Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was forced to acknowledge he lied when he said he ran a marathon in under three hours, but only after he was called out on it by the news media. Is this just braggadocio or does it raise questions about his grip on reality.

Every sports jock probably exaggerates their physical accomplishments and Ryan takes great pride in his physical fitness.

At 6-foot-2, he weighs 163 pounds and also brags that he has 6 percent to 8 percent body fat, which equals world-class athletes. Sports has been a big part of his life as well. He was a personal trainer an high school athlete.

But as such, he should know a premium is place on integrity in the sports world. Seven-time “Tour de France” winner Lance Armstrong is being stripped of his medals because he allegedly engaged in performance enhancing blood doping. Those who have pursued a nine-year investigation against him say the did it to preserve the integrity of the sport.

Ryan is no professional athlete, but he could be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, should Republican nominee Mitt Romney win the November election. Ryan’s convention speech was riddled with factual inaccuracies that went beyond mere misstatements of facts. He engaged in outright, seemingly willful distortions. Is there a pattern here?

In a radio interview, Ryan, 42, said he had run a sub-3-hour marathon but no longer raced because of a back problem. “Under three, high twos,” he replied when asked what his time was “I had a two hour and fifty-something.”

That’s no small feat and would rank him with the top athletes in the sport. But Runner’s World magazine reported that it had “been unable to find any marathon results by Ryan.”

The Wisconsin congressman’s initial response was to stonewall the magazine. “Requests for more information from Ryan’s Washington and Wisconsin offices, and from the Romney-Paul campaign, have so far gone unanswered,” the magazine reported.

As it turned out, the only record of Ryan running in a sanctioned marathon was the 1990 Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn, and that was more than 20 years ago. He completed it in four hours, one minute, and 28 seconds.

He beat Al Gore’s time of 4:58, but was worse than John Edwards at 3:30 and George W. Bush at 3:44, Even Sarah Palin beat him with a time of 3:59.

It’s one thing to misstate facts, its another to lie about something he had to know was not true and to do it by lying so outlandishly.

In the heat of the campaign, when media fact-checkers are swarming over every statement, Ryan’s fib borders on the pathological. The question is, why did he feel the need to embellish?