26.2 miles, 1 book, and a simple SAS program


26.2!  If you smiled when you read that number, then you are likely one of the cognoscenti who ran a marathon or know somebody that ran a marathon.  If you didn’t recognize that number, then by now you may have guessed that it is the number of miles in a marathon. 26.2 miles is equivalent to 46,112 yards.  When you run your first marathon, as I did this October when I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, you are aware of every yard that you cover.

What does that have to do with SAS Press?  Well, I have been a runner for about 30 years or so but, I had never run a marathon. I used to joke with my friends that running a marathon was like reading War and Peace; it was something that I wanted to have done it, but not something I really wanted to put work into actually doing.  This year, I decided the time was right for running my first marathon and for writing my third SAS book.  So, I signed up for a marathon training program and submitted a book proposal to SAS Press.

SAS Press accepted my book proposal and the marathon training program accepted my money.  Soon, I found myself balancing running and writing with the rest of my life.  Both new pursuits took big chunks out of my weekly schedule.

Some days the running was hard and the writing was easy.  Other days the running was easy and the writing was hard.  Still other days, the running was hard and the writing was hard, too.  (Oddly enough, I don’t remember a single day when both were easy).  As the fall progressed, I built up both my weekly mileage and the draft pages of my first three chapters.

I am so SAS-centric that I wrote a simple program to calculate how long it would take me to finish the marathon at various paces:

Training for a marathon and writing a book have some common elements.  They are both big goals and demand a lot of hard work and attention to detail. They both take a long time to achieve. And, they are both very personally satisfying things to accomplish.  Accordingly, I would recommend that you consider adding these two accomplishments to your own busy life.

So, how long did it take me to run the Marine Corps Marathon?  If you really want to know, plug 8:57 into the marathon program and run it. What do you think?  Not bad for a first timer!

I would like to tell you more about my new book and the many fun experiences I had training for and running the Marine Corps Marathon.  But, there is only so much space in a blog, and… I’ve really got to run!

Visit Michael's author page to learn more about him and his work. And stay tuned for updates about his upcoming book.


About Author

Michael A. Raithel

Senior systems analyst for Westat and SAS Press author

Michael A. Raithel is a senior systems analyst for Westat, an employee-owned contract research organization in the Washington, DC area. An internationally recognized expert in the use of SAS software in mainframe and UNIX environments, he is the author of over 25 SAS technical papers and is a popular lecturer at SAS Global Forum and at regional SAS conferences. He has written four books for SAS; the most recent book is How to Become a Top SAS Programmer. A copy of the first edition Tuning SAS Applications in the MVS Environment, resides in the Smithsonian Institution of American History’s Permanent Research Collection of Information Technology.

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  2. Congratulations on *both* phenomenal accomplishments! It's mind-boggling to me that you did these concurrently. I ran my marathon PR at Marine Corps in '94. Great race.

  3. margelet jones on

    Michael, you make us proud. Your quote, "This year, I decided the time was right for running my first marathon and for writing my third SAS book. So, I signed up for a marathon training program and submitted a book proposal to SAS Press" simply proves that you have your priorities in order. Keep up the good work. I am looking forward to seeing you at SGF in 2012.

  4. Michael, that's great. I absolutely agree that running a marathon and writing a book have some common elements. (I made 5 marathons and published some books - rather not SAS book). There is one more common element. When you finish your book or marathon you think "finally, now I need to relax". But few days later you think: "It was not good enough, I need to do it again, better." :-)

  5. Michael A Raithel on


    Great to hear from you and congratulations on the proposal for your 2nd book! Considering the uniqueness and success of your first book (Mastering Organizational Knowledge Flow), I don't doubt that you will soon be "saddled" with a new book contract:-)

    I am looking forward to catching up with you at SAS Global Forum 2012 in Orlando, and hearing how your wonderful daugters are doing! Until then, Auf Wiedersehen!

    (aka Michael A. Raithel)

  6. Wow, Michael, way to go!!! You look really great in that shot, and always smiling :-) Also congratulations on book proposal No. 3. Actually, I send in the proposal for book No. 2 today, so will start running more and maybe I am fit enough for a Marathon, once I get to the 3rd one ...

    Great job,


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