The first thing I will say is this is my first blog. I am going to start documenting all of my official running events. I have become a minimalist runner (running in shoes with no support or cushioning) over the last 7 or 8 months in order to rid myself of some nasty shin splints. The transition has been tough but rewarding. It is like learning to run all over again. The muscles and tendons in your feet and legs take a long time to get strong after sitting weak in shoes for most of our lives. Anyway, I could go on and on about minimalist running but I will instead get to the point of this blog.
My wife, Jessica, and I have been running for exercise and have decided to get into a few races this year for fun. We are trying to hit up some different events around the mid-west so we can travel a bit while we do this. Jessica is originally from the Chicago area and grew up a Cubs fan. So the first race we decided to do was a 5K in Chicago near Wrigley Field. The 5th Annual Race to Wrigley was quite an event. It is a charity event for the Chicago Cubs charities and this year was a record crowd of 8,300 people and raised over $150,000! We were both excited to do this run because Jessica has never run a 5K before and I have not ran an organized race event since cross country in high school (except for a 5K in Toledo, OH about 5 or 6 years ago where I was hung over and completely out of shape for, but I am not counting that one :). We decided to just do the fun run which is not chip timed, and cheaper, but I had my Garmin Forerunner 305 to do the timing for myself.
We got to the area and found an awesome parking space about a mile away from the event, which was great because we were worried that might be a problem since parking is limited and there were a lot of people running in this event. So I strapped on my minimalist running shoes, Vibrams Five Fingers KSOs, and we had a nice warm up walk to the starting point at Wrigley Field. Being a minimalist runner I was looking around trying to find another runners in minimalist shoes. I thought out of 8,300 people I would at least see someone else in VFFs or barefoot but I did not. There were a few people in Nike Frees, but those are not really minimalist shoes. There were a lot of other runners observing my VFFs and mainly they had looks of curiosity. One person asked me about them after the race and told me he was thinking about getting some for himself. Being the advocate I am I talked them up big time and he seemed excited. Here is a picture of us before the race.
So we were about one third of the way back from the starting line and former Cubs player Ernie Banks gave the crowd some words of encouragement and the race was under way. At first I was kind of taking it slow and easy since my transition to minimalist running has not included any really hard runs. The adrenaline from the race started to kick in and all of a sudden I felt great. No pains at all and I felt super light on my feet. I started passing a bunch of people. They were probably freaked out seeing some guy in weird foot gloves floating past them with a big smile. One thing this run did was help me to realize the real benefits of minimalist running. Everywhere I looked there was people slamming their feet into the ground and leaning forward from the waist, and that poor form is a big reason why so many people experience running related injuries every year. There was so much noise all around me from shoes smacking the ground and I was making no noise at all with my VFFs. So this experience helped assure me that my long and slow minimalist transition is well worth it.
About a mile and a half into the race a female runner was doing a few cart wheels to provide us with some entertainment. I had periods of time where I kind of just settled in with a moderate pace because I did not want to over do it and risk injury or set backs. I also had periods of energy where I would pass a few groups of people and settle back into the moderate pace. I started to lose a little steam with a quarter mile to go. Then something made me laugh pretty hard. I heard a guy behind me make the big throat clearing sound one makes right before they spit a huge loogie. Then I heard him let it fly and right after he spit I heard him say "ooh, I am so sorry" and when I turn my head there is a girl runner saying "it's OK" as she runs past with a super disgusted look on her face. I think he accidentally nailed her with that loogie. Anyway the race course took us through the first level concourse inside Wrigley Field and then out we came with a dash to the finish line. I finished the race in 27:18 which is a good time for me since this was the best time I have had since starting minimalist running. I am happy with my result. Here is a picture of the race course, notice Wrigley Field just to the right of the blue X:
After I finished the run I waited near the finish line and about 5 minutes later Jess came through. I high fived her as it was her first ever 5K. The furthest she has ever run before. Jess did an awesome job and we were both excited about the whole experience. I forgot how much fun that organized running events are. It is so motivational to have a bunch of other runners all doing the same thing. The running community is a great group of people in general. I have some soreness in my calves and my right foot hurt a bit yesterday, but is starting to feel better today. I guess those pains just resulted from the fact that I have not pushed myself that hard since starting minimalist running. It was well worth it. We are both looking forward to the 5K Commit to be Fit in Columbus, Ohio this weekend. I will end this blog with a picture of Jess and myself after the Race to Wrigley.