Just about every morning when my first alarm sounds at 4:45 a.m., I question my life choices. For f-cks sake, I’m about to turn 48, what kind of idiot unnecessarily wakes up at this hour to go running before work? I’m happily married, enjoy my job, have tons of hobbies and interests, and enjoy some freedom and disposable income. I should totally be kicking it, but no, something in me just thrives on this kind of pain. I mean, challenge.
One of my favorite comments about Kobe Bryant’s relentless pursuit of championships is that “five rings ain’t for everyone.” I mean, yeah, who wouldn’t want to win an NBA championship – much less five — but when you think about the sacrifices Kobe’s made to get there, you realize it takes a certain type of person to actually pursue that goal. In his documentary Muse, Kobe admits that he doesn’t have many friends and that he almost lost his marriage in his single-minded quest for the Larry O’Brien trophy (ahem, though I’d argue it was another outside interest that almost ended his marriage, but I digress). Anyway, much like five rings isn’t for everyone, running a (or seven) marathon isn’t for most people. But hey, if any of these activities sound exciting, then maybe you’re someone who’d enjoy marathon training.
1. Enjoy choking down packets of sweet viscous “food”?
2. Yearn for a noble reason to not see your kids, family, and/or friends?
3. Look forward to going to bed when it’s still light out because your body needs 8 hours sleep?
4. Delight in having your most unflattering moments memorialized on film?
5. Find joy in discovering new parts of your body that will get rubbed raw after four hours of friction?
6. Think it’s cool to spend most of your money on clothing and accessories that 99% of the people in your circle will never see you in?
7. Wish you had more of an appetite?
Turns out that I’m part of the 0.5% of the U.S. population who does, in fact, find pleasure in all those activities.
There are of course other indicators of someone who’s into marathoning. We’re probably the ones who will get sh-t done and can juggle a lot on our plate. You’ll also find that we’re mentally tough and, as a middle-aged runner, I’ll just go ahead and say it: I look quite a bit younger than my non-running peers.
Despite my current fondness for marathon training, it took a while for me to realize that marathons were for me. The first 26.2 was just a thing to do with my best friend, followed swiftly by a “never again.” The second, another buddy-type endeavor, was coupled with a curiosity to experience my home city in an unconventional manner since it was the first year of the new LA Marathon course that went from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica Beach. This ended with an even more emphatic “never again!”
Well, “never” turned out to be two years. Since then, there’s been no escaping it. Some of us know right away, while others it takes, oh, about the third date. And while it wasn’t love at the first almost-five-hour nightmare, now it’s until IT Band do us part. Admittedly, it’s far from the norm, but running marathons is definitely for me and, best of all, I know there’s an entire tribe of us gel-choking, pre-dawn waking weirdos out there. Up top, y’all!