James Fallows at The Atlantic pulls it all together nicely,
- Now we have the odd fact that last week -- when he was already the VP choice, when everything he said was being watched and recorded, when he knew he was in the national eye -- he said on a national radio show that his best marathon time was under three hours, "I had a two hour and fifty-something." When in fact, thanks to Scott Douglas of Runner's World, it appears that his "personal best" was in fact more than an hour slower, 4:01.* Interestingly, Runner's World seems to have come up with this info not in an effort to expose Ryan but to celebrate his athleticism....We've all exaggerated to make ourselves look better. ...But out of prudent self-protection, most people have a sense of "situational awareness" when it comes to self-burnishment. Somebody you're talking to in a bar, and you're never likely to see again, is in one category. Somebody interviewing you for national broadcast is in another. That is what I'm having a hard time fully understanding.It was a Ryan spokesman who clarified that Ryan has only run one marathon in his life and confirmed that the time was in excess of 4 hours.
Nick Thompson at The New Yorker is an avid runner and follows up here, and comes back to consider why Ryan lied.
A four-hour marathon, for a twenty-year-old, is not something that elicits a “holy smokes.” It’s entirely average; in fact, for the race that Ryan ran, it was below average. In the marathon in question, he finished in nineteen hundred and ninetieth place, out of just thirty-two hundred and seventy-seven male runners. (A 2:55 would have had him at a hundred and thirtieth.) But Hewitt’s reaction didn’t set off any alarm. Instead, Ryan could tell that he had just impressed his host, and he reinforced it, saying “I was fast when I was younger, yeah.” Is it possible that his memory just bollixed up the time? For someone who doesn’t run, the difference between a four-hour marathon and a two-fifty-something may seem inconsequential, and easy to confuse. But for someone who does run seriously, it’s immense. To make an analogy to an activity that Ryan is unquestionably good at, it’s like the difference between doing twenty-five pushups (not bad!) and a hundred (holy smokes!). Runners—and Ryan says he continues to be one—also just don’t forget race times. They talk about them with their friends; they think about them when running. If they’ve just missed breaking four hours, it probably bothers them a little bit. It probably bothers them particularly if their brothers run faster. People also ask about marathon times often. Note the ease with which Hewitt queried Ryan’s time. The congressman, who talks frequently about fitness, has surely been asked the same question dozens, or hundreds, of times. When did he stop answering “four hours” and start saying “a two hour and fifty-something”?The string of lies that Ryan told this week is striking, and calls into question his character. I'd bet a dinner for 4 ate your favorite restaurant that Ryan was convinced that no one could find the real time he ran in a marathon 22 years ago in Duluth Minnesota. But the lie about the GM plant closing? Information posted on his own congressional webpage (opens pdf of letter) proved the lie in that case.
Paul Ryan is a very insecure man who has a major character flaw when it comes to telling the truth.