November 5, 2010 11:00 PM ET
Somewhere between Gebrselassie and Pheidippides go I. That first fella ran the fastest marathon ever... the second guy ran the first marathon ever. Then he croaked. The ING New York Marathon is Sunday. I will go to the starting line fully prepared to do something I am physically incapable of doing. Lungs are good for 26 miles, ligaments maybe half that. Thanks to reconstructive surgery on my ankle two decades ago, I can't run the distance... so I may have to stop and walk things out a bit. But mentally, I can make the distance. There is the New York crowd to cheer on runners. There is the incentive and pride of running with 40 others as part of Team Tillman -- the chance to do something good. And then, there is the moment.
As much as our sports culture loves its stats, the essence of sports is its moments. The score of the 1980 US hockey win over Russia is secondary to the scene and how it made us feel. Watching Dr. J dunk or Larry Bird shoot was art... not just 2 points. Do you remember the time of the round when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston or the image of Ali standing over him? Or Ali lighting the Olympic torch in Atlanta?
What's more important, a son going to a game with his father or the final score? Sunday is a moment... maybe the only one many of us have or get to do something special... something memorable. It's our chance. An opportunity to be seized or set free. Pat Tillman seized opportunity. He took a chance. In death we found out so much about how he lived.
So I'll run... and most likely suffer... and relish in it... and finish it.