I’ve written previously about a 1973 newspaper article in which a local sports journalist branded me a “junior sensation” for leading our high school cross country team to a few early-season victories. That pulp fiction title cost me dearly the next meet when a far superior runner from another school stood on the line next to me and muttered, “Junior sensation my ass.” He left me in the dust.
That’s competition for you. But as the years went by I had some relatively sensational moments to cheer the spirit along the way. Yet looking back, I realize the more important thing in life has been the sensation of running, not running sensationally.
These days, when I typically cover the miles in exactly twice the time it took while racing in my prime, I still enjoy the sensation of running. Running along at ten minutes a mile is not the same tempo or pace as racing at five minutes per mile, yet the sensations are happily the same. Granted, I no longer feel the wind in my hair and the shorts I wear now reach halfway down my thighs, or more. The concessions of age and a changing world have had their effects.
Yet in conversing with friends and associates that continued running all these years, they express a similar appreciation for the ability to still enjoy the sensation of running. It is also true that every time I see a woman out for a run I think back to the girls and young women on the high school and college cross country and track team who found the sensations of running pleasurable enough to suffer through the pain it sometimes brings. Their example launched the massive popularity of women’s running that continues to expand.
Here’s to all of you that enjoy the sensation of running. You don’t have to be sensational to gain so much from the sport. Most of us aren’t. Yet we share that “one foot in front of the other” journey with the likes of the world’s best, and that vicarious sensation puts a form of wings on all our feet.