Why on earth would anyone ever run a Marathon? Well, other than masochists. What would possess someone to endure the torture that is running 26 miles. 26 Miles! Do realize how far that is? At an average speed of 55 miles per hour it would take you 29 minutes to drive that far. That's an episode of Gossip Girl! Now think, about running that thing. The average running speed would be between 5 and 6 mph. That's 5 hours! Of nothing but running! You could cook two pot roasts back to back. You could watch the entire Shogun miniseries and work on your Japanese.
Why would anyone put themselves through and the privation that it takes to train for a Marathon? The time. How many hours of their lives does a marathon runner give to the road and training? The pain. The injuries a marathon runner suffers are numerous, not to mention the nagging aches and little hurts you push through. Forget that, I'll mention those nagging aches and little hurts. They include: diarrhea, chafing, cramps, dehydration, stress fractures, loss of your toenails, and blisters. Sounds like tons of fun in the sunâ€¦oh yeah, you get sunburned too.
So why would anyone do this? Surely not for the t-shirt. In fact, people PAY to do this. People are running Marathons in record number. For some reason, they are actually seeking out the pain. They want this torture. They can't all be twisted in the head. There has to be a reason marathon attendance is going up worldwide.
I don't know the answer. I know why I get up every morning and run. I know why I hack the tar from 15 years of smoking out of my lungs as pass that first mile. I know why I grit my teeth against the pain from two bad knees and a bum hip at every step. I know why I won't allow myself to stop running, even though it would be the easiest thing in the world. I want to finish. That's all.
In a world of artificial and arbitrary milestones, I want a real milestone. It seems that nothing is ever done. Nothing is ever completed. Fill out this form. Wait, here's another one just like the other one. Rinse and Repeat. There's often no challenge to the daily grind. There's no sense of satisfaction from moving one stack of paper to another desk. It's just more of the same day after day.
There is satisfaction in ticking off miles. A satisfaction I find it hard to find anywhere else. With every step I accomplish something real. With every step I come closer to the finish line. Every hour training builds towards something. My body is becoming leaner, meaner, and faster. There is satisfaction that when the time to race comes, I will finish.
I'm no marathon runner. Not yet. I participate in the Couch to 10k program. I ran track in High School (very successfully) and I forgot what it felt like to train and race. I'm glad to be rediscovering those old feelings, if not the old bounce in my step. I said I didn't know why a record number of people were now running marathons. I think I might have been a little premature in saying that.
I think I know why they run. In a world, where everything has been made easy and user friendly, people want to know when it hurts and things have become unbearable they can push through the pain and see the race to its end. They want to know when their will is truly tested, they will not be found wanting.
Or maybe that's just why I runâ€¦and for the chicks.