Saturday, June 01, 2013
In the last week or so David and I have watched three movies about marathons. He's been a good sport about it, really. I was never so good about watching movies about his girevoy sport! Two were serious and one was just for fun.
Running the Sahara is about three top marathoners who were already good friends, who decided to run literally across the Sahara desert, from Senegal to the Red Sea.
It took me 7 days to drive 3400 miles the last time I crossed the United States. It took them 111 days to run 4400 + miles across the Sahara. It is hard to imagine. We got hot and cold in our pickup truck and camping in tents on the ground (we didn't use hotels because we traveled with goats, ducks and dogs but that's another story...) We showered four times and thought we stunk. These guys barely showered, endured very cold nights and 140 degree days for 111 days! It's just mind boggling.
The leader of the group was a hard drug addict less than 2 decades ago, but cleaned up and was addicted to running. It was his entire life. He got sponsors and doctors and pushed the project through. He weedled, badgered and coached. He is the one who made it happen. You love him, hate him and admire him. How could you not?
One of the men - from Taiwan - was a born athlete, and had been running from the age of ten. He had the love and support of his countrymen but worried about danger and was lonely during the trip since he had no cultural or language similarities with the crew. He did speak some limited English. He also suffered severe dehydration for part of the trip.
Another runner was literally a smoker and drinker TWO years prior. One day just decided he was not doing himself or his family any favors by living the way he did so he just started running. He was just an average athlete by his own admission. He was dogged by aches and pains, but he had incredible heart. He was my favorite. He loved his wife and he just kept plugging away. How could you not admire a guy like that?
All along the movie, you find yourself thinking: what am I doing complaining about 80 degree heat and 90% humidity? What am I doing complaining about a tiny little blister? Or a stuffy nose? Gee whillikers! Have I got it easy!
But then the men run through some absolutely beautiful scenes and you feel envious of them, too... and for a moment you want to trade in your treadmill or high school track for some of what they are seeing... until they peel of their shoes or have to get an IV to take care of their dehydration... and then you remember that maybe the high school track is pretty dang awesome, after all.
The second marathon movie is a joke, really... but it also reminds you that maybe 80 degrees and tiny little blisters aren't so bad.
Run Fatboy Run! is about a man who ran away from his pregnant fiancee on the wedding day... and after than avoided exercise whenever possible except lifting beers and chasing shoplifters during his job as security officer. When a hot new man proposes to his ex... and he finds out this hot new man is going to run in the London Marathon, our protagonist also says he'll run the marathon to win her back, not realizing at all what he is saying. The rest of the movie follows his very painful and laughable training. And you will find yourself going, "No, no don't DO that!" and covering your eyes, hoping he'll avert a disaster right before he gets into yet another one...
I won't spoil it for you. You'll just have to rent it yourself to see if he gets the girl or she goes for the hot marathoner.
The Spirit of the Marathon follows multiple people as they train for and finally run in the Chicago Marathon. Two of them are hurt during training. One of them you can completely predict will be sidelined... he was in denial about how much he was eating, how hard he was training, how much the odds were stacked against men, etc... The other one was a surprise. But watch how they handle their injuries.
You also watch other marathoners, some of them young, some old, some repeat contenders and some running for the first time. By the end of the movie, David and I had definite favorites. Again, I won't spoil it for you, but we knew who worked hard and really deserved to finish well...
There was one Kenyan, though, we felt kind of bad for. He was competing among an elite group of Kenyans, and among such a group, it is hard to train to be number one. We really feel it is a mistake to announce one will be a winner among such a group... that is like angering the gods or tempting fate or something... The reality is, it is easy to train to not be in the back of the pack, or to not be in the middle of the pack, but how do you train to shave off one or two seconds? How do you know how the other guys are training?
While I was running today, it was Running the Sahara that floated in and out of my head. I struggled a little at the beginning of my run. But after the time when I usually feel like I need to stop and walk for three minutes or so and then have to push myself to get to 3.1 miles, I just ran. Not fast, but I ran for a straight mile. Now, I'll never get across the Sahara that way... but for a wheezing geezer, it's a start. I finished in 42 minutes including a 5 minute warm up.
Most of the time, I feel better on the second half of my run than my first half. My head seems to clear up - not mentally, but of allergy clogs. It takes at least 20 minutes. If I give up because I feel terrible, I never experience the feeling of relief and gratification and joy and pleasure that I get when I can breathe and I know I'll finish my 3.1 miles.
Better allergy weather is coming to the Oregon valleys soon - in July.