Friday, July 15, 2011

Peace Be the Journey

There's an article in this months edition of Runners World about a man named Tommy Leonard who is best known for organizing the Falmouth Road Race in Falmouth Massachusetts. This article is six pages long and chronicles his life from the age of six till now... the pages are filled with facts about all the races he's organized as well as all the bars he's tended from Massachusetts to CA. Through it all it becomes apparent that this man had two love affairs ... running and beer. One story in particular stands out... he was running the 1986 Houston marathon at a sub 3 hour pace, unfortunately at mile 23 Pro's Bar came into view and he stopped to have a pint. Turns out he finished the beer, but not the race. When Tommy wasn't running he was tending bar... you would think he excelled at this but no. His boss Michael Cleary, of the Cork 'N Hearth says, "He truly was the worst bar tender in the world... You order dinner at the bar, you might get dessert first, then an entree, then the salad if your lucky. But that's because he was always in the middle of a story."

One such story includes the time that his buddy Eddie Burke threw him a surprise party which included bringing a police horse up to the bar. Tommy says, "That horse went up and down the bar and acknowledged every customer. I fed him one or two White Russians. Then some lady at the bar called the Health Department and we had to get him the hell out of there fast, which wasn't easy... But that horse, he was having such a good time he didn't want to leave." The party was thrown in gratitude for Tommy's constant fundraising. He started the "Friends of Eliot Fund" where he collected cash from regulars when he read about misfortunes in the newspaper.

If you read between the lines it's obvious that Tommy's third and fourth love are people and life in general. To most of us the idea of getting so close to the finish line of a marathon after so much training and then just stopping for a beer is ludicrous and unfathomable. But it seems to me that Tommy has a different finish line in mind. His life is a race and he recognizes the need to enjoy the journey. As long as he's doing what he loves he's happy... artificial finish lines be damned. Often times we put so much emphasis on the completion of an activity and forget to focus on the joy of the act. It's almost as if the lack of fruition diminishes the greatness of the journey. Hopefully when Tommy looks back on his life he doesn't say, "Man I wish I'd finished that one race....He says what a run." We should all be so lucky.


Unknown said...

People and relationships are the difference.He has it right

Running Bums said...

Great insight Kat! I know that's how Sergio and I feel about it too! Regret is the worst monster you can allow yourself to be beat up by. But when you go for it, enjoy the journey, and let the results be nothing more than an indicator you can look back and smile with satisfaction on the fact that you lived (not what you did)! Thanks for writing:)