There are a lot of world-class, elite runners who I’ve become a fan of over the last few years, but my running hero is Peter Sagal. His real job is host of the NPR radio show, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…” It’s a great show and I often listen to it on the weekends during my long runs. That, in and of itself, might have been enough to earn him hero status, but then I found him on the last page of my Runner’s World Magazine early last year. They do a feature every month to close the issue called “I’m a runner”, where they print a little Q & A with someone of some fame or notoriety about their running habit.
I already listened to Mr. Sagal every week, so I was happy to see him featured, but then, as I read the article, my jaw dropped. He had run his debut marathon (when pros run their first one, it’s always called a “debut” - sounds all official) in 4:03. Very respectable, nothing extraordinary, but notable to me because I ran my first one in 4:06. And THEN, he decided that he wanted to run another one and this time, qualify for Boston – and he did it! Sagal is a little over 40 years old, so to qualify he had to run a 3:20. He ran a 3:20:39, and with the 59 second buffer that Boston allows, he qualified with 20 seconds to spare.
So, in just one year, he cut more than 40 minutes off his marathon time. He went from a 9:16 pace per mile to a 7:38 pace. Peter Sagal is shorter than I am, once weighed more than me by 30 pounds, was never a runner until his adult years and tried his first marathon only one year before I did.
So he gives me hope!
I don’t honestly know if I have it in me to run that fast for a full marathon. For me to qualify for Boston this year, I’d have to run a 3:10 (7:15 pace). Next year, when I’m 35, I’ll be granted an extra 5 minutes (7:27 pace). My current PR is a 3:59 at a 9:07 pace, and that was my third road marathon not affected by extreme weather conditions, the first 2 being a 4:06 and a 4:03. I genuinely feel that given a good season of training and optimal conditions on race day, that I have a 3:45 in me on a relatively flat course. Under the current rules of the Boston Athletic Association, that time wouldn’t qualify me for their marathon until I was 55 years old!
Who knows? But I do like to think that if Peter Sagal can do it…
I’ve just recently discovered that a much longer edition of his Q & A is available on the Runner’s World Website. It’s a really great read.
Click Here to Read the Article
It’s worth your time if you have a few extra minutes.