I run and ride with people who are both conservative and liberal. Always have. Always will. Sometimes politics comes up in conversation. Sometimes it doesn’t. The run or ride is what’s important at the time.
Here’s the interesting aspect of all this however. It was once said by Olympic marathon champ Frank Shorter, and I paraphrase, that the only reason you would ever do another marathon is because you’ve forgotten how badly the last one hurt.
Of course there are people who are gluttons for punishment. Who run marathons every weekend and live happily ever after to tell about it. But I doubt they race at the level at which Frank Shorter competed.
Marathoning has become commodified, part of a cult of accomplishment that in many ways confuses completion with quality.
70s-era marathoner Bill Rodgers once branded much of what he saw in the burgeoning marathon boom “graceless striving.” He later walked that statement back a bit because it was perceived as elitist. Perhaps he even changed his mind upon realizing marathoning benefited people in ways that at first seemed useless to a man capable of winning. I was with Bill Rodgers one day when a man ran up to the vehicle in which we were riding and asked him for a bit of advice for a 4-hour marathoner. “You can run for four hours?” Rodgers asked incredulously. He makes an interesting point. It takes more guts to be slow (or even stupid) sometimes than it does to win.
That reminds me that our current electoral process has become a similarly protracted process for choosing public officials. Two years out from the 2016 Presidential election we are already debating the candidates and outcome. American politics has become one long, stupid marathon. It hurts everyone to proceed this way.
Let’s call it for what it really is. Graceless striving. Here we sit with the results of the 2014 election in which millions of Americans voted for a party that absolutely trashed the nation’s economy by 2008 and six years later they have forgotten the pain and suffering the nation felt due to unbudgeted wars, unregulated financial shenanigans and corporate and religious zealotry driving the party in power. But people are all too happy to sign up for another run with the Republicans. It makes no sense. But neither does marathoning if you think about it.
Apparently they used the last six years to forget painful recovery it took to get over the marathon of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in office. It’s a comedy, really, in which the real people who control the nation’s destiny never really show their faces at all. The moneyed few and the CIA pull the strings. The rest is just theater.
My conservative friends are crowing at the supposed triumph. But one wonders what they’ll think when America inevitably hits the wall again at 20 miles. The incoming party wants America to run on nothing. They’ll slash budgets and even shut down the government to get their way. It’s happened before. It will happen again.
It will hurt to run the nation on nothing. We haven’t even completely recovered from the last race. In cycling we call it a bonk when someone runs out of energy during a ride. Often you feel great up to that moment when the juice runs out.
Those of us who run and ride should be smarter than this. We know how it works. Yet we watch in wonder as the politicians keep on running away with our hopes and dreams.