This weekend tens of thousands of people will fill the national mall. Somewhere between 30,000 and 1,000,000 (depending on who you ask) people from all walks of life will come to town for the Stewart/Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity/Keep Fear Alive. Just one day later, I’ll be joined by 29,999 runners and another 20,000+ fans to pass through the same streets of downtown DC for the 35th Marine Corps Marathon. This is will inevitably be one hell of a weekend.
While you might not think so at first, these two events are actually a perfect match. Let me tell you why.
What they have in common:
In both marathon training and politics, I’ve come to realize that a healthy balance of both fear and sanity are necessary for success. Living/running/governing in constant fear would not only be completely miserable, but ineffective. Living/running/governing in total calm would not only be boring, but would never allow for growth. It is the sanity that comes from routine that has laced up my shoes each evening, and the fear of failure that has pushed me to run harder on all those runs. These two events allow for both sanity and insanity in each of the participants lives.
Nothing is more insane than traveling from God knows where to rally for sanity…except maybe training for months to run in a giant 26.2 mile circle. That is, until you think about the state of our insane political atmosphere, and how much we need to rally for something so basic as sanity. Or until you think about how marathoning has made me in the best shape in my life, allowed for the clearest head I’ve ever had, and made more more happy than any other activity I am doing right now.
They are also bringing people together, to share in a moment. What started as a mock rally to make fun of Palin/Beck, has turned into a moment for so many Americans to say, “Yes, the current political atmosphere is absolutely ridiculous, and we need to move on.” The marathon is doing something very similar. Any of the 30,000 people who will be running on Sunday could run the 26.2 miles by themselves, but they don’t. They choose to share that moment of accomplishment together. Because together, these moments will be that much greater.
What they can learn from each other:
Signage is something that Stewart the the Rally to Restore Sanity team has really been boosting. Signs like, “Hellbent on Giving Freedom a Cupcake,” “I may disagree, but I respect your opinion,” and “Who wants to visit some museums?” will be waving all over the mall. Stewart even promised rally comers that if they didn’t bring a sign, he would have one for them. While many marathon fans will have a sign of their own, the creativity and number of signs will most certainly be less. The runner’s fans should really take a page from the rally playbook and bring out the signs. If nothing else, at least they will have something to play with while waiting 4 hours for a 30 second view of their runner.
Noise, on the other hand, is something that race watchers have down pat. Along the 26.2 miles, they will bring anything from a boombox to a bullhorn. Marching bands, cheerleaders, jazz quartets and cover bands will be spaced throughout nearly every mile. Even Team Hay will clanging cowbells and blowing vuvuzelas. I’ve been to a few rallies, and weak random chants, a few awkward songs, and random shouts of “Sanity!” just wont cut it. Bring your pots and pans, bring your noise makers, and keep that party going.
Training for this marathon has been a roller coaster of both fear and sanity. In a lot of ways, it has been so much easier than last year’s training for Baltimore. I have felt stronger. I have stayed injury free. It has been much easier to keep to my regular schedule. In other ways, I’m full of fear. I now know I can run 26.2, but can I run it faster this year? What if I DO fail? I’ll have no excuse. Am I too comfortable? Is my head in the right place? These are all questions that have kept running through my head. In the final days leading up to this marathon, I’ll be consumed with both emotions, and I know they will feed off each other only to make me stronger. On Saturday I’ll be at the rally restoring America’s sanity. On Sunday I’ll be running the marathon restoring my own.
Will anyone else be joining me at both?