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I Ran a Half-Marathon…But, Really, Was it Fun?

May 11, 2008

When Mark McGwire was smacking homers 3 times a week on his way to breaking Baseball’s home run record, he kept saying odd things like, “I’m in awe of myself,” or “I keep amazing myself.” While it was happening, I actually thought of these comments as humble. In retrospect of course, it seems much more likely that he was simply shocked at the power of the steroids he was (allegedly) injecting. He might have been more honest if he had said, “I knew they were good, but–whoa!–whoda thought it?”

Slugger Boy and I have something in common: we amazed ourselves. He blew up something like 71 home runs in the Bigs; I ran 20 kilometers in something called, “The Country Music Marathon.” He trained with the aid of HGH; I sucked down margaritas. He apparently had no idea he could break Major League records; I had no idea I could run that far. He was a balding red head with a Van Dyke beard; me, too! See? I nearly qualify for the Hall of Fame…just like McGwire!

Boy, have I digressed (and I haven’t even started).

A fourth of my company (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) at the sincere behest of our faithful leader, CEO Michael Hyatt, hoofed through this marathon–some of us, of course, far better than others. I was one of them–the others. But much to the shock of my family (brothers, parents, children) who know how much I’ve hated running over the years, I actually finished. My time was a somewhat respectable 2:30:25 for a virgin half-marathoner, especially one who is over-50, over-weight, and under-motivated. The pictures planted in this post are merely there to prove to my family I actually did it.That\'s me in black with head down gagging for air at the finish line.

Against the stride of my fellow running mates’ glowing testimonials, I’ve been a curmudgeon by comparison. I did not have fun. And I think they are all lying. Who are we trying to kid? It hurts too much to run 13 miles. Period. You get done and you can’t even step up a 6-inch curb without nearly collapsing from pain and loss of motor skill. My team didn’t even win–or lose! What’s that about? And what salesman thought up a sporting event where the participants pay to flagellate themselves? He should be collecting a royalty on every such race in the world.

If you want to read a truly honest (and hysterical) summary of the run, you need to read Joel Miller’s Running Fool recounting.

No, I did not have fun. But I was rewarded. In fact, not only did I think it was great that I did not die mid-contest, I proved I could do something that had alluded and frustrated me for years. Hyatt has this summary of the benefits of running the race: they are pretty much true for me, so I won’t repeat them. What matters is not that I had fun, but that I benefited. I am better for having run. The training, the run, and the completion of the run brought value to my life that I had not successfully accomplished before. And for that I am both amazed and grateful. I do plan on running it again. And as I have mentioned here before, it’s value–in a pastoral way–that Hyatt brought to our company’s life.

Don’t be content to give people just what they enjoy. It probably won’t last very long anyway. Try to give them what they need.

Here are my notes-to-self for next year:

  1. Get farther up in the starting corrals. I ran an extra half-mile sideways because I had to keep moving around walkers and slower pokes than me. And it made my knees wobble at times. Scary.
  2. Go ahead and kill anyone who says the last two miles are downhill-even if they just mean it metaphorically. They aren’t. They are the worst hills of the race and they hurt.
  3. Don’t race with anything you haven’t trained in-including headphones. Two days before the race, I paid 50 bucks for fancy-schmancy headphones the boss recommended which stay on your ears better than anything on the market. Of course, you can’t actually hear music through them and that seriously messed with my mojo.
  4. Be sure to complain about this year’s placement of the company tent. I didn’t need the extra mile tacked on the end of the race.
  5. Run in the company T-shirt, even if it does feel like sandpaper. If I could give some other Nelsonite as much comfort as I received just to see a teammate in front of me, it will be worth it.
  6. Eat the company food the night before. Darfons’ lasagna tasted like cardboard soaked in Ragu.
  7. Try to figure out why I lost all feeling below my waist at mile 10 and don’t do that again.
  8. Go to the bathroom as many times as necessary before lift off. It really hurts to run 7 miles when you gotta go. And never get a pre-race massage on your lower back when you gotta go, either.
  9. Best pre-race purchase: nipple guards. Best post-race advice nobody told me: remove said nipple guards prior to publicly changing shirts.
  10. Petition the boss for a one-day moratorium on our pro-health policies. Quality beer and cigars is definitely the way to celebrate. Joel Miller is a saint. Maybe we could pretend Thomas Nelson is Episcopal for a day, then HR could bring the cooler!

Epilogue: That crazy Joel has already asked me to run another half-marathon in October. And I’m probably just gullible enough to do it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    May 14, 2008 9:14 pm

    So now your family also knows you drink margaritas…better find them a bucket to put that in while you direct them to your post.

  2. May 19, 2008 10:02 am

    That must be why you received a book this week from dad on the sin of drinking alcoholic beverages. He is all-seeing and all-knowing; he doesn’t have a computer and he doesn’t have the Internet, but he knows what you are writing on this blog.

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