I want everyone who reads this to take a moment and consider WHY you do the activities that you do. Why put in the time, the effort, the money, to pursue your chosen endeavor?
Is it to push you to be the best that you can be, to inspire others to be their best, to see what you are really capable of?
Or is it to look cool, to stoke your ego, to have some reason to think that you are better than others?
I was disturbed when I came across a New York Times article called “Plodders have a place, but is it in the marathon?” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/sports/23marathon.html?pagewanted=all&_r=3&)
It claims that slower runners have “ruined the marathon’s mystique.” The quote from the end of the article summed up the worst possible attitude concisely:
“I always ask those people, ‘What was your time?’ If it’s six hours or more, I say, ‘Oh great, that’s fine, but you didn’t really run it,’ ” said Given, who finished the Baltimore race in 4:05:52. “The mystique of the marathon still exists. It’s the mystique of the fast marathon.”
This remark serves no purpose, other than to make those hearing it think that the speaker is an ass. Wanting to discount the efforts of 6-hour marathoners who can’t match your 4-hour pace? Are you just upset that the 3-hour guys beat you? Do you feel so insecure that you need to invalidate the efforts of others in order to make yourself feel more powerful?
Sorry, buddy. There is a special term for elite marathoners. They are called “the winners.” If you didn’t win (and a 4-hour time is unlikely to grant you a win), then you are one of the mediocre, finisher’s medal athletes right along with the rest of us. Deal with it.
The longer course times allow those at the back of the pack (many of whom are just as hard-core of runners as the fast crowd) to push themselves and try to do something that less than 1% of the population will do. If you don’t want to share the course with the likes of us, qualify for marathons with a shorter time hack. Or try ultras, that should tone down your ego pretty quick.
At the other end of the spectrum, this photo has been making the rounds on social media lately:
Usually the guy is getting called out, but the shadow in the bucket shows that the woman has done the same thing, dumping most of the load required to be carried through the course.
I am pretty forgiving when it comes to getting through a race, AS LONG AS YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST.
Seriously, you two, is this your best? Is this pushing you to be better, mentally tougher, physically stronger? Or is it just giving you a medal and a facebook photo so you can try to look like more than you are?
My request to all of those who read this: Don’t be “that guy.” Don’t shirk your potential, do every last bit that you are capable of. Success or failure, be honest about what you have accomplished. Hold your head high, knowing that you gave every last bit that you could. And regardless of whether the person you find yourself talking to was the race winner or DNF’d, or anywhere in between, show them the proper respect for signing up, showing up, and giving all they had.