What about in a race? Could you beat the President?
I betcha I'd have more endurance. My one claim to fame in my own little internal running circle is a sub-four marathon. It wasn't necessarily a good running time, but it proves I have the endurance within me to at least gut it out and that is something, if you ever talk to my old coaches they'd tell you, too. What I lacked in physical strength or skill I made up for in determination and endurance. So if were a long race that required a lot of endurance I'd win.
Is running nonpartisan?
Oh, thank God, it's nonpartisan. It doesn't matter your background, your demographics, your race, your political affiliation, it's such a uniting, healthy, fun, awesome activity. It cracks me up going to some running event and seeing some dude who campaigned so hard against me, or a lady who's been blogging some mean comments about me. But we're all there together and we're smiling and we're having a good time because we're going to do something healthy and active. We need more of that. That's what sports are able to do. It's a wonderful kind of diversion from the divisiveness that is politics or that is life. And my parents, they've got so many friends from so many different political bents because of all their years participating in races and organizing races. I was lucky enough to have been brought up in that atmosphere where I see the value in that.
What has running taught you about politics?
Same thing it's taught me about life: You have to have determination and set goals, and you don't complain when something's hurting because no one wants to hear it. You get bummed and burned out sometimes in running and in politics, but if you're in for the long haul and you're in it because you know that it is a good thing, then you get out there and you do it anyway. You know, [former RW columnist] George Sheehan really could articulate what running means in terms of applicability to life. During the campaign, when people asked me about my favorite authors, I said C.S. Lewis, John Steinbeck, and Dr. George Sheehan, and people would look at me, these reporters, like who in the world is that. But his books and columns so inspired me 10, 15, 20 years ago, and still do. I remember what he wrote about applying the lessons of running to relationships and families and businesses and, in my case, running a state. He was a brilliant man.
Tell me about a memorable run during the campaign that really stands out.
Oh, my gosh, the one that really stands out I'm embarrassed to death to repeat. I went for a run at John McCain's ranch a couple of days before the debate with Joe Biden. My favorite thing in the world is to run on hot, dusty roads. I don't get enough of that in Alaska. So I was in heaven and there were plenty of hills so I knew my thighs were going to just throb and my lungs were going to burn and that's what I crave. I like running alone and having the Secret Service with me added a little bit of pressure. I'm thinking I gotta have good form and can't be hyperventilating and can't be showing too much pain and that adds a little more pressure on you as you're trying to be out there enjoying your run. Then I fell coming down a hill and was so stinkin' embarrassed that a golf cart full of Secret Service guys had to pull up beside me. My hands just got torn up and I was dripping blood. In the debate you could see a big fat ugly Band-Aid on my right hand. I have a nice war wound now as a reminder of that fall in the palm of my right hand. For much of the campaign, shaking hands was a little bit painful.
Do you listen to music during your runs?
I go through cycles there, too. Right now I'm not listening to anything but probably in a month or two I'll start craving music. That's the way it's been for the 35 years. Parts of the year I want to listen to something, parts of the year I don't. When I do listen, I crank up old Van Halen, old AC/DC. I have a nice routine: I kick off my runs with the old Van Halen and AC/DC, then I get into my country music, then I always wrap it up with a couple mellow Amy Grant songs.
Is there anything else the world should know about you as a runner?
The only other thing I'd like to add is I've been very fortunate to be a recipient of all the efforts people put into Title IX all those years ago where girls got equal opportunity to participate in sports and extracurricular activities because sports growing up were my world. I'm so thankful for Title IX allowing equal access to these opportunities, and I'm a huge proponent of girls being able to realize what they're made of by participating in sports and whatever I can do there I'm going to be doing.
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