Marathon Guy Chronicles: The final shove

Jim Bobeck

No time for intros. Here’s a tentative outline for the marathon weekend which will take place April 26-28.

Friday: Finish class around 4 p.m., where I’ll have just discussed the philosophy of literature and seethed about the philosophy majors. Ugh, biggest name-droppers in the world.

For example, “Well, clearly the author exudes a Derridan view, while his text aims at reaching a Kierkagaardian existence.”

What the hell are these kids talking about?

Also, is there an unwritten rule that if the teacher makes a philosophy joke, that the philosophy major must laugh? It’s not even a funny joke; they’re just laughing to let the teacher know they understood the philosophy joke.

Now, while usually hanging with philosophy majors is as nerve-racking as chilling with priests at a preschool outing (hey, who isn’t taking shots at the Church these days?), I’ll be feeling good next Friday because I’ll get to talk marathon strategy with future marathoners Kelly and Mike (I’ve been handsomely paid to mention their names).

Friday night: Make fun of everyone going to Happy Hour ’cause I’m not going, although I haven’t been there in a long time anyways. For two and a half years, I waited to go to Happy Hour. And now, for my last semester of college, I can’t stand going to it.

Half the girls are “bakers,” meaning they cake so much makeup on their face that they can open up a bakery, and the guys are trying to exude a “Yea, well, lately I’ve been working out a lot” act to impress the bakers.

Meanwhile, getting a drink is like riding the line ride, where you get in such a long line for a drink that you actually discover that you have somehow exited the line farther from the bar.

Not good times, bad times.

Best part of Happy Hour has to be making bets as to how long into a conversation before someone asks you, “What are you doing after Happy Hour?” Three seconds? One?

Instead, I’ll be resting heavily with a “pump you up” movie. What would the world be without “pump you up” movies? My top five “pump you up” movies: 1. “The Natural,” 2. “Braveheart” (I’ll climb Everest after Wallace yells, “Freedommmmm!” I get goosebumps just thinking about it!), 3. “Fight Club” (I’m ready to throw dukes after this one and, in fact, tried to one time, before my buddy Ed Dangeroso proceeded to demonstrate that he could make me his punching bag if he wanted to), 4. “Hoosiers” (only in Indiana could a white starting five win a basketball championship), 5. “PCU” (which also fits nicely into the “Let’s get into a drinking mood” movie category).

Saturday morning: Loosen up with a morning run of two miles. Shower…with soap (I’m feeling bold today).

Meet my dad and check into the Howard Johnson Inn, the only hotel still available for the race. Wow, I’m staying at a HoJo.

For an extra $3, they’ll clean the sheets before I move in, or, for $5, they’ll disinfect for crabs. Good deal.

Saturday afternoon: Check out the course, which mostly takes place on a road directly by the beach. Are race officials trying to make you not finish?

This is the type of psychological warfare that I can’t prepare for. Seriously, how long will I run in the sweltering heat before the ocean persuades me to quit the race and hop in? The only mitigating factor here is that it’s the Jersey Shore. No, really, it’s clean. While the ocean will seem good, the thought of swimming in an ocean of syphilis sounds less appealing.

Saturday night: Booze time…if only. Actually, I’ll dine on pasta and catch a flick on Spectravision back at the HoJo. Spectravision…the saving grace of the HoJo. I’ll watch a nice classic or a recent release like “Whores of the Ring,” “A Beautiful Behind” or “Monsters Pink.”

Sunday: 5:30 a.m.: Wake-up call, where I’ll then pass out again ’till 7 a.m. I’ll put on my fifth grade basketball camp shirt because it’s the most lightweight shirt I have. Yes, I still fit into my fifth grade shirt. I haven’t grown since then. I started out with a lot of potential for growth, started to build a thug-like attitude, and then, nothing. So far, the most traumatic experience in my life. Now I can be a stunt double for Haley Joel Osmont.

8:20 a.m.: Line up for the race start. In marathon racing, the fast guys start at the front of the line, while the penguins chill in the back. My uncle T.J. told me to start with the slower guys because then you’ll always have someone to pass by in the race. If you start at the front, everyone streaks by you. Best advice I’ve had yet.

9 a.m.: The gun goes off. Immediately, the crowd will burst into a few supportive cheers. If you are a front-runner, you’ll hear these cheers the whole time because you’re in first. But for those of us in the back, it turns into, “Hey, I’ll see you tomorrow at the finish line.” To avoid this demoralization, my dad tells me that he’ll support me with some cheers, which will inadvertently embarrass me. I’m expecting signs that say something cornball like “Last to finish the race, but first in heart” or biblical things like “John 3:16: And God said let the weak be first, and the strong last.” The best part of this chant thing will be when I am snot-covered and sweaty and my dad yells, “Looking good Jim, keep it up!”

Miles 1-10: I’ll locate an old, veteran runner who can pass the time by telling me some boring stories. I’ll reply with a few hollow lines like “Really?”, “Are you serious?”, “You’re kiddin’ me!” and my personal favorite where I simply repeat the last thing that someone says and put it into a question (e.g., Old man: “So I just ran all the way till I dropped dead!” Me: “Till you dropped dead?” Old man: “Yep, and then ….”)

Before you know it, the first 10 miles are over.

This strategy also works at the bar when engaged in mindless conversation with someone who makes you want to engulfyourself in flames right there. Annoying person: “So I told her that she can find a new roommate for next year!” Me: “A new roommate?” Annoying herb: “Yep, I just…”

Miles 11-20: Get really angry, call myself derogatory names to get fired up (e.g., you baby, you’re weak, you suck, pack it in fatty, you’re not finishin’ anything but a hamburger tonight).

I’ll ditch the old man and move on down the road.

Miles 20-26: Lots of prayers.

‘Till next time, see you on the road.