Thought I’d post a followup report and let Tom focus on the book over the holiday weekend.
As I reported here, after reading “Born to Run” last year, I got interested in the idea of people being designed to run. Even old, fat people. So, with the encouragement of a couple of my coworkers,
I signed up for this year’s Abe’s Army training program, which consists of weekly organized small group runs with experienced runners, along with some personal miles logged, culminating 13 weeks later in participation in the 10k Abe’s Amble, which is run the last Sunday of the Illinois State Fair. The race starts inside the fairgrounds at 7:30 am, heads out of the fair, through nearby Lincoln Park, out the back of the park, through the (hilly) cemetery where Lincoln is buried, then back. BTW, for us non-metric types, 10k is 6.2 miles.
I missed a couple of the long group runs the last couple of weeks, but did running on my own, and I’d also starting pedaling the 2 miles to the office every day, so I felt like I was ready.
As an added bonus, it turned out that whoever organized the race this year must have some MAJOR contacts somewhere, because Saturday night Central Illinois broke out of a weeks-long string of 90-100 degree weather and we ended up with 65 degrees and overcast for the start of the race.
Here’s most of our group (Blue 2) just before the race started.
I’m the bright yellow one in the back with the funny “running shoes.”
About those — I’d been doing my personal runs in the Huaraches all along, but had been doing the group runs in a pair of Lems shoes that are zero-drop, barefoot shoes but look like running shoes — just to blend in a bit (the ones in the pic at the top of this post). I wore the Huaraches to the last practice run (3 miles), and when I walked up the trainers looked at my feet, then up at me, and said “so you’re not running tonight?” I explained to them that they were structurally no different than the ones I’d been wearing to the group runs. They were interested, asked about injuries, etc., but very cool about it.
When we got to one of the water stops that are set up around the training course runs, someone from another group who’d seen my footgear came up asked “how are your feet feeling in those?” I said “great – I’ve been running this way all along.” She said she hadn’t thought people could run like that. I replied that “really, we spent thousands of years being designed to run like this.” She said yes, that made sense, but “I see too many people with foot and knees problems” (I believe she’s in the medical arena); to which I replied, “and I bet they all wear running shoes, right?” She smiled a bit at that.
Anyway, my goal all along had been to run the race in the Huaraches, and the last practice run showed me that it wouldn’t be a problem.
So off we all went — the Abe’s Army program had around 150 people, but there were nearly 650 participants for the Amble. I ran with a buddy from my group (they guy on the left in the group pic), and we decided to keep using our training protocol of 5:1 intervals for the race — run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat, until you cross the finish line.
We moved towards the back third of the pack at the starting line so we wouldn’t be in the way of the real competitors, but be ahead of the walkers and dedicated slowpokes. Here’s me as I get past the starting gate…
(I don’t really have to go to the bathroom — that’s just the way my shorts bunched up!)
At any rate, I was able to maintain a blistering 13:10 min/mile pace (1:21:41.4 final time). I even had a bit of gas left in the tank for the finish and sprinted the last 100 yards. Of course, many people would mistake my sprinting for “strenuous jog,” but I still felt really good about it — way better than it looks like I felt:
In the final standings, I whipped 84 of the other folks’ butts (including most, but not all of the Olympic walkers and almost everyone over 70), and had the other 559 in front of me looking over their shoulders.
Well, maybe not all of them. The mutant who won, for instance. (This guy, Bryan Glass:)
He averaged 5:21 min/mile, with a final time of 33:09.4 MINUTES. He blasted past my buddy and me going the other way when we were approaching the 2 mile mark, so he’d already covered over 4 miles. He didn’t have to look over his shoulder — he could’ve seen me coming from two miles away!
Actually, calling Mr. Glass a mutant is a disservice. I’m sure he’s got a good set of genes for running, but nobody can do that without training and focus beyond my imagination. He probably could catch his dinner ala “Born to Run.”
Me, I’m not selling my guns yet.
Four minutes behind him (and 44 minutes in front of me) was the first woman over the line. One of the interesting points in “Born to Run” was that the longer the distance, the closer women are to matching men.
It was a great experience, and it’s fired up my motivation to keep my activity level elevated. My running buddy and I are going to keep doing weekly runs; we’ve signed up for a 2 mile moonlight fun run/4 mile trail bike race in a couple of weeks; I ran 5k last weekend on vacation in Apple Canyon , IL (ALL hills!); I’m back doing resistance training once a week for the first time since my knee surgery last year; I’m biking to work; and I’m thinking of trying some swimming in the mornings at the local public indoor pool.
And besides all that, I got one of those “thanks for taking part” ribbons like Tom mentioned in his last Farm Report!
Icing on the cake, baby. Icing on the cake.
The Older Brother