Some stories are just too good not to blog about. With the U.S. Presidential election campaign in full swing...or should I say full "mud sling," there's plenty of foddor to pick from. I woke up this morning and my twitter feed was abuzz with Paul Ryan's little white marathon lie. Seems that the public is interested in Senator Ryan's physique and exercise regiment. He's been noted as a P90X disciple and I was interested to hear that he was also a marathon runner just like me and Christian Grey.
The twist in the story is that he claimed to run a sub three hour marathon. I nearly choked on my morning coffee. Ryan last week told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he had run a marathon "Under three [hours], high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something." According to my magic training spreadsheet that would be 26.2 miles at a 6:41 pace. The LA Times stated "Even for someone like the hyper-fit Ryan, sub-3 is a substantial accomplishment...a pace most recreational runners can't hold for even a mile or two."
That's a decent 5K race pace for me. The story goes on to say that a number of folks mentally challenged the story, then proceeded to check out how fast he really ran his marathon.
Built more like a rugby player than the lean frame that would typify a sub three marathon runner, Runner's world expressed skepticism and the real facts came out. Ryan ran a single marathon—the 1990 Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn. – and that race lists his finish as 4 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds. Over an hour off the time he stated and run at a 9:13 minute per mile pace.
Not even close. One thing about runners is we know what our PR (personal record) is. If you've only run one race, that's your PR. Mine happens to be a 3:21. The other thing about runners is we remember all the details about our very first marathon; I know what shirt I wore, I know the color of the "cherry tomato" blister on my toe, and I know my time. I can still taste the beer and how good it was.
Aside from the few well publicized cases (such as Rosie Ruiz*) where runners cheated, I've found marathon runners to be quite honest when it comes to their performances. We do have (at least I do) plenty of excuses for why we didn't run faster in a race, but I never met a runner who didn't know their times.
As the Blue Fairy aptly told Pinocchio, lies tend to grow. I've had this conversation many a time with my boys. While I don't condone lying under any circumstances with my kids, I've also pointed out situations where it's ridulous to lie about something you don't even need to lie about. Lie's tend to pile up and you have to tell more lies to cover the ones you've already told. My favorite in the house was the airsoft gun wound on one of my boy's forehead. He said it happened cleaning his bathroom. Yeah, right! Like he'd ever cleaned the bathroom before.
Applying the same logic to Mr. Ryan, why would you lie about something like that? Some voters would have been impressed with the mere fact that he completed a marathon. Not that that has anything to do with qualifying yourself to run the country. Now he's backpeddling on the topic. If he ran a much slower 4:01, perhaps he was literally backpeddling that day in Duluth as well. Mr. Ryan...I think you might have just lost a few runner votes on this blunder.
Author's Footnote: Rosie Ruiz won the 1980 female Boston Marathon shaving 25 minutes off the previous record. Only problem is she got busted for taking the subway in the New York Marathon, and her "flabby" thighs were one of the first clues that maybe she wasn't a world class marathon runner. In 1982, Ruiz was arrested for embezzling $60,000 from a real estate company where she worked. She then moved back to southern Florida, only to be arrested in 1983 for her involvement in a cocaine deal.