I am a marathoner. That means I like to run, and/or, walk 26.2 miles. While I do this someone, whom I have paid money to, provides me with water, snacks, toilets, and encouragement. All the while they keep track of the time it takes me to cover twenty-six miles, three hundred eighty-five yards.
Being a marathoner requires obsessive behavior. Preparing yourself, mind and body, takes an inordinate amount of dedication. Obsessing about the time it takes to cover this distance stops your conscious mind from realizing, this torture would have gotten a murder conviction overturned for cruel and unusual punishment. This time obsession is so common organizers feel compelled to offer badges of honor predicting finish times. Runners multiply predicted pace by 26.2 miles and pin these on shirts to show the spectators how well they know their bodies.
The Nashville Country Music Marathon starts a bit later in the day than most. I recognized an opportunity to practice another pastime of mine, sarcasm. The world record is just over two hours. Four and a half hours is a good goal for a first timer with a training plan. Many walkers and slow joggers take between six and seven hours, my category. I pinned on a 3:30 badge and strutted to the start line.
Nashville is a scenic race through the old mansion district. I had a great run and felt good throughout. I asked the nuns at the convent to pray for me climbing the hill, not revealing my Mormon upbringing. At about mile eight I passed one of the Kenyan runners. I went by like he was standing still. Poor little bugger was standing still, on the curb with a broken ankle. The course follows a path along the river. After a walk in the park, around a lake it ends up at the football stadium.
John Bingham is a tireless spokesman for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Team in Training. He is also a race announcer. I approached the finish line, in just under seven hours elapsed time.
He asked “What happened to 3:30?”
I responded, “What time is it?”
John said, “uhh, it’s about 3:12 PM.”
My simple reply was “I’m early.”
In the parking lot one of John’s coworkers told me John laughed so hard he nearly fell off the announcer’s stand. I’m pretty sure that young man had been sent to verify my ignorance.