One of my favorite running locations while living in Ohio was Highbanks Park in Columbus.
I was proud to be a founding member of the "Ohio Posse," a wonderful group of ultra running cohorts. We'd meet at the park most every Sunday and share some miles and good conversation.
One great advantage of the group was the unspoken camaraderie that existed between and among 100-mile runners. We could share the pain and victory of the journey and each time we'd complete a race, we'd acknowledge that we'd "punched the card" for another year.
Knowing that I had validated another 100-mile effort also validated my place in life. It's almost like a parking voucher; once it's punched, you know you're good to go and that your car is allowed and welcome in the garage.
The posse gathered at Highbanks one hot summer day. A young runner burst upon our group and joined the run. She quickly announced she was a marathon runner and began a lecture on how to be a runner, when to run and how to keep on pace. Funny, she never stopped to ask about our running accomplishments.
Mark Carroll, a good buddy and running partner, looked my way and smiled. I grinned back and we knew that there was really no need for explanations. One week prior, Mark and I had "punched our cards" at the Mohican 100. We were validated, we knew it, and all was well in the world.