By our history and our enthusiasm for the game, my family and I are most identified as football players.
But our true family sport is running.
And by running I mean jogging enthusiastically.
Some of us look forward to running and the rhythmic balance of our limbs. Others value having run and the sense of accomplishment and honest sweat it brings.
I once had the great personal and professional pleasure of interviewing Dr. George Sheehan, author of eight books on running.
Dr. Sheehan had just returned from a run when we sat down to talk and I asked him how he found the time to run every day with his intense travel schedule and professional commitments.
Then 72-years old and battling cancer, Dr. Sheehan looked surprised by the question.
“You just have to get out there and do it,” he said.
I think about Dr. Sheehan and every other kind and dedicated runner I’ve met along the way as I haul myself out for my morning jog.
Runners remain some of the nicest and most disciplined people I know.
Last week, we ran in the Laura’s Smile Mile, a 5K run held in Milwaukee to raise funds for Ovarian Cancer research. A stiff breeze stole my Miami Heat baseball hat as I made my way through the Milwaukee lakefront and I thought that hat was a goner.
But a man I’d never met left the route and took off after my hat. He retrieved it, handed it to me and resumed his race.
Once, at the 11 mile mark of a half marathon, I stopped running. An incident with the cassette player I carried left me pathetically trailing shiny brown tape for about a half block behind me and, sweaty and discouraged, I figured I was finished.
“Don’t stop now,” said a runner I’d never met. “I know you have more in you.”
I paused to acknowledge the words, picked up my pace and finished in a PR I will always treasure.
We’re all paced differently and our goals vary as well. I’m not saying running is for everyone. But there is something simple and pure about just putting one foot in front of the other, working up an honest sweat and striding just a little farther today than you did yesterday.