Sunday, September 2, 2012

I Don't Vote for Liars

This is not about politics. This is about a politician who pressed one of my buttons, big time.

In my younger days, after I lost 70 pounds and kicked a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit, I went to grad school and started running. (I was cycling, but, once autumn arrived, it was too dark to do much riding in Providence).

When I started I couldn't run more than a half a mile in my Chuck Taylors. That first run is seared in my memory and my lungs.  Gradually I built my endurance and ditched the Chuck Taylors for some honest-to-god running shoes. Over the course of the school year I managed to get my daily runs up to 5 miles, sometimes a couple more. 

I moved to Berkeley for the summer and ramped up the running. I challenged myself to run to the top of the Strawberry Canyon fire trail in the Berkeley hills near the university.  It took me many tries but I finally made it, a very hilly ten-mile round trip. I kept running for the next year or so, until I quietly decided to run a marathon.  26.2 miles.

In early November 1981, I ran and finished the Ocean State Marathon in a time of 3 hours, 10 minutes, and 18 seconds.  Note that I remember the exact time like it was yesterday. I remember the hills of Ocean Drive in Newport, the incredibly unforgiving concrete made out of a substance not found anywhere else on earth of Bellevue Avenue, the cold winds coming off Rhode Island Sound and the old man, a local cross country coach, imploring us to relax and "keep it smooth."  I remember the tunnel of cheers at 20 miles as I turned off Bellevue and headed for the last 10 kilometers.  I remember the bear jumping on my back at mile 23. I couldn't move my damn thighs. They wouldn't go. I persevered. It HURT, dammit!!!   I turned to run the last half mile to the finish line at the high school and there it was, the biggest damned hill on the course. I was so  pissed that the resulting adrenaline rush allowed me to sprint up over the hill and straight into the finishing area, where I promptly cramped up like nobody's business. My girlfriend and my roommate each put a shoulder under my armpits and helped me inside the school.  

A couple of years later, I ran my fastest race ever, what runners call their personal record or PR.  I was running in my usual grad school rags. The liner in my fancy running pants had worn out so I cut it out and wore a jock strap.  The race began along the Hudson River in Troy New York. One hundred yards into the race something went SNAP in my pants.  All I could think of was "I hope that's my jock strap and not a part of my anatomy."  (Stopping to check was not an option. As it turned out, it was a wardrobe malfunction.)  After a flat mile we turned up a steep hill toward RPI, then right back down to the river and north toward Waterford.  It was flat and the future Mrs. Rootchopper was riding with my father and sister along side yelling encouragement and embarrassing things like "Look at those sexy legs." (I am not making this up.) We crossed the river and ran up a steep hill following the lift locks of the adjacent Erie canal.  Then we headed south along a ridge line.

As we descended back down to the river, I could feel blisters all along the balls of both feet.  I knew if they tore open I was a goner so I slowed down and tried to land on my heels. This easily cost me a couple of minutes.  Once on the flats we ran south until we reached the Watervliet arsenal. It was heating up and he sunshine made the corregated metal of the arsenal buildings radiate heat. After running through the oven. I stopped at a water station and drank some water calmly, then headed off for the finish, gingerly running to protect the balls of my feet. I crossed a bridge back into Troy then turned right, down to the finish line. I finished in 3:04:29. After we got back to my parents house, I spent a good half hour lancing blisters all over the bottoms of my feet. 

So, even though these events took place about 30 years ago, I remember the details of the race and the times down to the second. Which brings me to Paul Ryan.

In an interview Paul Ryan bragged that he ran a marathon well under 3 hours.  Fact checkers found that he was stretching the truth. In fact, Paul Ryan has never broken 4 hours in a marathon. When he was called out on this discrepancy, Ryan claimed that it was along time ago, that he forgot, or was confused.


Excuse my language. 

Forgetting your best marathon time, especially one under 3 hours does not happen.  It's like forgetting your birthday or your kid's name. 

I didn't have to look up my times to write this blog. If I forget my first marathon time or my PR, you can assume that I have had a stroke or some other serious neurological problem.

People who lie about their marathon times are pond scum. Remember Rosie Ruiz. She crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon before any other women. Bill Rodgers then men's winner took one look at her and shook his head. "No way." It turned out that Rosie took the trolley then jumped onto the course just to see what it felt like to cross the finish line. She probably didn't expect to be the first woman. Oops. Her name is synonymous with "Cheater".

Should we believe Ryan?

Of course, there is the possibility that he can't tell time.

Or that he's had a major neurological problem.

Or maybe he's so arrogant that he thinks you don't much care what he says. 

Doesn't matter to me. I ran literally thousands of miles to get to 3:04:29. My advice to Paul Ryan:. drop the P90X and hit the roads.  When you break my PR, call me. Then we can talk about my vote.

1 comment: