Sunday, September 18, 2011

A whole lot of crazy just might be fun.

Nothing like a marathon to bring out the 'crazy' in all of us.

Yesterday I participated in my first marathon experience. Before you get all, "Wow, that's impressive, Maxine..." I was only in the marathon relay. I had a 6-mile leg. And a good chunk of it was downhill.

I know, I know. You just slumped a bit in your chair. You're thinking I accomplished very little.

But for me, it's something.

I was never a long-distance runner. Ask my old high school track coach. Heck, I whined about going farther than two miles in practice. "I'm a sprinter. Why do I have to be dropped off on some gravel road and forced to run my way back into town? I should be on the track perfecting my starts," I would spout.

But I'm certainly not running any sprints now. Attempting a sprint just makes me frighteningly aware of how old and slow I am. And when did my back end get so heavy?

So I'm left like many other near middle-age adults trying to grasp some motivation to keep ourselves in shape.

The result: I started training for this marathon stuff.

A few years ago a friend almost had me signed up for a half marathon. But within a few weeks of training, my knees informed me (well, the MRI helped) that I wasn't going to do any running for awhile. 

But after getting back into running, I was invited to join a marathon relay team. After all, it was only six miles...that didn't scare me too much.

But fixing my eyes on some of the runners at this marathon event sure did.

Particularly the old guy in the pink leotard, complete with a tutu and magic wand. I can only speculate, but he's either crazy or one drunken night in February...a conversation went something like this:

Buddy 1: I know you think your Steelers are unbeatable, so how about a little bet on the game?

Buddy 2: You're on. Loser has to run a marathon. Oh! And you have to wear all pink when you run.

Buddy 1: Not just have to wear a pink leotard with a pink tutu.

Buddy 2: And carry a sparkly wand the whole race!

Buddy 1: You're on!

Fast forward seven months later, and a tall bald man is running through the streets looking like a preschooler on Halloween.

It just isn't right.

More crazy: the fact that we're all up before daybreak, ON A SATURDAY, MIND YOU, to start running a race in cold, windy, wet weather. Brrr. Oh, and there's a BIG hill involved. Let's not forget that critical detail.

Add to that craziness: the guys only dressed in light-weight running shorts. But then again, I suppose I'd run fast too if I was half naked.

That half-naked bit sure worked for the champion. He broke the marathon's record - and his closest competition was over a half hour behind him.

Now THAT'S crazy.

Crazy fast, that is.

Over the past several months as I've been running to get in shape for this event, I've had the privilege to watch and run with others who have also been prepping their muscles and lungs for a relay, or a half or full marathon.

And what baffles me most?

The amount of time we have to commit to this training.

It's excessive, really.

Those marathoners really have no life. If they're not at work then they better be running somewhere. It's hours and hours of pounding the pavement.

So my hat - yes, even the cheap one they made in bulk and stuffed into our registration bag - is off to you 13.1 and 26.2-mile crazy people.

Because it takes a whole lot of crazy to do what you do.

And to do it with a smile, without the need for a paramedic, is incredibly honorable.

Now...since this sprinter's quads are revolting from my 6-mile run, will one of you superhuman marathoners please help me get up?