Quite a long time ago, I lived across the street from a Math professor, George. One afternoon, after a couple of beers, I told him that I didn’t balance my checkbook. He looked at me very seriously and said, “I could help you with that. Bring your statements and such to my office, and we can figure it out.” I said, “Okay, but the problem is that I throw out my statements and check stubs, and I don’t write anything down.” His expression turned from helpful to mild horror. “But,” he said, “how do you live?” I replied, “From hand to mouth.”
I’ve always had a indifferent relationship with numbers. I read Dickens during the math portion of the GRE. When I took statistics I was annoyed when after all that math, the answer was between +1 and -1. George, the math professor, told me that I had Math Anxiety and the only way to overcome it was to do a math problem before starting any task — wake up: Do long division, eat breakfast: Solve for x, shower: Count backwards from 1000 by 3. I told him that he needed another beer.
For a while I tried to hide my fear, but after 50 years, I nurture that anxiety like an old football injury.
So my eyes glaze over when I hear all those numbers associated with an Ironman. The Husband recently finished one in Arizona. I don’t know what splits are, and why they matter. I can’t figure out how an 8-minute mile translates to an under 4-hour marathon. Or, why in a race that will take fourteen hours to finish, that they can’t take a 45 seconds to get off their bicycle to pee.
And this one: 11:50:53.