Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I'm Nobody

I received a distressing email today from a running friend who left me far behind when he fell into the clutches of ultra runners. He puts in 60 to 70 miles per week now to my 20 to 25 miles per week. Now he does marathons as training runs. One Saturday he ran from Iwo Jima to Mount Vernon and back, over 30 miles, just because he felt like it. He didn't take the next day off, either. Next up for him is a hundred miler, no doubt.

I used to be a better runner than him, but now when I encounter him in a race, I just try to hang on within sighting distance of him for the first half. I did beat him by a few seconds last year in a 5K when I ran a 22:45, but then my friend had already run several miles to get there (part of his training routine) and he was running home afterwards. That's the way he trains now. The severe snow storm we had last month, when the government closed, he went to work anyway. He ran there. But he does battle injury issues now, moreso than I do.

Here is part of his email: " tendonitis is to the point the Dr says I'm flirting with a rupture. I'll be taking it one week at a time... . Yesterday a friend of mine collapsed and died in front of the Arlington courthouse at about 10AM but because he had no ID at the time it was last night before his family found out. I need to pick up one of your road ID's."

This is a tragedy that strikes the DC area once or twice every year. Carry an ID when you run! I have an ID tag fastened onto every pair of running shoes I own. Below is the testimonial I wrote last year for the company whose tag I use. I meant every word of it. I like their product but I benefit nothing from promoting it. There are lots of companies selling runners' IDs on the Internet. Google "runners id" or some like phrase and buy an identification system for when you run. You can also go to petsmart and use their store vending machine to create a dogtag to run through your shoelaces. That clinks, though.

Many of us carry no identification when we run. We grab our shoes and head out the door. Free of encumbrances, we run carefree. But we are not responsibility free. Our loved ones need to be informed about our circumstances as soon and as properly as possible if tragedy strikes.

Here in DC, where it’s hot and humid, it seems like practically every summer a tragedy strikes. A solitary runner collapses on a trail during a weekend run and cannot be revived. Who is the runner? Perhaps, like me, the runner lives alone with no family in the area. Often identification of the stricken runner has to wait until the following week when co-workers notice his or her absence.

I have a dozen pairs of running shoes. I have a dozen Runner’s ID tags, one for each pair. They are unobtrusive, virtually weightless and practically noiseless. I don’t know the tag is there. I have never lost one. Each Runner’s ID tag is individualized but they all contain necessary basic information about me, my name and an emergency contact. Beyond that, there is lots of space for creativity with the Runner’s ID tag’s six lines for entry of information.

Each pair of my running shoes has run a marathon. Each Runner’s ID tag, in addition to my basic information, records that race in a different way, with the date, maybe my time, and perhaps the conditions of the race or whether it was an inaugural running or a PR.

I give Runner’s ID tags to running family members and friends as gifts of love, memorialized in a way unique to each person. "Please put it on your running shoe," I say, "for me. Because I care about you and would want to know if anything ever happened to you."

Runner’s ID. With it, I’m somebody. Without it, I’m nobody.

1 comment:

jeanne said...

Wise words. You never think it will happen to you. Until it does.