March 4, 2009

Failure is an option

It is 17 weeks until the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon in June, so official marathon training started this week. I have actually been running pretty regularly the last month and a half, but the distances and dates were pretty much whatever I felt like that day. Now there are specific workouts on the calendar and progressively longer runs. And of course a final exam at the end.

I am hoping to crack 4 hours which would be about a 20 minute improvement. Easy to say four months out - we'll see how training goes.

I was watching The Biggest Loser last week, and a four hour finishing time suddenly looked a little different. The show does a quick video on the contestant that was sent home each week to show how they are doing on their own. Last week Dane Patterson was sent home and they show him running a marathon with his wife. Though he has lost over 100 pounds, he is still a nearly 300 pound man.

The snippet showed Dane and his wife crossing the finish line in 3:53. My first thought was "no way". Not that a 300 pound man couldn't beat me across the line, but the shots of him on the course didn't look like a guy running at a 8:53 pace. Then I thought, maybe it is true and I am selling this guy short and not pushing myself enough. Then I forgot about it.

Turns out there were a couple of things wrong with the picture. The graphic they showed over the video was 3:53, but the clock actually read 5:53 when he crossed the finish line. A pretty significant typo. And it turns out he only ran 23 miles. When it looked like he wasn't going to make it to the finish line before the 6 hour cutoff, the on site producer for the show gave him a ride from mile 17 to 20 so they could film him running across the finish. A poor decision that he regrets. He actually went back and ran the missing 3 miles later that day with his brother, who was also on the show.

He has been interviewed multiple times, including on the Today Show with his trainer Jillian Michaels.

She pointed out that something has been lost in the controversy: the fact that Patterson, a former offensive lineman who had begun the show at 412 pounds, accomplished a remarkable feat.

“It’s such a shame, though, because he ran 23 miles. I’ve never even run more than five miles,” Michaels said. “Of course you want that shot at the end. I wish it had been presented different.”

“It’s sad,” Patterson said. “I wanted to please the show. I felt grateful to be on the show. I know how important that finish-line shot was. That’s why it happened.”

Failure is an option

Roker asked Michaels whether the desire to have a shot of Patterson crossing the finish line didn’t obscure what should be the real message, which is that sometimes people try and fail.

“That really is the bigger message. And I think Dane’s learned that. He knows, you give it a shot, you reach for the stars, and if you’re not failing, you’re not really living,” Michaels answered. “I want them to fail, because I want them to try for things that are out of their comfort zone. It’s like, ‘OK, now I know I got this far, and next time I’ll work on X, Y and Z and I’ll complete the entire thing.’ ”

At the same time, Michaels said she understood the pressure everyone was under. “Because it’s a reality show, they want that money shot at the end, and I guess a producer made a poor decision.”


SeanH said...

Awesome. The Biggest Losers there are the producers of the show, ironically. (Good job spotting it!)

Anonymous said...

I was wondering how he finished so fast! Thanks for clearing that up.