Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One Half of the Duel

For the first time since I started my marathon training, I missed a workout.

Instead of my easy 5-miler this evening, I chose to head west of town to catch a lecture by Minneapolis-native Dick Beardsley. If you ever have a chance to see this man speak, do not delay.

Mr. Beardsley has a resume of accomplishments that take up an entire website in and of themselves, so to sum up the highlights, he is Grandma's Marathon record holder, the Napa Valley Marathon record holder, and the 4th fastest American of all time.

He's best known for his "Duel In the Sun" 1982 Boston Marathon race with Alberto Salazar; Beardsley placed second -- just 1.6 seconds behind the victor -- in a race where they both set a course record and were never an arm's length away from one another during the first 25+ miles. After consistently running less than 5-minute miles for 25 miles in the scorching afternoon heat, it was only during the last 1,000 meters Salazar got ahead after Beardsley stepped in a pothole, but Beardsley amazingly caught back up. Perhaps if Beardsley hadn't been tripped up by the police bike motorcade that wouldn't get out of his way, he would have won. Despite coming so close to taking the title, Beardsley spoke candidly about how getting second place was better than winning, and of the road it took to get there.
I loved listening to Mr. Beardsley speak because he's so incredibly humble and self-effacing, yet hilarious. He admits he had no interest in running because the sport coincided with hunting and fishing season, and until he wanted to pick up chicks (he assumed he needed a letter jacket to do that), he wasn't fit for any other sports. He came in last during cross country practice, he only ran one varsity race (his coach felt bad and wanted him to get his letter jacket), and he was basically the stumbling idiot on the team. Despite all the odds, he still ended up becoming one of the best long-distance runners this country has ever seen, and he did so in a very short amount of time.

He also suffered a long, depressing history of narcotic drug addiction as a result of a farming accident, getting hit by two cars while out running, and needing far too many surgeries to get his body in a functioning place after his accidents. As a result of his prescription drug addiction treatment, he now speaks openly about addiction, how running is a great avenue for many addicts (hello!), and how he's started the Dick Beardsley Foundation to promote, support, and speak about addiction recovery.

I showed up nice and early for his lecture thinking I wanted a good seat, and was surprised to see it was taking place in basically a high school health classroom. I can't tell you the last time I sat in one of those tiny desks!
When people slowly started filtering in, I realized I was -- by far -- the youngest person in the room. Then again, I should have expected it: Were many people interested in seeing a guy speak about the peak of his career the year I was born? Of course the people who went to see him were probably also in the peaks of their running careers at the same time he was. Oh well.

In any regard, Mr. Beardsley was a very sweet man; his story is heart-felt, emotional, captivating, animated, energizing, inspiring, movie-worthy (yes, they are making a movie about his life!) and above all, he makes you feel that you really are capable of doing anything you put your mind to. As I approach my second "peak week" of marathon training, his story was exactly what I needed to hear.
Friday is normally my rest day before my Saturday long runs. In true addict fashion, I'll be doing the workout I missed today then. :)

1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic picture of you! You look gorgeous:)