Monday, February 14, 2005

3:59 Chicag05

Running under 4 hours? C'mon....what about my age, my limited running abilities (other than I keep going), my history of chronic injuries, training in the South Florida's oppressive heat and humidity through summer, my slow mid-pack times over the last decade (4:25-5:07, save an odd 4:05 in Boston in 1996) and the fact that the last time I slipped into the 3's was 23 years ago (3:38, thank you) -- c'mon, this is nuts.

And not my idea, by the way. It was my brother Kurt's. The guy in the photo above, who ran his inaugural 26.2 in October 2004, and apparently became infatuated. This, despite the usual and grievous distress he experienced with three miles to go. I could see it in his eyes. The what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-here look, followed by the this-is-much-much-worse-than-I-imagined grimace. For 23 miles, I was waiting for him to bonk and glazeover and experience the cruel fatigue of the stretch run; he did, and I was satisfied. But then, days later, he shocks me with the 3:59 gauntlet thrown down. Yeah, let's do it again, just faster, he says. Under four. I gotta go under four. Running 26.2 wasn't enough, clearly. He's on the clock. Forget a 26.2-mile tour of the big city marathons -- Chicago, New York, D.C. As he emailed me, "I don't need to sightsee."

Okay. Now, I can appreciate someone wanting a respectable Personal Best, and for some, like my brother, 4:29 (Chicag04's time) isn't it. Not by a long run. Not by 30 minutes, anyway. No, anything with a four in front of it puts you in a category of what? of being somewhat whimpish. Seems a severe judgment, in my opinion, seeing that you've traveled a fairly impressive distance on foot. But there it is. For Kurt, now 47 and over halfway there, deep midpack in a marathon ain't gonna cut it. It's a race, for god sake. Gotta break four.

Now it's true, I've been looking for someone to run with anyway , ever since my 25-year running buddy Roy wore down his cartiledge in his knee to a paper tissue. This whole marathon thing was getting kind of old without him, running off to cities by myself, or dragging my wife Lorraine with me, who tries to spot me running by at some remote corner on the course for, oh, maybe, five seconds and seeya later. She hates it. Running marathons is much more fun doing it with a friend. Your brother. So sure, I'm in. Under four. Against all reason. Freakinuts.

I designed a rather extended program for the both of us that includes a lot of weight lifting, marathon pace runs, intervals, time trials, and so on, all building to a morning's run in October. Today, officially, the training kicks off.

As my brother emailed me this morning, "34 weeks to go. Game on."

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