490 BC. The Persian Army invades Athens and a battle takes place at the Bay of Marathon. Against all odds and even after being outnumbered 4:1, a small army from Athens manages to beat the Persians. However, there are Persian ships fast approaching the bay and Athens will need reinforcement.
A messenger – Phidippides – is sent from the Bay of Marathon to Athens to break the news of the victory and the threat from the Persian ships on the horizon. He runs the distance to relay the news as there is no other means of transportation.
The distance? 26 miles.
Or man reaches Athens and relays the news. There is jubilation on the news of victory but Phidippides does not get to savor the taste of victory. He collapses from exhaustion and dies. Eventually, the Persian Army also defeats the Greek and Athens falls.
Cut to the present.
I get a call from a very dear friend. After chit-chatting for a while, the conversation turns to my marathon training. I bore him with the gory details of my IT Band injury (see previous post). He then tells me the sad story of this 43 year old absolutely fit guy who used to workout at the gym my friend goes to. The other day, in the middle of an intense aerobic work-out, this guy just collapsed and died. Take care, says my friend. Respect the warning signs of the body and don’t be brash.
I couldn’t help but think of Phidippides – the first Marathoner. Come to think of it, he set up a pretty low benchmark for the universe of runners. All you need to do is to come out alive after the run and you would have bettered Phidippides’ record. Come out alive. 5 hours, 6 hours or 7 hours…just come out alive.