’ve even begun to question my own readiness to race. If I end up with a DNF it better be for Did Not Fail.

Sure, there are virtual races available but would that be virtuous?   One popped up on my radar; The Annadel Loop is a notorious seven-mile trail race in Santa Rosa, much like the Dipsea in Mill Valley but without the hoopla and crowds. Only two things kept me from running: one, I didn’t have a GPS device to record my run and two, the park was shut again due to another fire. A double bummer!

I still get out on the trails several times a week and really blast it! Virtually. It just ain’t the same.

Additionally, in my case, living in beautiful California, the air has often had the tang of  barbeque and, not too far from me, lights in the sky. Nothing virtual about the devastation that many communities are faced with. I know, every part of the country has its natural disasters but none affect the trails as a good fire does.

One way I cope is to pull out my scrapbooks and rerun an old race virtually.

(Here’s where we morph.)

I’ve just read Running In Keizo’s Shoes by Jude Myers Pedersen and really enjoyed it. So, I reached for the book Boston Marathon by Tom Derderian to fact check her. I didn’t know Tom personally, but I had seen him on several occasions when I lived in the Boston area. The book is a complete history of the Boston Marathon from inception through 1993. I just checked on Amazon and there has been a sequel by Tom and Bill Rodgers; that’s a team that would be hard to beat.

My copy of the original is autographed by both Tom and Bill. When I ran Boston in the mid-1970s, I was living in MD then, the field was already so large that Tom just couldn’t get my name into his finishers lists.

In any event, Ms. Pedersen does not lie; Keizo Yamada did, in fact, win in 1953 in 2:18:51 in a field of 157. What is the field now, 25,000?

So, maybe in these trying times, the best we can do, in additional to running virtually, is to run virtuously. Keep in mind the prayer of Novatus, patron saint of runners, “Road without end, Amen.”

Stained glass by Sal Citarella. In addition to being an excellent writer, Sal creates beautiful stained-glass artwork.



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