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Jay Jones - Running is as running does

Many of you responded to a recent column of mine announcing my intentions of running in three half-marathons in the next three months ("Taking on a tour of pain," March 5). It created so much response I thought I should share a few of them with everybody.

"Are you dumb or just plain stupid?," e-mailed Sherri Viniard, quoting from the movie "Forrest Gump," one of her favorites. Sherri and I are friends, but I'm not sure I'm too flattered by being compared to Tom Hanks in a crew cut.

Sherri's comments did make me think about "Forrest Gump" and about how there are so many running references in the movie. I may have to watch it before the ING Georgia Marathon and Half-Marathon next week for inspiration.

Pamela Carman in Andrews, N.C., wondered why marathons come in such odd measurements - 13.1 miles for a half-marathon and 26.2 for a marathon. She wished me luck, but suspected the whole concept of running for fun was something foreign, like the metric system.

"Not until soft drink companies began packaging soda in 2-liter bottles did I have any concept of how much a liter is," she said. "So, I have no concept of the magnitude of the task you have set for yourself, but I know any distance longer than the length of my house makes me tired just thinking of it."

Speaking of measurements, Kerri Evans, a friend of ours in Louisville, Ky., pointed out an omission I made in the column, noting that a half-marathon is 13.1 miles and not just 13 miles, as I had written.

"That 'point one' is critical," she said. "If you finish at 13, you didn't run a complete half-marathon!"

She's right, and that last 1/10 of a mile will likely be the longest stretch of the whole race as the finish line comes into sight.

I run every other day, with a long run on the weekends, with the exception of the last two Saturdays. Two weeks ago, there was snow and this Saturday we had hail, so I declined to go out for a run.

"Tsk-tsk," said Alice Queen, our publisher. "Now Jay, they say in running there's no such thing as bad weather - only reluctant runners."

Why run? As I mentioned in the last column, part of it is my own little mid-life crisis. Running isn't so much about the physical, it is about willing yourself to complete something, so I've got that to prove to myself.

I have two half-marathons and one marathon ahead of me (I recently had to sign up for the marathon at the Twisted Ankle competition because the half-marathon field was full), but there are others who have done a lot more with probably a lot less exertion.

In answering Sherri, I recall another "Gump" movie quote that may explain it all - "Stupid is as stupid does."

Jay Jones is a staff reporter for the Rockdale Citizen. E-mail Jay at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.