If You're Crazy and You Know It, Run a Marathon - Live Like a Mensch
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If You're Crazy and You Know It, Run a Marathon


Photo courtesy of Pingswept


On Bankrate today, there was a list of the Top 5 Marathons in North America.

I have run(ish) a marathon before. I'm a cheapskate and kind of a lazy runner, and so the marathon I ran was the Columbus marathon, because it not only required no travel on my part since I lived there, but Columbus is also not exactly known for its hills. (J and I, as transplants from the East Coast where hills are plentiful, actually found it fairly funny how Ohioans tried to describe their topography in more exciting terms. For example, ditches in Columbus real estate terms are always described as ravines. We wondered if parents of newly-driving teenagers in Columbus worried about them ending up dead in a ravine somewhere.)

Even with those two things going for it, the one and only marathon I ran was not a smashing success. I ran the first 11 miles, took a mile off (meaning I walked), ran another three, hurt my foot in some minor way that would not have fazed Paula Jane Radcliffe in the slightest, considered calling J for a ride home during mile 18, and finished so late that there were no silver warmth blankets or food left over by the time I crossed the finish line. It was raining by then, too.

I decided then and there that I was done with full marathons. (Halfs are fine. 13.1 miles is a much more doable distance).

According to Bankrate, marathoning is getting to be a big business. And apparently quite a few individuals think that these top 5 marathons are pretty cool.

I'm not buying it. I think most of the marathoners out there are masochists. I'm looking at each of the marathons Bankrate mentions, and I can tell you exactly why anyone might prefer to watch these races on TV. While lying on the couch. And eating potato chips.

I feel that reducing our collective guilt over not running a marathon is a public service, so without further ado, here is what's wrong with each of North America's Top 5 Marathons.

1. New York City Marathon:  The Big Apple is not exactly known for its friendliness, and having a big portion of road traffic closed off for a bunch of runners is likely to anger the denizens of the city. Add to that the fact that this marathon is on this coming Sunday, only days after New York has gotten its power and infrastructure back after Sandy, and I'm a little worried about the potential rage that some might feel at again finding their driving/traveling options limited.

2. Boston Marathon: There is a portion of this course called Heartbreak Hill. For anyone who runs in the midwest, where a ditch is called a ravine, that's more than enough to permanently take this off the list. Even if you do run up an occasional hill, unless you live in Boston or San Francisco, there's not much that can prepare you for this unnecessary test of stamina. Stay home.

3. Pikes Peak Marathon: This is a 26.2 mile run UP A MOUNTAIN. These people are certifiable.

4. Northwest Passage Marathon: Not only is this marathon going to be ridiculously pricey to get to, since it's run in the Arctic Circle, but to quote the Bankrate article, "polar bears are also not an uncommon sight, which can only positively affect finishing times." I would prefer to have a personal record for my finishing time because I found renewed strength and stamina from within, and not because I was running for my life from a 1500 pound carnivorous eating machine. Perhaps that's just me.

5. Big Sur International Marathon: Okay, I'd be tempted by this one. Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Getting to that Zen state wherein there is nothing in the world but your footfalls and your breaths while surrounded by incredible beauty could get me to fold and join another marathon. I just need to find out how bad the hills are...

So, in honor of all of us who are *not* running a marathon this year, let's take a moment to enjoy the lack of muscle aches in our legs, the lack of chafing in uncomfortable places, the lack of blisters, the lack of heat stroke, and the relative fullness of our wallets because we're not shelling out big money to torture ourselves.

Oh, and pass the potato chips.



frugal_fun said:

Oh, thank goodness you're with the many sane non-marathoners. :)

I have a friend who has been absorbed by the whole endurance sport thing. I've tried to gentle reminder her that there are other things worthy of her time other than events that leave you on the edge of puking your guts out and require a week recovery time. It didn't work. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a cult. :(

For the record, I see nothing wrong with physical fitness. I exercise at a gym about twice a week and try to make sure I get out in some way (mostly walking) everyday. But most of exercise should be play and *fun* - bike because it's because it's fun, a pick up game with friends, that weekly tennis match with a best buddy.

The only people who look like they are having fun in marathon are the Kenyans and Ethopians, where they do in fact run with their buddies for fun at home. Everyone else looks like they need to sit down and maybe have a couple of steaks.

Also, I'm willing to bet about 2 decades from now there will be a "marthoner's syndrome", where they are in semi-continuous joint pain because the cartilage and supporting tissue have been worn down to nothing. My friend has already had joint surgery at age 35 for a hip tear that could have only come from the stress of endurance running. (Instead of taking this as a warning sign, she was 100% focused on how quickly she could get back to training. *sigh*)

Unfortunately, I know the hard core people tell/feed themselves a bunch of junk about how we're born to run 26 miles in row. What's completely ignored is how close to collapse they are the end (and their recovery time), how much training they have to do to even *complete* 26 miles that quickly, and how utterly foolish it is to chase prey for that kind of mileage.  (I can't think of an animal on the planet that exhausts their prey to death while risking their own exhaustion.)

(By the way, if you are one of these "born to run" people, I've gone over all this ground with my friend. All the same arguments suggest we are born to think, walk, and sprint, not run like an idiot for miles on end for prey that may never be caught. Please don't use imaginary anthropology to justify slowly grinding your body into the ground.)

I've turned this into a rant! Sorry about that. It's been tough to see my friend turned into a marathon addict. Hopefully this fad will die away someday. :(

November 5, 2012 2:33 PM

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