What a Long Strange Run It Was.

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I’m alive.

The announcement of my impending doom turned out to be a little premature.

Although there were several times during my half marathon where I was praying to all that’s holy to grant me the precious gift of sweet sweet death.

But I survived.I'm Alive.  Barely.  But I'm Alive.

And you know, the half marathon wasn’t that bad.  It seemed more like 12.79 miles than 13.1.

Now that it’s over and I’ve had time to reflect (and ice my knees), I would like to share my thoughts.

There are a surprisingly large number of moronic people who like to put their aging bodies through massive amounts of pain on a Saturday morning and call it a sport.

They seemed okay with all the suffering as long as they got a medal.

And a free t-shirt.

It’s never been more clear to me than this very moment that people will do almost anything for a free t-shirt.

As the race started, I met two college boys who partied until 4:30 am and then stumbled to the starting line.  I’m not sure if they finished the race.

I’m guessing they got arrested somewhere along they way for RWI (running while intoxicated).

It’s never a good sign when you smell that bad BEFORE the race.

I found out that when you run long distances, sooner or later you will come upon a bad Elvis impersonator.

Of course, this assumes there are good Elvis impersonators.

I found out spectators along the race route LOVE to dress their dogs up in costumes.

After it was over, I found out I finished 2,136 out of 6,435 runners.

This means there are a lot of slow people running around (although not very quickly).

I shouldn’t poke fun because they did beat every other living human being who didn’t run (so they have that going for them).

And 2,135 beat me (all the training and over 2,000 people beat me… a little discouraging).

During my 2 hour adventure (and 21 seconds), I saw lots of strange stuff.

People along the race route were giving out free beer.  And hot dogs.

I almost got sick when I saw this.

Then I realized at about mile 9, I was both thirsty and hungry. 

Maybe these people weren’t as strange as I thought.  Maybe they were just being helpful.

I had no idea if you are running in a half-marathon this gives you a license to use the bathroom anywhere you choose.

All you have to do is send in the entry fee and you’ve evidently purchased the right to publicly defecate. 

Who knew?

I’m putting this in my “Things to Remember” file.  It could come in handy.

I saw moms pushing baby strollers.  I saw little kids running (and beating me).  I heard at least 5 people say “I can’t believe I did it!”

I saw thousand of total strangers cheering thousands of other total strangers.

I saw grandmothers and grandfathers.  People in good shape and bad.

Skinny people.  Not so skinny people.

Hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who wanted to be there just to help.

I saw a little bit of everything.

But there is one thing I will always remember.

And that’s the feeling you get when you are surrounded by thousands of people who have a goal.

Some want to win.  Some just want to finish.  Some want to run with their son, daughter, parent, or best friend.  Some want to simply not die.

But they all want something.

And everyone is pulling for everyone else to reach their goals.

You don’t find this in everyday life.

But there seems to be a special bond when you line up thousands of people, a guy with a microphone yells “Go!”, and total strangers head off on a 13 mile adventure.

People have asked me if it was worth it.

The answer is yes.

Hello, I got a free t-shirt.

Of course it was worth it.

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11 Responses to “What a Long Strange Run It Was.”

  1. Katiemc827
    on May 2nd, 2011
    @ 8:51 pm

    Congrats on finishing. You are an official member of running a length people still don’t know what it is, drat that metric system. So what’s next? 26.2? C’mon, after all, it’s only another 13.1 plus you usually get a free t-shirt and a medal and a cool space age shawl!!

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Katiemc827, I would like to wear one of those space age blankets.

  2. Tim
    on May 2nd, 2011
    @ 9:03 pm

    I’m glad you didn’t die. I’m assuming you didn’t pants your poop. Contracts on achieving a goal. Good job, good post.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Tim, You have no idea of how many times I thought “That’s a dude!”

  3. Tim
    on May 2nd, 2011
    @ 9:04 pm

    Contracts should be congrats… I’m no fan of autocorrect on my phone.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Tim, You read my blog on your phone?

    Might be time for a hobby. :)

  4. Carla
    on May 2nd, 2011
    @ 9:46 pm

    Thought about you this weekend as my best friend and fellow administrator, who is NOT a runner, and me ran the 9 miler at Big Sur, CA. I run; she doesn’t. The most beautiful race I have ever run and the most satisfying…to see her cry at the end because she did it, and to be a part of helping her to reach a goal. It sounds like you had a similar experience. No better feeling than accomplishment and giving. Well done, sir.

  5. Olwyn Hughes
    on May 2nd, 2011
    @ 10:04 pm

    Glad you survived! Not sure that I would want to do that – but you have gotten me thinking! And, hey, if you get a free t-shirt….

  6. Beth
    on May 3rd, 2011
    @ 6:02 am

    Awesome perspective! As someone who has pretended to be a runner (I’m still waiting for that moment when I will KNOW that I am a runner) for past two years, I have discovered I will do a lot for a free t-shirt. This past weekend, I wore one of my t-shirts with 13.1 on it and the lady bagging my groceries asked what bible verse it signified. When I explained it was a running shirt, she told me that she ha run once. Once. And it felt like a moment where we were basking in the glow of kindred spirits. I love how running is something that can bond people even if they’ve only done it once.


  7. Janet
    on May 6th, 2011
    @ 4:16 am

    Never saw an Elvis impersonator I didn’t like whilst running a marathon.

  8. Alicia Kessler
    on May 12th, 2011
    @ 8:41 am

    Way to go. Even better if the title to your post reference’s the Grateful Dead.

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