The Planet Wave: In Search of A PR?
by Bob "Wish" Wischnia on November 8, 2011
Several years ago, a former Boston Marathon champion told me, “Whenever I see a golf course now, I think how great it would be to play a round, rather than what a beautiful place to run. When I started thinking like that, I knew I was finished as a runner.”
I’m not there yet. Part of my daily pre-dawn run takes me through 10 holes of a local country club. It’s my own private training sanctuary—smooth, soft surface, rolling terrain, no traffic—and the only living things out there are the deer, possum, armadillo, fox and occasional rattler if I venture into the deep rough. Simply, I have the absolute perfect place to run.
As I run, I also envision what it would be like to play golf on this spectacular, perfectly manicured course. What would it be like to stripe a drive 320 down the middle on the tough par 5? Could I reach the impossible par 3 over the water? Could I get out of the brutal trap and down in two?
It’s just dreamland for me. Even though I love golf, I can never afford the green fees at this exclusive club without dipping into my daughters’ college fund.
Which is just fine. I prefer the muni courses on the weekends anyway. It’s much more democratic, friendlier, cost effective and I don’t have to conform to a snooty dress code to play.
Our Sunday routine rarely varies. First, comes a long run or race, followed by a couple of breakfast tacos. From the taqueria, we head directly to the course for our standing 11 a.m. tee time. We make an odd foursome: Skinny wimps, wearing race T-shirts, Mizuno hats and running shoes.
My friends are pretty good golfers. I am not.
A few Sundays ago, we were in the middle of a round, waiting on the teebox, when one of the guys asked me, “Would you rather shoot 70 in a round or PR in your next marathon?”
Hmm. Since I had just melted down in the Chicago Marathon, it was—on the surface--a very good question. But since I couldn’t shoot 70 in miniature golf, it was kind of like asking would I rather have dinner with Scarlett Johansson or Katy Perry? And a marathon PR? Unfortunately, those days are over. (I might have a better shot with Katy.)
Even so, it was fun to contemplate (I’m talking running here). But in the end it was no contest. Give me one more PR in the marathon and I’d sell my soul.
Golf is fun. Even though I suck, it’s a game I enjoy playing every week. If I break 90, great. If I don’t, doesn’t matter much. But running is so much more than mere fun.
Running is how we define ourselves. It’s our identity. It’s what gets us up before dawn to run 20 miles. We put so much of ourselves into it. Our devotion and commitment is extraordinary. It’s what unites us.
Non-runners don’t understand a thing about us. Defining why we run to them is fruitless. We eat different foods, we go to bed before Letterman, get up before Morning Joe. We speak a different language, live in a different culture. That’s why we tend to group together. No explanations are necessary between us why we do these things.
We train every day. We seek out the biggest hills and run on the hottest/coldest, wettest/snowiest, most rotten days. It doesn’t matter. What matters is being out there, doing it.
But in golf, if it’s too windy, too hot, too cold, too wet, too cloudy—too anything—I don’t play because it’s not as much fun.
None of that matters to runners. We run. That’s what we do. We’re runners. That’s who we are.
Running isn’t necessarily loads of fun in the same way golf is. But I’ve never found anything more satisfying than a good, hard long run or a great race and the inner glow that comes along with it. That sense of accomplishment is something that we don’t ordinarily get in our hum drum, ordinary lives.
But just one PR, that one magical race can carry us for weeks, months. The search for a new one can last for years.