I ran my second half marathon on Sunday, the main event in this year's Madison Marathon as the full race was canceled due to heat. Combined with the half marathon I ran in 2009, this gets me to a full marathon over my lifetime. Thanks. Thanks. It was a lot of work, but it feels good.
I don't think resting up for three years at the midway point is of any consequence at all. It just puts my total time at three years, four hours, twenty minutes and forty-eight seconds.
As Americans, we like to keep score on stuff. So, there are all kinds of statistics on this half marathon that are now emblazoned in history. For example, I now know that I finished 2,951st out of registered 4,443 runners. Among all men, I finished ahead of 443 other guys, but behind 1586 of them. In my cohort, officially listed as men ages 50 to 54, but unofficially defined as "guys who just want to finish standing up and get a beer as soon as possible," I finished 104th out of 139. My time was 2:15:54, compared to the average time of 2:08:39.
All of this puts me solidly on the weak end of mediocrity. Some would compare this to my performance as mayor.
A few random observations on all this.
First off, the organizers were right to cancel the full marathon. For the first nine miles or so, it was a pleasant run through the leafy east isthmus neighborhoods under a mostly overcast sky. But the long stretch back and forth on the treeless John Nolen Drive was brutal even at 9 a.m. It would have been a real problem for a lot of runners at 11 that morning.
Second, while the competitive juices still flow at my age, there's a nice sense of accomplishment just to finish the race. And training for it gave me an incentive to keep in shape, which is good for reasons totally unconnected to the run itself.
Lastly, a word about the point of the Memorial Day weekend. A recurring theme on Memorial Day is that things like the marathon and the Brat Fest and the Indy 500 and barbecues and ball games are missing the point of what should be a solemn remembrance of those who gave their lives for their country.
But I don't think that's right.
Most of those who gave their lives for their country didn't die for abstracts like the flag or even the constitution. They died defending the sweet, simple common lives that they were hoping to return to. I can't think of a better way to honor them than to go on with the common pleasures of life in America. as long as at some point during the weekend we stop for a moment, remember them, and to ourselves and maybe those around us, simply say "thank you."