Here’s to the blue collar runner
EDITOR’S NOTE: Noah Droddy (fast) has been a Citius Mag supporter since day one. That’s why when he sent us this blog ahead of CIM, we decided to throw him a bone. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you.
It is 5 AM and I am sound asleep, but the bed I share with Emma is already half
empty. She has had her first cup of coffee, and by now is likely running loops of a
nearby park in the pitch dark. She did it yesterday too. She’ll do it again tomorrow.
Day after day she toils in the still dark. She will finish just in time to shower, eat
quickly, one more cup of coffee and head out the door for a full day teaching at a
Boulder preschool. After school, she will train again. After a brief moment to
decompress and dinner, she’s in bed early to prepare for the same routine
Why? An Olympic Trials qualifier. The gold standard of the post-collegiate athlete.
Emma is an accomplished athlete, having finished 39th at the 2016 Olympic
Marathon Trials, and she has always balanced her training with some amount of
work and school. But this time would be special; the barriers to marathon fitness
were especially high. A full time demanding job, graduate studies, a sore hamstring,
and a needy boyfriend waiting on the couch at home – enough to scare a mere
mortal into adult recreational sports. But not Emma. She chose to do this because it
The California International Marathon has shined a spotlight on the citizen runner.
The runners laying down fast times while holding down full-time jobs. In distance
running, we keep the “blue-collar runner” in the highest esteem. Why? Well,
probably because they are motivated by the love of the sport, and the pursuit of their
absolute limits. Not sustained by dreams of big money or fame, their ambition is
pure. They have done their absolute best in difficult training circumstances, and no
doubt many of their performances will still rank among the best the USA has to
offer. The idea that someone could love something so much and pursue it with such
tenacity and sacrifice in the name of personal satisfaction inspires the imagination.
It forces fans and competitors alike to ask themselves – what am I really capable of?
What do I really want?
Everyone says that just getting to the start line of a marathon is a win in itself.
Surviving the demands of the buildup and showing up healthy enough for a 26.2
mile race is extraordinarily difficult in the best circumstances. I agree with that –
seeing Emma start that marathon will be an emotional moment for me, knowing
what she went through just to get there. But I know she wants more, the start line
will mean less to her. That’s how we’re wired as competitors, and the mission
isn’t over at the start line. So I’ll cheer her on with vigor all the way home. Because
of what this means to her, because of what she means to me, and because of what
runners like her mean to the sport we all love.
So here’s to the blue-collar runner, but specifically to my blue-collar runner. Emma,
you inspire me daily. I strive to emulate your toughness. You have taught me to find
joy in my work when at first glance I can’t see it. You have taught me to appreciate
what I have. Your buildup has made me a better athlete, a better person. May you
and your competitors have the races you all deserve this Sunday. I am tremendously
proud of you no matter what. To the moon.