Intern Matt Tackles The Marathon
Have you ever been fat? I have. I’d assume that the vast majority of you reading this have some semblance of self-control and started running at the age that I was downing Mountain Dew LiveWire while playing Halo 3 in high school.
Some of you may have decided to start running in order to lose weight or improve your quality of life and now it’s a full blown hobby. You may also have a 13.1 sticker on the back of your Subaru and you tell people that running gives you “an endorphin rush not replicated by any drug.” I hear it all the time and see it on dating apps. As much as that kind of repulses me at face value, I want to be one of those people. I want to know what it’s like to enjoy running because so many people seem to get a rush from it.
Now to be clear, I know there’s no such thing as the runner’s body. Having spectated a few races, I realize that people can run in all shapes, sizes and ages. They all enjoy it. But I want to set a goal of improving my understanding of the sport while also possibly chasing some lofty goals.
So, how do I plan on getting myself to enjoy running? I did what any reasonable person would do and signed up for a marathon. The farthest I’ve ever run is 10 miles for a race this past summer, and although I don’t like to admit it, the race wasn’t a cake walk.
When I was asked to do this by one of the founders of this lovely website and my college friend, Chris Chavez, he pitched it to me as a “couch to marathon” journal. I was insulted. Is my level of fitness really at “couch” level? Maybe a bit more than I’d like to admit.
Now, I’ve never been “inactive” per se, but there was a period in college where like many of my classmates I ate a lot of Easy Mac and drank a lot of beer and working out regularly gave way to naps, gambling, and video games.
Tell me this doesn’t look like that type of guy…
Thankfully, one day I looked myself in the mirror and noticed the muffin top and double chin and did something about it, dropping about 40 pounds in four months. Since then, I’ve struggled to keep myself motivated enough to keep the weight off. I thought running a god damn MARATHON would be a way to keep the extra pounds off and still keep up my Taco Bell/ Sour Patch Kids habit.
I played sports in high school, but purposely played baseball because it’s probably one of the sports that requires the least amount of running. My brother Kevin was a track star in high school and college and I’d laugh in his face when I found out he had to wake up early to run to the point of puking while I got to play catch after school.
Seeing his obsession with it, however, made me curious. There has to be some reason he was so passionate about doing it. There’s such a strong culture around running that I still fail to understand. Maybe forcing myself to run dozens of miles a week will produce some sort of sweat and fatigue-induced epiphany and I’ll see what I’ve been missing all this time. I’ve tried no fewer than four times to pick up running as a hobby and have failed to keep up with it. I figured making this ridiculous commitment 10 months in advance is a way to force myself to try it again and maybe, just maybe, like it.
So, join me as my byline periodically appears next to stories about runners whose accomplishments and speed are worth noting. I’ll do my best to bring a sense of humor to the hellscape that will be my experience from now until October’s Chicago Marathon. You get to laugh at me and my struggle and I, in some sick exercise, get to document my pain and suffering and archive it for as long as this website exists.