"Lessons I have learned from my dad and marathons"
July 20, 2014 10:24 AM   Subscribe

After breaking my fibula in the wee hours of the night on a muddy trail run during a Ragnar relay, I've been unable to run (or walk) for a month now. Not being able to run has made me miss it a lot more than I expected to and makes me especially susceptible to articles extolling the virtues of running, but I think I'd have enjoyed this one even without the hardware in my leg. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Lame_username at 11:28 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

So I'm a profound idiot.

I was visiting a friend and going to run around the track at the park by her house when I saw a sign for something called SEB Mud Run. I was tired and hung over and hadn't hydrated (we'd been at a party the night before and I'd finally passed out rather than intentionally resting) and so naturally "Mud Run" sounded more fun than "running in circles around a dinky old track."

It's worth pointing out that I didn't know until I'd signed up that it was four miles and I also didn't know it was an obstacle course race (which I'd never done before) run by the Sheriff's Department, because as I said above, I am a profound idiot. The most I'd ever done was a few of those 5Ks that are more about having fun than actually running like The Color Run.

So I was standing in the chute while helicopters circled around us and they sprayed the group ahead of us with a mist from the fire hose and fired off blank machine gun rounds. My thought was, naturally "You are going to die, you fucking idiot, you are going to die."

I still did it, of course, because I'm a profound idiot.

It was around the second obstacle that consisted of climbing or waist deep mud or climbing in waist-deep mud that I was exhausted and there were still like 3 miles to go. And all I could do was keep plodding forward, sometimes running, sometimes walking. I slogged on but eventually, towards the end, I was just done after a ton of climbing and obstacles and a grueling run in the heat. But the only way out was through. Or flopping down on the race course and hoping the crews patrolling would pick me up and drag me back to the start.

I was debating doing the 5 year old and just sitting down and refusing to go on when this enormous, swole cop came jogging by and apparently sees me flagging and just hollers "COME ON, MAN, YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU'RE ALMOST THERE! DON'T QUIT NOW!" And I nodded and started trucking again. Slowly, painfully, but I was doing it. He waved at me and trotted off into the distance.

So I was climbing up the last obstacle and this enormous dude grabs my hand and pulls me up to the top of the hill. And it's the cop from before. And he slams me on the back and hollers "TOLD YOU YOU COULD DO IT!" and flashes this enormous grin before herding me along. And even if I never run another mile, I'll always remember that dude for believing in me even when I didn't believe in me anymore. That's what running means to me, because when I started, I couldn't run more than a few seconds without wanting to die. I had to repeat the first few weeks of Couch to 5K a LOT.

As an epilogue, it's pretty fun to turn up at your friend's house after being gone for several hours covered head to toe in mud.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:24 PM on July 20, 2014 [35 favorites]

I recently read Run Like A Girl, which was a little uneven but also had some nice bits about her relationship with her marathon-running father.
posted by bq at 4:25 PM on July 20, 2014

I would add one more to this:

8) Break it down into pieces
There's an old saying "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time". Running a marathon is the same. You can't do the whole thing thinking of running 26.2 miles. At some point, you have to set smaller goals in support of the larger goal; I'll run two half-marathons; I'll run nine 5Ks; I'll run one more mile; I'll run to the next aid station; I'll run to that lightpost. Then I'll walk a few minutes, recover some, and then run the next half-marathon/5k/mile/aid-station/lightpost. It works in running a marathon, and it works in life.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:30 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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