I'm becoming obsessed with that number, and the weird thing is for a long time I didn't even know the number. I had it in my head as "around four and a half hours" and along with the vague time were all kinds of vague rationalizations for why it wasn't a complete embarrassment.

So now it's over there in the left-hand column. Every day when I check to see if the post went up OK, zing! Like a laser-guided missile, my mind finds 4:34:11.

Man, that is such a weak marathon time.

* * *

A while ago, before Couer d'Alene last year, I read a tri blogger go off about someone asking her what her Ironman time was. It did sound like the person who asked the question was a bit of an asshole, but this riled-up triathlete didn't attack only her inquisitor. She had a broader point to make: that being concerned about even your own time was ridiculous and obnoxious and evidence of a lack of understanding of the true meaning of triathlon.

It's a familiar argument: Since 99 percent of us have no shot at winning, and 95 percent aren't even in the running for a Kona slot, our times don't matter. Well, no shit, Sherlock (man, that was an edgy phrase when I first heard it in fifth grade). And you know what, nothing matters, because, as Keynes said, in the long run, we're all dead. The guy who wins, he probably knows this better than anyone, because in the long run, yep, he's compost, too.

It's all just amusement. And the thing about it that amuses the hell out of me is trying to get faster. It's all I want to do. It brings me great, ridiculous satisfaction. Getting faster. Or, more accurately, trying to get faster.

4:34:11. Well, at least I have an easy target to shoot for, there.

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