Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

John "The Penguin" Bingham

This past weekend was the Chicago Marathon. Even though I don’t have anything to do with the event I still take pride in my hometown marathon. I’ve run it many times and just find the energy, spirit, and beauty of the City of Chicago to be unmatched.

In addition to speaking at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s inspiration dinner on Saturday, I spent the day Sunday out on the course cheering. It was a fantastic day; a little cool for those of us standing around, but a nearly perfect day for running with temperatures in the high 30’s to low 40’s. It was a great day for a personal best.

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My wife, Coach Jenny Hadfield, is the co-owner of Chicago Endurance Sports and they had over 300 hundred of their folks participating in the marathon. Their post-race party was at the Restaurant on the Green in Millennium Park. I had a chance to sit around and hear lots of marathon stories. Almost without exception, people were delighted with their day. Almost, but not all.

One young man was disappointed. He’d take 45 minutes off his previous Chicago Marathon time. He’d taken 15 minutes off his BEST marathon time and yet he couldn’t bring himself to be happy. I felt badly for him. It seemed like such a shame that a person could perform so well and still not find the joy.

The truth is he’s probably not alone. It’s one of the big mysteries about running for me; how is it that people can do well and still be miserable. It’s not just marathons either. I see folks finishing a 5K in 19 minutes who scream and holler all the way through the finish chute about how awful their run was. They would, I’m sure, be shocked if they saw me finish a 5K in 35 minutes looking like I’d just won an Olympic Gold medal.

I suppose it’s all in your perspective. I don’t think I deserve to be a runner. I certainly don’t think I deserve to be a fast runner. I don’t deserve to be able to run personal bests at every distance at every race. No. I’m grateful every time I cross a finish line. I’m grateful for the health I have and the opportunities I have to participate. Heck, I’m grateful every time I lace up my shoes. After 45 years of a lifestyle that was killing me, I’m just happy to be upright and moving.

The message is lost on some people. My fear is that they are missing what may end up being the best times of their lives, not to mention the best TIMES of their lives. There’s no telling what tomorrow may bring. It’s a cliche’, I know. But life does have to be lived one day at a time.

So if you see me at a race smiling, be nice to me. I may not be fast, but I’m happy. And if you feel like it, come join me.

ORN: I’ve recovered enough to be using a run 4 min, walk 2 min interval. I haven’t increased the mileage much, but that’s coming. I may actually try a half marathon early next year. YIKES.

Waddle on,

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