Monday, April 09, 2012

In the Long Run: Spirit of the Marathon

Continuing the ongoing discussion/comparison of mine and Triple T's weekly Long Runs.

This week we're doing something different: Since Triple T isn't doing another awe-inspiring 3:50:00 training run, and my maintenance run this week was only 10 miles*, she suggested we watch and comment on the 2007 film Spirit of the Marathon. It's a documentary-style movie about different runners (Elites, Repeat Marathoners, and First time "Marathon Virgins") training for the Chicago Marathon,

To be 100% honest, I didn't even know this film existed until Triple T mentioned it to me. So I didn't know what to expect when I plopped down in the chair and started it up. Luckily I knew I was going to write about it, so I started jotting down notes as it played out.

I made sure to watch it at a time when didn't have any kids or the Wife around. While they support my running endeavors, asking them to sit through 104 minutes of a film about training for the 26.2 would be pushing it. The kids weren't around this week anyway and when I mentioned watching it to the Wife, I could see the interest dying in her eyes before I even finished the sentence. So as soon as she had gone to work Friday morning, I grabbed a coffee (or two) and started watching.

I know it's a given that I would find something interesting about this movie - I am a runner, after all. What I didn't expect was to find so many things that I found captivating:

*Warning! I will spoil this movie with what I say after this. I suggest you go watch it and then come back - that way you won't bitch in the comments section that I "ruined" the movie for you.*

  • First of all, I would LOVE to run in Chicago. It looks like a concrete forest. I know some of you will think I'm nuts, but I run along the ocean and through the forests all the time. Where I live, the highest building is four storeys tall - the thought of running through the car-free streets would be surreal and entertaining at the same time. I've ran one Big-City race, (The BMO Half-Marathon in Vancouver) and it was excellent. I'm sure Chicago would blow it away.
  • When Ryan admitted his disappointment at having missed qualifying for Boston by running a 3:11:21 the previous year, I wanted to punch him - I would give my left kidney and spleen to run it in that time. (It would probably make me lighter - do you think I should do it anyway?)
  • As much as I admire Jerry and his perseverance, if I went into the gym and he was walking on a treadmill, I would shank him in a heartbeat.
  • I did know that the first Marathoner was a messenger in ancient Greece - what I didn't know that he died after his run. Makes my chugging chocolate milk while stretching seem badass.
  • In the movie, they call the marathon "Everyman's Everest". Trust me - most of the the hills during a marathon feel like Everest - just without the Sherpa.
  • When Lori states that during her long runs her brain just "shuts off" I was ecstatic - it's good to know I'm not the only one.
  • Watching how smoothly Deena, Daniel, and some of the other elites run made me realize I look somewhat like a galloping horse who is trying to speedwalk when I'm on the road.
  • Fun Fact: Ryan showed the pace he's training at for Boston - that's my pace. Then he showed the elite pace on the treadmill - 12 M.P.H.  - I tried that speed at the gym for 2 minutes and it was crazy. To do it for 2+ hours would make my heart explode.
  • I can't believe that they never used to let women run in marathons. Not only are they just as exceptional athletically as we men are, but they completely crush us in the looks department. If I have to keep pace behind someone, I'm always glad when it's a lulelemon-clad member of the fairer sex. They should have had Kathleen stop running the Boston Marathon not because she was a woman, but because she was wearing that nasty sweatsuit.
  • Ryan's DNF at the Half (2 months before the marathon) freaked me out. All I could think of is how fucking crushed I would be. Forget that it was injury related - I would still be pissed at myself even if my leg fell off halfway through.
  • I'm skipping ahead now, but the fact that he supported his wife through her training AND the race made me not want to punch him anymore.
  • Seeing Deena with STACKS of crisp, new kicks freshly delivered to her house made me want to be a professional runner in my next life, or else mug a professional runner in this one.
  • Seeing the detailed preparation of equipment, shoes, bibs, etc that all the runners did the night before the race made me flash back to Triple T's post about how long it takes her to get ready for a run. I can't recall now, but did they show any lineups at the port-a-potties?
  • They actually captured the tension of waiting for the race to start - I felt as nervous sitting in my chair as I did every time I've lined up in a corral. 
  • I will admit - I had to actually stop myself from Googling the finish results - I so badly wanted to know how Deena and Daniel did. I'm proud to say I didn't look, and I'm one of those assholes who flips to the back of a novel if a character I like is in danger.
  • THE CROWDS. If that's what running a major marathon is like, with people lining the streets for practically the whole thing, I want to run one. (The races I run, there's huge stretches with just runners and no spectators except the trees and occasional squirrel.)
  • Daniel's disappointment in his 2:07:something made any frustration I've ever had with any finish time seem shallow in comparison. He runs with his whole country watching - my Wife and Kids will love me no matter what my time is.

I really, really liked this movie. Seeing what the runners (at every level) went through in their training and their race made me nostalgic for when I trained for my marathon. (Yes, I got nostalgic for 20-mile training runs) It perfectly captured the anxiety and obsession that goes into getting ready for the 26.2.

Triple T mentioned that after I watched this, I'd definitely want to do the Full Marathon in the fall, and I will admit that I almost jumped online and signed up before the movie was done. (Almost - I would be lying if I said it didn't strongly sway me in that direction.)

I'm going to stop gushing about it now and just say one thing: SEE THIS MOVIE. It should come free with any pair of shoes, that's how good it is. I don't care how you see it, just see it.

I'm guessing Triple T had the same experience as me when she watched this movie - why don't we both both go over and see what she thought right now?



  1. Sounds like a good film... I am always looking for something new to see to inspire me to get my lazy-ass up and moving???? Maybe this will work???

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  4. Sounds so great, thanks for sharing this to us. Looking forward always for more updates. Great information shared about the marathon. Nice post too.