To many people, that means nothing. It looks like some kind of running stat, like that annoying cousin, the triathlete or something, is always talking about. Normal people talk about Final Fours, Yards per carry, and RBIs. You can stuff your 42 minute 10Ks.
Real runners don’t care much for numbers like that either. They run a 5-minute mile, not a pokey 8. A 42 minute 10K is the mark of a piker.
Well, this piker is pretty darn proud of the number. I turned it in this morning, one week before my first Boston Marathon. I’m in ‘taper’ mode, which means I’m not supposed to be running very much during the 2 to 3 weeks before race day. After 5 months of training at distances of more than 20 miles, the heart, lungs, legs, stomach and mind are ready.
Normally that wouldn’t bother me at all, but this year is a little different. This time I’m supposed to run in it.
It’s 26 miles. 26.2 actually, as any marathoner will probably point out. I’ve run 5 miles. Even 10. But that’s always been my limit. I don’t think it was physical as much as mental. Running 10 miles takes an hour and a half. That could be a movie. Instead, I’ve chosen to spend that time pounding my legs into pavement listening to an iPhone shuffle playlist that is short enough to call up Barry Manilow twice.
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I remember exactly when I began running. It was March 2005. The days were getting longer, and it was just a few weeks before we set the clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time. I decided I was sick of being overweight and I needed to expend some nervous energy.
Why was I nervous? For a few months, I had begun to realize our family business, a hair salon, wasn’t going to make it. After a year and a half, revenues were still rising, but not quite enough to cover costs. The writing was on the wall, so I hit the pavement.
My first run went a quarter mile, down to the corner store. I got to the corner and doubled over in exhaustion. Oh my God, I wondered as I bent staring at the sidewalk, was I just going to be unable to run? Were some people naturally athletic while others, myself included, just naturally… not?