Friday, March 21, 2008

Marathon Runners Are Not Stupid

I almost blogged on Sunday to tell the world it was a done deal, I was going full steam ahead with running the Columbus Marathon and short of a natural disaster or death I would be crawling across that finish line on October 21st. I'm glad I didn't because I don't like to tempt fate. Chad Schieber of Midland, Michigan died in his first marathon race in Chicago on Sunday. After hearing brief accounts on the news I Googled the story and got the details.

Unfortunately, I also came across plenty of on-line "discussion" regarding the stupidity of marathon runners and the rhetorical "Was it worth it?". No, marathon runners are not stupid. We are actually quite intelligent, planning our training months in advance, adjusting it as needed, carbo loading the three days prior to racing, and tapering so that we are begging to run 26.2 miles on race day. Most people do not register for a marathon on a whim. Sure, some people do is as a first-time "attempt" and may not train properly, but that doesn't kill a runner, it just makes him/her drop out of the race. This usually happens when you hit "the wall", when you feel as though you can't take another step and that the race is over for you. Hitting "the wall" feels like death is upon you and that if you stop running you will never get moving again. The only thing you can think about is stopping and crying. Yeah, crying. Marathons are very emotional events in which you experience a multitude of emotions with the intention of feeling elation and pride as you cross the finish line. Chad Schieber may have felt he was simply hitting "the wall" and was trying to run through it.

So, was it worth it to set a goal and work methodically towards it for months?

Was it worth planning your weekends around your long runs and passing up the cocktails so you could do the Sunday LSD with your water bottle and stopwatch sans dehydration and headache?

Was it worth the chaffing welts and torn mucles?

The blisters and damaged toenails?

The sheer volume of discarded running shoes missing their soles?

Was it worth finding your soul in the name of running?


Now I don't believe for a minute that if Chad Schieber knew he was going to die that he would have started that race. There is no denying the tradgey in this event, but bear in mind that he was living his life, he was reaching for the golden ring.

Consequently, people that know I'm planning to run Columbus in less than two weeks called with their concerns. One friend even offered to help Vinnie with the kids should I not return. The person that offered this did so because she knows I would rather crawl across the finish line than admit defeat. It is not that I am stupid and don't know my limitations (yeah, don't even waste your time commenting on this statement), it is that I have trained long, and hard, and relentlessly for this one day. Hopefully for less than four hours. It will cost ME financially $3.93 per mile to run this race (the entry fee divided by 26.2). Physically it will cost me a lot more. And yes, regardless of what happens it will be worth it. My kids have seen me tired, torn, exhausted, drenched in salt and sweat, all in the name of running. My passion, my friend, my foe. They know I have set a goal and to teach them about life is to strive for it, to talk the talk and walk the walk. To run the run, no matter what the outcome.
Currently reading :
Peace Like a River
By Leif Enger
Release date: 20 August, 2002

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