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ISO_OAR
Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 10:36AM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I have chosen to do a term paper on Once a Runner for my AP English class. The assignment is to choose a book with personal significance, preferably a work ?outside the traditional literary cannon,? and write four to six interrelated but separate essays on reading the focal text. The first essay is an introduction of content, themes, contexts, and significance. The following essays must begin with an epigraph, examine a ?broad human truth,? and contain an encounter with another reader, such as a critic, a family member, or the author in another venue. I come here in search of encounters with fellow readers, as I doubt any literary criticism on Once a Runner even exists, and no one in my family has read the book. I will copy/paste a few of the quotations I?m looking at below. Feel free to comment on them in particular, on any other aspect of the book, or even on anything tangentially related to Once a Runner.
ISO_OAR
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 10:40AM - in reply to ISO_OAR Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
?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).
truth
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 10:49AM - in reply to ISO_OAR Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
the chapter on "breaking down" is absolutely brilliant-- everything you'll ever need to know about running in four pages...
Smoo Matt
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 11:01AM - in reply to truth Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
My favorite topic. This is of course my favorite book with so many great quotes. Good luck trying to write a paper on it though. I think what makes the book so great is the fact that is truly captures the essence of the sport, but as one of the above referenced passages states: how can you make someone who has never been there understand. You cannot explain to someone the joy of stretching out the planned 12 mile run into a 18 miler because you feel great, you cannot explain to someone the feeling of absolute oxygen debt in the last 400m of a race . . . actually I am about to start rambling on. At any rate good luck.
Hmm.
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 1/1/2005 1:01AM - in reply to Smoo Matt Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
The one about bowling is f***ing hilarious! Chapter 5 I believe. That's quote about track being black and white is very real. Numbers never lie.
ISO_OAR
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 11:15AM - in reply to Smoo Matt Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Thanks for your comments. Anything you say is helpful, but if you can elaborate more it'd be better for me. I'd like to be able to quote some of you in my paper. I encourage you to "start rambling on."

I realize it will be a difficult task because my teacher most certainly is not a runner. However, I'm a senior in high school and simply getting a good grade at this point is not the goal at all.
Ferris
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 11:49AM - in reply to ISO_OAR Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

ISO_OAR wrote:

?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).




This quote is the key. I used it in some scholarship applications essays a few years ago, trying to explain how the lessons learned in running apply to life in general.

The thing is, everybody wants to be a winner. And when you're psyched up, you're willing to make any sacrifice. After a great workout, you'll happily go hit the weight room, or add extra miles, or eat spinach and broccoli. But what will you do when you're feeling like crap, or all your friends are going out, or it's pouring rain, or you're running poorly? To keep striving over the course of years, you need to smooth out the natural highs and lows of your desire, so that you have a constant and unrelenting force that drives you off the sofa and out to run. Every day. Twice.
ISO_OAR
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 12:18PM - in reply to Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Agreed Ferris. I'm definitely using that quote as an epigraph to the first essay following the introduction. I think it is the definitive Once a Runner quote, and the quote which best defines the life of the distance runner. I appreciate your insightful comments.
JEH
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 1:16PM - in reply to ISO_OAR Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
- ?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).

I think running faster is better, but the key is doing what you can with the abilities you've been given and to invest in others to help them to as well. That is why no matter how fast or slow you are, you should be able to respect your running brethren. If your a runner, running is an activity that can make you feel alive... we are not meant to live alone, but in community, and we can identify with other "distant cousins of the spirit" who have had the "breath" of running breathed into them as well.

Personally, I have been on both sides. I have had the privilege of knowing slower runners and have respected their love for it and their unrecognized, pure discipline. On the other hand I can think of a few examples where much faster guys have respected me, and it felt good to know that was accepted despite my slowness.

One occasion that is notable to me is a time when I congratulated a guy who is currently one of the besty marathoners in the US for an excellent result in a breakthrough race for him. With sincerety, he said thank you and that it meant something coming from a guy who had run the miles and done the work. Now actually, my work pales in comparison to many (and to his), but in that moment, I was a true runner with him and respected as such.

It's a unique brother/sisterhood we have in running, especially for those who really have gone for it.. to see what they can do... to really be alive. It is my opinion, that although we takle no prisoners on race day, we should encourage each other towards our utmost.


OK, ISO_OAR, I'm gonna be a little pissed if I don't make your paper.
ISO_OAR
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 3:47PM - in reply to JEH Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Thanks for the reply JEH. One idea I had was to do three essays through three different lenses: the competitive runner, the jogger, and the sedentary person. Your response transcends the first two categories very well. If I'm going to quote you it'd help if you left your name (I won't really know if you make one up either, but an actual name will look better than "JEH").
djlacava19
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 4:01PM - in reply to ISO_OAR Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
If you're looking to do that, then you should definitely include something from the chapter "Night Run" (I think). It would be great for getting a feel of the view of a sedentary person. It talks about all the "missing links in a chevrolet" that Cass encounters, his various methods of dealing with them, and how he learned that a violent reaction is usually most effective. It also discusses how Cass would love to have someone chase him, and string them along as long as possible to give them a glimpse of what he goes through everyday, before finally facing them and seeing if they still want to fight. "I would take on Mohamed Ali, so long as I could direct the priliminaries", he thought.

DJL
ISO_OAR
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 4:10PM - in reply to djlacava19 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Excellent idea. I'll have to reread that chapter.
Frank Rizzo
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/30/2003 7:24PM - in reply to ISO_OAR Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
'Well, there you have touched upon something, Andrea, because that's it right there. The thing itself is the absence of compromise. There are no...deals available. I wish there was someway to explain it. The thing...doesn't dilute'

This is good too. I think it explains pretty well the commmittment necessary in order to become the best you can become. Training and racing at a high level is all about sacrifice.
ISO_OAR
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/31/2003 2:30AM - in reply to Frank Rizzo Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Agreed, I like your quote.
Gogogonightrunn
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/31/2003 2:54AM - in reply to ISO_OAR Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
"No one promised you universal truth you know"
ISO_OAR
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/31/2003 3:00AM - in reply to Gogogonightrunn Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
What's the context for that?
Smoo Matt
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/31/2003 4:50AM - in reply to ISO_OAR Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
"When, after the countless flashes of cameras and the rude pushgin, the well-wishing and the endless questions (still wanting to know the Secret), after all of that he finally got away from them and talked with Bruce Denton quietly for a few moments, he pulled the zipper up all the way on the sweat top against the evening chill and steped out onto the track as those remaining in the bleachers roared. Quenton Cassidy looked up, gave a little smile and wave and thought: I have nowhere to go. It was then that Bruce Denton turned with a sigh and walked alone towards the gate, thinking that Quenton Cassidy's smile was sad indeed . . . "

With running and life, it is important to remember that the journey is what is important, once you have reached your goal, the journey is over and there is nowhere left to go. When I look back at my collegiate days, sure I fondly remember some of my races, but I never look back at how exciting the finish was or the final result, instead I think about how fun or terrible the race itself was. However, this is rare. 90% of the time I think of how much I loved those 100 degree track workouts with the guys on my team. Now as a lawyer, I don't think about how fun my graduation was (although I looked forward to it through law school), instead I remember the all-nighters I pulled learning the Parole Evidence rule. The lesson to be learned, enjoy the journey, once you reach your destination, you will miss the journey.

Hope that was relevant and made some sense.
djlacava19
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/31/2003 6:52AM - in reply to Gogogonightrunn Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Actually, that quote is "No one promised you universal fairness, you know."

This was said by one of Cassidy's "nearly senile" professors, when Cassidy pointed out an obscure reference in a book that clearly showed that his own answer to a test question was just as correct as the one given by the grading computers. Cass then goes on to say something along the lines of "They may have lost the ability or the will to teach, but they can still impart knowledge...obliquely, always obliquely."

DJL
djlacava19
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/31/2003 6:54AM - in reply to djlacava19 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
On second thought, that quote is ACTUALLY, "no one promised you universal justice, you know."

I've lent my copy out to a friend, so I can't check for sure, but I'm almost positive that it's "justice".

DJL
ISO_OAR
RE: Once a Runner: Discussions, Quotations, Reflections 5/31/2003 8:08AM - in reply to djlacava19 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Yes Smoo Matt, that's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. It's especially useful since it transcends running and illuminates a "broad human truth," a neccesity in my paper.

Can you guys leave your names or atleast aliases that sound like normal names? I need to have a Works Cited section.
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