Sir Roger breaks 4

Now that I’m suddenly and for the first time an athlete, I find myself in an ethical pickle.

I’ve signed up for the Columbus Marathon on October 21st. I registered as a half-marathon walker. It never occurred to me that I would run a marathon and, thank goodness, that idea still doesn’t tempt me. I think running a marathon would be unhealthy for me, even if I trained.

I signed up because my pal and role model, Stuart Lazarus, has invented Run To Remember, an organization that raises money for the National Hospice Foundation. Through R2R, participants in marathons (and other endurance oddities) can run, walk, peddle and (I guess) swim in memory of a dearly departed loved one. The participant wears a R2R shirt that is customized with the remembered one’s name; I’ll be wearing a shirt that has the name of my father, Arthur J. Isaac, Jr., of blessed memory.

As part of the R2R scheme, I’m supposed to estimate my pace and let my friends know where they can stand at various mile markers on the marathon route, so they can hoot at me, urging me to an ever more embarrassing public display of my physical reality. I suppose they are to chant, “Arthur J. Isaac, Jr., of blessed memory….Arthur J. Isaac, Jr., of blessed memory….Arthur J. Isaac, Jr., of blessed memory….”

And thus the ethical athletic pickle….

SarsaparillaAll I’m chanting these days (silently) is “Hell, no, I won’t go.” You see, I never really planned to walk much in the marathon. I’ve always figured — “always” goes back an entire week, when I first decided to raise money for hospice — I would put on some shorts, a t-shirt and my well worn sneakers, show up at the Marathon, pin a number to my chest, walk a ways — and drop out at the first moment of pain, distraction, whimsy, or a pub offering sarsaparilla.

I’m respectful of athletes enough to know that finishing — even a half marathon — might hurt the next day. And that means I should be training. The last training I did was potty. (Successfully.) Mathematically, one tenth of an athlete + one half of a marathon = two very sore knees. I visited some training websites and they earnestly suggest walking four miles a day, 10 miles a couple of times before the Marathon. I don’t think so.

I’m just not willing to sacrifice my knees for hospice. And this isn’t just about knees. Stuart Lazarus is warning me that I should coat my feet in “body glide” so I don’t get blisters. He asked me, “Are you a blister guy?” (Who asks such kinky questions? Stuart’s a role model, but I’m not into foot fetishry.)

Now the pickle. I established a website where friends can give money for hospice. Problem is, they are giving money. Who’d’a thunk?

So, now I’m starting to feel obligated to walk the entire 13.1 miles. My fundraising page says I will walk in the Columbus Marathon. It doesn’t say how many steps or “to the finish.” Nobody is pledging by the mile.

Am I obliged to walk the entire 13.1 miles to honor some cruel, implied contract with my kind and generous donors? What do you think?

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