Thursday, August 5, 2021

Getting Ready for the Flying Pig Marathon

What's not to like about this book by Bart Yasso -- Runner's World magazine's former Chief Running Officer? 


I finished reading it today. Bart walks you through the steps in running a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon, a marathon, and an ultra marathon. I sit here with a wild smirk on my face as I listen to his hilarious stories of running way back in the day. This book meets a need in my life because I always like to have a plan when I race. 

For me, Bart's chapter on the marathon was the most interesting one. As a 25-year old, his goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This meant he had to run a 2:50 or faster at a previous race. By the fall of 1981, he was ready to toe the line at the Philadelphia Marathon. He qualified with only one second to spare. 

Now here's what's so interesting about his story. In those days, marathons weren't nearly as popular or well-organized as they are today. 

  • There was no chip timing. Say what? How in the world can you get an official time without chip timing? Well, they managed. 
  • Men 40 and older had to run 3:10 to make it to Boston. But there was only a single qualifying for women of all ages: 3:20!
  • If you didn't finish the race in under 3:35, your results weren't even recorded in the results books. That would make my head explode.
  • Aid stations were just getting off the ground. My next marathon is the Flying Pig in Cincinnati on Oct 31st. This event has plenty of aid stations along the course -- in fact, about one every mile! There's also continuous crowd support and music throughout. The Pig attracts many first timers. As Bart says, "The marathon is more welcoming to everybody now."

For now, I need to continue to train wisely and properly so that I can arrive at the starting line fit, fresh, and healthy. I will take it one day at a time, one preliminary race at a time. I will remember that I love challenges and that I don't back down from hard things. Meanwhile, I will do what I can to inspire others to learn how their bodies function and respond to stress. Humans were designed to walk and run. We need to be active, especially as the incidence of obesity continues to skyrocket globally. It's all the result of a lack of physical activity, an unhealthy (sedentary) lifestyle, and a questionable diet. 

Running has nothing to do with speed or pace. I know some 3-hour marathoners. I know a lot more 5 hour marathoners. The difference between them isn't related to pace. It's mostly related to genetics and the priorities you have. Their accomplishments, however, are the same. 

I've been blessed to have run the Flying Pig three times. Each serves as one of my happiest memories in this sport. I think of the Pig when I face a challenge. "I've run the Flying Pig. I can do this." 

Friends, the greatest danger in marathons is not the distance. The greatest danger is our unwillingness to accept the difficulty of the challenge. Just ask Bart Yasso. Or me, the "Flying Pig."