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Race for Sanity

Super Über Motivated

I have a dear friend who is a marathon nut.  She’s completed more marathons than I can count… even with both of my shoes off! The interesting thing is that you’re not going to find her at the top of any race results and that’s why I want to blog about her today.  She’s one motivated age grouper.

Janice and I competed in the Chicago Triathlon in 2009


I first met Janice around 1998.  I was hitching a ride from Lincoln, NE to Roanoke VA for a professional meeting with my graduate adviser, the great Dale Van Vleck.   Janice was one of Dale’s new students at the time and was along for the ride.  Actually, I think I was the one along for the ride.  Back then, neither of us had any interest in running farther than someone would chase us.

Years later, I found out that Janice had entered a marathon as a joke or family dare.  Ever since, she’s been hitting every major marathon and half marathon that sounds even remotely interesting.  She posts all the gory details on Facebook.  I’ve watched her marathon times come down from over seven hours to just over five.   She’ll be breaking five hours soon, I’m sure.

There are two reasons I find her marathon habit so interesting:

  1. She does these events for her own pleasure and betterment.  This is something that TriRiot constantly talks about: the age groupers who push themselves for no other reason than for the experience.

  2. She will sacrifice a lot to participate in a marathon.

It’s this second point that I want to talk about here.  Janice has been out of work for a while.  She’s no slacker and doesn’t want a free ride from anyone.   She puts a lot of skill, emotion and sweat equity into her work,  so when she’s not working, she needs something to do.   Sitting around all day is not her thing.

Even out of work, Janice flies to various locations for a good race. People close to her have questioned her wisdom of spending money on races when she has little or no income.  If you ask her why she would do that, she’ll tell you that the races are for her mental health. Mental health?   That’s  a pretty expensive medicine for mental health.  Or is it?

I’m not going to do any math with numbers.  I guess that means I’m not going to do any math at all, but let’s break this down a bit.   Suppose you’re out of work and applying for jobs.  Most jobs within driving distance have turned you down because you are way over qualified.  Relocating is an option, but those job applications are either pending or have expired with no new openings.   After a while, this process begins to wear on your mental condition.   You question your own worth as an employee and as a person.  But the only thing that’s going to get you a good professional job is maintaining a good  mental condition.  Also, if most of your social relationships have been built around races, you are probably not very happy just sitting in your house applying for jobs.  If racing is what it takes to maintain sanity, then racing is what must be done.

I just pulled the following from my head (yes, it was my HEAD).  Sure, I’m biased, but you get the point.

Pros and Cons of Racing ProsCons Physical fitnessCosts money Social networking Other networking (employers race too, ya'know) Seeing friends Maintaining sanity

So, What’s My Point?

I’ve got two three points here:

  1. I want to use Janice as an example of how dedicated some people are to endurance sports.

  2. That dedication is more than just an obsession or crazy dream of winning the Olympics.  It’s a very real and important part of some peoples’ lives.  Basically, I’m justifying my obsession… I mean passion for triathlon. 🙂

  3. If you are looking to hire a quantitative geneticist ( and who isn’t these days?), let me know and I’ll pass on the message to Janice.

Janice and I worked together at the Red Angus Association of America


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