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Leading from the Back of the Pack

If you're in last place, here's good news.

I've never been a great runner. My high school has a storied cross country program, but I spent most of my high school career as the seventh (and final) runner on our varsity team. Even though seven runners compete in a varsity race, only the top five factor into the team's score. So every race, I ran my 3.1 miles knowing that unless two people got hurt - or horribly lost in the woods - my time wouldn't really matter.

My former teammates, however, were exceptional runners. After high school, six of them went on to run in college. One of my former teammates recently competed in the Portland Marathon, and he finished sixth in a field of more than 9,000 runners. His time (a little over two and a half hours) qualified him for the Boston Marathon. And he's not even the fastest marathoner from my old team. Another former teammate competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic marathon trials in New York. His personal best is 2 hours and 21 minutes.

I ran a marathon a couple of years ago. Perhaps "trudged" ...

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