A Marathon, You Say? You’re on, Buddy.

Every year, I find that I get a little older.  A while back, someone mentioned to me the concept of an annual celebration on the day of one’s birth, and I immediately jumped all over that idea.  I mean, there’s never a bad reason to party, but commemorating the day you showed up on this giant party planet called Earth has to be the best reason of them all.  Perhaps that’s why all the rappers are planning to party as if it is your birthday: “birthday” is widely acknowledged as the ultimate party classification.

As a side note, somehow Bacardi became the sipped beverage of choice during such celebrations, though I suspect it has much to do with the matching phonemes in the terminal syllables of the words “party” and “Bacardi,” and an attendant lack of creativity on the part of rappers.  I assure you that Bacardi does not get sipped on my birthday, nor any other occasion for that matter, apart from desperation.

I prefer to commemorate my arrival on this ball of clay by putting myself through difficult tests of my own endurance, strength, patience, and ability to come up with clever number schemes.  It’s called a Birthday Challenge, and I find it is a fitting way to reiterate for myself the fact that, yes, I’m still alive and kickin’.

The guidelines for a BC are simple: devise a challenge or set of challenges that are somehow numerically related to the number of years you’ve been breathing.  This is not terribly novel, as I’m sure many a person has tried to drink their age, many a basketball player has scored their age on their birthday, etc.  But this is far beyond the challenge of blowing out a couple dozen candles.

The concept of a formal BC actually originated in Santa Barbara, CA.  Training, creativity, and the assistance of your friends are all key elements.  The website will explain in more detail, and it also includes a list of previous challenges.  The sheer tenacity of some, the sheer conditioning of others, and the plain funniness of many, all make for heartwarming and uplifting reading.

My first birthday challenges were poorly planned and solitary.  I set goals that were a little too high, uncreative (220 pushups…good one), and that I had no intention or motivation to specifically train for.  The results weren’t bad or unpleasant, but they weren’t as great as they should have been.

I finally got it right when I turned 24.  I planned, plotted and trained my body very hard.  I was working at a restaurant at the time, which afforded me ample time during the day to train for the various tasks, and I was in touch with my Santa Barbara people in the run up to the event.  This allowed me to get other people excited about helping me in my challenge, and I was actually quite surprised by how many people came together over my own silly arbitrary goals.

My tasks were the following:

  • meditate silently for 24 minutes
  • perform 24 random acts of kindness
  • pick up 24 pounds of trash
  • cycle 24 miles with 2400 feet of elevation gain
  • climb 240 different boulder problems
  • have a barbecue and serve meat and beer to 24 friends
  • drink 2.4 bottles of Stone Brewing Company’s Double Bastard (10%!)

Well, I did it.  You can see the whole story at this blog.

For my 25th birthday, I didn’t do too much by way of fancy challenge, just enough to get me to train a little extra in the gym.  I wanted to toprope 25 climbs in the gym with 25 pounds of weight on my back.  I succeeded.  My shoulder then hurt for a couple of months after that.

This year, I was pondering what to do for 26.  I had spun the typical yarn of distance run or biked, number of climbs completed, number of things eaten.  But nothing particularly inspired me.  Until I sat down for dinner at my uncle Andy and aunt Leslie’s house for dinner.

Uncle Andy pointed out the rather obvious fact that a marathon is 26.2 miles.  I immediately knew that I was going to try to do it.  I’ve never been much of a runner, so the novelty of the challenge intrigued me.  In addition, I’ve always thought that I would like to do a marathon before I die, and the sooner the better in terms of health and conditioning.

After 10 seconds of internet research, I found the perfect marathon to train for: the San Francisco Marathon.  It’s home, and it falls on July 25, just ten days after my birthday.  Plus, it’s going to be beautiful, and it actually runs along the roadbed of the Golden Gate Bridge.

All this was back in January, and I’ve been training ever since.  Yes, it’s a lot of running.  I started real slow, a couple miles twice a week with a longer run (1 hour, easy pace) on the weekends.  The runs gradually lengthened, and I’ve been running half-marathons on the weekends now with little fuss.

I have a valuable resource in my uncle Andy, who is an experienced runner who seems hell bent on converting me to his particular neurosis.  He’s laid out a fairly straightforward training plan, and is always in my corner scheming ways to keep my hydrated, electrolyted, and fueled for the grueling event.  When something tweaks, he knows exactly what because he’s had it all, giving him the additional role of surrogate chiropractor.

Finally, I have one more motivation.  I am running this marathon to raise money for Haiti relief.  The next post will go into detail about why I want to help support Haiti, what organization the funds will go to and why, and my fundraising goal.  It will also include instructions for pledging money.

This blog will be a training log, a place for Haiti updates, a place for thoughts on life as I listen to myself breathe and pound the ground for hours at a time, and something that I will hopefully look fondly upon when running is a physical impossibility for me.  Please leave a comment at any time.  I’m constantly online, so I’ll probably respond pretty quickly.


My Training Log (so far)

Tuesday 5-Jan 4 mi
Thursday 7-Jan 3 mi
Sunday 10-Jan 5 mi, 42 min
Sunday 17-Jan 2 mi
Tuesday 19-Jan 4 mi
Thursday 21-Jan 3 mi
Sunday 24-Jan 8.75mi, 73 min
Sunday 31-Jan 4.3 mi
Tuesday 2-Feb 3.5 mi
Thursday 4-Feb 3 mi
Sunday 7-Feb 11 mi (9 mile run, then 2 mile run later)
Tuesday 9-Feb 3 mi
Thursday 11-Feb 4 mi
Saturday 13-Feb 11 mi
Tuesday 16-Feb 3 mi
Thursday 18-Feb 4 mi
Saturday 20-Feb 11 mi, 1:45
Friday 26-Feb 2 mi
Tuesday 2-Mar 4 mi
Friday 5-Mar 5 mi
Sunday 7-Mar ~13 mi, 2 hour
Tuesday 9-Mar 1.6 mi, 15 min
Thursday 11-Mar 4 mi
Saturday 13-Mar 2 hours, 13-14 mi
Tuesday 16-Mar 3.2 mi
Thursday 18-Mar 25 min
Sunday 21-Mar 14.1 mi, 2:15
Sunday 28-Mar 8.5 mi, 1:15
Tuesday 30-Mar 2 mi
Wednesday 31-Mar 4 mi
Thursday 8-Apr 4 mi
Saturday 10-Apr 8.5 mi, 1:30
Tuesday 13-Apr 25 min

This is roughly equivalent to 180 miles.


3 Responses to “A Marathon, You Say? You’re on, Buddy.”

  1. You’re letting my dad be in charge of your running? You know he won Idiotic Athlete of the Year, right?

    Really, though, this is awesome. I’ll be there to cheer you on!

  2. Thanks Cousin! I have to say, your dad does know a thing or two about self-propelled long-distance locomotion. And rehab. He knows a lot about rehab. That will come in handy when my knee falls off of my leg and I need to sew it back on.

  3. […] other news, I’m finally getting back into the swing of things training-wise.  If you notice the training log, there was a lull for most of April.  This is because we (WebGreek) was extremely busy in the […]

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