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Sunday, May 13, 2012

20 Miles - I am going to die - just like Phidippides


I thought this would be a good week for us to take a brief look at the history of the marathon.   Phidippides was the Athenian runner who ran from the plains of Marathon to the city of Athens, approximately a 26 mile while run, and died shortly thereafter of exhaustion.    It was his job to inform the City of Athens that the Athenians had defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon and to warn them that the Persians were on their way.     Now, my immediate thought, is that if someone died running 26 miles, then perhaps it is not the wisest thing for me, or anyone else, to do.  And, yet, since the inception of the modern Olympics, people have run the marathon.    A closer look reveals that Phidippides, was actually a "professional" runner, much like Olympic runners.   That's what this guy did, - run.  This seems to support my earlier hypothesis, that I , a non runner, should not be running a marathon.    

This hypothesis is also supported by my experience running Saturday.    Once again I had to be at the practice at 6:30 a.m., this, in and of itself, is actually a valid reason for me to not run a marathon.   Once we got started running, I felt pretty good.   The first 6 miles, - all good.  The next 6 miles -- not dead yet.   About 15.5, I thought about killing myself I was so miserable.   At 18, my back spasmed.  WHAT?    What the hell was that?   Oh, and it kept doing it.  So, I walked the last two miles, trying to stretch out my back periodically.    I stretched a little when I finished, and then got in my car to go home.   I walked into my house and could barely move!   I contemplated an ice bath, but decided, hells no!  (see previous entry on the ice bath), so I took a hot shower and stretched some more.    Then I proceeded to fall asleep on the sofa for 45 minutes.   I seem to vaguely recall Oliver playing legos, but for all I know, he could have stuffed legos up both our noses and I wouldn't have been the wiser.    I finally got up and went to lunch and shopping.   I was so tired.   And, sore.   My feet, knees, hips, back, shoulders, eyes and head all hurt.     Clearly, my body had decided that this much running was unacceptable.    Again, all supporting the aforementioned hypothesis. 

During my run, the mentor I was running with had mentioned the story of Phidippides, -- she said something, like, just think if he would have died after only 21 miles, then that would have been the marathon.   And, I thought, "damn fool, I wish he would have died after 21 miles."   I was trying to remember the whole story, I remembered that he was in fact a messenger, but I seemed to recall that there was more to it than just the 26 miles.   So, I looked it up.  (Thank you wikipedia).   It turns out, prior to that 26 mile run, Mr. Phidippides had run 140 miles each way back and forth to Sparta, and had fought in the battle of Marathon.  So, he didn't actually die from running the 26.2.   He died from running 306 miles.    The idea of someone running that far makes me laugh.   Or cry.   

So, I thought to myself, how many people have died running a marathon?   I googled that too.  I couldn't find an exact number, but the risk appears to be .8 per 100,000 people.    I tried to figure out how many people would be running the San Diego marathon, and the best estimate I could find was 40,000, -not even 100,000 people.   I figure that means  the odds are ok that I won't actually die (to all you math nerds, I know that is not how probability works, but I'm trying to make a point here).   I am just going to feel like I did.  


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