Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Sunday

I bet you think this is going to be about running, right? Since the last thing I would be expected to care, or write about, is the Super Bowl. But no--it's about the Super Bowl. (At least to begin with.)

I admit, I had little or no interest in the Super Bowl, the participants, the outcome, or even the Super Bowl ads. I fully expected to be otherwise occupied throughout the duration of the Super Bowl. I was, however, done with my run well before 3:00 (actually I got home from QFC at almost exactly 3:00). At 4:00 I was at home waiting for a ride from my sister, with the TV tuned to my favorite weekend channel, the food network. At 4:30 or so we arrived at my parents' house and set out for a walk on the beach. At 5:30 or 6 (or 6:30; the times are getting a little vague to me now), we came back from the beach and got ready for dinner.

It was some time after that, that the Super Bowl came into my life. When dinner was ready to serve, there were still about eight minutes left in the game. Even I know that eight minutes doesn't mean eight minutes in a football game! So we turned the TV on so that my father could follow the last eight--twenty, thirty, whatever--minutes of the game. At that point the Giants were ahead (shocking). But then, with less than three minutes left on the clock, New England scored a touchdown, and pulled ahead, 14 to 10. (Despite myself, I was paying attention to this, even if I was more glued to my barbecued ribs and salad than the TV.) We were all pretty confident that this meant a win for the Patriots, who were, after all, the favorites and undefeated all season.

But then, the shocker--with only 30-some seconds to go, a wild and crazy touchdown by New York, taking the Giants ahead again by three points. (I'll leave the details of the play to someone who actually cares about the details, as opposed to the results!) Could New England pull off a miracle, or at least a field goal to tie the game, in 30 seconds?

Well, no. Apparently the miracles were all used up in this game. Or at least they went to New York, who won the Super Bowl and gave New England its first loss of the year. You can imagine the ranges of emotions in New York and New England!

(I, by the way, didn't have a favorite in the game. I guess I leaned a little towards New England, because I like that part of the country, and to me their name, "Patriots" brings up visions of Paul Revere and other colonial characters. But sportswise, I had no preference.)

I'm sure this game could be used as a metaphor in many different ways. The presidential candidates, for example, could definitely spin it. (I am, of course, referring to the presidential candidates that count, the Democrats.) Both teams are strong and talented--they wouldn't be in the race, er, Super Bowl, if they were not. In those last crucial minutes, either team could call themself the underdog at some point, as the scores flip-flopped back and forth, until time ran out and the winner was declared. So either Clinton or Obama could call themself the underdog at some point in this primary/caucus season, with one the victor at one point and another the victor the next time. And so will it be on Super Tuesday, until the time runs out and one candidate emerges ahead. Although I'm not saying that Super Tuesday will be the resolution of that contest. I'm about as up to speed on the primary races at this point as I was with the Super Bowl. I know who's in it, and that's about it for now.

Football, politics--forget about it. If I'm going to draw a metaphor, let's make it about running. In any race, you are in competition. You may not be in competition with the elite runners, the ones at the front of the pack (I am certainly not). But you are in competition with yourself and your past performances, as well as the runners around you. In any number of races I have pulled ahead of someone, only to have them later pass me, and if I am lucky, I may be able to pass them again before the race ends. The competition makes you a better runner. I know that I run a lot faster in a race than I do on my own!

That is why I try to do at least one race each month, or two if possible, so that I can force myself to run hard. Actually, it's not forcing myself, that's the funny thing. In a race I just naturally amp up my pace. But when I do that during training, it usually does feel forced and rather difficult.

Unless, of course, I am in the Zone. More and more I seem to be hitting the Zone at the end of my long runs. Perhaps it is just knowing that I am within blocks of finishing that gives me that extra fire in my legs!

Today I ran about eleven miles. It is almost impossible to measure my distance exactly, because there were so many hill repeats where I doubled back and reran the same stretches of hills. But I think that eleven miles is a fair guesstimate. My great accomplishment was that I ran up the Marine View Drive hill three times today! I am rocking the hills!

Maybe I could be both teams in the Super Bowl. Each week I would like to pull ahead of myself and think I have won--until I beat myself again the following week! That's the beautiful thing about running; there's always room for improvement.

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