Are you in a rut? Did you recently run a 5k? Looking towards the next 5k? Maybe getting really wild and doing a 10k or half marathon? When was the last time you ran something you haven’t done in a long time? Mud races became a rage a few years back but are now on the decline. Look hard and you can find a cross country race. Do you ever run just for fun? I know I have a hard time not recording every mile I run and I have to plan each run as part of my overall workout routine to make sure it has its proper place in the grand scheme of getting and staying in shape. I don’t see anything spontaneous there. Kids are the masters at running for fun. Toddlers just don’t seem to be able to walk anywhere without breaking into a run once they know how. Adults can plod along as if each step is a chore and basically a painful experience. Do you still have fun running? These kids are definitely running for fun.
Well it was time for me to get out of my box. This morning I had a really fun time doing a race I haven’t done in 43 years. I ran a mile race. My last one was in 1973 at the Salem, Ohio district track meet. Apparently, I didn’t do anything great there since there was no regional meet following it for me.
Many thanks to our hosts for the race, Coaches Paul and Mary Pusateri who began the St. Thomas Aquinas Mile Challenge a few years ago and opened it up to STA friends and alumni last year. St. Thomas Aquinas has a very strong tradition of great track and cross country teams and opening their race up to the STA community was a stroke of genius. Why just let the kids have all the fun? It started with Coach Paul challenging his cross country runners to a mile race. Now Paul is in his 50’s so this seems like a non challenge for the boys. But Paul is not your average 50+ year old. He can still crank out a sub 5:30 mile. Most of the boys do beat him but the stigma of not beating their coach is a heavy burden placed on those boys.
My race today was great on many levels. It was my first race against a world champion. Tony Migliozzi, STA alumnus and 2 time world champion ultra marathoner ran it at what for him was a snail’s pace jog as he is going to run a new marathon in Youngstown tomorrow. He came for the camaraderie and to see some old friends from his STA days. How many times have you raced a world champion? For a while I was hanging right there with Tony, then once we got past the first 20 meters or so, he opened up a sizable lead that I just couldn’t make up. Thankfully I didn’t get lapped.
The second thing that was different and fun was that there were no awards. That sounds like less fun but it is nice to occasionally not be worried about anything but the joy of the race. No t-shirt, no medals, no official results and best of all, no entry fee. Don’t get me wrong, normally I like all those things other than exorbitant entry fees but I also enjoy feeling like the kid on the playground who just got challenged to a race to that tree over there or “last one past the monkey bars is a poopy head” or some other major insult.
Making it more fun was Owen Milnes who manned the PA system at the STA stadium and kept everyone entertained with race commentary while taunting his friends who were actually running. Owen has a definite future in sports broadcasting. After the race was over, Paul and Mary had refreshments set up and we got to visit with each other and catch up with old friends we hadn’t seen in a while.
How can you get out of your box? Get online and look for alternatives to the standard 5k. Go longer or go shorter. A mile or a 2 mile race can be a lot of fun. A walking race is a definite change of pace and it’s a killer to resist that urge to break into a run. Try a relay race. Lots of marathons have team relays or organizations like Ragnar have major relays up to 200 miles. Races in exotic places like up Mt. Washington or other off road places are great but VERY challenging. Races don’t have to be a round number. Some races are just from point A to point B and end up being 4.31 miles or some other random number. Try it out. Get out of your box if you feel at all stale. It will bring back the joy of running and if you run really fast and beat at least one of the other kids then you will not have to suffer the agony of being called the poopy head. Or for those of us who still like to dream, you can pretend to be Roger Bannister breaking the four minute mile for the very first time.