The maration trials and personal success

I had one of those perfect runs this morning. Temperature in the middle 40s, no wind and no cars. At 5 a.m. it doesn’t get much better than that.

As I was running I thought about how much I would like to run one more marathon. That ain’t likely to happen — but it’s a nice thought. And it’s particularly appealing with the women’s United States Olympic marathon trials taking place in Boston Sunday — followed by the Boston Marathon Monday.

And then there is Joan Benoit Samuelson. I wrote about her a few months ago, and if you are looking for a positive contrast to all the negative news recently about sports figures and the Olympic Games it’s her.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, now 50 years old, is going to run in the marathon trials. Her goal is to finish in two hours and 50 minutes. My guess is that she will do it.

But it doesn’t really matter. Joan Benoit Samuelson will always be the standard for honesty and integrity in these kind of competitions — and maybe she does spotlight something important about the Olympic Games, the current debacle with China not withstanding. She could have used her celebrity status following her Olympic marathon win to cash in — but she didn’t. She “retired” to her home in Maine, raised a family, became active in various charities and public causes and became an inspiration for the next generation of American women athletes.

I’ve enjoyed running for the past 25 years or so because of the friendships I made — and because I believe exercise is beneficial in general. Running has also provided me with a tremendous sense of personal accomplishment, confidence and self-discipline.

But Joan Benoit Samuelson says it a lot better than I ever could — saying in a New York Times article that marathoning is a metaphor for life.

“Marathoning is a metaphor for life,” she said, “so there are a lot of parallels you can draw. I tell people to follow your dream, follow your heart, follow your passion, run your own race and believe in yourself. I think anybody who wants to succeed has to have passion. My love for this sport, you can’t instill it in someone else.”

Runner’s World lists Deena Kastor, Kate O’Neill and Elva Dryer as the favorites to win spots on the marathon team.

But if Samuelson can finish the marathon in 2:50 — well, maybe there is hope for the rest of us.

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