Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Brush with Greatness

As many of you know, yesterday I had a brush with greatness.

After a six-mile run I threw on a jacket, grabbed a bag of books to sell and headed down to Powell's Bookstore.  (The mecca for any book lover, this store takes up an entire city block with new and used books. They also purchase books allowing customers to sell for trade or dollars.)

It was 9:30 AM as I entered the bookstore just as a tiny woman and younger gal came out.  Said tiny woman turned out to be Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic gold medalist and renowned marathoner.

One of my personal heroes.

So. Did I greet her and try to engage her in conversation? Ask her, "What brings you to Portland?" Or, as a solid book geek, inquire about the books in her bag?

Nope. I squealed like a star-struck school girl, "Oh. My. God." and just stood there.

This seemed to unnerve her and bemuse her companion, who I assume was her daughter.  As Samuelson stared at me and then began to beat a hasty retreat I managed to stutter, "Uh, great job in, uh, Chicago."

And off she went. Probably never to be seen by these eyes again.

As my loving, yet up front husband opined, "E, you blew it."

Perhaps, but I like to think I've had other closer and more intimate brushes with greatness.  Yes, I passed a heady five seconds with a 53-year-old woman who just ran a 2:47:50 at the Chicago Marathon.

I also watched my good friend, Sarah, of Run Like a Mother fame, BQ for the first time in a steady rain with a time of 3:59:54 at this year's Portland Marathon.  And from afar I cheered the new that Shelly, a California runner and blogger, tore through the Long Beach Marathon with a sizzling 3:46:29 at age 49.

Those feats are great moments in themselves.  And ones that can be savored and enjoyed not only by the women who experienced them but by others who care about them.  And are inspired by them.

Last but certainly not least is the moment of greatness you see in the picture that accompanies this post: The wedding of my daughter, Carol, that took place two weeks ago in South Carolina.

I look at this young woman and I am amazed by her character and her beauty.

There is no greater brush with greatness than that of a proud mother standing next to the child she adores and admires.


  1. Best blog entry ever! LOVE YOU MOMMY!

  2. Joan Benoit Samuelson was here in Portland and I missed it!? ;-( Oh well, I would have done the same thing you did--stood there in awe. ;-)

  3. Ellison, that's incredible--JBS runs and reads, too? I knew I loved her.

    I'm sure she gets your reaction a lot: She is sort of a God(dess), after all. (And apparently she's shy.)

    I once ran into Anne Lamott at the airport bathroom in San Francisco. We exited adjacent stalls at the same time and I froze in my steps, swallowing back the words, "Bird-by-Bird changed my life."

    Anyway...I'm going to print your post since never again will I be mentioned in a write up alongside Sara Bowen Shea!