For All The Slow Pokes Out There

With runDisney race season fast approaching, so many of us are kicking our training into high gear.  Whether you are a newbie with your first race coming up or a seasoned veteran, we all worry about pace.  Some are trying to be the fastest, some are trying to beat their last time and some are just trying to finish without getting swept.  Whatever your goal, if you don’t have the slightest bit of anxiety about pace when going into a race you are either a machine or you’re lying.  It’s always somewhere in the back of your mind.

030 LB Half_Time

Me, I’m slow.  My pace ranges between 12:30 and 14:00.  I am a run-walker and I find it’s the best way to keep my endurance up for a long race…it works for me.  I’m not built like a runner, but I like the challenge so I do what works best for me.  So imagine my feelings when I read this article from 2009 that has been recircling the interwebs lately.  Basically, the author and other elite (i.e. fast) runners are questioning whether the act of simply finishing a marathon is worth the title of “marathoner.” This paragraph pretty much sums it up:

“It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours,” said Adrienne Wald, 54, the women’s cross-country coach at the College of New Rochelle, who ran her first marathon in 1984. “It used to be that running a marathon was worth something — there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’ ”  

That makes me sad.  Just because there are those of us who can’t complete a marathon in 4 hours, doesn’t mean our accomplishment is worth less.  We still traveled that same distance on our feet, don’t we deserve a medal too?  We’re not trying to win, we just want to finish and be able to celebrate that finish without being judged.  Completing a marathon is HARD.  Hell, just having the guts to even attempt a marathon is HARD.  That hard work should be rewarded, no?

And really, what does our slowness matter to those speedy runners?  They start way before us and finish way before us.  We are in no way inhibiting them from running their best race possible.  Just because we are taking 2 more hours to finish, doesn’t make their accomplishment any less valuable.  Are they annoyed that the roads are still closed when they are trying to leave and they get stuck in crazy traffic jams?  That MUST be it!  Because otherwise why would they even care?!?!

To finish a marathon in 4 hours takes an insane amount of training.  Those people are serious rock stars in my eyes and I am in awe of the dedication they put in, and I recognize I will never be among them.  I just don’t have that dedication to training, but I do love to push myself and run races.  Maybe that’s why I like runDisney so much.  There’s no pressure.  The elite runners take off in corral A and then the rest of us are there to have fun!

While this article was saddening, I was glad to find a reaction to it by Jeff Galloway who basically negated everything stated there.  He works with thousands of runners every year and confirmed that Ms. Wald is in the minority of how most runners feel about long marathon times.  Most runners have respect for those who even attempt a marathon because they know how difficult it can be.  Jeff goes on to say:

The finishing of a marathon bestows a unique sense of worth that can last for a lifetime – regardless of finish time.  We need to salute the efforts of those at the back who did not inherit the genetic material to run on a collegiate cross country team, but who inserted training into busy career and family schedules, improved their health and inspire others.

To me, running is personal.  You run as fast or as slow as you can or want to.  You are competing against yourself and proving to yourself that you can accomplish what you set your mind to.  Just get out there…get moving…walk if you have to. But just remember to NEVER listen to anyone who says that you are too slow and not a “real runner” because no matter what they say, they can’t take that medal or sense of pride away from you!

I’m a Marathoner Bitches!
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  • I don’t think I’ve ever been called an elite runner before. I feel like I just plod along myself. I may generally get into Corral A, and I’m hoping to break 3:45 hours in my first marathon in January, but I absolutely agree. This “who’s a real runner” stuff is just juvenile. If you go out and push yourself and do the distance, it counts. Full stop. We’re all different. We all have our own pace. We should embrace and celebrate it. Not look down our nose at those we feel aren’t deserving. Great post.

    • Wow…3:45 blows my mind and I hope you will come back to report on your race.
      I feel in love with the running community because of the support and it’s great to hear from a faster runner like yourself that you support us slow pokes 🙂 Thanks!

  • I love this post – wow! I’m glad you added Jeff’s quote. The concept almost had me in tears until I saw your picture and last sentence. Booya! I’m glad I have a great network of running buddies and family members who all seem to run to stay healthy, and who race more “socially.” I love the “runcations,” time with family and friends, and energy/fitness I’ve gained from running. It got me through miscarriage, pregnancy, and post-pregnancy, and we all run for different reasons but cross (or aim for) that same finish line! Thanks for your post!

    • I’m so happy I found Jeff’s article! He’s such and inspiration.
      I love that running has gotten you through so many events in your life. That’s what it’s really all about…not the time 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing!

  • “if you don’t have the slightest bit of anxiety about pace when going into a race you are either a machine or you’re lying” or you’ve been living too long in the tropics! You can tell how anxious someone is by how often they check their watch. I ditched mine a long time ago and have never looked back.

  • I have read that article too, and had mixed feelings. I felt as if there were moments of support for those of us (myself included) who are slower runners, but as in the paragraph you provided, we were put down, our efforts were shunned and pushed off as if we should have just stayed home and sat on the couch.
    It almost makes me think that it is just another thing that people cant accept, almost like a form of racism, hate. There are those that accept and cheer us on, and others who discriminate. It is always great to have others by our side, and those who are great such as Jeff Galloway show support to all!
    Thank you so much for sharing his words and yours!

    • I love what you said! I think you are totally right…haters are gonna hate no matter what. It’s good to know that the majority of our community is incredibly supportive. Thanks so much 🙂

  • Awesome post. IMHO, if you’re out there putting one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles, you are a marathoner. Running is one of the few sports where there really IS room for everyone, regardless of shape/size/speed/etc. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but by continuing to cross finish lines we can show by example that running is inclusive, regardless of what some might say. Sarah, you say it well- “I’m a marathoner, Bitches”.

    • Ha! I think I’ve been watching too much Breaking Bad 😉
      You are so right…there really IS room for everyone! Thanks for sharing!

    • Yep, 26.2 miles. Many can do it under 4 hours…it’s quite impressive! Clearly, I’m not one of them 🙂

  • AMEN! But honestly, I think it is pure jealously. The best elite runners, i.e., Deena Kastor, Ryan Hall, Meb, etc NEVER say that “slower” marathoners are less worthy. They are happy that people are embracing their sport. It is the runners who don’t have sponsorships who get mad because they are jealous that we can all participate in a sport that they have been training for since age x. Whatever. Like you said, a marathon is a TON of work, and there is no better feeling than crossing that finish line. HELL YA!

  • This post came just in time. I had hurt my ankle and have been nursing it along, it has healed, but i Ihave not trained I feel enough..I was gettin very anxious this is my first half and I was wondering if i should even try . Thinking how slow i will be and will hold up everyone else balh blah blah..( General pity party) when you post this.. OK I am in going out with a bang regrouping and going all out.. I just want to finish…LOL….Thanks for the up lift and the better out look….

    • SO glad this helped!! Just do the best you can and cross that finish line…you’re time doesn’t matter, especially if injured.

  • Yes to all of this! It’s so sad that people who put in genuine effort to get off the couch and accomplish something as HUGE as a marathon are not applauded for their effort no matter what their time! Of course people like you and I who only started running a couple of years ago aren’t going to be as fast as the people who ran cross country in high school and college, I would never expect to be! But, one of the great things about running is that anyone can participate without and real skill or training and it’s so accessible- to be honest the people who finish a marathon in 7 hours are the ones who deserve the biggest props, they were out there on their feet, in the sun and sweating for TWICE as long as the 3:30 marathoners! GO SLOW POKES!

  • I am so glad to hear that there are fast runners that support us slow ones. I am doing the Wine in Dine in Nov (my first half–yikes!!!) and I worry about this during training all the time. I think people must think I’m crazy when they see me run/walk. I get embarrassed saying I’m a “runner,” because of my slowness and walk breaks. Does the six mile training run for me not count as “running” since it’ll take me 95 minutes to finish it??? I’m encouraged to hear that there is much support for the back of the packers from the front of the packers.

  • Wow, what a poor attitude displayed by the person in the article. Anyone who has finished a marathon is a marathoner, with the bling to prove it! Even me, and I’ve walked a good majority of them, but I’ve still done it! Glad Jeff Galloway agrees with us!
    Great post, Sarah!

  • I felt so bad when I first read this and someone told me my marathon time meant I didn’t run. In fact, I never tell people I “ran” a marathon. I did it, yes, but I didn’t run it. Now I just don’t give a —-. It’s not high school gym class anymore and I’m not the fat girl trying to get out of doing the mile.

  • Thank you! As an asthmatic, I’m never going to be able to go very fast even if I dedicated every ounce of my time to it. It’s just not in me. But dragging my butt across the finish lines and pushing through the pain and worry associated with attacks takes a lot of guts and determination. I used to really struggle with even calling myself a runner because of people like that and was ashamed of my turtle pace, but I’ve since learned to ignore them. In my opinion it takes MORE effort and determination to finish a race at a slow pace because you have to be out there longer! Lol

  • I’m running the TOT 10 miler in October and am looking for someone to run with that moves at about my pace (13.33). Any takers?

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