My degree is in Psychology, and so the "nature vs. nurture" debate was in the background of almost everything we talked about in my classes on social psych, personalities, and abnormal psychology. So when I chalked up Sammy Wanjiru's success to talent, Danny rightly called me out on it.
A bit chastised, I responded that I didn't mean to imply that Sammy was only great because of natural ability, or that his dedication and work ethic were not amazing, or his training regimen not among the most rigorous in the world.
But then, he hit me with this:
Or, that Brian could not have run a sub 2:12 marathon if he had put his mind to it at age 12. Really, you could have.Well, unfortunately, my priorities at age 12 were a bit different. At 12 years old, when world class distance runners are probably already been training rigorously for years (Note: I'm not going to actually look this up for a post that's main purpose is to make fun of myself), I was busy with a rather lackluster basketball career, hiding from bullies (in hindsight, running more would have really helped!), and becoming really, really good at Nintendo.
I will probably never run a sub 3-hour marathon. I might never even run a sub 4 hour marathon. But I bet Meb Keflezighi hasn't beaten all three Super Mario Bros. games and I am almost certain that I could absolutely destroy Geoffrey and Emmanuel Mutai at "Bases Loaded". And let's not talk about "Contra", in which the fastest of Kenyan runners would only slow me down in my quest to save the world from the vile Red Falcon.
But while all of that was very cool in 7th grade, when running in road races was one of the farthest things from my mind, now that I am a runner with a total of $10 worth of prize money to my name, paid out in the form of a gift card to the Field House Sports Bar, I wish that I'd used my younger years a little more productively.
(Fireballs are banned by the USATF, you cheating lizard.)
I can see now, Bowser, Lord of the Koopas, that although I'd slain you so many times, you have defeated me even so.