Reading this post on RW Daily, a fun response to a post published on a marathon-related NYTimes blog.
The point in question is asking about one’s time is rude. Rude as it is rude to ask about weight or age or other social cliches.
I never felt uncomfortable when asked about my time after a race, though I know that the number is more often than not completely meaningless to non-runners. (Oh yes, the world is divided into runners and non-runners.) I always felt that the question is like asking about a flight or the weather; it’s not that you want to know, but it feels like you care, and this respect I do appreciate (more than being asked about flights or the weather).
The NYTimes post caused a memory of the Chicago Marathon to resurface, and the story pretty much, I feel, summarizes my feelings about the topic.
Before jumping to the story, here’s a picture taken during the marathon – sweat wasn’t photoshopped …
After crossing the finish line and getting back my backpack from the Gear Check, I was walking slowly towards my hotel with the dream of a shower and a brunch the only thought in my mind. The finisher medal was lazily hanging from my neck; too tired to consider the humble option of tucking it in somewhere, I left it there since being laureled by some smiling volunteer. I was reminded now and then of its presence and of my accomplishment by smiling Chicagoans and tourists, but I wasn’t happy: it wasn’t an accomplishment for me, rather a complete disaster.
With those thoughts mulling around, I was about to cross Michigan Ave when a black man sitting in his car beaconed in my direction. Smiling he asked Did you run the marathon, to my positive answer, his eyes wide open, he replied what position did you finish at?. The question took me aback, it’s not your regular kind of question, usually most people are satisfied with just asking one’s time, but the position? I didn’t really know what to answer, because, of course, I had no idea; so I simply replied no idea, sorry. He kept looking on me, like waiting for some sort of explanation, so I added well, that’s not the point; it’s not that I’m ever going to win. Just finishing is an accomplishment. He repeated a couple of times just finishing and, lights turned and I crossed Michigan Ave feeling a little better of my disastrous accomplishment.