Three Days to Marathon

Going for distance or going for speed?

One thing I've repeatedly read since deciding to run was that a first-time runner should aim just to finish the race and not worry about their time. Early on, I thought I could jive with this. But then I read an excerpt online from some running book where the author claimed that Oprah ran her first marathon in under four hours. Alas, an excuse for me to forget about merely finishing. If I can't do better than Oprah, then I'm giving up . . . on everything.

Then I started training and I started to think that that dude made up the Oprah fact. In order to run a four-hour marathon, you need to run nine minute miles. I started running in January between 9:30 to 10 minute miles. Disappointed, I picked up my time week by week. When I did twenty miles a couple of weeks ago, I nailed my nine-minute mile over the course of the run. I'm thinking that dodging traffic cost me a few minutes during that run. And considering that they say that you pick up a little time on race day and the fact that I've trained well and I'm focused, I think I can do a little better than I original suspected.

So just because I like throwing down the gauntlet, here'll be my reaction to the following finishing times:

Over 4hrs: satisfied and smiling; perhaps upgraded to "happy" if an injury or weather slowed me down.

Between 3hrs50mins & 4hrs: happy

Between 3hrs40mins & 3hrs50mins: ecstatic

Under 3hrs40mins: astonished

Back to Harpo. True, when I started training I wasn't in the best shape, but I suspected there was no possible way the talk show queen could've done four hours. Turns out (did my best lazy fact checking tonight) that Oprah actually ran the marathon in about four hours and twenty-nine minutes. Really, I'm not sure that makes me feel much better. That means she averaged about 10:30 per mile. If I can't smoke that time, I'll cancel my subscription to "O" magazine.

EDITOR'S NOTE: It was just now that I finally realized that my blog countdown was screwed up, counting down one day early. One of the email alerts I received from the Flying Pig people had a countdown going until Marathon WEEKEND and I mindless used that count. I went back and fixed the titles. Sometimes my fact checking is extremely lazy. Don't worry, though, I won't be lined up to run on Saturday morning.