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August 30, 2012

Recently, I was thinking that I’d like to do something completely out of character and take on an extreme challenge.

Because I’m nothing if not practical, I spent fifteen minutes ruling out anything that might have serious repercussions like death or grievous injury, and managed to narrow it down to a list of five things.

Of those five things, four cost exorbitant wads of cash that I’m not willing to part with and, for the most part, do not have. Hey, don’t judge me, I’ve got three kids in private schools in the heart of the city!

The sole remaining idea was one I’ve had skulking around in the back of my mind for years anyway: run a marathon.
Yes. Me — the lady who, up until a few weeks ago, was perfectly willing to try and pass off pajama pants as outside wear (hey, they were TERRYCLOTH!) and refuses to get off the couch when there is COMPUTER STUFF to be done, wants to try her hand at running obscene numbers of miles with other like-minded fools.

Years ago, when I was a fierce gym warrior, I liked how my energy levels skyrocketed and my endorphins multiplied. I felt strong. I was strong. I could run for miles with friends or just on the treadmill. It wasn’t an issue.

Now I don’t like to jog unless I’m being hunted by a bear or a rabid fox, and this is a problem because in order to train for and participate in a marathon you need to actually run.

Also, while we’re at it, what’s with the change in terminology? Back in the 70s everyone had velvet track suits and went JOGGING. Now they wear sleek UnderArmor, bullet proof bras and cyborg glasses to RUN.

But I digress.

After sifting through endless information on the internet, I found out you need to fill out forms and get on waiting lists to run in some of these marathons, which doesn’t sit right with me. What if I just want to run with large groups of people and get cheered on by adoring fans on the sidelines? Why to I have to pay for that?

It won’t be like that movie version of marathon running I play over and over in my head where, exhausted and covered in fake sweat, I cross the finish line and fall into the arms of my supportive and loving husband who took vacation days to bring my beautiful children to watch mommy achieve her lifelong goal! Because, you know, I had to set my dreams aside in the beginning of the film for the betterment of humanity.

Anyway, my point is this: why must this be so difficult?

I like to run. I enjoy large crowds cheering me on. I like a challenge.

Perhaps my naiveté will work in my favor and the hours of grueling training required to reach such a goal won’t look so daunting to someone as dimwitted as myself. Or maybe, when faced with insurmountable odds, I’ll just deflate and go home.

Regardless, I’d like to try.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2012 11:48 am

    where do you live? try a charity marathon! as someone with epilepsy let me press this on ya!

    • dufmanno permalink
      August 30, 2012 4:11 pm

      I live in Washington DC but I’m close enough to VA and MD to do anything there. The Marine Corp. Marathon is too grueling but I’d be willing to try anything for charity.

      • Janet, dammit permalink
        August 31, 2012 1:40 pm

        Grueling? The MCM is a great beginners marathon; that’s kind of its whole orientation, a people’s event that doesn’t court elite runners. If you mean distance, a marathon is by definition 26.2 miles.

  2. August 30, 2012 2:16 pm

    Wow, you’re an inspiration. I could never run a marathon (even though I love running, long distances are beyond me)!

    Re: Jogging/running: To me, jogging is going at a pace where you’re comfortably talking, taking shorter strides with the feet closer to the ground, not necessarily pushing for race times or anything. Running is when I’m going at the top speed for the distance I’m aiming for, long strides, pace just this side of being comfortable with a definite dip into the anaerobic in the final miles.

    Jogging has always been boring to me. Running has my adrenaline running (am I going to make it? Did I overpace? Will I beat my personal best?). Could be a matter of semantics though…

    • August 30, 2012 2:19 pm

      EDIT: Out of curiosity, what were the other extreme things?

      I have a few unattainables, such as going on every single of the most exciting waterslides/rollercoasters in the world, traveling to space, running a 5k in under 13 minutes and being one of the first Mars colonialists… I may just do the space travel thing though 😉

      • dufmanno permalink
        August 30, 2012 4:17 pm

        oh and as for the other extreme things…
        I’ve considered sky diving, kick boxing, survivalist school and trading in skiiing for snowboarding. I gave thirteen seconds of thought to selling everything and starting a commune where I become the supreme leader and am driven mad with power but that fantasy crashed and burned

    • dufmanno permalink
      August 30, 2012 4:14 pm

      Well, um damn. If you think I’m an inspiration I guess I shouldn’t send you that photo of me vomiting on the side of the road after running ten feet at too quick a pace.
      Seriously though, I’m sick of not taking any time at all for myself to do something proactive and fun. It’s something that always made me feel strong so taking it back up again is an important first step. A tiny step, but one that has to happen before I can actually kick serious ass at it:)

  3. Happy Spider permalink
    August 31, 2012 10:39 am

    You said: “It won’t be like that movie version of marathon running … where, exhausted and covered in fake sweat, I fall into arms of my loving and supportive husband…”

    I’m not so sure about that. My brother is into running and this year I finally got around to seeing him in a couple of events–the Brooklyn Half ( a half-marathon) and the Cape May Marathon ( in New Jersey)– and the runners seemed to be pretty much living exactly the movie version. Everybody was cheerful and exuberant and pumped-up. A really happy vibe. People were happy to be there, and happy that other people were there, and they wanted to do well themselves and to have everyone else do well too. The bystanders like me cheered on everybody.

    To me it felt like the runners were all part of some club. The club of people who had finished marathons. There was a feeling of recognition and respect when they met each other. They were bonded by each one’s having overcome the same obstacle, the marathon. Or having transcended their own limitations to defeat the marathon. Also I picked a strong feeling of smugness, but, what the heck, this was their day and they had earned the smugness. My brother has said that what he likes about running is that there is no phoniness. You can’t bs about being a runner. Your performance at the events shows what you are.

    I don’t know about the money aspect of things, but the events I went to seemed to have a fair amount of fan and club involvement so I think runners probably get a lot in return for their money. Just looking around, I could see things like:

    Runners run in the city streets, so the streets are blocked off with barricades and people directing traffic. Surely that involves purchasing some sort of parade permit. Some cops are present to keep order. First aid stations. A few ambulances on stand-by. Tables full of free water ( and a few other things) for the runners to grab as they go past. The Cape May marathon did not end where it started so buses were provided to take the runners back to the starting line. Runners usually have personal items that they don’t take with them (car keys, cell phone, warm clothes) so there is a storage area that needs to be manned. A lot of the fun of a marathon is that it is “official”, it is more meaningful than just running all alone, so the runners get registered and have numbers to wear on their clothes. Also they all get the extremely important radio tag to wear which officially records their times. There is obviously some sort of specialized equipment needed to read and record the tags. The web site for the event. The logistics of handling registration. Celebratory banners at the finish line.

    So I think a lot of work goes on behind the scenes so the runners can just show up and enjoy themselves without worrying about anything.

    The waiting lists are a problem. There are just an insane number of applications for the popular events. Nobody is happy about having to turn people away. The runners want to welcome everybody.

    So even though running totally isn’t my thing, I think it really might be just as good in real life as in day dreams. So I wish you luck and hope you can join that happy club. It is an exciting ambition! But if you don’t join, well, no shame in that. There are other clubs to join. I’ll never be a marathon runner myself.

    Why is the Marine Corp Marathon more grueling than others? Aren’t all marathons equally grueling? I think the only things I ever heard about the Marine Corp Marathon are that it is really scenic and popular and loved by everybody. I think it has open enrollment so anybody can sign up and run right along with the Marines and the really good runners. I think the only bad thing I heard was that its great popularity means that it fills up right away so it is hard to get into.

    Can you just go run a marathon or do you have to find some sort of “Newbie’s Guide to Training for a Marathon”? My brother seems to have some sort of schedule of “long” and “short” runs, but maybe he developed that method over time after he’d finished his first marathon and got more serious.

  4. August 31, 2012 11:09 am

    I want there to be an elliptical marathon. I hate “pounding the pavement.” When I wrestled in high school and weighed 140 pounds I hated it. Like you, running for me has always been a fight or flight response only. I would rather ride a bike, but not rollerskate. Man, if I took a spill while rollerskating now, I’d be breaking some bones. Holy crap.

    If I were you, I would not give my information to the Military-Industrial-Marathon complex. Once you’re in their system, they’re calling you every marathon, pestering you to do it again and again and again. It’s like the cult of Nike. If I were you, I would just print my own number and join the race about a half mile down the stretch. What are they gonna do, tackle you?


  5. September 4, 2012 11:56 am

    This is a great adventure to embark on, but I take issue with this statement: “in order to train for and participate in a marathon you need to actually run.” Not true at all. I have trained and participated in eight half marathons – as a walker. And when I say that, I mean I am moving my body as fast as I can for 13.1 miles. I have never found running to be comfortable or pleasurable, but I sure love distance walking.

    There is a ton of information out there about training for your first race – Hal Higdon has good plans, as well as John “The Penguin” Bingham. Good luck!

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