Feb 23: Day 11
Bike: 5 minutes Z1, 5 minutes Z2, 4 x (5 minutes Z3/3 minutes Z1) 13 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
First of all, the weight bounce I feared yesterday was real but not too bad. About a pound and a half. I can deal with that. Boy, my legs were tired this morning. I gutted out the intervals and felt OK, but now I am wiped out. Hope I can make it through the day without falling asleep at my desk!
I follow a lot of fitness blogs, news and sites, but one that both fascinates and sickens me is Derek Murphy’s Marathon Investigation site. Derek takes the time to do something that should never be necessary–help identify cheaters in running events. This past weekend if you haven’t read about it, a 24 year old Huffington Post writer, Jane Seo, decided to cut the course at the Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon, came in second in her age group, and proceeded to falsely claim her time was legit. Then, to cover her tracks she later biked the course later to get a GPS record of completing the whole course to upload to Strava.
And yeah, she accepted the award. She actually walked up there and took it.
Later however, evidence started to mount against her. She had a finish line photo that included her Garmin, which when blown up, showed she had not covered the full distance. Her “GPS proof” raised suspicions because her cadence and heart rate looked more like a typical bike than any of her other posted run data.
Oh yeah, and the timestamp showed it was recorded in the afternoon, not during the race.
Later, after it became clear that there was plenty of evidence against her time she claimed mea culpa and admitted to having cheated on instagram, claiming she hadn’t felt well so she decided to cut the course, then got “swept away in the moment” and accepted the award.
I’ve felt ill on runs before. I’ve even pulled myself off a course due to heat exhaustion and took a DNF. When I feel like crap, I slow down, I don’t record my fastest splits for the race. In fact, I’ve walked it rather than exacerbate the problem. I’ve never cut a course. I haven’t even left one without notifying a race official or volunteer. When I DNF’d I handed over my timing chip before I returned to the start. I don’t take a finisher’s medal, and I don’t cross the actual finish line. I sure as hell don’t cross the line, hand over my timing chip like nothing happened and accept an award.
No, what happened here wasn’t getting swept away in the moment. If she had been honest from the start she would have walked up to a race official and explained the situation immediately. There would have been no “moment” to get “swept up in”.
It also wasn’t about money or professional standing because we are talking about age-groupers here. There’s nothing but pride and personal accomplishment at stake, and I fail to see how either of those is served through cheating.
It can’t be that the second place would have ever actually meant anything to this person. Again, you know it doesn’t belong to you. You stole it from whomever rightfully earned it, and bumped someone else completely off the podium in the process. It would take a person completely different from myself to display that award. I wouldn’t even want to look at it.
What I truly believe happened is here is someone has built an image of themselves up on their blog and on social media, and wanted to maintain that image but wasn’t actually fast enough or good enough to do it on this particular day. Looking at her splits she’s clearly a talented runner. But sometimes people are just better than you. Sometimes you aren’t fast enough to get the time you want either through insufficient training, injury, external factors, or you just plain can’t run that fast. But apparently it’s so important for some people to maintain that image of that embellished life they have established online that they are willing to lie, cheat and steal to do it.
It’s really sad.
If you ever find yourself feeling the temptation to cheat, just don’t. You would be stealing true joy and accomplishment from one person and replacing it with fake joy for yourself, which can only lead to emptiness for both people. If you want to podium, work harder. If you aren’t good enough to podium, set a different goal that you can achieve. Accept who and what you are. You will be happier for it, and honestly? I think people will respect you and find you more relatable all the more for it.