Sunday, May 3, 2009

Marathon Math

I heard on the radio the other day this random piece of trivia.
"Did you know that in four games, a professional soccer player will run the equivalent of one marathon?"
Average non-running American's everywhere are sitting in their cars on their way to work, in amazement. The DJ's on my regular morning show sure are in awe.
"wow" the one says "that's amazing"
Now being the skeptic that I am, and of course being a runner, I start doing the math in my head.
Four games = 26.2 miles.
That means in one game they run 6.55 miles.
Six and a half miles? In any given week of a regular marathon training season, six and a half miles is an easy day. Six and a half miles is a joke. Six and a half miles is also roughly a 10k.
Ok so let's say you're max distance is a 10k. You excel at the 10k. You can run the 10K at five minute pace. You would finish in about a half hour. Excellent!
Ok so back to soccer. One professional soccer game lasts approximately 90 minutes. Ninety minutes. That's an hour and a half! And you know that these players are not running their hardest non stop with no breaks for the entire ninety minutes. Sometimes you're team is on offense, and if you're playing defense you're not really playing that hard. Let's not forget subs. At what point during a marathon does a runner get to call in a sub and take a break until they catch their breath? Oh let me think, Never!
When does the guy running the 10K get to switch spots with someone more rested and ready to go to finish up the race for him? Nope.
Ok so basically, over the course of four games, which total six hours over as little as four days and as many as who even knows how spaced out soccer games are, some guy runs 26.2 miles and you want to compare that to the guy who runs the same distance straight through no breaks over the course of three hours or less? No way Jose.

Now don't get me wrong here, I am not knocking the skill it takes to play soccer. It certainly is not a gift I was blessed with. But honestly, comparing four soccer games to a marathon? Nope sorry, I am not impressed in the least.

Boyfriend the beginner

Boyfriend and I first met in the fall of 2006.

It was a wednesday night, One week before my 21st birthday and I was meeting up with some friends of mine at a local Irish pub for what would prove to be one of the best traditions of my senior year of college. Quizzo. A local phenomenon of random trivial knowledge played in three rounds in bars with half price appetizers. what could be better? There were about eight of us at the table, two of my good friends and guy friends of theirs from their freshman dorm. Somehow it had taken three years of school for us to all finally meet, and among them, boyfriend to be.
I was already a runner at this point, let's make that clear. I had returned from California just over a month ago having gone through my first summer of any kind of real training. I had completed my first half marathon in Disneyland and was now back to finish school. Since then I had toyed with the idea of running my first full marathon but with the pressures of school in the way I would settle for one more half. California had turned me into more of a health nut than I had ever been, and so in the weeks to follow as we showed up repeatedly on wednesday nights for quizzo, and then on thursday nights for $2 pint specials I was always the most conscious one of all the cheesey fries and endless beers and (at least most of the time) was able to keep myself in check. This did not go unnoticed by the non-athletes of the group and i was always teased relentlessly but I stuck by it knowing what I did was something a little bit bigger than drinking on a weeknight in college.
I completed that second half marathon in November, right before thanksgiving and then went into what would become my usual winter hiatus from running drinking and partying binge. It was as if the pressures and sacrifices I made for my running were worth it up until the point that i crossed that finish line. But with out fail after ever race I swore I would never run again. I would realism all the things I give up that no one else does. Social time with friends, friday nights out late, drinking, sleeping in on saturdays, spontaneous weekend trips in the summer. All of that took a toll on my body, on my mind, and come december I was ready for a break.
Through it all, boyfriend to be always caught my attention, and I tried my best to put out the "I'm into you" vibe but knowing me, that vibe goes out to anyone within a five foot radius and some people are just more perceptive to it than others. Needless to say nothing ever became of our flirtation except that. I found myself going from one boy to the next, not really investing any emotion into anything, it was safer that way really. I was drained enough by school, and training that I didn't need anything else taking a toll on me anymore.
A few months down the road he met a girl who was as into cars as he was, and as disappointed as I was I let him go knowing he was probably happier that way. That spring he moved back home to New Jersey for his co-op job and that June I graduated college. we had both just gone our separate ways and most of the time I barely realized it. Of course there was always the fall back of myspace and facebook and from time to time I would find myself browsing through his profile wondering how things were going.
I find it ironic that it was at that very same bar, at one of the very same back tables that I started to fall for my coach, started to fall for running even harder than I had been. After college I began the hardest training I had ever gone through. I dated my coach, broke up with my coach, dated his roommate, broke up with his roommate, ran my third half marathon, ran my first ever full marathon, and once again went back into winter drinking and partying mode. Through it all, we had always had a mutual friend L. L was the reason I went to the bar that first night in october. L had been the reason we had met. and Ironically enough L would be the thing that brought us back together.

It was the summer of 2008 that I heard about BTB again. L and I were single girls that summer, and somedays it felt like we were the only two single girls on the planet. So of course we were practically attached at the hip, getting into trouble, looking for men, having crazy nights that led to crazy stories and loving every second of it. One day she mentions BTB. Things aren't going well with the supposed car loving girlfriend. I can't say I was upset over it. I mean yes on the one hand, when things go bad with someone's relationship it's never something to throw a party over. But would this mean he would be back on the market? I was always shopping around and loved hearing when new things were available.
Of course I was training again. This time for my second full marathon set for mid October. Part of me felt like the last race I ran had gotten over shadowed by boy drama and I was dead set on not letting that happen again. I made myself promise that, at least for this race, running was number one top priority and boys would have to wait until after everything. Of course I still had coach with me through the whole thing. Sometimes I toyed with the possibility that we would work out. It seemed so fitting at times, we both loved to run, he pushed me to the point that I was so proud of myself. He could be very cold, that was for certain. He lacked emotion, and was convinced it was for the better because he wanted to be a doctor and that would make him a better doctor. But if we would ever be in a relationship, he would make for one terrible boyfriend. I reminded myself that every day.
2008 was of course an Olympic year, a summer olympic year, and L being the in entertainer that she is decided to have an olympic party. I'm pretty sure it was the same day I had run 18 miles. No biggie for me I guess but it sure did impress everyone in attendance. I was at the peak of my fitness. I had never been in better shape. I had never felt so good about myself and what I was accomplishing. and of course that night BTB would be there, finally single. I would be lying if I said we weren't shamelessly flirting all night long, and I was planning on staying over L's for the night so I had a little bit of a buzz going and I desperately wanted to make some kind of move. But I wouldn't let myself. I was done being that girl who couldn't keep to herself enough to not leave a party with out hooking up with someone. I would stay strong and If he wanted it, I would let him pursue me. And he did.
Everything happened so fast between my training and our dating and the whole time I made sure to stay strong and never loose my focus of running. My ultimate goal.
BTB was there through those last final weeks of my training as I suffered through sore legs, hunger pains, early mornings, and everything else that went along with training. He made the five hour drive home with me to Massachusetts to watch me run my race. He put up with my whole family for three days, because he knew how much it meant to me to have him there at that race. And when it was all over he watched me cry to myself in a bathtub full of ice. He pulled me out and wrapped me in a towel, he brought me water and Advil and held me while the pain of 26.2 miles took over my entire body.
He will never fully understand the hurdles I overcame to get to that point. The mental and physical strain I put on myself for no other reason than it just makes me happy to push myself. He will never understand like coach did. But I would trade the understanding for the love he shows me every single day. I can put up with the fact that he doesn't fully get it because he's learning to support it.
The day after that race he became boyfriend for definite.
I decided that I would take a break from marathons, at least full ones. In part because of all the injuries I suffered in my last year of training. In part because I wanted to enjoy more recreational things with Boyfriend.
We spend the winter snowboarding and I enjoyed being able to share something with him that we both loved to do. I loved watching him get better, and his confidence grow. When the weather started getting warmer we started walking around my house. I would sometimes get up early and do a long run and then we would walk more after. I never regretted giving up marathoning. Because I know I will never fully give them up.
Recently I decided to do once race this year. A half marathon, keep it a little easy, and in the mean time maybe Boyfriend and I would start jogging. Who knows, maybe one day he'll even be able to coach me from the perch of his bike as he rides along next to me. Cheering me on, motivating me to keep going.
Boyfriend may be a beginner runner. He may just be a walker.
But I wouldn't trade him for a million dollars, a million races, or even a Boston qualifier. Because with out him there to share it with, the race really doesn't mean anything anymore.

xx Sara