“Are you SERIOUS?”

OK – I couldn’t wait to share this one.  So I was listening to a conference call slightly past lunchtime today.  I hadn’t eaten anything, so I was sort of cranky.  The topic that required a group pow-wow was quickly and efficiently handled by the participants, and all that remained was sharing common pleasantries prior to disconnecting and continuing my normal work day…and, of course, the basic question that stems from this is “…so what’s everyone doing this coming weekend?”

Whenever I hear this question, I refrain from detailed responses whenever I have a full marathon planned for that coming Saturday or Sunday.  Why do I bite my lip?  I have absolutely no idea.  I guess I suddenly hear my little Irish grandmother’s voice echo in my head, “don’t let anybody know your business!”  (to which I always replied to her whilst she was in her 90’s: “Grandma – what POSSIBLE business would you have that you need to keep a secret?”)

I guess part of me is a bit embarrassed about trying something like this.  Twelve marathons in a calendar year is a bit much – I know this.  But I really believe in the mission of the charity that I am trying to generate additional interest and funding for, so it’s worth the bumps and bruises that comes with the challenge.  And what if I fail?  I think that’s the elephant in my head.  What…if…I…fail.  So I find myself biting my toungue in public when leading questions such as “so what’s everyone doing this coming weekend?” are posed.

So, of course, the basic responses were provided by several people on the call.  “I’m going to the beach with my kids”, “I’m having a BBQ at my place”, “I’m visiting family”, blah, blah blah.  I kept quiet.  Inevitably, the question gets bounced to me, but the tone changes.  The following is a transcript…

“…and Joe – what about you?  What are you up to this weekend?”

“Well, I’m going to spend time with my daughter, do some running, and …”

I get cut off immediately…

“….OOOOHHH.  Joe’s running this weekend.  What else is new.  Pray tell – how many miles are you putting in?  Because it can’t be another marathon.  No way.  Not one that’s twenty something miles long.  I mean – maybe he’s running one of those shorter marathons – but not one of the longish ones.  No way.”

See that last paragraph?  That was really said.  By an actual person. In public.  I cannot make that up – I’m not that clever or creative.

OK folks.  I am uncomfortable about talking about what I’m trying to accomplish because I know it sounds pretty…well…OUT THERE (to borrow an old 1960’s term – and FYI, The Fonz rules).  And I know I need to be able to talk about this attempt at 12 marathons in a year because I want to help The Dream Team Project.  But when someone uses the term “pray tell” embedded within a statement that drips with even the slightest amount of sarcasm….well….all I can say is IT’S ON.



You know how each of us has a switch within us that, when flipped, we go from zero to pissed in 2.3 seconds?  Well whenever someone mixes together a witches brew of sarcasm and nonsensical jibberish, tosses in a dash of “pray tell”, lets it simmer on a low flame for a couple of seconds and then attempts to serve it to me with a side of fries, a siren goes off in my head.  This siren, of course, awoke The Tool (who only works on odd weekends – so he now wants time and a half), who quickly appeared on my left shoulder…with a crap-eating grin on his face and a small cord of rope in his hand.

The Tool prceeded to tie one end of the rope to the top button of my dress shirt, and tied the other end around his waist.  He then began to repel down my back until he got to about my mid-spine area.  Apparently, that’s where my switch was located.  He hung there, the tiny 4 inch schmuck, waiting for the person on the phone to attempt to serve up a dessert of chocolate-covered wise cracks topped with added stupidity.

He didn’t have to wait for long.

“Well…I’m running with my team on Saturday, and then I have a race on Sunday.”

“What kind of race?  On of those longish marathons, or the shorter, 4-5 mile ones?”

….The Tool reached for the switch.  I could feel him about to throw it. 

“well…no.  I am running a full marathon on Sunday.  That would be one of the longer ones that you referred to.”

That one just came out naturally.  Crap.  If that tiny schmuck flips the switch, it’s gonna get ugly.


Her voice actually got loud.  People must have been wondering why the heck this person actually cared so much about what type of race I was running on Sunday.  I know I did!

She continued.  That was a mistake.


That last short sentence was said with added penache.  That last sentence was also the cue for The Tool.  Flip.

“Well you’re right. Sunday isn’t a race.  I’m actually running a marathon by myself.  That would be 26.2 miles.  Around Manhattan.  It’ll take a while, but I’ll get it done – the traffic lights will screw with me a bit, so my time will not be too great.  However, I’ll finish.”


“Yup. And I appreciate your unfliching support.  When I hear commentary like you just spewed, I use it as fuel.  So thanks for filling my tank for Sunday.  I have to ask: whenever you’re in a restaurant, does the waiter come over to your table after the main course has been served and say ‘Is anything alright?’”

Ahhh.  That felt good.  The Tool climbed up the rope, hopped back on my shoulder, and I actually gave the little bastard a not-so-high five.  Today he wasn’t my enemy – he was simply my adversary.

The call concluded with the sound of several loud chuckles and gaffahs ringing the background.  Leave ‘em laughing.  George Burns taught me that one.

On a serious note: I am a little nervous about Sunday morning.  I mean, other races have turned my stomach a bit before the gun went off.  This one, however, has my stomach in knots.  I am afraid of shutting down.  I’m afraid of not completing it.  I’m afraid of failing.  I know I can do this – but that fear of not giving my absolute best simply because I’m not running in a pack is what’s unique about Sunday.  But believe me – the cause is worth the effort.  The Dream Team Project is very special – it helps bring joy to kids suffering from life-threatening illnesses, and a brief reprieve for their families.  If you’re reading this, please take a moment to click on the link below.  It’ll provide more details on the charity and its mission. 

Well, I just needed to vent – so thanks for listening (I mean, reading).  Have a fantastic evening!  You don’t get today back – so make it count.


If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

The picture is of Fred Lebow – the man to helped found the New York Road Runners and the New York City Marathon.  I need to pass this statue twice during the last 10k of my marathon on Sunday.

Author: backofthepacker

A slow running, wine slurping, Disney-loving, bourbon swilling triathlete that is simply looking to go from ordinary to extraordinary...and hopefully motivate others along the way.

8 thoughts on ““Are you SERIOUS?””

  1. How very interesting that I should have a conversation with Pray Tell’s brother today. We were chatting about weekend plans and he said he had a marathon. I said cool! And asked him details and how traing went etc. he said – what training, I’m just going to do it.
    I replied with an astounding wow and thought to myself “idiot”.
    He said 3k will be easy. I said a marathon is 42k. Apparently he thought marathon was another term for fun run. So then he asked what a 3k was… I said a fun run.
    Joe, I was indignant on your behalf. I know the physical prep that goes into marathons is time consuming. More importantly, I understand the mental preparedness that gets you thought to the end is key. Your muscles know what to do. The head space can undo it all. I have no doubt in my mind that you will succeed and acheive this amazing goal. I’m looking forward to knowing how it goes. I wish I could be there handing you water at various check points and placing a macaroni necklace around your neck at the finish line.
    luck maith – Irish Gaelic and in Italian
    buona fortuna

  2. You will find the strength within. A couple of reminders about who you are doing it for and you’ll keep going. There is a super crazy virtual cycling race put on by Fatcyclist.com that is a 100 miles of nowhere (you ride 100 miles on rollers or impossibly small course. In 2010 my course was 0.13 miles). As I rode this bike trip I wanted to give up but knew that what I was going through was so much less suckage than what people with cancer have to get through. That is what got me through my race and you will too. 12 marathons? I bow to you.

    1. WOW…100 miles on a .13 mile course. NO NO – I BOW TO YOU!!! That had to be so tough. I give you so much credit – well done!!!

      I am nervous about Sunday. Nervous – but I know I’ll get the milage in. Speed doesn’t matter. Keeping my word does.

  3. First time to your blog. I really enjoyed your post. I love it when someone says, “How long is this marathon.” That is my cue to not tell them too much about running, because they just won’t understand. Have an awesome run this weekend. You will do it. Know that you have support being sent down from Canada.

    1. Thanks so much Jeremy! I will admit: I’m nervous about this one. So believe me – the support means A LOT to me!

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