Four Days Out
HARPO Productions, Inc. transcript from Show #36,237, Air date 5/17/2006
(Oprah enters to thunderous, sustained applause. She takes her seat on a tastefully decorated set.)
Oprah: My guest today is a Washington man who decided to turn his
ambition of running a marathon into a blog. One year ago, he was a
dough-y Midwesterner, who never packed his own lunch and drank Jack
and Cokes every chance he could. Now, in less than a week, he'll
run 26.2 miles and try to beat *my* marathon time of 4:29:16 -- but
who's counting right?
(Thunderous laughter, sustained applause)
O: Please welcome Paaaaaaaullllllllllllllllllll.
(Wild clapping, women leaping up to get a glimpse of Paul)
(Paul walks triumphantly onto the stage. He is dressed in a blue
sportcoat, casual striped shirt, jeans and beat-up New Balance
sneakers, displaying the last remnants of his indie rock
Paul: Thanks for having me on the show, Oprah.
O: You're welcome. Tell me. How do you feel?
P: I feel good, both physically and mentally. It's actually kind of
hard to believe, considering I've been exercising harder and more
often than ever before for the past six months.
O: You wrote a sarcastic FAQ for your blog as your introductory post.
In it you wrote that you wanted to run a marathon because you were
bored. Is that true?
P: Yes, at least partially. I mean, I could have just taken up reading
more books, or collecting insects, or keeping my apartment constantly
clean. I wanted something deeper though. Something more. I wanted to
do something physical, because, at that point, it seemed unthinkable
to do something really monumental that had to do with physical strength and mental toughness.
The part that I left out of the FAQ is that I really like to do stuff
that people think I can't do. I sort of get off on it. Well, at first
I get really pissed, and then I figure out how I'm going to do it. And
then I figure out how I'll subtlely rub their faces in it.
The other thing is, I wasn't really happy with how I looked and I
thought about how your body only goes downhill, if you don't do
something about it. I had a vision of myself in my late 30s with a
beergut and a double chin on my Charlie Brown-like head, and it made
O: Oh, my God. You poor thing.
P: Thanks, Oprah. Anyway, I also just wanted to get some good exercise
habits going. Or, at the very least, someday when I am overweight, I
can think about the times that I wasn't overweight. Plus, I'll have a
sweet marathon medal and FINISHER shirt.
O: So, you've said you feel great. What's changed since you started training?
P: It'd be a shorter list to compile what hasn't changed, Oprah.
(Audible smattering of laughs and clapping)
First, all the obvious stuff: my diet has completely changed for the
better. I actually cook now, and spend more and more time at the
grocery store. I worry about my sleep now. I exercise five to six
times a week.
There's lots of less obvious consequences from training for this race.
I feel much more confident. I feel like I can do almost anything, and
that many things are possibly.
I feel like a legitimate athelete for the first time in my life, and
it's kind of weird. Beyond that, people are treating me like an
athlete. A runner. *A marathoner.* I don't know how to react when
people are in awe of the distances that I run. I feel like a brand new
person -- I better person in some respects.
My dad's heart attack in January scared the shit out of me -- can I
say shit on syndicated afternoon TV, Oprah?
O: No, I'm sorry we'll have to bleep it out.
P: Sorry, anyway, it scared me and reminded me of how tenuous and
short life really is. You've got to head towards your goals sooner
rather than later because you don't know what's going to happen to you
or someone important to you five minutes from now or tomorrow or next
week. I'm certainly not advocating recklessness or rash decisions, but you've got to be honest with yourself and take some chances and live your life in a way you won't regret someday.
P: Back to my point about proving everyone wrong -- I also wanted to
prove that an out-of-shape former slacker could run a marathon, and
that it isn't out of reach for many, if not most, people. Not to sound
like a Hallmark card, but I thought maybe I could inspire other people
to greatness, or at least goodness or betterness. Whether it was
running a marathon, or just walking a little bit every day. I wanted
to prove it was possible, even though I had no idea if it would
actually work out, or if it even was possible. It's odd, I know.
O: So, what about the blog? Will it continue after the race? Will you
recast it's focus, or will you dump it and never blog again?
P: The marathon blog will end shortly after the race, May 21. It was
just an experiment. I never meant for it to stay beyond the marathon.
I'll likely keep it up for a while, but then delete it.
Will I ever blog again? Probably, but I'm just not sure how. I think
it's easier to have a blog that's centered around a specific theme,
idea, etc. It leads to more focused writing and urgency. Plus, it's
not so damn boring and meandering.
Maybe I'll try to guest blog, or I'll just write short essays about
rock records that saved my life and email them to a couple of friends.
I'm not sure.
O: Well, thank you for being here! Paauulllll!!!!!!!
(Ridiculous, ear-splitting applause)
Today: 20-minute run