The Philadelphia Story recently popped into my head. The film begins rather notoriously, as Tracy Lord Haven (Katherine Hepburn), having just broken one of her then-husband C.K. Dexter Haven’s (Cary Grant) golf clubs in half, is shoved to the ground by said C.K. Dexter Haven, which he accomplishes by putting his palm to her face and pushing. They were divorced soon afterward.

This being Philadelphia’s Main Line, Lord and Haven were among the rather well-off. The plot centers around Lord’s plan to marry George Kittredge, a self-described man-of-the-people. A plot-twist here and a plot-twist there and the wedding’s off. Or at least that one.

One of those plot-twists involves Macaulay Connor, played by Jimmy Stewart as a writer earning his keep by working for the National Enquirerish “Spy” magazine. Conner comes in with a bit of a chip on his shoulder about the upper classes, of which Lord and Haven are decidedly a part. His thinking evolves, though, and in the end he realizes snob is as snob does. The rich guy? He isn’t necessarily an elitist snob. The poor guy? He might not be what the stereotypes would have you think he is.

It’s hardly original but it did come to mind with a recent comment that included “i think you just have no clue when it comes to the struggles of slower runners. you think it is all relative to effort. if one can even manage a specific effort”.

Am I the guy on the left? Or the guy on the right?

Ironically, one of my objectives here is to say that a relatively quick runner struggles. And can struggle mightily. Take today. I went out with a couple of guys, but they were going longer than me so I turned around at about 28, knowing an hour would be trouble yet doable. And it was. Those last three miles, though, were painful. Stride and form were fine. No energy and I willed myself through it. Not a “fast” (using the term in its relative sense) run but an eminently satisfying one in that it might not have been a twenty-pounds-overweight struggle but it was my own personal one. That’s what I’m talking about. So I have unbridled admiration for the many who may not post fast times but who, really, work harder at it than I do, which pretty much includes everyone on my “Must Read” list to the left.

“you think it is all relative to effort.” It seems that the only two tests are how fast one is and how hard one works. I don’t think the former is that relevant, and I fell comradeship with someone who is only capable, for whatever reason, of an 8-minute mile pace and works hard to maintain that but no so much with someone capable of a 5:30 and content to hit 6:15s. The commentor’s sentiment being all the stranger for the thought, “i can’t judge other runners for their speed under those circumstances, nor will i.” since that’s what I’ve tried to say.

Then,

but most of the posts on your site that i read in the past two years do either insult [or] patronize — and i include your ‘niece’s marathon post’; and ‘if you’re not running 2:10′ posts in this, or the “why we run/why i run” [edited: I'm told these final references should be to two posts entitled "What Kind Of Runner Would I Be", part I and part II] posts that outright repudiate the slower among us….you’re in tight w/the ‘plodders have their place-but-it’s-not-with-me crowd’ of (excuse me), but arrogant jerks that i always tried to stay away from in prospective clubs throughout my running life. i clearly had a very flawed impression of you in the past.

It’s like creationism. No matter what the evidence shows, there’s a fixed view of the universe and nothing will change that.

Substantively, her rejection of my view of cross-training is actually a rejection of a view that I don’t have. I don’t think cross-training makes sense as an alternative to running. (I know a good runner, though, who swears that by doing cycling instead of running on certain days his running has never been better.) I think it makes sense as a way to keep some level of conditioning while prevented from running.

As an aside, I had an unusual running experience on Friday. Doing my many laps of the Bronxville track, I was hit in the left calf by a football. Someone was kicking field goals from about the 20 yard line and there were footballs appearing periodically on the track. Then on one lap, boom!, I was hit. He apologized, I suggested he pay more attention (there were only a few people on the track at the time) and then that it was OK. That’s a first.

As a further aside, a friend touchingly wrote recently about how she learned the lyrics of “I Get A Kick Out Of You”. I learned them in a more typical high-school boy’s fashion:

The thought of paging Cary Grant brings to mind the fateful paging of “George Kaplan” in the Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel that led to Cary Grant’s running across Mount Rushmore in a movie named for a line from “Hamlet”. The back-story of “The Philadelphia Story” is itself interesting in showing how a smart woman, that would be Hepburn, controlling her fate by controlling a hot property.

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