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The Unspoken Rules of Being a Badass: A Runner's Guide

Chicago Marathon Revisited

This past week I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Chicago, which of course raised the very significant question of where I might be able to run. In 2008, I ran the Chicago Marathon with my “running wife” Brad.

As an aside, I did not come up with the term “running wife.” Frankly, I am not sure who coined the term, but it is what it is. For whatever reason, the term was repugnant to me at first. But over the course of four or so years running together, including somewhere in the vicinity of 8,500 miles, I simply got over it. That’s a lot of miles together, with a lot of conversation. At a pace of 7:30 per mile, that is 63,750 (+/-) minutes.  And as you might imagine, being guys, we did eventually run out of things to discuss…o.k., not really, but there are a lot more quiet miles than four years ago.  So, back to the story since I am completely baffled as to why I felt the need to share this little anecdote.

We trained all summer in the intense heat and humidty of West Tennessee for the Chicago race.  I mean heat that was terrible.  We did speed work, long runs, runs in the rain. You dream it, we did it, for one singular goal – to get a BQ. (If you are wondering, BQ means Boston Qualifier).  And Brad did.  He ran a perfect race and earned the chance to run Boston.  And the conditions were tough on race day, hot, humid.  This was not the year that the race was cancelled mid-event, but the following year.  I won’t belabour the point.  I ran terribly.  At mile 20 or so, I stopped to ask a medical attendant where the next medical tent was. The response was something to the effect of “about a mile and half from here.”  I remember saying “surely I can make it that far.”  Beyond that, I have no memory of miles 20 through 25.  I remember the last mile vaguely.  And I remember my first ever massage following the race (FYI, never get a massage for the first time after a marathon, whew boy did I ever cry).  But despite my dissappointment, I got to celebrate with my wife (my real wife) and my running-wife (and his real wife, does that make four wives? This story just took a weird turn). Anywho…Sometimes we are hesitant to attempt to reach a goal with someone else.  There is the fear that one person won’t acheive and if not, can we really celebrate our accomplishment? Yes you can.  (Obama-flare).  We had more fun celebrating Brad’s victory than you could imagine (probably a little too much fun actually).  The great people of St. Jude just kept giving us beer – which is a nice reward for being the first two St. Jude Finishers that year.

So, this week, what did I do?  I ran the part of the course I don’t remember, of course!  Wouldn’t you?  Chinatown by the way is not fun in the cold and rain, at least not like I heard it was that day in 2008.

So my question is this: Have you ever done something or not done something because you were afraid what somebody else thought?  Of course, the answer for both people reading this is “yes.”  But why?  Why do we do this for running?  I mean for real.  There are always people faster than us.  Ryan Hall, one of my running heroes, has folks faster than he is (2:06 PR marathon).  But he runs for a different reason.  Google him and you will learn why.  There is something about running together, the shared experience, that transcends the an individual’s failure in an event.  At least, that’s my opinion today.



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