Talking to the Running Gods

Running Gods are supposed to be admired from afar as they race toward the finish line. On presumptuous days, you analyze their training logs and think 'hmm, if I just added that workout or those miles...' But you don't dare talk to them. Even if you wanted to try, they're so very far up on that pedestal, they'll never hear you. They talk with other running gods and with reporters, of course. One assumes that they have friends and family but that side gets lost in the glow of their performance on the track or in the marathon or the dust of the trail.

I'm reminded of a daughter who went to school with Reggie Bush at Helix High School in California. We moved up to the Pacific Northwest about the time that Reggie went to USC. When they came to play WSU in Pullman, we went to the game.

She made a sign and, after the game, went down to say...

"Uh, hi....." (small wave, slightly embarrassed and a fast retreat)

Not "Hey, long way from Helix" or "Dude, remember me? Spanish Class?" That would have been much too presumptuous and, by then, Reggie Bush was a Running Back God.

I've given her a boatload of grief over the years because of that "uh, Hi..." but now the shoe is on the other foot. Having written a book about runners, I'm now looking for people to review the book.

Now it's my turn to talk to Running Gods, asking a favor. Next to you....

How do you address a running god? By starting with an idea that they're just people - really, really fast people. Lauren Fleshman is incredibly funny on Twitter. Bernard Lagat tweets that he's sorry to disappoint his fans at his last race. Joan Benoit Samuelson blogs about Fourth of July and her garden. Each is a little glimpse into the basic humanity of these runners.

The really top-notch runners that I have met are among the nicest people I know. The only reason not to talk to a Running God is your own fear.

They're on that pedestal because we put them there. I'm not so sure it is a comfortable perch.