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Shot Of The Day

Marathons Have Very Little To Do With Running!

I was standing at the finish line of my first half marathon and a girl leans over to me and asks, “so what’d ya think?” She was about 20 years younger than me and barely looked like she had trotted 1/2 a mile. Her matching NIKE running skirt and top were dry as a bone, as was her perfectly pony-tailed hair with matching head band. I, on the other hand, was red and breathless, crusted with salt from all the sweat and looked like I was drunk as I stumbled around the finish gate giddy that I was on the other side. I was emotional to boot and shocked that I ran the whole way, so my answer to her innocent question was charged with an energy she wasn’t expecting. “That was awesome! What an amazing day. Wasn’t it the greatest?” She looked at me like I was an alien or had just called the earthquake in Haiti a minor tremor. Her response confused me. How could you finish something like that and not feel like the lion licking her lips after devouring her prey? Since she started it, I felt free to pry a bit with, “How ‘bout You?” Without hesitation she shot back, “I hated it. I hated every single step of it. I did it but I H-A-T-E-D it!” She said it like she was trying to get rid of the taste of rotten food. “So why did you do it in the first place? What was your motive?” “To lose weight,” she retorted with an incredulous look and tone that communicated, “why else would anybody do this?” I just smiled, put my motherly arm around her shoulder [hoping she wouldn’t faint from the toxins] and consoled her, “Oh honey, there are way easier ways to lose weight. What you just did was the equivalent of killing a cockroach with a steamroller. Besides, look at you. You’re beautiful. Enjoy your youth. Relax about the weight. Take a Samba class.” And she was beautiful. She just needed a mentor or a coach or a psychiatrist to tell her what all of us on the course already knew — people don’t run marathons for exercise. At least sane people don’t. Because, let’s face it, there are way easier ways to lose weight, keep your ticker strong and keep your good cholesterol high. Jogging, biking, swimming, spinning, step class, you name it. There’s plenty of fitness in all of it. The marathon runner, as far as I’ve been able to evaluate, is after something more than fitness. Fitness is a great bi-product, but the main product, I would submit, goes deeper. My friend Carole says it this way, “if you want to have fun, run a 5K. If it’s an experience you’re after, run a marathon.” But 26.2 miles of non-stop running for an experience sounds more than crazy, right? Now having completed one half marathon [pictured here] and one full marathon [Disney 2009] and all the training that goes along with it, I can appreciate the view from the other side of the crazy line and it looks far different than I could have ever imagined. Without hesitation, I can say that there is nothing crazy about it. At least not totally crazy. In the next few weeks, through images and words, I’m gonna try to articulate some of the lessons I learned in my marathon journey. I think Lance Lance Armstrong said it best when he said, it’s not about the bike [or in this case, the marathon], it’s about something bigger, deeper and more profound. The marathon is a great analogy for life.

Posted: 2 March 2010