When I set my mind to something, there's no turning back, no slowing down, and no excuses. So when I heard about the upcoming 17th Annual Richland County Marathon, I started training immediately. For the last four months, I have been pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion to prepare my mind and body for the ultimate physical challenge: ruining a marathon.
I'm going to ruin the whole thing.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Sure, everyone would like to ruin a marathon, but who among us has the discipline and energy to get up at the crack of dawn morning after morning, through rain, sleet, and snow, and practice handing out cups of vinegar to the frontrunners? Me, that's who. Yes, there are some mornings when it's darn near impossible to keep going—when you feel like you just can't chip one more pothole in the course with a pickax. But endurance ruining is all about pushing through the pain. And when the big day comes, and you make it over that final hurdle, dodge the cops, and shove an old guy into the bushes, you'll know all that training was worth it.
Granted, I've never taken on anything of this magnitude before. Oh, I used to ruin cross-country meets back in high school. And there was that father-son fun ruin I did back in '06, of course, but that was just for charity. If I'm going to needlessly sabotage a full 26.2 miles of road, I have to make sure I'm at the top of my game. No ifs, ands, or buts.
That's why I like to start off my training day bright and early with a full breakfast of espresso, some diet pills, and a small bag of rock candy. It keeps me edgy and volatile when I'm in the thick of disrupting a tight race. Also—and I can't stress this enough—it's very important to stretch properly before and after yelling derogatory remarks at Kenyans. You don't want your legs cramping up on the way to the escape route.
Training rituals like this may seem tiresome and pointless now, but trust me: When you're two hours into terrorizing a highly anticipated marathon, they make all the difference in the world.
After you've been ruining a marathon for a couple hours, your body will just take over and you won't even realize that you're spoiling the day for everyone. I call that getting in the "ruiner's zone." It's like my arms and legs could just keep dumping buckets of cooking oil off a highway overpass forever. When you get there, more than ever, it's important to keep focused and not let your mind wander. You've got a lot of race to wreck, and you've got to keep your mind sharp for what's coming up ahead.
It's good to make a checklist in my mind, so I don't get distracted on race day. Are there any cables or streamers around that I can use as trip wires? Is this a good time to call the fire department to report a massive four-alarm blaze at the 12-mile mark? Do I hip-check the guy in front of me or stop abruptly and trip up the three people behind?
If I make all the right decisions, and really push myself, I could ruin this marathon in record time.
The biggest thing I've learned about training to thwart a marathon is that you have to set small, manageable goals for yourself, and then gradually work up to bigger, more challenging goals. Try starting off with something simple, like printing out "Marathon Continues to the Right" signs and pasting them up by the on-ramp to the interstate. Once you're comfortable with that, you can work your way up to a larger goal, like breaking beer bottles into a sack and dumping them out in front of the wheelchair racers, or loading up on carbs and dairy so you can vomit all over the finish line.
As the day of the marathon approaches, it's easy to psych yourself out by thinking of all the tiny things that could go wrong. The hornets could all die en route to the starting line, or I might forget to slash the tires of the first-aid trucks that follow the runners. But when you're ruining a marathon, you have to push all those little what-ifs out of your head and just go out there and try your hardest.
Sure, you might not end up ruining every inch of the marathon, but just imagine the looks on their faces when 300-plus people fail to cross that finish line.
Race day's tomorrow. No more excuses. No more letting my own fears, or my wife's sobbing pleas, or the combined efforts of city and state law enforcement agencies get in the way of me accomplishing my goal. No, sir. Not this time.
I've trained too hard for that.