While I completely respected Ginger for being honest and open to debating such a controversial issue as what constitutes a “legit” marathon, I just had to stand up for those like my friend, Tim, who have overcome so much to finally cross a marathon finish line, no matter the time. This post was originally published on April 18, 2012.
On Monday Ginger posted her controversial opinion that some marathon finishers should not claim to have run the marathon because they walked too much or ran too slow, herself included. I love Ginger, but this time I disagree with her. Heck, I walked in 3 of my 5 marathons. And while I nit-pick my performances I would never deny myself from feeling the satisfaction of the finish.
Sure, some people show up to the marathon with no respect for the endeavor and hobble along to a slow finish just to cross it off their bucket list. Yeah, that lack of respect for the achievement is annoying. And maybe Ginger isn’t proud of her marathon (I think she should be!), but that should inspire her to accomplish the marathon she wants to run. But the vast and I mean VAST majority of people who finish marathons fast or slow take it seriously and work their tails off for weeks until they cross that finish line no matter how long it takes them.
I posted a link to Ginger’s post on my Facebook page. My friend Tim who recently ran (yes RAN) his first marathon in New York last November responded, ” Life’s too short to worry about other people’s marathons. I started running because I wanted to get healthy and I’ve stuck with it because I truly enjoy it, but the thought that other runners are sneering at me and my slow pace is depressing.”
Tim finished in 6:11:40 and should feel proud! I know I am. You see Tim is the one of my best friends. We don’t talk often, but he’s one of the few people that’s been a constant in my life. He’s an amazing creative guy and we always had a lot of fun and engaged in some deep and not-so deep conversations. But he smoked. A lot. And he struggled with his weight off and on for years.
I remember going to visit Tim in his fancy converted loft apartment only to leave half-asphyxiated because his windows didn’t open! And then the time he told me when we were about 27 that he needed to smoke 3-4 cigarettes in rapid succession in the morning just to feel normal. Yikes!
But all that changed. Tim moved to New York, married an awesome woman and quit smoking. Tim. Quit. Smoking! A true miracle! And then he did the unthinkable. He exercised! He started running of all things and before I knew it I saw he was training for the NYC Marathon! Holy no-smokes!
I was so excited last November 6. I loaded up my runner tracking and followed Molly Pritz and Lauren Fleshman just like everyone else, but I also followed Tim, even more eagerly. I was worried when his splits slowed and then heartened when he kept hitting his checkpoints. And I don’t care what anyone says, when he crossed the line he was a MARATHON RUNNER! Tim, no longer the human chimney was a RUNNER!
Tim told me how other runners helped him get through rough patches in training and stick with it:
“The thing that I loved the most when I started running was how supportive other runners were. There were plenty of times that I’d be struggling through a training run when somebody would speed by going the other way and give me a thumbs-up and say ‘looking good!’ It felt like running was an awesome club that we were all in together and all you had to do to join was put on some shoes and get out there. That’s why I’ve stuck with it.”
So next time you see someone running, anyone running give them a thumbs-up. We’re all in this awesome club together.