As we stood at the start of the Barcelona Marathon, fellow Esade MBA Lucas Vohl and I stretched and got ready to tackle the 42km ahead. Right before we began, Lucas turned and told me with a straight face ‘I think my cycle time should be about 5 minutes 20 seconds.

While we we’re no seasoned pros, I knew that this was a reference to our operations class, and would likely confound, or perhaps be laughed at by the hard-core marathoners at the front. After finding it a little amusing myself, I started thinking about my own cycle time needed to reach my goal.

It is not that Lucas was wrong; cycle time is the amount of time needed to produce one unit in a single machine. Sure it is a bit presumptuous to compare your legs with a well-functioning factory, but we had been training for so long I figured we both had earned the right to do so. His marathon-crazy operations professor would have been proud, especially as one of the questions on his final exam referred directly to timing marathon runs. Upon reflection, considering that operations is a field obsessed with time and continuous improvement, he couldn’t have picked a better hobby to match his profession.

More importantly, this was just another example of how the MBA changes the way you think and for the time that we are studying, almost completely occupies your life. That big line in the sand most of us drew between our work and personal lives before we got to business school has pretty much disappeared for some of us. We find ourselves using new vocabulary, creating inside jokes that nobody outside the MBA universe gets and mixing our homework with a heavy dose of socialising.

Esade only amplifies this reality with our group work format. Most group deliverables are put together on someone’s dining room table in Barcelona. By the end of the night there are often more empty beer cans than laptops on the table, but I would argue that a few frozen pizzas and drinks might add a little extra quality to our work. Most of us wouldn’t have it any other way, if we couldn’t joke around and be at ease from time to time on projects, we’d miss out on what brings stress levels down at Esade and makes going to school here unique.

Perhaps Lucas was on to something when he brought operations to the marathon; he was, after all, the fastest finisher of all the Esade MBAs. However, at one point he suggested bringing the MBA a little too far into my run. Before leaving me in the dust around 30km, he told me ‘You know, if you get bored, you could always do a case calculating how much it costs Barcelona to keep the traffic lights on, despite not needing them during the marathon!’.

No thanks pal, I’m just going to keep focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

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