Eat My Dust, Pretty Woman

This week is the 25th anniversary of that ultimate rom-com, “Pretty Woman.” What an inspirational message, girls: Be an extremely good-looking prostitute with a heart of gold, find a lonely rich dude, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Yeah, that’s the career path I want to go down. Anyway, I digress. Not so coincidentally, but I’ll crowbar it in here, it so happened that earlier this week I listened to a running podcast featuring an interview with an actor who’s played at least a couple memorable roles. Thus, it was this week that two iconic movie characters – Vivian Ward and Samwise Gamgee – converged to remind me of my lone measure of solace over an Oscar-winning actress.

One of my go-to running podcasts is Marathon Training Academy, which is hosted by Angie and Trevor, an easy-to-listen-to husband and wife running couple (Angie is also a running coach). I listened to their February 23rd interview with actor Sean Astin on my mid-week run. Astin, of course, has been in such pop classics as “Goonies” and “Rudy,” but for me he is best known for playing loyal and heroic hobbit Samwise Gamgee. Seriously, I tear up just thinking about how he carried Frodo up Mount Doom. Is my nerd flag showing too much?

Anyway, I was struck by how much Astin’s own geek flag was showing itself when he talked about running. When asked a question, he gave full, descriptive answers, and his enthusiasm for the sport was evident and awesome. Like only a runner knows how exciting it is to find another runner that you can totally go hard on about the running talk. Most people really don’t want to hear my detailed race report or what kind of splits I’m doing on my tempo runs, etc. But other runners do! Sean Astin does!

Astin goes over his own running history, and throws out his marathon PR (4:04) and what a struggle it’s been to get close to that time again, as well as what it’s like running races as a celebrity. My thoughts traveled to a small local Christmas time race, the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon, held in Oxnard, CA. I’ve only run it once, in 2010, and it was unusually hot on that race day. I ended up cramping and finished in 2:14:12, which was pretty disappointing…or was it??? Well, as crappy as my race felt, I remembered that Julia Roberts had run this race the year prior. Of course I looked up her time, and it turns out that the actress who made Erin Brockovich a household name, ran it in 2:29:47. Eat my dust, Pretty Woman.

Unfortunately, while I am a bit faster than Julia in the half marathon, as well as Valerie Bertinelli and Pam Anderson in the marathon distance, I have an almost insurmountable ways to go before catching George W. Bush’s marathon PR. The names on this list of celebrity PRs has a few surprises. I mean, some look like they’d be fast runners – Anthony Edwards and Ed Norton come to mind — but I’m a little confused by those I’m speedier than. Like how in the world am I faster than Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Katie Holmes???

So yeah, I’m the petty person who likes to compare their racing times to celebrities’ PRs. It brings me comfort when I’m feeling down — or is just plain fun – mainly because I’m a horrible human being. Currently I have The Big O in my sights as she’s only a little over a minute away. In fact, you know how some people think “BQ BQ BQ” (Boston Qualify)? I like to think “BOT BOT BOT” – Beat Oprah’s Time.

But I don’t relegate my PR comeuppance to just celebrities. Thanks to the interwebs, civilian times are available for all to ogle. And see, I work as a secretary at a major firm, so sometimes – like today – I like to look at the former managing partner, the guy who used to sign my checks and think “I’m faster than you, dude.” Then I go make copies at the Xerox machine. But I do it as a winner. Ha.

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