Confessions of A Sort of Marathoner (No Short Shorts!)

photo by Hamed Samer

I’m pretty proud of my dad. As he mentioned earlier this week, he, along with others (including myself and Jen), are attempting to run a half-marathon in October. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who was born before the invention of the running shoe.

When I tell people that I’m going to run a half-marathon, I usually get one of two responses.

  • “Wow, that’s great!” in a, “Hey I wouldn’t do it myself but I’m actually kind of impressed,” sort of way.
  • “Wow, that’s great!” in a, “I find it odd that you’re not wearing a straight jacket and on high doses of anti-psychotic drugs,” sort of way. These folks are supportive of me in the same way they would be supportive of me if I said I was planning on drinking a half-liter of cow’s blood in October.

So why am I running a half-marathon? What person in his right mind deliberately sets out to run 13.1 miles? Maybe you should know a little history about me. I’ve always been the athlete in my biological family (I have two adopted brothers who are also athletes). My very creative brother David…he ended up playing a lot of right field in Little League, which is where they put the kids who are more interested in the post-game snack than in the actual game itself. My sister Beth has also always been more of the artsy type. She’s a photographer, and she puts running on par with waterboarding. But me, I’m the athlete. The warrior. The conqueror. I like physical challenges for their own sake.

So why am I running a half marathon? Because it’s there. (Side note: I think that’s what someone said about climbing Mt. Everest – so in reality it’s kind of like I’m climbing Mt. Everest.)

I’ve laid down a couple ground rules for myself concerning the half marathon:

First, I will not wear short shorts. I don’t care what the running experts say about chafing and wind resistance and optimal stride, I will not wear shorts that could double as underwear. This is a non-negotiable. No one needs to, nor wants to see me wearing short running shorts.

Second, I will not put a sticker on the back of my car that says “13.1”. If I put a sticker on the back of my car, it lets the whole world know that I’m very proud of the fact that I ran a half marathon. It also lets the world know that I didn’t have the guts to run a full marathon. To me it’s like advertising the fact that I graduated from homeschool high school. Good for you Stephen, but uh, did you do anything else after that? If I run a full marathon, then I’ll put a sticker on the back of my car.

Third, when training, I will not scream in terror when a dog comes bolting at me. Honestly, there are few things more terrifying than hearing the sudden explosion of a dog barking right next to you. It’s enough to make a warrior of a man lose control of certain bodily functions. So all you dog owners, please keep your dogs on leashes. That whole invisible fence thing…it’s bad news for runners.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll keep you updated on my progress, because I’m sure you’re all so interested.

Stephen Altrogge

I'm a husband, dad, writer. I drink too much coffee and know too much about Star Wars. I created The Blazing Center. I've also written some books which people seem to like. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook