Running Towards Life's Challenges

I’ve never been a big fan of running just to run. I’m OK running when there is a ball to catch or a basket to be made or when it is part of virtually any sporting activity. Because then there is a reason to run beyond running itself — it is a means to an end. 

It’s not that I haven’t tried just going out and running. In fact, I was actually on the cross country team in junior high. Back in those days, we didn’t run all that far, a couple of miles maybe. That was manageable for even a non-runner like me. And even though I was a middle-of-the-pack type of guy, I liked the competition and the sense of accomplishment of finishing a race.

That’s probably why, when I got out of college, I decided to run the Chicago Marathon. I didn’t train all that much because — you guessed it — I didn’t really enjoy just going out and running. Fortunately, I was young and in pretty good shape, so despite my lack of preparation, I was able to finish without too much difficulty. I’ll never forget the feeling at the start of the race, surging forward with thousands of other runners, or the sense of joy and relief when crossing the finish line more than 26 miles later. It was both a memorable experience and an accomplishment I still recall fondly.

I thought back to those days when editing our Q&A article on long distance runner and Glen Ellyn native Katie Visco (page 10). Having run across the United States and more recently, Australia, Visco has given new meaning to the concept of running cross country. The Australia run was particularly arduous, to say the least. On one hand, the non-runner in me simply could not fathom ever wanting or being able to run that far, or in such difficult conditions. Yet at the same time, in reading about the challenges she overcame, I could relate at least a little bit as to why she did it. Granted, unlike me, Visco genuinely enjoys running. But it was clear that there was far more to it. She had set an extremely challenging goal and met it. What a great accomplishment and memorable life experience for her — and an inspiration for those of us who have life goals of various types that we’re still aspiring to reach.

I encourage you to also check out Joni Hirsch Blackman’s column on Naperville children’s librarian Emily Mroczek (page 16), who recently served on the national committee to choose the 2019 Newbery prize-winning children’s book. I remember going to the library with my kids when they were younger and checking out several books with the Newbery gold emblem on their covers.  More often than not, they were the kind of books I enjoyed reading as a parent as well. It was interesting to learn a little about what goes on behind the scenes in choosing the winners.

We hope you enjoy the aforementioned articles and the many others in this issue as well. Stay warm and as always, thanks for being a reader.