I remember standing in line at TIFF early last month, and reading the latest blog post on //insert blog that will not be named// where she announced to her readers that she’d been invited to run in the NYC marathon in early November. Yes, she was invited to run on a team coordinated by a celebrity super-model, yes it’s for charity, yes, her participation is going to make her a better human being.
Normally, I can roll my eyes and move onto the next blog in my feed (and before you ask why I read her if I’m so…disdainful, it’s because I can’t help myself. It’s like one of those annoying hygienic habits that everyone has but no one admits too; mine is foot related and involves either compulsively peeling my toenails when they get too long or, more gross, picking at the dead skin on the heels of my feet. And before you think less of me, my esthetician and I discussed this during my last pedicure and those particular nasty habits are more common than you’d think).
I was pretty infuriated by the news that she was going to be running the marathon only because she’d just started running a few weeks prior. Not training, or even moving from short runs to long ones, but running. Period, end of sentence.
I was annoyed by her presumed blatant disrespect for the sport itself, and the runners who train properly and I was annoyed because I predicted that none of her readers would tell her that she was $&!%ing crazy for thinking she could run a $&!%ing marathon with 3 months of experience and training. Of going from running 0 miles to running 26. That her body couldn’t handle the trauma (yes, trauma) of that kind of training in so little time. And as far as I can tell, no one did. Instead, she was told how awesome and amazing and wonderful she was for her decision to agree to run the marathon. I guess because it’s for charity. Or because no one wants to be singled out. I don’t know why. I read her blog but don’t comment so I certainly wasn’t going to say it was a crazy, lofty goal.
And then, in the midst of all her training, she posted about injuring herself. And slowly, the comments started trickling in. It wasn’t worth it, her health was more important, quit while she was ahead, no shame in not running, there were other ways to show her support, etc.etc.
And today, she posts a photo of a bandaged ankle, claiming that it gave out on her 3/4 of the way through the half marathon she ran yesterday as part of her training program. And then she seemed to chastise her readers, challenging them to further tell her why she shouldn’t be running.
I usually try and mind my business, to roll my eyes and move on, mostly because I know how petty and well, jealous I sound. And who wouldn’t be jealous, really, of making a living off your blog and getting to work from home in a spectacular house your blog presumably bought with beautifully designed rooms that your blog presumably paid for. Not too mention the assistant, who’s salary is paid for, presumably, by your blog. Then there’s the trips, the panels she’s spoken on, the talk shows and best selling books. It’s mind boggling what she’s been able to accomplish with her blog and what blogger wouldn’t be insanely, achingly jealous?
But the whole marathon thing irked to me to a point well beyond mere jealousy over her success as a blogger. I’m annoyed because of all the ‘followers’ she has, that look to her as a role model and appear to do what she does, simply because she does it. How many people out there are now on that primitive caveman diet and not eating bread and pasta and dairy and instead eating just steak and berries and lettuce because she is? More than enough.
And how many of her readers are going to think, hey, she ran a marathon only three months after starting running? I’m going to do that too!
I read the news story about the 27 year old man that collapsed and DIED in the marathon here yesterday, a few hundred meters from the finish line. Not passed out, but DIED. And yes, I know I don’t have all the details, if there were underlying medical issues, if he was overweight, etc etc. But then I think about the ex-co-worker of mine, a perfectly healthy, non-drinker, non-smoker, salad-eating father of three who came back from a run one afternoon and did the same thing. Collapsed and died. It happens, I get that.
But what if the person running that race yesterday was one of those people that hadn’t trained properly and laced up his runners that morning, with the lofty, crazy goal to run a (half?) marathon merely because 5,000 other people were running it?
I’ve run ONE half-marathon, with a below-average pace. I’m definitely no expert. But I do know that I trained hard for it, using a 5 month training program after establishing a running base where I was already running X number of miles a week. It was a lot of hard work; in fact I think I trained more for the half-marathon than I did my labour with the irony there being that the half-marathon was over in 2 and a half hours, whereas as my labour stretched out for 49. I’ve got (at least) another half-marathon in me, maybe even a full and I said earlier this year that I’d be running the half yesterday. Told people I was going to do it, which is usually the only way I can guarantee I follow through on something. Then summer hit and I thought about those grueling long runs in 38 degree heat and I didn’t want to do it. Frankly, having already done it and knowing from experience how elevated my heart rate is during easier (shorter and cooler) runs, running in full sun and high heat isn’t just irresponsible but it’s dangerous. Dangerous. At least for me.
(Sidenote: We were talking around the dinner table one night about my sister who’s lost 65lbs and how awesome she is and I was saying that I had suggested she follow a career that relied on her newfound physical strength like becoming a police officer or a firefighter or something like that. Then I said loftily (and not seriously) that maybe I should do the same and my husband gave me this look as if that was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever said and told me that in no uncertain terms would that be happening now that we have a kid. And he’s right, actually. That kind of irresponsibleness is what I equate running 15+ km in full sun and high heat too. Not completely rational, perhaps but whatever.)
I didn’t want to do those runs – dreaded those runs in fact – and technically, probably still could have run the half yesterday by skipping the hot summer runs by training indoors and then taking it outdoors when the cooler weather hit. I’m sure other people probably did the half, having trained in a similar manner. I’m not like that though, with stuff like this, I go by the book. If experienced, seasoned marathon runners insist you need a running base to start and 4-5 months of solid, outdoor running to train, then I’m convinced that’s what I need, and it’s why I decided to postpone my next half to hopefully May of next year. I’m slightly concerned that my current fanatical obsession with spinning might interfere with training for a half, bit that’s a different topic for another day. (Spinning!)
I hope she survives her marathon, I do, even if she ends up walking a chunk of it. I certainly don’t wish her any ill will despite how reckless and irresponsible I think she’s being. I hope her doctor looks at her damaged ankle and tells her that in no uncertain terms should she be running the full marathon in a couple of weeks – and then I hope she listens.
Except I don’t think it’s going to play out that way. I think she’ll run it, because, according to her blog, her personality will dictate that she does because she’s committed to doing it. And what’s going to happen then? Maybe there’s going to be lots more inadequately trained people out there thinking they can run marathons too. And maybe, there’ll be more stories in the paper of people collapsing and dying.
Good grief. If a successful blog makes you even the slightest socially responsible, then maybe I’m not that jealous after all.