September 12th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #601 'Remember, it's not a sprint'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama often speaks of his love of basketball, and that is a game that involves a lot of running. Still, I don’t know if he really likes running for the sake of running or if he has much stamina; for example, the kind of stamina it takes to write more than 600 letters without getting a reply. Ahem.

Dear Mr. President,

So I was mistaken! I thought my big half marathon was next weekend, and then I looked at the calendar a few days back and realized it is today! No doubt as you read this I will be slogging along with thousands of my fellow masochists through the wooded trails of suburban Maryland, listening to some guy’s heart-monitor-watch beep with alarming regularity.

Last year as we rounded one corner there were a little kid with his mom squeezing some kind of goofy, old, ooga-horn from a car over and over again. I turned to a nearby runner and said, “That’s what my lungs sound like right now.”

I have pledged to take it easier this time. For the past two years I have been lured into that trap that so easily snares men our age. I have started out at what seems to be a modest pace, feeling the pulse of the crowd, and intent on hanging back, enjoying the scenery. Then about eight miles in, I realize my pace is looking pretty good, and my legs are solid, and you know, if I could just keep this up…

And by the final three miles I am wheezing like a concertina, my thighs feel like they are covered with fire ants, and by golly I’ll drop dead before I’ll let that smug guy in the blue shirt with the water bottle finish ahead of me.

All of that has (he said proudly) helped me finish in under two hours which is, for me, respectable, but it violates one of my basic principles: Run your own race. Getting caught up in the crowd and reaching for a lead is worthwhile, but only if you stay within a zone that keeps you ready to run again another day. I have been telling myself that the past few days, in part because my brother wants me to run a marathon with him in Pensacola in November and I don’t want to trash myself out.

On the other hand, you know finishing under two hours three years in a row…well, that would be sweet. Ha!

If you read this in time and feel inclined, come out to the finish line. We can get breakfast afterward.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. GT

    Congrats on what I'm sure was an excellent race!

    September 12, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  2. Kim

    Sprint to Zakaria and they have an interesting class going on about American National Security and in conclusion ...Thank-you to our Troops and National Security but we hear a difference of opinion and that causes confusion ? Get Baer to run the State Department when Hillay Clinton's not there and Americans will all do the ..."Lose your inhibitions twist." That's it and out of this class but it was interesting to find out how safe as an American citizen we are after 911. Omega Blessings and amen !

    September 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm |