Tonight I'm having coffee with one of my very first Columbia students. Wei was in my first Literature Humanitiesclass, in the fall of 2000, and it has been very delightful ever since following his progress through the world. He's starting a PhD in history this fall, which is great, but he also at some point intervening fell in love with long-distance running, which is now an important thing we share.
So I thought I'd link again to his quite wonderful guest post about running the New York Marathon this past fall (scroll down, it's below some digressive thoughts of my own on running and eighteenth-century literature...).
Here are the last two paragraphs of the race report, which I especially love and which will make anyone who's ever run for quite a long time laugh in delighted sympathy:
3 painful hours and 32 dreadful minutes into the race, I entered the very last course of the battle, with one mile left to the race. My legs felt like they were being stitched up by strings. If I ran any faster, I might break the strings and tear my legs apart. My vision became blurry, losing concentration gradually. Every step I made caused me a great deal of agonizing sharp pain. It was too late to give up now. I had worked too hard to stop running! I had to finish the race even if I were to become incapacitated afterward. I slowly regained some energy as I saw a sign stated "100 yards to go". Fuel by my excitement, I ignored the pain and dashed through the finish line. I did it. I finished the marathon in 3 hours and 44 minutes with one month of training. It was a miracle. My therapist was skeptical that I could run a marathon with my bad ankle.
Training for the marathon has changed my life forever. This greatest physical feat made me humbled. I have a great respect for running and all serious runners. Some zealous runners might say running is fun. But I don't consider running fun. Fun doesn't involve with intense pain. Watching a movie, taking a stroll in the park, or reading a book is considered fun. Running is a discipline one has to master. It takes hours and hours of tedious stepping movements. It is painful! There isn't a real runner who hasn't had some kind of pain that is directly resulted from running. In that case, running is painful and boring! However, many runners like myself find satisfaction in running. Through running, I've learned a great deal about myself. I know how and when to push my limit. I stay with a healthy diet in order to enhance my performance. Running keeps me motivated, energetic, and confident. I know that every time I feel down, running will help clear my head. Running a marathon is the ultimate way to satisfy my life and quench my thirst for challenge. The conclusion of this marathon is the next chapter of my venture. I will run more and more as long as I can.