"Things are seldom what they seem; skim milk masquerades as cream..." - 'Things Are Seldom What They Seem,' from "HMS Pinafore," Gilbert and Sullivan (1878)
When Suzanne travels across the Panhandle to visit her parents, she sometimes brings back diabetic condiments containing no natural sugar. I guess if you're a diabetic and you still can't get a grip on your sweet tooth, it's the next best thing.
But she made a small goof this past weekend.
Suzanne purchased a bottle of "sugar-free honey" to replenish the big, honking bottle I mix with peanut butter and spread on my morning toast. I had what I like to call a "thirty-second moment," one of those times where I allow myself to get very, very emotional for all of thirty seconds...after which I'm good to go.
'So, what's wrong with "sugar-free honey?"' said the missus. I told her to take a closer look at the dietary information on the back label. A bottle of "sugar-free honey" does not have one bit of honey within it. Period. No bees were involved in the making of the substance.
Chicory. O'Doul's. Tofu. Margarine.
Sometimes a substitute is needful, helpful, or a reasonable alternative. When we change a diet, say, from animal-based protein to one with more plant proteins, legumes, nuts and seeds are a good substitute. With a little imagination and a small amount of luck, even an omnivore can become more flexible with their diet. In the case of my parents and some of my in-laws, the need to drop sugar out of their diet is a necessity.
Not everything in this life which is developed as a substitute is real. That "sugar free" honey is, for lack of a nicer or more diplomatic word, a fake. Certain augmentation procedures performed by a plastic surgeon might look genuine, and might still serve the intended purpose and benefit the originally-intended end-user. But in many cases all it does is appeal to ones' vanity. It's often a "look at me" thing.
When I talk about running to someone who doesn't know that much about it, often there are two questions asked: 'Have you run a marathon?' 'Have you run Boston?'
I won't say that most persons only know about the marathon when they think of distance running, but it's the most-publicized race distance. When we talk about publicized races, at least in the States, Boston would either be at or near the top of the list. Once you explain to the uninitiated that a runner either has to run a time that qualifies them for Boston, or earn a boatload of money for a charitable cause, the event has a certain "look at me" factor.
How much does it cost to qualify for Boston? According to the Running USA Core Runner Profile 75 percent of the U.S. core running population claim to have earned an average household income of 75,000 dollars or more in 2013. (The US median household income is 52,000 dollars a year). That's more or less 35 dollars an hour. For this hypothesis, let's use a 35 year-old female training on a 24-week training program. The training cycle includes one half-marathon as a training race, mileage average of 45 per week (30/week at the start, near 60/week at the finish), and one 60-minute strength training session or massage each week. The time and effort taken to train for a marathon is difficult to quantify; I like to use the economic term "opportunity cost," what you would be doing if you weren't doing 'this.'
In the case of the 35 year-old, an hour of training is worth 35 dollars.
Training sessions at an 8:00/mile (equals a Boston Qualifying time of 3:35:00) pace, is an opportunity cost of 210 dollars each week.
Multiply that by 24 and run training has an opportunity cost of a little over 5,000 dollars.
Another 850 dollars in opportunity cost or real cost, goes toward strength training, self-massage such as Trigger Point, or genuine hands-on professional body-work.
The number of miles run during 24 weeks, at an average of 45 miles per week is a little under 1100 miles in total.
Most runners rotate their shoes out at the 400 mile-to-500 mile point, so I can safely assume a third pair of shoes on race day if she had a brand new pair at the beginning. Three pairs, at 100 dollars, three 'Franklins' toward the cause.
Add a half-marathon race entry and incidentals, we'll say 300 bucks for a little bit of travel and an overnight stay. Entry, travel, prep and other incidentals for the target marathon would be a little more pricey, about 500 dollars.
When it comes time to play accountant...
Training (oportunity cost) --- $5040
Ancillary (opportunity/real) --- $850
Equipment (real) --------------- $250
Half-marathon ------------------ $300
Marathon ------------------------ $500
TOTAL ------------------------ $6940
What is a slot at Boston worth? Naturally, worth is in the mind of the beholder. Charity entries for Boston, depending on the organization, are in the 4000 dollar range. Naturally, there is that intangible "look at me" factor, especially when you see a BAA jacket or other piece of attire. Worth goes way beyond the dollars-and-cents factor, and very few persons will ask the "cheaper to qualify versus give it to charity" question. I'm not saying necessarily that charity runners don't need or deserve an entry for Boston. The persons who have earned their way In probably don't think too much about the charity entries.
What would be more frustrating? Two words: Rosie Ruiz.
Not many remember Jacqueline Gareau, which is a shame, because that's the woman who won the 1980 Boston Marathon. But Rosie...everyone remembers her, because she came across the line first.
Because she was clueless about the things most serious marathoners know stone cold. Because she finished 25 minutes faster than her qualifying time the previous fall in New York.
Because (as Bill Rodgers mentioned seeing her come through the finish) of her leg "contents."
Because she didn't look sweaty.
Given a moment of ethical weakness, I might have also run a few miles, jump on the "T" somewhere close to Hopkinton and get off close to Boylston Street, but there's something about being able to look at my face in the mirror each morning and take the razor to my cheek and not across my jugular. I'd much rather lose my hearing at Wellesley and be an honest...albeit...slow guy.
It didn't take long for a preponderance of data to the contrary to prove ol' Rosie was a fake. At first glance you might believe it to be the genuine article, but, on closer inspection, not worth the money spent. Make certain that what you say you are on the front label can be found when it comes to the "nutritional data"...don't be a fake...honey.