Here’s Exactly What I Want out of This Marathon

Once or twice in the last year, my coworker Megan has called me a jock, and each time it’s taken me by surprise. Growing up, I was as unlikely to be deemed “athletic” as my crafting Caboodle was to be without floss for my friendship bracelets. I was a languid child whose primary interests included: 1) puzzlemaking; 2) sitting on my bed and quietly singing along with the Alladin soundtrack; and 3) teaching myself to write with both hands. Although my parents enjoyed dragging me with them on occasional weekend-long death marches in the wildernesses of the Northeast, they were pretty cool with the lack of medals on my bookshelves. And two of my best friends were athletic, which I felt somehow exempted me from trying to become so myself.

But then, several years ago, I moved to Vermont and everything changed. Rather than simply having a couple of athletic friends, nearly everyone I met looked like Indiana Jones or one of his toned female sidekicks. Perhaps it’s something in the water, or maybe it’s because you’d go crazy from Seasonal Affective Disorder if you just sat around and crafted all winter. I can barely throw a rock in Montpelier without knocking out a sporty role model or two. Seriously! On any given day, beginning at around 5 a.m., if I look out the window of my downtown apartment I’ll catch at least one group of joggers dashing by on State Street.

And so I did what anyone else would do in the same situation. I bought a pair of used sneakers, spandex shorts, and a cool racerback top, and I began to run. The beauty of running is that that’s really all you need–there’s no equipment involved that costs more than 60 or 70 bucks, and you don’t have to make a whole day of it. Just go at it for half an hour, three times a week, and you’ll be a jock in no time.

That said, I’m not planning to beat any time records at this marathon. A few years ago, when Oprah ran the Marine Corps Marathon, her goal was to complete the thing without stopping. Later, P. Diddy ran the New York City marathon with the single mission of beating Oprah’s time of 4:29:20, which he did by about 15 minutes. The experts say that choosing the right marathon goal is crucial for success.

What, then, are my goals? I’d like to accomplish what Oprah and P. Diddy set out to do, and also 1) not get injured; and 2) reinforce my jock status so Megan and others keep thinking I’m cool. That’s it. Oh, and maybe 3) make friendship bracelets for everyone who comes out to cheer me on that day.

Mari Zagarins

When Mari isn't running, biking, hiking, or jumping-jacking in and around her home in Montpelier, she is practicing her facial expressions in the mirror and contemplating whether she should learn to swim.