The Smug Marrieds Guide To Marathon Running

This weekend marks Blair's debut as a marathoner. He's running Grandfather Mountain, a race which boasts the tag line, "One of America's Toughest Marathons."

You wouldn't catch me running this race on a dare. The course begins at 3,333 feet and climbs to an elevation of 4,279 feet. Up, up, up, ow, ow, ow. But Blair insists he's going to be a "one and done" marathoner, so his rationale is why not make it count?

Observing Blair over the last 16 weeks, I've been amused by the differences in how we approach our training. So here for your reading pleasure, I offer...


Step 1: Selecting A Race

Dena: Spend a month consulting with friends about which races they're running. Announce my race of choice on Facebook, Twitter and my blog, as well as hold forth in every conversation about which race I'm running, why I chose it, other races I considered, along with a brief review of prior marathons run and how this race will be similar/different. 

Blair: Go to computer. Find race. Register. Never mention it again.

Step 2: Training

Dena: Obsess over daily runs, recording everything from weather to shoe mileage to if pizza or spaghetti serves me better as a pre-long run meal. Facebook, tweet and blog about how fast I ran, how hot it was, what struggles I encountered, why I could have done better if it hadn't been so humid, and more details than most people are comfortable reading about my pulled glute/hamstring injury. Compare notes daily with bevy of running friends on how their training is going, how far they ran, how fast, and how we could all run faster if only it weren't so humid.

Blair: Put on running shoes. Leave house. Run. 

Step 3: Group vs. Solo Runs

Dena: Rearrange my work and personal life so I'm able to run as many miles as possible with friends. Use the time spent running together to connect, find inspiration, and talk about how much faster we could be running if only it wasn't so hot and humid. 

Blair: Put on running shoes. Leave house. Run. 

Step 4: The Taper

Dena: Carry around a can of Lysol and hose down anyone who dares sneeze in my direction. Pay extra attention to diet in the last two weeks of training, making sure to add salt to the diet as well as maintain the proper ratio of carbs, protein, and fat. Eat only organic produce so my body is in top shape for the upcoming race. 

Blair: Bring soup to the sick. Polish off daily boxes of Fruity Pebbles. 

Step 4: Right Before The Race

Dena: Bring back up chargers for my Garmin, knowing to the second what pace I need to hold. Spend hours pouring over course map, noting hills, water stops, and where I expect to see friends and family. Refuse to walk more than 20 consecutive feet across the house the day before the race, in order to conserve energy. Facebook, tweet and blog a 24-hour countdown to the start of the race. 

Blair: Forget to mention to anyone that he is actually running a marathon this weekend. Suggest we spend the day before the race walking around Boone and sightseeing. 

Step 5: After The Race

Dena: Spend hours with other runners, regaling one another with a mile-by-mile description of how we ran our race. Indulge in food tent goodies. Spend more time talking about race with other runners. Talk about other marathoners we've run and how this one compares. Discuss why we're idiots to put ourselves through this torture while discussing which marathon we'll sign up for next. Facebook, tweet and blog a mile-by-mile description of my race, how it compares to other marathons I've run, how I'm feeling, how the hamstring/glute held up, and why--even though I ran a good race--I'm pretty sure I could have gone faster if only it hadn't been so hot and humid. 

Blair: (Even though it hasn't happened yet, I'll lay money this is how it will go.) Run marathon. Grab a water. Ignore wife's pleas that he must eat something, anything. Get in car. Drive home. Mention to no one that he just completed one of the hardest marathons in the nation. 


It goes without saying that I am PROUD BEYOND WORDS of Blair. He's done most of his training runs before work, in the dark, slipping out of the house at 5 a.m., then working a 10-hour day, and never uttering a word of complaint about it. His goal is simply to finish the race. He has no ego and doesn't care one bit about time. (I try to be supportive, even if I can't relate.)

Blair isn't running this marathon for anyone but himself--a quality I admire and aspire to. I can't wait for the role reversal where I get to be the one standing by the side of the road, waving and cheering. 

And don't worry honey--I'll Facebook, tweet and blog your progress to everyone so you don't have to. Plus, even though I know you could care less about time and what others think, I want everyone reading this to know that whatever Blair's finish time, he could have gone much faster if it only hadn't been so hot and humid.