Q: What's all the hype about the marathon, anyway? Don't get me wrong, it's a great distance and I plan on running more. I just don't understand why when the subject of my running comes up, the first question usually is "have you run any marathons lately," with the unspoken message seeming to be "when am I going to run a real race?"

A: I feel your pain. Real running fans enjoy not only hearing about marathons, but also about what local, state, collegiate, U.S., international athletes and our fellow hackers are doing in all distances. Unfortunately, not everyone reads the articles in the back of most of the prominent running magazines where these stories typically appear. Also, how the heck are you going to get someone to relate to how much motivation and effort it takes to get your 40+ year old lungs and legs to hang on to four sub-80 laps? I guess I can't blame them too much. Running is pretty boring to talk about anyway when it comes right down to it. I usually find that some polite nods and smiles get the subject changed pretty quickly. You also might try breaking out the ol' tackle box and showing them a few of your choice bass lures.

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