Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

We have reached mile marker 19 in this journey of number related fitness vignettes. This marker in the marathon is the one that reminds us that there are just seven miles left; so we can switch to automatic pilot and meditate on just about anything to take our mind off the reality of a realllllly tired body. Inane thinking is logical at this point in the run, so…. what say we just talk about a couple of lessons I’ve learned, or metaphors I’ve discovered, in my 35,500 miles of running. Not much in the realm of fitness that conjures up the number 19 anyway, so here goes.

I have discovered that running a marathon is much like having a baby, and that “running” (that would be as event director) a marathon is like getting a doctorate. Both require commitment, courage, hard work, planning, patience, and naiveté; if we really knew what we were getting into with either one….we might rethink the project. So….
Having a baby/running a marathon.

Both involve a nine month process, both involve body shape altering, both result in life style changes, and both culminate in one really uncomfortable period of time followed immediately by total euphoria. (The difference is you can stop running the marathon, you can’t pull out of labor on a whim. Also, the marathon doesn’t grow into a teenager and you don’t have to name it.) Both inspire a feeling of accomplishment, give a stronger sense of direction, and change your eating habits. Both discourage smoking, alcoholic beverages, overeating, and couch potatoing. Both encourage healthy diet, exercise (no duh!), positive attitude, wearing comfortable shoes and planning for the future. Both demand a whole different wardrobe, a totally alien lexicon, a strange new group of friends, and weird reading material. In each activity exists the potential for swollen feet and legs, sudden cranky change of attitude, strange food cravings, and the ardent desire to stop the process. Both activities inspire gathering information, sharing the experience (whether anyone wants to hear it or not), and embellishing if you can get away with it. Time is a factor in the retelling of these projects, one activity tends to add a couple hours, one surreptitiously shaves a few minutes. Both take perverse pride in the endurance of pain—over time or at lightening speed.

And then there’s…
Getting a doctorate/“running” a marathon.
Both demand an unreasonable amount of time and work, both are redolent with details; picky, picky, picky details, both instill supreme guilt if you stop working at, thinking about, or breathing them for a minute (try sitting down with a good book when involved with either. You’ll reach for a marker or a sticky note…guaranteed.), both change the color of your hair, terrain of your face, and add initials to your name (doctorate: Psy.D.-- event director: SOB). Each demands a thesis that must meet the mysterious expectations of a ruthless committee who unanimously share a strong penchant for “weeding out,” each requires reading material seldom found on coffee tables, and both necessitate meetings with people you only ever read about; and whom you are now expected to convince of the significance of your project. (This, by the way, gets more and more pointless as you flounder helplessly in explanation.) The completion of each promises lucrative positions, hero status, and reaching the apogee of one’s career. (One reality is that they do instill an acute awareness of the rigors of academic pursuits and the immense diversity of event production; so appreciation is a plus.) Each depends on the assistance of highly trained and committed people, terminally tedious hours at the computer, judicious management of resources (money and people), and a cavalier disregard for sleep.

All four of these events are worth doing. I mean, if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing, right? Seriously, I am happy to have been involved in each endeavor. Seven children, 108 marathons, 1 doctorate, and the jury is out on the marathon event. Who knows? I said ‘no more’ after my first child, my first marathon, and the doctorate. Perhaps that indicates that there is a certain amount of brain cell destruction in these processes…or at the very least common sense malfunction.
Therefore…if you are of a mind to have a baby, run a marathon, get a doctorate, or become an event director focusing on the marathon…give me a call. The baby I’ll applaud, the marathon I’ll help you train for, the doctorate I’ll encourage; the event? I think I have just what you’re looking for at just the right price.

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