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.