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So this is what it feels like to die: Training for a marathon, and beyond

Jan 28, 2010, 1:00 PM EDT

And now please welcome Jelisa Castrodale, who sacrificed sleep, comfort and sanity for this week’s offering. In training for Nashville’s Country Music Marathon, she tested the very limits of human endurance and lived to write about it. Many electrolytes died to bring you this information.
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By Jelisa Castrodale
There are several phrases you rarely expect to hear, things like “Another P’Zone, please” or “Nicolas Cage has great hair” or “I wish he would’ve died sooner.” The latter, though, is a sentence that fell out of my mouth earlier this morning as I was wriggling each foot into a sweat-wicking sock and double-knotting my Nikes before starting another ten mile run that didn’t end until I’d dry-heaved in all of my town’s nicest neighborhoods.
The guy I was cursing this morning hasn’t had a heartbeat in roughly 2,500 years, but I still wish that he’d changed his Facebook status to ‘Dead’ about two hours earlier than he did. Phidippides was an Athenian messenger who ran twenty-five miles from Marathon to Athens to announce that the Greeks had defeated the Persians. “We have won!” is all he could cough out before he collapsed and died, ruining both the carpet and the rest of the day for whoever was on cleanup duty.


To honor his accomplishment, the marathon was added to the modern Olympic games in 1896 and several hundred marathons are held worldwide every year. The official distance of the race is 26.2 miles, which is why I spent most of the morning wishing that a certain Greek’s heart could’ve exploded at about the four-mile mark.
I’m a month into training for my own twenty-six (point two) mile crampfest — Nashville’s Country Music Marathon — and I’m increasingly apprehensive as I cross each day off the calendar. Distance running isn’t exactly a good time, since it often leads to blisters the size of Schnauzers or the kind of chafing that feels like you’ve gotten to second base with a belt sander.
It will be my fourth marathon and I’m still not sure why I’m putting myself through another Costco-sized serving of agony. Maybe I enjoy the sense of accomplishment that lingers long after the post-race ice bath. Maybe I enjoy exceeding the recommended dosage of ibuprofen. Or maybe I like knowing that every time I fall across a finish line, I’ve done something I wasn’t designed to do.
I wasn’t ever supposed to be a runner. As a kid, every trip to the pediatrician meant that I’d thumb through a contagious-looking copy of Highlights magazine as he told my parents about all of my malfunctioning pieces, from my asthmatic lungs to my abnormal knees. I spent two decades believing that both halves of my body should’ve been stamped IRREGULAR and shipped to the nearest TJ Maxx.
Right after graduating from college, my then-boyfriend decided to drag his Adidas out of the closet and resume his running career. Because we were still in that bright shiny LET’S DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER! stage of our relationship, I bought a pair of unflattering shorts and decided to start training with him, since neither of us realized how hard it is to make out with someone after you’ve seen them throw up in a stranger’s yard.
Now — after nine years and approximately thirty pairs of sneakers — I’m still logging my workouts and avoiding oncoming traffic and listening to the same embarrassing collection of Huey Lewis songs. I like measuring my life in the clicks of a stopwatch and empty bottles of store-brand sports drink and those ever-increasing miles-to-date lists show progress and improvement, which are adjectives that rarely appear in other aspects of my life. Running has been one of the few things I do consistently well, putting it on the same list with double parking and spilling things at parties.
So maybe that’s why I found myself typing my street address onto another marathon entry form, listing Hugh Laurie as my emergency contact and ensuring that I’ll come home with a race t-shirt and ruptured tendons. If you’re one of the other fifteen thousand people who will be standing on the start line in Nashville, let me know. Also, if at any point you hear me yell “We have won!” promise you’ll call an ambulance.
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Jelisa Castrodale is a writer and comedian who has learned a lot about life by making a mess of her own. She chronicles her failures at The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy, covers music for London’s BitchBuzz and twitters while she waits at stoplights. Castrodale was featured in the book Twitter Wit and was named one of Mashable’s 10 Funniest Twitterers.
Also by Jelisa Castrodale …

  1. Roland Fox - Jan 29, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    You should take your level of torture up a few notches and listen to country music for the duration of the race.
    For realz though, your imaginary friends are all proud of you. Good luck!

  2. Paul Fraser - Jan 29, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    Have you contemplated the triathlon where you can triple your misery?

  3. michael roth - Jan 29, 2010 at 11:58 PM

    Running, that’s easy & for lazy people. Try race walking for a real challenge.

  4. Ross Floate - Jan 31, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    I’m glad you do the marathon because I feel like between us we’ve each done a half-marathon. And frankly, even that’s too much for me.
    Hooray for statistics!

  5. diets that work - Feb 28, 2010 at 1:30 AM

    It’s hard to find sharp bloggers on this topic, but you seem like you know what you are talking about! Thanks.

  6. nomdepomme - Mar 2, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    Too flippant with the “dead” comments.