Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's Just A Freakin' Number.

Disclaimer:  Touchy subject - probably worse than religion or politics during holidays after everyone is flush with alcohol.

13.1, 26.2, 140.6...

You see them all over the highway, proudly donned on the back windows of vehicles before you.

Honestly, I find them as uninteresting, uninspiring, and ultimately, less revealing that "I Love My -Insert Breed of Dog Here- ".  

5k, 10k, 50k, 100k...

Finally, American get the metric system...but for the dumbest of reasons.

"What's your distance?"  Runner.
"Sprint, Olympic, Half, Full?"  Triathlete

It's amazing what we cling to as a matter of pride.

And I wasn't immune.  I proudly slapped a 140.6 sticker on my car the day I earned it.  (It sat right beside a 'Buck Fush').  And I imagined myself careening down the highway with every driver pulling their foot off the gas pedal and fading away behind me enamored in my accomplishment.

"Look honey, there goes an Ironman!"

Let's look at reality.  Running a 14:00 5k probably hurts more and takes 100x more training than running a 12-hour Ironman.

Are there olympians and elites out there rocking 5k stickers on their cars.  I haven't seen them yet.  (I'm sure some swimmers have them!)

There is a sense of grandeur with going far.  And pride.  But where does it end?  Who is the most bad ass?  When will far enough be far enough.

Dean K ran 350 miles in 82 straight hours.  Where's his sticker?

Today I ran 31 miles...and you know what, I didn't even blink when I crossed the 26 mile mark.  Why?

a)  I was slow as hell and had nothing to be proud about 'marathon wise'
b)  It's just a number.  It is not hallowed.  It is not sacred.  It is not the end all.  It is 100% arbitrary.

Now maybe you started at a 5 k and dreamed of one day working up to a marathon.  And you did it!

You SHOULD be so freakin' proud of that.  You should tell everyone you know YOUR STORY.

But lay off this number business.  Here's a secret.  No one cars.  The only people who understand it anyway already have their own sticker and aren't impressed anyway.

I don't want to see 26.2 on your window.  I want to hear that you ran a marathon 3 years after becoming a double amputee.  Or that you got your 13.1 after loosing 120 lbs.

And what about 14, 15, 18, 36, etc.

Why don't we plaster these all over the place.  They are equally interesting, no?

I'll tell you what's interesting.

Running.  Or doing triathlons.  I think they are rad, regardless of the distance.  (Hobby stickers, such as 'tri guy' fall into the category of "I Love My -Insert Breed of Dog here- " stickers, btw.)

Overcoming your previous self doubts and exploring the limits of what you thought was possible.  That's interesting.

And that happens somewhere between 100 meters (Track and Field) and 3000 miles (RAAM).

Get out there and go earn your 15.6 and blog about your revelatory experience you had at mile 12 while the sun set over the mountains.

So trash this sticker business.  Do you know what they cost to make?  About 25 cents.  Now don't you really feel like an @sshole for spending $5 bucks on it?


  1. I'm guessing you're not logging your races or long runs into the Marathon Maniac's tracking database:) However, does this mean I have to remove the "My Kid was Student of the Month at Ladera Middle School?" off my 750il bumper? You know everyone cares and is super impressed on how smart my children are. My weekend Jeep has a 5.0 Hemi V8 and I want everyone to know that my engine is really big so the rear chrome moniker stays. Crud, I have to go to the bathroom. 98.6! It's the OC baby, we quantify everything and let everyone know about. Size and quantity matters out here. Like the old Andre Agassi Canon commercials used do proclaim, "Image is Everything."

  2. Right on. I've never fantasized during a run about a sticker on my car, but I have wanted to tell someone about a memory that made me cry mid-run, or the way the trees started to speak to me, or some other such crazy mundane thing. Those of us who can't brag about being fast or going super far have to brag about spiritual experiences. :)