Friday, August 7, 2015
In the nearly ten years since I ran my first marathon I have learned a lot about the sport of running. I have had to educate myself on any number of topics ranging from types of shoes to body glide that prevents chafing to the right type of energy gels to ingest on long runs and during marathons themselves. As a student of the game; which I’ve always been no matter the sport, I am always interested in learning more. I recall having questions of my own and not having many places to turn for answers, other than the Internet. I’m often too proud to ask anyone for fear of looking stupid. I hate that word, but feel I have to get my point across. It’s honest. When I am forced to ask questions about things that are new to me it’s always a little difficult because I don’t want to be perceived as “that guy.” I’m pretty sure that’s the case for a lot of people. Fortunately, runners are a different kind of breed. We are always there to help each other out, no matter what our skill levels may be. The running community is one of the nicest groups of people I have ever been associated with, and I’ve found that to be true no matter where I’ve been. Sure, we are competitive, but I don’t know another sport where you root for all the other participants and celebrate their victories as much as I’ve witnessed with runners. Folks are always willing to help and always willing to share their experiences with fellow runners and even non-runners.
When I got into marathon running I shared a lot of my experiences with friends, family and colleagues who would be curious about any number of topics. I would get asked questions like, “How do you run for that long without stopping?” And “Don’t you ever get tired?” Common things like that. But perhaps one of the most common questions I am asked, mostly from non-runners, is “How far is this marathon?” At first, the question stunned me. I don’t recall who asked it and it doesn’t matter, but I thought to myself, “Isn’t it common knowledge that all marathons are 26.2 miles?” But over the years I have probably been asked that same question at least two dozen times. I’m not sure why but every time the question still surprises me. I know that it shouldn’t, but it does. Being a member of the running community I am always willing to help others and answer their questions, but for some reason when I am asked that one I now find myself answering, “they’re all 26.2 miles.” I know it shouldn’t frustrate me but it does, ever so slightly. I guess because I’ve been asked so many times and it still perplexes me that people don’t know. I guess it shouldn’t, but it does.
Typically, the next most common question that comes on the heels of the first one is “why the point-2?” Now that’s a good question, and it’s quite a good story too. But it’s late on a Friday and I’ve got a long day tomorrow. Have I mentioned I’ll be running? If you’re interest is piqued you can read all about the marathon here where you’ll find out about a man named Pheidippides and the origins of the name of marathon and eventually how the distance came to be. And when I’m in Washington, D.C. on October 25, know that I’ll be running 26.2 miles in the Marine Corps Marathon; and hopefully my outcome is much better than ol’ Pheidippides.