Monday, November 8, 2010

Pheidippides-Do-Dah, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Cross Marathons Off My Bucket List

For most of my childhood, I lived approximately 300 feet from one of the major avenues that make up the route of the New York City marathon. Every year, on what was usually a clear, crisp Sunday, my parents would take me and my sister down to the end of the street to watch the runners. I remember cheering, waving signs, and listening to the eardrum-shattering reggaetron being blasted from the van that was invariably parked at the corner. But most of all, I remember the peeing.

At the end of our block race, volunteers would set up tables stacked high with cups of Gatorade, which they would hand to passing runners.

Also at the end of the block was a Medicaid office, a large, squat beige building that provided an unbroken stretch of already vaguely urine-colored brick.

This was in the years before port-o-sans got trucked in, and the male marathoners knew a good pee wall when they saw one.

So while the rest of New York watched athletes run, I watched them pee.

What can I say? Autumn in New York is a magical time.

I decided long ago that I will never run a marathon, and it has nothing to do with my fears about bladder control. It’s just that there are only so many things I can do in my lifetime, and after some (read: no) deliberation, I’ve come to the conclusion that running almost 30 miles in short shorts in November is not going to be one of them. I have lots of friends who run marathons (including guest-blogger and fellow pop culture freak Owen as well as my dear friend the Rock 'n' Roll Gourmet's husband Mike), and I am totally in awe of them for doing it. Most of them run because they love it, or because they want to challenge themselves and have something to train for. Once in awhile, though, someone will tell me that they just want to prove to themselves that their bodies can do it.

Which is why I’m not ever going to run a marathon*. I know my body is, technically, capable of running that far. When I trained for track in high school I could run 5 miles or so at a stretch, and my training at that point could generously be described as half-assed, so if I devoted a year to building up my endurance I’m sure I could adapt, thigh-chafing be damned. Plus I have hours of early 90s hip-hop on my iPod that could carry me through. So I’m going to give my body a pass on this particular challenge. I’m going to give it an honorary degree in being badass. In the meantime I need to focus on smaller physical milestones, such as:
  • Actually doing 30 days of the Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred instead of stopping after ten minutes for a Diet Coke and a few episodes of Teen Mom.
  • Learning to stand upright in the shower after shaving my legs without clinging to the soap dish for dear life.

*Another reason is my crippling fear of sudden cardiac arrest, not helped at all by the fact that Pheidippides**, the Greek messenger who inspired the modern-day marathon by running 150 miles in two days, collapsed and died upon his arrival in Athens.

**He is also the namesake of Dippity-Do hair gel, which was originally called Pheidippidy-Do.***



  1. Yes, the stench of pee that accompanies races can certainly be a turn-off. Your new and improved bucket list seems more goal worthy and far less smelly!

  2. Agreed.

    Someone once told me that your nipples can start to bleed from the friction caused by your shirt while running long distances.

    I ran mid distance in high school. Hated every minute of it.I adore my nipples. No need to risk their health and happiness for something I don't even like doing and bragging rights.

    I'm also usually in a drunken stupor as my birthday is always at most 6 days away from the marathon.

  3. I can't believe that I've never considered how marathon runners stop to pee. Ew.

    I don't really *get* marathons. Maybe it's because I've never been a runner (my knees and hips pop), but running for that long seems more like a punishment than something one would do for fun.

    Different strokes, I guess!

  4. For the record, I've never had to pee during a marathon. and it has always amazed me when so many people stop to pee on the verrazano bridge. it's less than 2 miles into the race and they already have to go? They should go before in the many many porta-potties in the starting corrals. I think those people WANT to engage in public urination on the bridge. I think that's on THEIR personal bucket lists.

    Thanks for coming out to support! You rule!

  5. I'm with you, Sassy. I won't even run for the bus!

  6. Seriously! Unless a bear is chasing me, I am not running anywhere.
    And lets be honest, It would really depend on how my day is going to determine if EVEN THAT would be worth running for.

  7. Laugh out freaking loud. Went and read the post about the pants around your ankles too. Funny funny.

  8. Our goals are strikingly similar.

  9. Well, for the record, the hubs DID stop to pee, but he did so in a porta-potty like a good person.
    And it cost him 2 minutes in his time because he had to wait.
    But he still (ahem) finished 5 min ahead of OTM...

  10. WORD. I so do not need to ever run a marathon. It sounds really tiring. :-)
    Also, I tried the 30 day shred once and almost died.

  11. Who cares about marathons and ditto Jillian. Skinny bee.

  12. LMAO... Well, what I got from this is... it's important to have goals... achievable goals. Go get 'em tiger! Thanks for the laugh. It's always a joy to read your posts!

  13. Reading your post was very enjoyable, as always. I especially liked the train of asterisks.

  14. So relieved to know that I am not the only one who pauses Jillian for a soda and some smutty, highly enjoyable TV.


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