Marathon keeps us in shape for all else
You wouldn't peg John Chalstrom as a marathoner. He isn't tall or lean. He does not have the gaunt cheeks of the endurance athlete. But he is a runner. And a marathoner. In that way, Chalstrom is like so many of us who go to the starting line of ...
You wouldn't peg John Chalstrom as a marathoner. He isn't tall or lean. He does not have the gaunt cheeks of the endurance athlete.
But he is a runner. And a marathoner.
In that way, Chalstrom is like so many of us who go to the starting line of Grandma's Marathon or even the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon.
He's a regular guy who just wanted to see if he could go the distance.
Chalstrom, 41, will be on the Grandma's starting line Saturday. He's running the full marathon. Again.
"This will be my twelfth marathon," he said the other day.
Chalstrom is better known to lots of Duluth outdoors folks as a purveyor of minnows, a slinger of leeches, a processor of white-tailed deer. He and his mom, Sue, run Chalstrom's Bait and Tackle north of town.
But on Saturday, the closest Chalstrom will get to fishing will be the boats trolling Lake Superior along the race course.
"There's something about the marathon, where you think if you do actually do that, then you'd feel like you could do anything," Chalstrom said.
That's the heart of it, isn't it? It's an improbably long way to run for most of us, starting out.
"The first time I ran it, it just seemed like such an unattainable goal," Chalstrom said.
But he went to the starting line that first time several years ago. He remembers the day being "blistering hot." Even with a strong base of training, he ran for five hours and 50 minutes, just under the six-hour cutoff for runners. But he finished.
Since then, he has run six more Grandma's Marathons, plus a few others. His fastest was a 3:56 at the Whistle Stop in Ashland. He's done a couple in the four-hour range and others over five hours.
"Now, I'm not so serious," Chalstrom said. "I guess I don't fear the marathon like I used to."
He has lost the illusion that if he can run a marathon, he can do anything, he says. But he also acknowledges that having the tenacity to run marathons carries over to the rest of his life.
He keeps running, and running marathons, because he knows it's good for him. He wants to be in shape each fall so he can clamber up and down the Colorado Rockies hunting elk with his cousin.
"If I sign up for the marathon, it's going to force to me to stay on track with my training," Chalstrom said.
That's how it goes with a lot of us. We do the first one for the sheer mystery and mastery of it, to see if it can be done. Then we hang on because we know how good it is for both our hearts and our heads.
A woman marathoner I know put it pretty well. She was talking about suffering through her first marathon several years ago.
"I liked it," she said, "because now I know my brain is stronger than my body."
SAM COOK is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or email@example.com . Follow him on Twitter at "samcookoutdoors."