Friday, June 13, 2008

Ode to Tim Russert

I realize this is a running blog and that the late, great Tim Russert doesn't have anything to do with running...but on this incredibly sad day I have a story to tell. No, not a story. I have memories to recall in a way that might be construed as a confession and that do tie into running.

Few know that, before I took up distance running, I was an overweight, 219 lbs., more-than-occasional smoking (Marlboro Lite) political operative and then a government PR guy, working as communications director/deputy campaign manager for a U.S. congressional campaign in Indiana, a communications/writing aide to the governor of Indiana, a communications director for a few mayors and, through it all, a consultant to some state and local campaigns--all Democrats.

With dreams (more delusions) of one day rising to the level of a Washington, DC big shot (maybe a White House aide, preferably press secretary to the president or I would have settled for chief media aide to the VP), I imagined myself going on "Meet the Press" and battling it out with the great one, Tim Russert, who I watched and studied every Sunday morning and always thought was entirely fair, but tough, and always a gentleman. And I held on tightly to my dreams of Washington stardom for a few years, probably intoxicated by the powerful people I worked for and met. If I got where I wanted to be, I figured, I'd eventually sit down with Russert and have my Big Moment.

But then, in a twist of events I never could have predicted only months before the fact, I got out of the very mean business of politics and my wife and I moved to Cleveland, Ohio to start a new life...a life far-removed from campaigns, political manuevering and spin-doctoring. I'm now a communications guy for a hospital system who loves his job but, unlike me in my previous life, isn't defined by my job. And it's been a much better life, let me tell you.... (Trivia: Speaking of Cleveland, Russert went to undergrad at John Carroll).

By the time of our move from the Hoosier State to the Buckeye State, I'd begun distance running, had completed my first marathon (2004 Columbus Marathon, 3:22) and had fallen in love with life in my running shoes. My Sunday runs had become such a key part of my existence that "Meet the Press" fell by the wayside, and my dreams had gone from wanting to be a DC power broker and MTP regular to wanting to qualify for Boston. However, to this day I still continue to catch re-runs of MTP, tune into "The Tim Russert Show," and pay close attention to Russert's election analysis. When seeing the great one, I would often be reminded of those crazy dreams I used to have of going 10 rounds with him on his show.

Not that my dreams ever would have come true, but today that dream of going on "Meet the Press"--a dream I had long ago when I lived a different life--is officially dead. And, with it, we now remember a news icon and a man so many looked up to, admired, emulated and genuinely liked. Rest in peace, Mr. Russert. I will run some miles this weekend for you and your family and be sure to think of you this Sunday morning.

1 comment:

  1. Very well put Wyatt. I too was a big Tim Russert fan. Buffalo's favorite son, he was intense but always maintained a level of civility few correspondents today seem to attain. Over the years he has had all the "big names" on his show and it was always fun to see them fidget about while getting asked the tough questions.