Monday, 11 May 2009

SERIOUSLY????

A fellow marathoner recently characterized her friends who train for sub-3 hour marathons as "serious" runners. I did not bring it up at the time, but the comment stuck in my craw (whatever THAT is). Sort of like when a co-worker tells a racially or sexually insensitive "joke" and I fail to call them on it, I often wish I could go back and forcefully stand up for the offended. Here's my chance, albeit, belated. Over the course of 25 marathon events I have had the absolute honor to have been inspired by "serious" marathoners who would pay to have been able to clear the tape at 26.2 in under 7 hours. Yes, I said SEVEN HOURS.

My first marathon was in 2003 in beautiful Vancouver, BC. One of my training group members was a plus-size woman with a heart and drive as big as her physical presence. (If you search the blog archives here, you'll find her picture). Our group was not fast, by any stretch of the imagination, but SHE was the slowest of all. After the race she admitted she was not pleased that her group had left her behind to finish on her own. But, finish on her own is what she did! We all found out months later that she'd run the race not knowing that the problems she had swallowing her pre-race dinner the night before were caused by a festering throat cancer. She died about a year later, after chemo and dropping over 100 pounds.

The following year I traveled to Scotland for the Loch Ness Marathon. For a few months previous to that I chatted online with another woman who was training for her first marathon. She'd lost her job and had decided to turn lemons into limoncella and make her way to Inverness from Tucson. We met up the night before the run, at a marvelous pub in an un-touristy section of the Highlands city, tipping back a few brews, washed down with sausage and potatoes, all while enjoying some amazing live local music. We met up at the starting line the following morning, hugged, and wished each other a "great run". I came in at something like 5:20....she came in about two hours later, dead last, but come in she did, in no uncertain terms.

I know of no more serious runners than these two...with all due respect to you sub-3 hour folks, and the people who love them. If you do what you do with as much heart and desire as them, I applaud you, but it's a tall order.

Gotta run!

15 comments:

courtney said...

Very touching stories!

CewTwo said...

You do present yourself, and your sport, in the best of all lights!

I am definitely not a sub-par marathoner. But I'm not racing against any of them either. I'm out to challenge only one individual out there. That guy is me.

Thanks for a poignant article!

Charlie

renae said...

Thanks for sharing these stories. People like you are who keep me running!

Michael B said...

my god, you people are sweet. YOU make me cry!

craig macfarlane said...

Nice post Michael...I'd say while there are fast performances at the front of the race, there are more amazing stories at the back. Almost everyone at the back is doing something remarkable, either for themselves or, often, on behalf of a loved one. Thanks for highlighting a couple true winners.

Karoline said...

Thanks, Michael B, for this post.

Anonymous said...

Well said Michael.

Arrogance and running really do not go hand in hand. Someone should tell that to not only the "serious" runners but also to ignorant companies such as Pearl Izumi who insult "non-serious" runners.

We are slow but we finish!

Jogger said...

This is a great point that you've made. I have heard/read some similar commentary about "serious" runners as well. Unfortunately, the genetically fast and talented don't necessarily realize that everyone doesn't have that natural ability, and some of us don't mind that fate.

Fast does not equal serious. We all have our own reasons for finishing. If we finish, that is serious enough.

RoadBunner said...

Thanks for sharing. Seems you know a lot of inspiring people. I also agree speed does not equate to "seriousness."

Will have to chat you up about Loch Ness one day. It is on my list. Am probably going to do Edinburgh in 2010.

kch said...

In my opinion, anyone who trains for and runs a marathon is a serious runner. Thanks, Michael.

Kim said...

Being one of the back of the packers...thanks for posting.

leslie said...

Great stories. As far as I'm concerned, if you're not walking, you're running. (Watch out -- I'm getting angry now.) I think a serious running is anyone who is training for a goal, no matter what the goal. Training to run your first 5k? You're a serious runner. Training to break 6 hours in the marathon? Also a serious runner? Fit enough to just jump out and complete a half marathon? Good for you -- you are super fit, but a serious runner you are NOT!

Stepping off soapbox now... :)

Marathon Maritza said...

What wonderful and inspirational stories!

I also get a bit peeved with those kinds of remarks...I feel like I take my training seriously and work really hard and am by no means a 3 hour marathoner. But I AM a marathoner and a runner. :)

I'm jealous you've done the Inverness marathon! I love the Scottish Highlands, one of my fave areas in the world and I need to go back...what better visit than the marathon, right?

Alisa said...

Can I get a Hell Yeah for this post?

Thanks for sharing these inspirational stories!

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