Is it scripture that declares, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it”? It may surprise some to learn that these are not the words of an apostle, at least not in the original sense of the term. The aforementioned quotation is in fact one of the many meditations bestowed upon the culture by Oprah Winfrey.
One could contend that the margin of reverence between Ms. Winfrey’s words and the apostles’ is so minuscule as to be nonexistent, but I digress.
About a month ago, the esteemed Boston Marathon completed its 122nd “run” around the sun, though this year’s participants were subject to weather conditions devoid of any sun at all. It seems fitting that at this year’s edition of the storied race — where unforgiving conditions centered those with the biggest balls — I found myself toeing the starting line among the cardiovascular bourgeoisie. I must now implore you to avoid feeling self-conscious; for it was not long ago that greatness appeared my antithesis. If you are reading this in the pursuit of glory, I suggest you make yourself comfortable. In order to understand the result, you must first understand the process.
The focus on the 2018 Boston Marathon stemmed from a horrendous social media dry spell last spring. Let’s just say, my numbers were down—way down. To be honest, the catalyst for my digital downward spiral still alludes me. It was as if one day in the blink of an eye, people grew tired of my artfully filtered indie snapshots and accompanying wry captions. Bewilderment arrived first, insecurity and despair soon followed. Previously effortless tasks such became too arduous for completion. Biking to work? Yeah, right. Buying vegetables that weren’t precut and double the price? Forget about it.
Unbeknownst to me, my watershed moment would arrive one ordinary morning as I rushed to work via Uber. I was lazily scrolling through Instagram in a forlorn attempt to avoid unsolicited conversation with my driver. Sandwiched between a picture of Midwestern sorority girls out for brunch and someone forever wishing they were back in [insert exotic locale]; rested a picture of Anthony from high school crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Anthony appeared to be exceptionally fit and oozed the sort of confidence that only a shirtless, short-short clad body would indicate. The pictured garnered triple digit likes and featured a simple yet arresting caption: #riseandgrind.
I was suddenly inundated with aspiration. I began to ask: why not I become one who rises? And after I rise, why shan’t I also proceed to grind? My destiny became clear: I didn’t choose the marathon; the marathon chose me. I suppose I’ll never know how this epiphany came about so swiftly but scripture tells us not to question acts of divine intervention (or perhaps this was also Oprah).
Immediately after exiting the Uber, I vowed to finally make use of the good ole discount running shoes gifted to me upon returning from college for the first time by my perturbed father.From that day forward, I ran to work and back every day of the week. Not only did I notice instantaneous fitness gains, my detractors seemed to finally surrender the respect I so deserved. The obnoxiously brawny guy from marketing who had the nerve to routinely stand by me in the elevator—as if to claim his superiority by putting our physical inequities on display—ceased to stand anywhere near me after I began arriving at the office ripe from my morning run; soaked in the sweat of palpable triumph. My afternoon runs often bore similar fruits. I noticed the bewitched gazes of countless babes as I zoomed by; my loosely tied chestnut man bun trailing in the wind.
What’s more, as the Boston Marathon drew near, I discovered a solution to all of my social media related anguish. I read on a running message board that it is commonplace for any devout hobby jogger to race in a plain shirt embroidered with the phrase: “GO [insert name]”, making it possible to be encouraged by spectators along the course for all 26.2 miles! I only wish to have discovered sooner that marathons are the granddaddy of banal praise from complete strangers. Those suckers on Instagram wouldn’t know impersonal validation if it walked up and bit them on the otterbox.
To conclude, I must once again remind you that my achievement should not diminish your sense of self-worth. Not everything about my Boston Marathon experience went perfectly. Had I known better, yes, I would have made a shirt embroidered with my first name succeeding the “GO” rather than the substantially less gratifying “[insert name]”.
Nevertheless, I will adhere to the words of Oprah. I will adhere to the words of scripture. I will #riseandgrind for years to come.