Runners are a strange breed and perhaps none are stranger than marathoners. Still, even as someone whose knee gives out after a mile, I can understand the thrill of it. I've just come back from seeing off Chris -- and 11,000 or so fellow runners -- at the St. Louis Marathon.
It is, without doubt, a stunning sight -- an ocean of fit folk lining up twenty or thirty deep on Market Street, just outside Union Station, bobbing in place as they wait their turn to run towards the arch and begin their journey. Nature's cooperating beautifully this morning, offering up an inspiring sunrise just within the bow of the arch.
It strikes me that running in these races, despite the throngs of companions, is something of a lonely endeavor. It's surprisingly emotional to watch the person you love most in this world get swallowed by the crowd until you can't make his head out from the orbs around him. While you know that the crowd itself, the companionship and competition, is what makes it possible for many of these people to run a marathon, you also know that, when it comes down to it, this is a lonely game. It's up to the individual. He is on his own out there.
Which is why it helps a lot to have your loved ones with you along the way, cheering you on at regular intervals. Unfortunately for Chris, as he reaches the most difficult stage, miles 16 and up, his loving and supportive wife will be having brunch at Margaret's house, stuffing her fat face beyond recognition. We all offer up support in our own way, you know...