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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, April 19, 2024

The mental blisters of a marathon

If I, like the characters in the movie 'Afterlife,' had to choose just one memory from my life to spend all of eternity reliving, I think it'd be a memory from when I was 18 years old. It's a memory I keep failing to relive. 




I was running down the street in Duluth, Minn., biting my lip so hard it actually bled. And then, for maybe just a minute, my eyes watered up, and that was the last time I was so lucky as to cry. 




That was on Superior Street, just short of 24 miles into Grandma's Marathon, and that's about enough. A lot was going on there that I think most people die without ever experiencing. A lot was defined there, and then I went and forgot it all. 




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I went and got angry and frustrated again and again after that. I stayed up in bed rolling and thinking about things that didn't matter, and things I'd never end up saying to tell someone off. And I know I'll do it all again. I think it's human nature. 




At times human nature seems to be about not thinking as fast as you can, and hurting people without being sorry, and seeking revenge and searching for wars with people you never hated before in places you couldn't find on a map. 




Or maybe that's something else, or maybe it's just me. But right now all I want is that one moment back again. I want to be back on Superior Street for the first time. 




I've run a lot of marathons since that first one, and I've gone on a lot of runs early in the morning and on rainy afternoons, and sometimes it's almost been there. 




On Sept. 11, I ran around Lake Monona alone in the dark with my thoughts and my new Bob Dylan album. And at scattered moments things were OK. 




'The president runs,' I thought. 'He's done marathons.' And I figured he must have felt something out there at some time. 'But then,' I thought, 'maybe that only happens to me, and I go back to my old self every time. I guess it's all way beyond me.' 




I don't have a clue, but maybe we all need a marathon right now. Maybe we need some sweat in our eyes and some salt on our faces. Maybe we need blistered feet and aching legs, and we need the euphoria. We need the world to stand still at mile 24, and everything to be beautiful and everything to be in perspective. And we need to know what matters. 




I think I'm right in being opposed to how the government is handling things, and I think it's OK to be in opposition and only later discover you're wrong. But I don't know'I feel it's been a while since I really knew what mattered. 




I can't remember quite what that's like, and I hate to forget, because it's about every memory. It's about the mistakes, and about the time this summer when I quit running in Grandma's Marathon and walked down Superior Street. It's not a memory I'd like to forget. 




It's not about forgetting. It about seeing things differently, or just seeing things at all, and sometimes that just takes a marathon. 

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