marathons and other problems of evil

Marisa told me last week that in addition to her grad school philosophy seminars on Plato and Problems of Evil and the 29 espressos she drinks a day just to deal with the sheer amount of reading and thinking required of her, she just ran her first half marathon. Nice one, Marisa. Sometimes I wonder I should try something like that - run for an unreasonably long amount of time - and then I immediately think, "Or not."

When my cousin Lauren accidentally finished the Chicago marathon a few years ago for fun (jerk!), I asked how she knew how to train for a marathon. Not that she trained. Again, jerk. And she said "Um, from your dad's website?" Oh yeah, ha ha. That. I did not get that gene.

Marisa said her half marathon felt great even though her knees and possibly her soul were pissed off but the whole being passed by an 83-year-old on the course part was not cool.

"Oh, shit," I said. "83 years old?" I know that feeling.

I had a flashback of being in Mexico when I was 20. I told Marisa I didn't know what my problem was at the time but I was DRAGGING. I was literally shuffling down the Mexican sidewalk inch by inch and got totally passed by an crippled old man using a TAPED-TOGETHER CRUTCH.

Way later, like a million weeks after I should have gone to the doctor, I finally found out that I had both parasites and salmonella. I had just thought it was weird that I kept passing out and curling up on the ground to hold my stomach while it rocked with spasms of pain. It was in this period of practically having worms crawl out of my ears that an elderly crippled type with a jacked up crutch passed me.

Marisa and I got a good little laugh over that and then she sent me this lovely photo.

For all I know, this IS the man who passed Marisa on the course. I grew up with some of the most outstanding examples of what people can do, like my dad's employee who was in his 70s and still competing in the Ironman Triathlon. For those who forget how hardcore that is: 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, and 26.2 marathon run. Right after each other! You don't get to rest for a month between each event!

OMG. I'm in my 30s and am psyched when I walk to the park.

Or his customer, also an older man, diagnosed with advanced cancer and told he'd be dead any minute, who went nuts on an alternative (extremely restrictive + extremely healthy) diet that eradicated his cancer and is now back to canoeing and running his ass off.

Don't even get me started on the disability angle. Having a disabled brother and disability activist mom, I was familiar with the Special Olympics and I have a vague memory of a house guest named Jerry who had, I think, cerebral palsy and may have walked across the United States with his crutches.

Or my very able father who saw the temperature dropping to terrible, hideous numbers like fifty below zero as a great opportunity to test out the cold weather gear he sells. Runner crampons, Gore-Tex, icicles in his beard, big smile.

In this crowd, you can't really get away with saying you can't do something. You have to lay it out straight like me and say, "That's just not my style."

So I was about to believe that the little old man in that photo is the one who kicked Marisa's butt in the half marathon until she threw in,

"Don't believe the hype. He ditched the walker halfway through the race and started moonwalking past me just to rub it in."

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