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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Running Out of Reasons

Yesterday I sent in my registration form to run in the Boston Marathon this April. The Boston Marathon is the biggest running event in the world and to compete in it, you need to qualify for it by finishing a qualifying marathon under a certain time, depending on your age and sex. For me, this meant finishing in less than three hours, eleven minutes. 3:10:59 gets you in. This translates to seven minutes, fifteen seconds per mile for the 26.2 miles. I qualified by running the Baltimore Marathon in 3:09:42 last fall.

I went to Baltimore with the "you mean you really want to give up hitting this?" ex-girlfriend. When I finished the race I was in great pain, the kind of pain that makes you want to ball up on the ground and start bawling, cursing yourself for ever deciding to pay an entry fee to induce such a horrible feeling. I just wanted to get into a cab, get back to my hotel room, take a shitload of Tylenol, and take a shower if I could still stand up. I had discussed with the girl when I would likely finish and where we would meet. She was nowhere to be found. God, that pissed me off. There I was, staggering around in agonizing pain looking for a wretched creature that I didn't ever want to see again, but had to because she was somewhere with my wallet and key to the hotel room. When I finally found her, I grabbed my warm-ups out of my back pack and motioned for us to go find a cab. She seemed confused by the whole situation. She didn't get there in time to see me run right by the hotel we were staying early in the race, didn't get to the finish line in time to see me cross, and didn't seem to have any concept of whether I had done well or not. I don't think I hit that thereafter.

When I got back to DC, and the pain began to subside, I started watching college football and drinking heavily. I think I had twelve or more beers during that afternoon and evening. Cold beer tastes better the more physically exhausted you are--not exhausted like you are tired and want to go to bed, but exhausted like I just worked out really hard or ran really far or chopped up like fifty corpses. Remember in Roadhouse when Wade is almost beaten to death, but somehow staggers back to the bar? Well, Wade made it that far because he needed a fucking beer. And he got one. I gurantee that it was the best tasting beer the Wade character ever had, even if it was a 'Genny Light'.

I went to happy hour yesterday with some friends of mine, one of whom was my friend Michelle, who had recently decided to give up beer for lent. If Michelle finds herself exhausted after cutting down a bunch of trees or 'serving' some fools in a dance battle at a DC club like H2O or Love sometime between now and Easter, I guess she'll have to order a glass of crisp chilled chardonnay or an ice cold Fresca. I'm not sure I would give up beer for lent, but I can't say I fully understand the motivation for Catholics giving enjoyable things for lent like beer. Perhaps she is giving up beer to make beer taste better after Easter than it did on Fat Tuesday.

I can understand that. Running, after all, is not fun. It's tolerable at best when you are running at a comfortable pace on a nice day, but you are never as comfortable running as not running, which is why most humans choose to not run recreationally. People run because of the way it makes them feel afterwards. Sitting around and drinking is always more enjoyable after a run. Plus, it helps keep you in shape, and being in good shape is desirable because if you find yourself without pants on in the presence of someone and you really want to hit that, that person will find your appearance more pleasing than if you were all frumpy gunty.

Running races motivates regular running through fear of the shame of not finishing or finishing in a time that you feel no boost in pride for. After qualifying for the Boston, I felt this shame after running the Marine Corps Marathon two weeks later in three hours, twenty-six minutes. It was the first time I had a finishing time slower than I had in the race prior to it. While that time was still faster than most marathon runners will ever run, I was disappointed. What the fuck was the point of paying almost $100 to torture myself for three and a half hours if I wasn't going to be all that proud of myself?

The problem was that after the Baltimore race I didn't have a realistic goal in mind, since I had already qualified for Boston, my sort of end goal in running. I attempted to break three hours, but hit the wall after being on pace for about sixteen miles. I guess I'll try to break three hours again if I can get in shape for it. After that, I think I'm going to quit running marathons. I started running, as I think I wrote in my first ever post, to give me something to focus on other than the fact that I was unemployed and living in my ex-girlfriend's basement. I've taken this shit way too far.

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  • At 11:15 AM, Blogger Arnie "The Beekeeper" Solomon said…

    As a matter of fact, I rememember that I took a jog around the neigborhood one day in the balmy summer of 2004, and returned in excruciating pain. At that time (referenced in the final paragraph here), I dated a girl who ran in the Boston marathon and gave things up for lent and what have you. Needless to say, it was short lived. I took that half-mile run that day simply to assuage the guilt stemming from my comparatively disgusting living habits. Now, I remember shortly thereafter, the Chief himself strapped on the New Balances and took to the streets. So, I dont know if I had anything to do with this, but regardless, I wholeheartedly concur that it has been taken too far.


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