Thank You, Paul Ryan
I hate politics. No good seems to come from discussing it and the current political environment is just toxic. It seems nothing can be discussed openly without people running to their figurative (political) party bunkers and lobbing illogical grenades at each other in an ill-fated attempt at having a debate.
In fact, I try to stay away from it as much as possible because quite frankly, anything we say or do in these forums doesn’t matter. People appear to take this shit personally and put party interests above their own and even above that of our country. No matter what one says, it most likely won’t be an eye-opening experience for someone who’s fully ingrained in the other party. I find it all to be incredibly frustrating.
Every now and then something comes along that I am thankful for, and Paul Ryan was the one who delivered this time. Because of him and his revolutionary race timing system, I am now the world record holder in the marathon.
I couldn’t have done it without dedication, consistency, lots of hard work, and a complete lack of morals or common sense. I say that speaking as a runner, viewing this as I would if any other human being had said it. This guy was involved in a discussion about running with a huge spotlight aimed on him and he chose that moment to shit on the integrity of our great sport. People from every political affiliation, especially runners, should be able to have fun with this without others getting bent out of shape over it.
The issue here isn’t that he’s a prominent Republican that happened to lie about what would have been an impressive achievement. No, the issue is that Ryan is a man who lied about an impressive achievement, and he just so happens to be a prominent Republican. It would’ve been wrong no matter his profession, but in this case it’s magnified by the size of the audience that heard it.
It really gets me that this egregious offense can’t be looked at independent of political beliefs. How high do you rank your political affiliation and loyalty in your life? If you can’t examine this situation independent of politics then perhaps you should ask yourself that. When someone inquires of you what you do, is your response ‘I run’ or ‘I work to ensure my political party’s goals are achieved’? Aren’t we runners (and Americans in general) first, above any political affiliations we may have?
What it comes down to is the fact that Ryan flat-out lied for personal gain! Paul did so in such a way that it was insulting to our intelligence, every last person out there. Politicians have their way with the truth but in most cases it’s about matters of policy and it’s not very easy for us to sift through it all to determine what the real story is. It’s so simple with running and race times that his lie is that much more baffling. If you believe that bullshit that he ‘misstated his time’, then perhaps you didn’t see the transcript? Here it is:
He went out of his way to add: “I was pretty fast when I was younger.” Hewitt was done with the topic, but Ryan had to add that last. It seems like he’s trying to get himself some street cred for a big time performance. A four hour marathon isn’t bad, but it’s definitely not fast (for an open male). If we’re going to call that fast then the definition of fast is so far diluted that I see no point in using it any more.
He ran a somewhat average time, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. A quote from the Boston Globe jumped out at me: “While Ryan’s actual time was respectable for a recreational runner, the one he claimed placed him among the 4 percent of male marathoners worldwide.” The rest of that four percent put in the work to earn their times, he just decided to place himself in that group for whatever reason.
A fast marathon time is something that people talk about and something that creates a certain buzz for the runner. I got called into my CEO’s office in April of 2011 after I ran a 2:31 at Boston. Otherwise, he probably still wouldn’t have known my name. There’s something about the marathon, some mystical, romantic quality to it that amazes non-runners. In most offices, if you ran a 13:59 5k, nobody is going to know (or really care) about what that means. But go into work after running a 2:40 marathon, and odds are your co-workers will throw you a party. My point is, an actual fast marathon time provides extra benefits for the runners in a lot of cases (even if it’s just some popularity around the office), and it seemed like Ryan was trying to get that for himself, only on a much larger scale.
Try to forget it was Paul Ryan for a second. Imagine that there was some loudmouth in your office talking up his running performances. Say your PR is 3:02 and that people generally looked to you as ‘the runner’ at the workplace. Then this d-bag comes along bragging about his two-fifty-something, and all of sudden you’re the second fastest guy. You mean to tell me you wouldn’t find something severely wrong with that when you found out that he fabricated his performance?
It could be that I don’t have a firm grasp on the running community anymore. Races are becoming more about participation and people are showing up in record numbers. As the participation in the sport increases, so does the amount of people involved that don’t understand the intricacies of the sport. One of those intricacies is the PR, and it’s a safe bet that many of these newcomers or part-timers don’t understand how sacred something like a PR is. It quite simply is who you are in the running universe. Maybe Paul Ryan needs to read Once A Runner? There’s a whole conversation in there about PR’s.
“In track it’s all there in black-and-white. Lot of people can’t take that kind of pressure: the ego withers in the face of the evidence. We all carry our little credentials around with us; that’s why the numbers are so important to us, why we’re always talking about them. I am, for instance, four flat point three. The numerals might as well be etched on my forehead.”
You don’t forget your PR’s, no matter how long ago they were! If it was for a track event that you seldom raced, it’s more understandable. You might not be able to recall it down to the second, but the vast majority would be in the ballpark of their time. Being off by over an hour “ain’t the same fuckin’ ballpark, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same fuckin’ sport.“
What I love about running is it’s the purest form of sport. The clock tells all and it never lies. In that way, it’s the complete opposite of politics. Again, to quote Once a Runner, you know exactly where you stand: “The thing is that in track we are painfully and constantly aware of how we stack up, not just with our contemporaries but with our historical counterparts as well.” It’s that constant awareness of how your time fits into the running universe that makes it hard to believe he didn’t remember his time from his one and only twenty six point two mile performance.
Another thing that I find disturbing is how Republicans are bringing up the John Kerry phantom Boston Marathon performance, as if that makes a difference. What’s the point of that? Are you trying to say that because John Kerry lied, it’s cool for Paul Ryan to? What Kerry did was flat-out wrong and stupid, and there’s no arguing that (unless he somehow produces proof of his fictional performance). All Paul Ryan had to do was admit to his actual marathon time and he was immediately that much better than Kerry. In the end, Ryan’s offense ended up being so much more severe than Kerry’s. It’s one thing to say that you did something, and quite another to say you did it extremely well. Ryan’s lie trumps Kerry’s, and Kerry’s lie in no way justifies Ryan’s.
Is it fair that Ryan’s claim has received so much more scrutiny and attention than Kerry’s did (to my recollection, at least)? No, it’s not, but we live in different times. Technology has advanced so much in the past eight years, along with the amount of people using it to interact socially. Just think back to what you were using for a phone back then! Information spreads that much faster, and something that may have gone unnoticed in the past is all of a sudden fodder for the endless news cycle.
Maybe we should be celebrating Ryan’s achievement. After all, he found a way to cheat that didn’t involve injecting any substances into his body. His time doping method could save lives and money down the road. There’ll be no need for expensive lab tests to determine who was cheating and who wasn’t.
At the end of the day, if you believe Ryan’s excuse or don’t think it was a big deal, I have no delusions of changing your mind here. But please, just have some fun with the Paul Ryan time calculator. I’m going to sit back and enjoy my new world record a little bit, thanks to this…pioneer. There’s no need to work hard to get a new PR, not when I can just re-imagine my old one being impossibly faster.