A few years ago, facing the last taper week before her first marathon, one of my BRFF’s and co-hort at The Bad Table at board meetings, DJ aka Deej aka Deejer, asked me, “How does anyone stay married when they have to live with a marathoner? I am such a bi&&** this week – and my team mates are too! I’m going to kill my husband, I’m going to kill my child, I’m going to kill the dog. I’m going to eat the legs off the table and follow that up with 2 gallons of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey with hot fudge sauce!! I’m going to wear my Nike shorts with my Brooks s/s. No, I’m going to wear compression tights with a Nike singlet….OH MY GAWD I’M GOING CRAZY!!!”
This poor runner is suffering from a little known disease, MARATHONIRRITATIONITIS (mar–uh-thon-ir-i-tey-shuhn-eye-tis), a serious but seldom fatal (except to family members) and short-lived illness which is, surprisingly, found only in one particular group of people. Not limited to age, race or religion, curiously, all sufferers have one thing in common: every one of them run marathons.
Signs and Symptoms
Marthonirritationitis symptoms include but are not limited to: irritation, irritability, grumpiness, lack of focus, inability to pay attention, and loss of concentration. In addition to being slightly out of sorts symptoms include wandering aimlessly through the house hugging a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s, carrying one running shoe and 12 pair of socks, trying to find the suitcase which is in the middle of the floor. People have been known to pack three jog bras and no shorts while slathering Glide on their underarms and Right Guard everywhere else.
Marthonirritationitis is most often followed by a period of extreme euphoria. These symptoms include but are not limited to: obtaining a shiny medal object at the end of the trigger (marathon) and hanging it in conspicuous places such as their rear view mirror or on the refrigerator over the top of their child’s A++ test. Other victims have been seen wearing the shiny object out in public, where they frequently imbibe in high caloric meals which include large amounts of alcohol while laughing loudly at anything that is not remotely funny to any other human, occasionally lapsing into a blank stare while silently mouthing the words I did it I did it.
Following this brief period of euphoria is a longer period of deep and sincere remorse, whereupon the sufferer is forced to ask the previously offended and offensive family members for, first, their forgiveness and second, help standing up from the couch, kitchen chair and/or toilet. Victims are often seen creeping sideways down the stairs, clutching the stair rail as though it held the meaning of life and sobbing while stepping out of the car or off a curb. Other victims are seen shuffling sadly into convenience stores purchasing quantities of bagged ice in a useless attempt to stave off pain by immersing themselves in the dreaded Ice Bath, originally invented for stubborn victims of the Inquisition.
Physical examination, x-rays and blood testing are most often useless. Diagnosis usually follows a family member exclaiming, “For crying out loud! What is WRONG with you?!” The innocent, well-intentioned and unsuspecting family member then learns the meaning of ‘Near Death Experience” as the hurled object embeds itself in the wall beside the family member’s head.
Sadly there is, at this time, no known cure, nor is there any medication known to be of more than superficial benefit. Beer, Ibuprofen, beer, hot baths, wine and beer seem to remedy most of the symptoms which follow the euphoria.
Marthonirritationitis usually lasts 5-7 days. Oddly, most victims tend to suffer periodic relapses despite the pleas of frightened loved ones.