After watching the New York City Marathon yesterday, I questioned the intentions of the 38,000 plus runners that took place. Sure, for many of them it was a race in every fashion of the word. They, like so many of us, had done the training-long runs, tempo runs, speed work, etc.-just to get ready to set a PR. Others, though, had decided that simply by finishing, they were winners. Now while I'm not disagreeing with either motivation, I do think it's important to quantify exactly what deserves to be called a race and what doesn't. I'm super confused myself on this issue, so I hope this makes some sense.
I believe that most of the confusion that not only myself, but that others have concerning the issue of whether or not someone is a success just for completing a marathon comes from the fact that in some areas of our lives we are intensely competitive. We all strive, in life, work, play, or whatever, to be the best. Will many of us realize the ultimate goal of actually being the best? Probably not. However, that's no reason to stop doing what we do.
I think that we all get into sports for some reason or another, but end up leaving with the same lesson learned. In the end, it's not about being the best, it's about performing to the best of your abilities. If you just happened to have the talent, determination, and discipline to become the best at your given sport, that's great. But, I truly believe that we all participate to make ourselves better, and maybe, just maybe, have that bright, shining day were we stand alone as the best. Wishful thinking I guess.
Ok, so back to the subject. I think that I get most upset when people, who have no idea what it is to run a marathon, much less run it in a specific time, lump me in with people like Oprah and P. Diddy (or whatever the hell he's calling himself these days). It angers me because these people, although insanely successful, will never come close to running the times that I have for a marathon. That's not to be cocky or egotistical (trust me, I have NO reason to be those with my modest times), but I would still like to be recognized for my accomplishment.
Ok, so here comes the problem with that: Who am I to belittle THEIR accomplishment?! Why SHOULD I be pissed that people lump me in with them? After all, we did complete the same distance-only I was drinking a beer and had eaten lunch by the time they finished.
Maybe it comes down to jealously, pride, or just being a baby. The major issue here is that I, and others like me, really just need to get over it. The truth is that the marathon, as well as other endurance events, are hard. Sure there are more people doing these things than ever before, but isn't that the point? At some point, we're all looking to push the limits of what the human body is capable of. Endurance sports, by their very nature, push us to the brink of quitting. They let us know just what we're made of. That's why I love running, biking and swimming.
Every day, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I can push it. I can get out there and see exactly what I'm made of. Sometimes it takes 100 miles to do that...Sometimes it just takes getting dressed and out the door. What I'm saying is that the rush of endorphins I get every time I get out there is more than just a chemical reaction in my brain. It's life. It's the stuff that flows through my veins. That feeling, and the knowledge that comes with getting out of yourself what you didn't think was possible, keeps me going. It makes me happy and sad at the same time. It lets me know I'm alive! It's a notch on my belt that no one can take away from me. Sure I like bragging about what I've done, but I've deserved it. I'm not a blowhard, but at some level, I love seeing the look on people's face when they ask me what I did this weekend.
So to get back to my original intention for this passage, I'll answer the question of whether or not it's ok to run a marathon just to finish it...Damn straight it is! At no point can we take away anyone's accomplishment. If I can do it in 3 hours, and you can do it in 6, I really don't care! You know what, you did it! You worked just as hard (if not harder) at getting done what you set out to do and you should feel amazing about that! I hope that everyone can feel that sense of accomplishment one day, because it is without a doubt, something that changes your life forever!
Keep pushin' till ya puke...Always!!!!!