Ha! Gottcha, a baker’s dozen is thirteen, and you thought I couldn’t think of a fitness related article relative to the “unlucky” number? Thirteen is a very significant number in the fitness arena. Thirteen miles is half a marathon (well, plus one tenth of a mile), a respectable race in itself, and the current popular distance for anyone wanting a challenge, an accomplishment, a goal; but not the total immersion in pain and not a part time job in training. Doing a ‘half’ is cool. You have time to train and have a life, time to race and get in before dark, time and energy to celebrate with the rest of the folks after the event. Not that the marathon isn’t still the epitome, the king (or queen) of distance running, but the ‘half’ puts you in the ball park and still lets you enjoy the view. There is even a “Fifty and DC Half Marathon Club” now, little sister of the vaunted “Fifty and DC Marathon Club”. Such a deal.
There is something magical as well about saying, “I ran 13 today!” I mean, it beats heck out of 10, doesn’t play with the mind like 20, and gives you the mental and physical edge to stay in the distance runner’s group. It’s an honest enough distance to “put the tiger in the tank” as they say.
This past week some friends and I journeyed to New York to run the second annual MORE Marathon. A wonderful event sponsored by MORE Magazine and designed exclusively for women over 40. I was there at the inaugural last year and knew of the excitement, solidarity, and camaraderie that characterized the occasion. But my friends did not, and to watch their awe, enthusiasm, and unbridled joy at the whole process actually made this year more fun for me than last year’s incredible experience. One lady in particular was along purely to sight-see and to shop. Totally legitimate reasons to go to New York I agree, but once there, an interesting situation developed. She got so caught up in the marathon mania at the expo…ladies everywhere, marathon goods for sale, products developed just for women, the unsolicited support of one for another, and the amazing variety of women….at one point she said, “They aren’t all little and skinny! There is every size and shape here!” I agreed,
“Yeah, runners come in a variety of styles; it’s the size of the heart that counts.”
Then, lo and behold, she purchased a pair of walking shoes (designed, developed, and marketed by a woman for women), signed up for the half marathon, and DID THE WHOLE THING IN A RESPECTABLE TIME!!!!! Given she has a great stride, long legs, and indomitable will; it was still a remarkable feat. I will continue to advise proper training, but that’s just one of the things that can happen when you become intoxicated by the fever pitch of a group of maniacal women on a mission.
It also proves that 13 miles is prestigious, but do-able….even on minimal training. As in walking to class and around the classroom. (Maybe we should strap a pedometer on that girl, might be onto something. Endurance teaching?)
Relative to that experience, I was doing the full marathon, so when I came to mile marker 13.1, I was hard pressed to go around another 2 1/2 times. (The race was all in Central Park, five of the shorter loops for marathoners, two of the longer loop for half people). At the time, 13 was as long as I wanted to go and only the lure of completing number 106, the medal at the end, and bragging rights, kept me on the course for another 13.1. It is a long darn ways, walking, running, or just thinking about it. In fact, I think I’m going to start doing the half and call it a “baker’s dozen” might fool myself into thinking I’m only doing 12.