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.
Well, I’m ready.
A lot of real runners have been running since they were stars on the high school track team, so they turn in times like 25 minutes for a 10K and 2:30:00 for marathons. I’ve never seen these folks while training. Most of the people I see while running are doing about my pace. The fast folks must train in some exclusive village they never tell us about.
Come to think of it, I hardly see these folks during the race either. Before the run, I can’t tell which ones they are until they gravitate to the front of the starting line. Then they’re gone like a bullet at the gun, and are dressed and fed and outta there before I hit mile 10. But still, the race people keep the barriers up and keep boxes of bagels out so people like me can finish. Nice of them, really.
So why do people like me run marathons?
- A vain search for the fountain of youth?
- The manifestation of a serious midlife crisis?
- The dumbest weight-loss program ever?
- A thinly-veiled substitute for a depressing lack of career success?
- An attempt to ‘get fit so I can play with my kids’ that results in being too tired to play with my kids?
The fact is there are a lot of people like me, who were not track stars, but just want to run. Maybe it was just a way to keep fit, but then we get fitter, and faster, then suddenly we get the notion that we can enter the realm of real athletes. That’s kinda how I feel about the Boston Marathon, like it’s hallowed ground. Thanks to Team Playworks, the awesome charity I am running for, and a lot of great people who have donated and helped me raise money, I’m allowed to touch it and graze the grasses of greatness for just a few hours. It’s a little awe-inspiring and overwhelming.
It’ll be hard to feel like I belong on the course, and it’ll be hard to overcome the crowds, the adrenaline rush, and the runner’s high. I already know it’ll be hard to push the last few miles if I’m not disciplined about the early ones. If I want that late kick, I need to watch the pace, take care on the hills, watch my water and gel intake, keep a light step, and just let the ground coast under me like I’m a leaf on the wind.
Whoa, those are things real runners say. Like I said, I’m ready.