?The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials? (12).
?It?s the lean wolf that leads the pack? (44).
??We are speaking of human endeavor and delusional systems?? ?Everyone likes to think they have their own little corner, it can be anything; needlepoint, lawn bowling, whatever. Some guy may gratify himself by thinking he?s the best godamned fruit and vegetable manager the A&P ever had. Which is fine. It gives people a sense of worth in a crowded world where everyone feels like part of the scenery. But then mostly they are spared any harrowing glimpses into their own mediocrity. Pillsbury Bake-Off notwithstanding, we?ll never really know who makes the best artichoke souffle? in the world will we?? ??Thing is that in track we are painfully and constantly are of how we stack up, not just with our contemporaries but historically as well. In that regard it?s different even from other sports. A basketball player can go out and have a great day and tell himself he?s the greatest rebounding forward to ever hit the hardwood, but he?ll never really be troubled by the actual truth, will he??? ?In track you see it?s all there in black and white. Lots of people can?t take that kind of pressure; the ego withers in the face of evidence?? (51).
??You see, the actual thing itself is so competitive and serious, I don?t think anybody really has a good time right while they are competing. Oh, they like it all right, they like going to the meets, and they like being on a team and the general hullaballoo of being a jock. But when you get right down to it, right while you?re doing the thing itself, it ain?t much fun. I can?t remember a mile in my life that was even mildly amusing? (55).
?Cassidy tried to make his mind work. Eleven laps to the mile, two and three quarters equals one regular lap. Unaccustomed to gauging fatigue-versus-distance-remaining on an indoor track, he had to make conversions as he went along. A runner is a miser, spending the pennies of his energy with great stinginess, constantly wanting to know how much he has spent and how much longer he will be expected to pay. He wants to be broke at precisely the moment he no longer needs his coin? (87).
?Anything else that came out of that process was by-product. Certain compliments and observations made him uneasy; he explained that he was a runner; an athlete, really with an absurdly difficult task. He was not a health nut, was not out to mold himself a stylishly slim body. He did not live on nuts and berries; if the furnace was hot enough, anything would burn, even Big Macs. He listened carefully to his body and heeded strange requests. Like a pregnant woman, he sometimes sought artichoke hearts, pickled beets, smoked oysters?? (103)
- ?At paces which might stun and dismay the religious jogger, the runners easily kept up all manner of chatter and horseplay. When they occasionally blew by a huffing fattie or an aging road runner, they automatically toned down the banter to avoid overwhelming, to preclude the appearance of showboating (not that they slowed in the slightest). They in fact respected these distant cousins of the spirit, who, among all people, had some modicum of insight into their own days and ways. But the runners resembled them only in the sense that a puma resembles a pussy cat. It is the difference between stretching lazily on the carpet and prowling the jungle for fresh red meat? (10).
"Don?t try to make me feel funny about this,? he said. ?You were the one who wanted to know. Besides, you?ve never been in four minute shape, not that many people have, so if you think this is all just a crock?? (49)
?Those who partake of the difficult pleasures of the highly competitive runner only when comfortable, when in a state of high energy, when rested, elated, or untroubled by previous exertions, such dilettante-competitors miss the point? (102).