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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mad as HELL!

I won the Tower 10 Miler in Clermont today. That in itself is a great accomplishment. Right? Winning a big race in an endurance mecca like Clermont, Florida means I ran fast and must have beaten a plethora of fast dudes.

Not so.

I won by 6 minutes and barely ran 7 minute mile pace. I know, it was a Podunk first time ever race.

Not so.

It was put on by a professional race management company who, presumably, marketed it well. While this race hasn't taken place in a few years it was a staple in the early 2000's. It was a pitiful race and a pitiful turnout. I'm embarrassed to have won that race with a 1:07. I'm not surprised. This is the direction that our country is going.

OK, time for a trip in the way back machine.

It was the late 1980's. I was a young buck running road races all over Cape Cod, Massachusetts because I loved it. I was pretty fast for a teenager and won my age group most every time. Races cost $5-$8 and I won many a trophy. There were races within a 30 minute drive every weekend. Some weekends I did 2 races. If there wasn't a race there was a training race on Friday nights that I'd run every so often. I enjoyed then, like I do now, running road races.

All the races were 5 milers or 10K's and I ran around 6 minute mile pace when I was 14-15 and 5:10 to 5:30 pace when I was a little older. I'm not bragging but I ran 29:30 at 15, 27:30 at 16, 26:15 at 18, and 26:06 at 20 for 5 miles. I ran 15:40 for a 5k at 20 years old. Pretty fast, huh?

Would you believe I didn't win a road race till I was 22 years old?

I would run 27:30 for 5 miles and finish 18th. I ran 26:06 for 5 miles and didn't win. Same for my 15:40 5k. I would run 29:30 for 5 miles and finish in the 20's.

Wait a minute.

5 miles? When was the last time I ran a 5 miler? I don't remember.

Back to today.

All the races are 5k and 6 minutes per mile will win most races. WHY IN THE HELL IS THAT? Why do local races draw 40 people and someone running 7 minutes per mile can finish top 3 and even win some races?

Where have all the runners gone?

Sounds like a country song.

But wait. What about the 4th of July Watermelon race in Orlando. I did that race a couple of years ago and there were 5000 people there. Also the Turkey Trot last year in Downtown O-Town had at least 5000 people. It was a zoo.

Why did 5000 people go to those races and 50 people show up to the 10 Miler today?

Well, both of those races were 5K's. I guess runners can't make it 10 miles anymore. Also both of those races were not timed.


5000 people showed up and paid $30-$35 to run a 5k that wasn't timed? Huh? Here in lies two of the major problems.

Paying $5 for a road race in 1988 was painless. Paying $30 in 2009 hurts a lot. It took just an hour to earn your way for a person making minimum wage in 1988. You have to work for 4 hours to earn your way into a race now. Some races are still $20-$25 but still that's twice as long you have to work to race. A family of 4 could run a race in 1988 for $20. Today it's over $100. I've paid $35 for 5K's more than once. Not cool.

The money is a minor issue. The races are all still for a good cause. That's not the biggie.

Pop quiz. Do people have more diseases today than in 1988? Are people fatter today than in 1988? Do people take more drugs today? Is the popular in this country more or less fit today than in 1998?

It gets bigger than that.

Pop quiz number two. Did we have the Internet in 1988? Cell phones? I-Phones? I-Pods? Blackberry's? Instant messaging? Texting? 180 channels? HD TV?

Wow! 1998 sucked. How did we do it? How did we survive?

Oh yeah, we got up on Saturday mornings and ran road races.

I don't think it is my imagination. The running boom that people like Bill Bowerman, Frank Shorter, Kenny Moore and Dick Beardsley helping to start in the 1960's and 70's is dying a slow death. It makes me mad and it makes me sad.

All this technology has made us lazy and apathetic.

All the vaccines, drugs, caffeine, food additives and sugar have made us sick and fat.

Running is just too hard. Who wants to get all sweaty, tired and sore when you could be surfing the Internet or downloading apps for your HTC Hero.

No wonder people think 6 minute pace in a road race in fast. It's not. It's pathetic.

I'm so happy to see some of my high school running buddies getting back in shape and running marathons. I myself and going to run many road races this winter. I encourage YOU to do the same.

If you are reading this right now FIND A RACE and put it on your calender. Who cares what kind of shape you are in. Just find a race and run in it. Then find another one...

Local Central Florida Races: . Everywhere else .

You'll support a good cause, you'll get healthy and you'll have a good time.

Please support a local road race. Maybe you could bring a friend...

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