Saturday, February 2, 2008

What am I? I'm a Marathoner

26.2 Marathon Euro Oval Sticker 4x6
Yeah yeah, so is everyone else who runs marathons, what’s the big deal. Well, my running has taken over my life, or at least a good chunk of it. Let’s look at some facts:

- I have run 11 marathons between June of 2006 and January of 2008, a time of roughly 18 months.

- I run 5K races as often as I can, just for the speed training. Of all the work I need to do to become a better marathoner, I detest the ’speed’ work the most. So to properly motivate myself, I run 5K’s because my competitiveness will get me through it as a hard ‘fast’ workout. A t-shirt for my speed training? Cool!

- Here in early February I have registered from my February marathon, my March one, and one in April. I know which marathon I am running in May as well and have a good idea what marathons I am running in June, July and August. If you pressed me, I could tell you what I am running in September, October, November, and December. Remember, this is early February when I write this.

- I run 50-60 miles a week, every week. At ~8 miles an hour, my running is a 6-8 hour/week part time job. I plan my days around my running. I will run at crazy hours, getting it whenever I can. I have never missed a run because I didn’t have time. I find the time, every day.

- As I pen this blog entry, I have 6 pairs of running shoes, each with some amount of effective ‘life’ left on them.

- Halfway through writing this blog entry I went and got my bucket of ice water to soak my feet, a ritual I do to cut down on inflammation. I decided to look at my toenails, and in that evaluation, I decided to remove the toenail on the big toe of my right foot. It did not hurt as it had ‘died’ a little while ago. I have lost the toe nail of every one of my ten toes at least twice, each. This fact does not bother me at all. People talk about marathon runners having blackened toenails. I remove the toenails long before they ever get black. I am a trained professional.

- I will talk about running with anyone who wants to talk about it. It fact, when I tell people that I am a marathoner, they are more impressed with me as a person than when I tell them I am have a Ph.D. in chemistry (I say ‘molecular spectroscopy’ when I want to sound high and mighty) and am currently a college professor. This used to bother me as I busted my arse getting that Ph.D. I left society for the entire 1990’s (graduated High School in 1990, awarded Ph.D. in 1999) to get that title. Anyone can be a marathoner, it just takes some time and dedication, and every marathon has someone who used to be a couch potato and decided to change their life and finish a marathon. Getting a Ph.D. is very hard work, and not everyone could do it, I know that. Yet, people are more ‘wowed’ by my running than by my education. I believe it is an evolutionary construct. For millennia, the human race has praised the physically fit and strong because those individuals are beneficial for perpetuating the species. (You are attracted to the strong and fast because then your kids will be strong and fast, and your kids will be able to go kill the mastodon, etc.)

Am I obsessed? Addicted? Cracked? I am not sure. My running is not coming between me and my loved ones, they always take precedence. It is one of the healthiest addictions a person could have. I have seen how much I have improved as a runner over the last 2+ years and so my competitive streak feeds on my running. I do well at races, I want to do better, I train harder and run more races. It is a good thing that my ankles can only handle ~60 miles a week (although I am trying to fix that, thank you very much) otherwise I would be running more.

It is such a good thing that I am a college professor, as it is a flexible enough job that I can plan marathons long in advance because I know my ‘work schedule’ from essentially now until the day I retire.
You see, I think from now on when someone asks me what I ‘do’, my first response will not be ‘college professor’, it will be ‘marathoner’. After some light conversation I might add that I am not good enough to get endorsements, so I am Ph.D. college Professor so I can pay the bills. But that’s just my day job.

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