Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When does a marathon "count"?

The No Boundaries 5K group I participated in last year. (I'm number 31- 20 weeks pregnant).

I heard an older podcast recently of The Two Gomers in which they were talking about marathon times. In particular, they read an article that was pretty harsh towards what they called "plodders". A bunch of really speedy marathoners were talking about how "Geez, they'll give anyone a T-shirt and a medal. It used to mean something." The faster people were saying if you didn't finish in a certain time, it didn't count.

Man, this made me mad.

I completed the Oklahoma City Marathon in 2004. I walked most of it, and completed 15 minutes before the time limit expires (6:45). It was my goal to finish, but my training didn't go well, and rather than quit altogether when the running didn't work out, I walked it.

Afterwards, I was so proud. I wore my finisher t-shirt with pride (I still do).

But, there were several moments when I talked to people after that who tried to take my pride away.

I remember a very specific incident. I was a group exercise coordinator, and my gym was hosting a yoga fit training. The assistant trainer, a lady in awesome shape who could do an unassisted headstand (another one of those life goals I struggle with) started talking about running with me. I told her I had done the OKC marathon recently. She asked me what my time was. I said "6:45" (proudly) and she looked at me in disgust and said, "Sarah, I hate to tell you this, but you didn't really do a marathon." Ouch. Man that hurt (still hurts).

After that experience, when people asked my time, I was a little less proud. And I got the same result. My walking 26.2 miles didn't really count for anything. I was depressed. Soon, I just quit telling people "I completed a marathon."

I committed to becoming a better runner and one day completing a marathon in a "respectable" time, but due to several obstacles, that hasn't happened yet.

So, here I am, doing pretty well with the running again (well, except for the dog bite and the knee thing). I've committed to a marathon in December. But, this issue is still a sore subject.

Look- I think traversing 26.2 miles is awesome no matter how you do it. It is a freaking long way. Personally, I've set a time goal. (It's a very modest time goal, and I'm not going to share it just yet). It's not to qualify for Boston. It's to run most of it, and have a good time.

I'm older and wiser now, and I've decided to take back my pride at completing that race in 2004. It was hard. I know people that can't walk *3* miles. I accomplished something. I will applaud the person who finishes a sub 3 marathon, and I will applaud the person who comes in after the sun has gone down and everyone has gone home.

So there.

Until next time...

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1 comment:

Small Footprints said...

Wow ... I am totally impressed that you finished the marathon. That is an accomplishment and you should feel so proud! Whatever happened to the days of all athletes encouraging each other? In my mind, it's not about winning or specific times ... it's about challenging ourselves. You did great!!

BTW ... I found you through the Wednesday Blog Hop and now I'm following you! :-)