TITLE: Gonna Fly Now AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 24, 2007 11:24 AM DESC: ----- BODY: 5:00 AM on a chilly autumn morning. A crystal clear sky filled with more stars than the eye can take in. A lone runner moves through the empty streets of a sleeping city, with only a hooded sweatshirt as protection against the intermittent gusts of wind. As I completed my final training run this morning, my overly romantic subconscious felt like Rocky -- I half-expected to hear Bill Conti's theme rise over the trees of South Riverside Trail. Of course, Rocky ran against the backdrop of a blue-collar metropolis waking for another work day, among a people who placed great hope in one of their own to rise from the streets in victory. When I finished running, I headed off to my office for a day of mail, meetings, and a comfortable chair. Rocky faced the challenge of Apollo Creed, who put on a cloak of transparent patriotism as America's hero. My challenge, the Marine Corps Marathon, offers a background of patriotism and pride, but an authentic pride borne of sacrifice my men and women who endure challenges that dwarf my 26.2 miles. Rocky looked into the unknown as he prepared for a world championship fight, but this is my fourth marathon. I know the challenge. I have had some successes, and I've come up short of expectations. Each race is an unknown, but we understand some unknowns better than others. I cannot in good conscience compare my cliché-riddled state of mind to Rocky's quiet desperation that his life could be more -- that he could be more. But on those mornings filled with long and solitary miles, we share something of a bond, along with countless others who challenge themselves to approach their limits. I, for one, enjoy it all -- the planning, the training miles, the race strategy, and lining up to see how far I can go. -----