The day after the event, a happy, happy, joy, joy one for me and family despite much self-induced pain, I opened the San Francisco Chronicle (the newsprint kind) and saw a lovely shot of the Golden Gate Bridge with runners on it, along with a slim story that I read and digested in about 31 seconds.
Photo: a thumbnail from MarathonFoto.com, who wants us to buy photos from them. I am running behind the couple of women who got cheered on as "Hey! Pretty in Pink!" Lookin' Good!" They skunked me later on.
Then I went online, googled "SF Marathon 2009" on the Google blogs tab, and got more results than I could read in one sitting.
This is, in a nutshell, the reason why print newspapers are doomed. It's not just because it's more convenient to sit down, turn on a computer, click a few times, and get your news. It's also because structurally, the newspaper is a terrible medium for finding out what has happened. It is time-limited and space-limited, and it has these funny people called journalists, most of whom are experts about nothing except writing 500 words to a deadline. And many of the best and highest-paid (there are some pretty accomplished writers among them) have been disappeared-ed.
Finally, and decisively, newspapers have been cutting down on the amount of pages and stories they write. Long ago, it may have been possible to deliver a two-page spread about the marathon that was satisfying and fun. Now, there apparently is not enough ad revenue to print a post-it note.
A blog, on the other hand, is a perfect medium for writing about a large event. It's convenient to find, easy to skim and move on from, and if you read enough accounts, you get a very nice idea about what happened and what kind of experience other people had.
From my blog reading, I found out that I was not the only one who worried about an injury limiting my performance. That was good to know. Runners have to worry about their bodies, since during training and the race itself you're bombarded with stimuli from your body, most of which can be summed up as, "Stop doing this. You're crazy." But when you're an introvert and running with a thousand other people, you don't stop to tell everyone about your aches and pains, and they normally don't stop to tell you (but read paragraph 4 of this blog report).
I also found out that not everyone was just happy to run, happy to finish. This blog (and this one) had a fair amount of complaining and carping, as did the one linked in the previous paragraph. But there was also triumph. One man, age unknown, but whose blog is named "The Pickled Prostates," ran his half marathon in 1 hour and 43 minutes, and his son ran it in 1:35, both blistering paces, as far as I'm concerned.
And there are barefoot runners.
There was also humor and photos of post-race food. Post-race food, I've found, is about the best part of the race. When you've lost 2,500 calories due to running 13 miles, that stuff tastes pretty good.
As for me, it was the second half-mari of my brief running career and I did something I didn't do the year before-- run nearly the entire time. I didn't run fast or with a pretty gait, and I lost time detouring into the Episcopal parish where I was confirmed to see my stepmother (she promised she'd be there, but missed me by about five minutes), but I ran through the balky ankle that had limited my training and finished about 2 minutes over last year's time.
As I began to falter and black out just before finishing, I thought, "I will never do this again." But once I met my kids (who ran great times) and got some Cytomax and garlic and herb potato chips in me, I was already planning for next year.
I will just have to spend some time thinking about my body before I do it.
Photo: Tucker has the right idea. Relax in the kiddy pool after a hard run. Love ya, Tuckie boy.