I am not a runner. I never have been. I don't expect I ever will be. To me, running is a form of torture. It it endless, pounding torment and an inability to breathe.
Mr. Lime is a runner. He has been a runner since he was a teenager. He has run more races than I can count, two of them have been marathons. For him, running is sanity. It is how he clears his head after a long day at work. It is where he finds peace.
I freely admit I was not in the least bit happy when he decided to run his first marathon because I was an at-home mom with three young children and Mr. Lime was already very busy with work and volunteer activities. The training regimen to prepare for a marathon was, to my way of thinking, just more time away from home for him when I was already feeling rather desperate for a break.
I also admit I did not have an inkling what running meant to my husband until the day came when he could not do so. Then I understood clearly that this activity was what made him fit to live with. I am happy to say he was able to recover from that which prevented his running and get back on the road. It keeps him healthy both physically and mentally.
Over the years he has coached a number of different sports and Isaac has played several as well. It has been interesting to note the personality tendencies among different sports or among positions within a given sport. Perhaps to those who have always been athletically inclined this is all quite obvious, but for me, the non-athlete, the one who avoided organized and competitive sports it has been a revelation.
I've grown to understand that runners are a different breed, marathoners especially so. Over the years so many of the races Mr. Lime has entered have been connected to the benefit of a charity in order to raise money for research and awareness within the community. I don't have any actual figures but I can't think of any other competitive sport that would so consistently have such events in such great proliferation. Charity games may occasionally be organized within other sports but so often they are mere exhibitions if they occur at all. And believe me, I'm all for that, make no mistake. It's just that if you're looking to see real competition don't expect it in a charity baseball game because the players aren't going to want to risk being injured for their real games.
Another difference is the more egalitarian aspect of races. You'll find elite world-class athletes who have teams of professionals coaching them running in the same race as guys like Mr. Lime who train themselves, as well as people who run under adverse conditions such as various "disabilities" (I use the term loosely because if you manage to complete 26.2 miles you're doing better than many able-bodied folks). Of course, Mr. Lime and the others aren't going to give the elites a run for their money but they will run the same course at the same time and cross the same finish line.
There is also the respect between runners. The fiercest competitors may actually be training partners and though they give it their all there is often a genuine happiness for whoever has won because they understand what was required to get through a long distance race. Although it is a solitary activity and competition there is a community that emerges from enduring the endless road hours in preparation through all sorts of awful weather, through injury and illness, through your own mental roadblocks, and sometimes through the disapproval of the people around you.
I don't know any of this from personal experience because I'd rather crawl over broken glass than run. I know it from observing my husband and others like him. And so, from observing both his character and the character of other runners I've known, I was deeply touched, but not at all surprised, to see during the London Marathon this weekend a massive crowd stood in silence before the race to remember the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing and that so many of the runners held their hand over their heart as they crossed the finish line to honor the same victims. May those victims find similar endurance to overcome the obstacles in their paths.