2012 Champaign St. Jude Runners

2012 Champaign St. Jude Runners
Our AMAZING group of runners for 2012~

St. Jude Supporters

St. Jude Supporters
After running for 20 hours, the thousands of supporters lining the streets to cheer our arrival is an important and welcome boost!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hitting the Sidewalk Again

I noticed that my countdown dutifully indicates there is less than 4 months to the Run. Yikes! Time to prepare, once again, to get ready to run to Peoria.

Last year I think I pretty well established that I am not overly fond of running. I've not gotten to the Shangri-La goal of a "runner's high" (I've heard much about the euphoria that serious runners will often get from pushing past a certain point—I've only gotten some aches and pain out of the deal).

Perhaps someday I'll understand what the big deal is all about.

For me, the big deal is simply to get my running shoes on, and hitting the pavement...which I did this past weekend. I was pretty pleased to have been able to run about a half-mile before I had to stop and walk a bit. Truth be told, it was satisfying simply to begin the process of training for the 2012 Run.

A little backstory.

Last year I struggled with my run pace. I'm not what you would call a blazingly fast runner. I plod along. But I was able to work towards an 11-minute mile—respectful enough to hold my own on our way to Peoria last year. I also wrote about my frustration in trying to figure out methods to run faster. Knowing in advance that my current pace (after a seven-month hiatus from running) will be slow, I got thinking about the difference between a slow run, and a fast walk. Or more accurately, when does walking end, and running begin?

A quick search on Google, and answer is surprisingly simple: running begins when both feet leave the ground. Or put another way, if there is always contact with the ground at any point, you are walking.

Back to my run. With my current pace, I was actually trying to figure out if I was, by definition, walking. It's surprisingly challenging to figure out if there are any shoe molecules on concrete molecules (well, at my pace, anyway). So, I've made my familiar turn northbound along my route, and am still trying to figure out if I am actually running or not.

Then I hear a rather bright, chipper (annoyingly so) young female voice behind me: "Excuse me!"

A petite young lady, headsets on, smokes right on by me. Not just runs past me. I'm talking Star Trek (insert zoom-sound here) zips past me. She quickly fades ahead of me as she puts astonishing distance between me and my plodding feet.

I literally muttered to myself, "Yeah, sister...YOU carry a hundred pounds more and see if you can still run that fast."

Then I noticed something before she completely faded from view.

She was running (her feet really were off the ground). I was—sadly—walking sorta fast.

No matter. My training has begun. I will be running for St. Jude with my feet off the ground!

See another reason why I and others run: Ellen's story

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Scale of the St. Jude Runs

Last year, I blogged about how shocked I was to see just how many runners were involved in the St. Jude Runs in 2010. Being part of the Run in 2011 gave me an even more appreciation for the effort and sacrifice made by thousands of people for sick children that they'll most likely never meet. Being a co-coordinator with Kathleen in 2012 has required us to be more pro-active about getting the word out, and we do have our work cut out for us.

The St. Jude Runs is a big deal. And it's been going on for over 30 years now. So it is a mystery to me why so few in our neck of the woods have heard of it. Shoot, two years ago I had no idea either!

Frankly, I think it comes down to a most basic reality: TV coverage. The St. Jude Run Telethon is mostly a Peoria-area affair. The arrival of the Runs into the Peoria Civic Center marks the kick-off of the telethon. WEEK-TV does a fantastic job of covering the telethon, but their reach only goes so far. There's not been any significant coverage in the Champaign area (although a local TV station did cover our departure last year). There's certainly no telethon coverage here.

So, just how big is this thing?

In 2012 there will be at least 30 cities with their own Run. The granddaddy, of course, is the Memphis-to-Peoria Run. I spent a few hours plopped in my easy chair with my laptop heating up my thighs (roasting, really—in a sorta pleasant, glad-it's-not-summer-yet way), and I downloaded some GoogleEarth data into my mapping software, imported in the file from last year's run description, added a few layers of county borders and names, added up all the miles to-be-run by the cities, and pulled it all together—and voila!

The physical scale was a bit of a surprise.

Basically the middle third of Illinois is dotted with Run cities. You have to head waaaay down to see Memphis—that really gives some scale to the Grandaddy Run. That's a whole bunch miles. Speaking of which, the Runs totaled 2,257 miles.

Let me write that out. Two thousand, two hundred, fifty-seven miles. That's a lot of tread being worn down on asphalt roads. And Bengay. There's buckets of that too (unscented, preferably). Those miles may perhaps be trod by something like 2,000 runners—perhaps even more this year.

Bottom line is that the St. Jude Runs is a big deal—particularly for those families who will be receiving free treatment for their child stricken with cancer. Or a child benefitting from new medicines discovered by St. Jude.

Kathleen and I are planning to aggressively get the word out in the Champaign-Urbana area. With the help of other CU St. Jude Runners—new and veteran—I think we are going to do just that!

If someone asks if this is a big deal, I'll pull out the map below, and let it speak for itself.


St. Jude Patient: Kennedi's story

Friday, March 9, 2012

A 100 Mile Downhill Run to Peoria - Join the Run!

As a new Co-Coordinator with my wife, I bring a certain, let's say, computer savvy to the table. Kathleen, truth be told, is the real organizer here, but even she won't dispute that I'm in charge of computer stuff.  One look in my really only "domain" (the garage), and it has the overall look of a manic squirrel's attempt to store everything ever found. For good measure, I might move stuff around from time-to-time, but it really is quite disorderly (first step to recovery is acknowledgement, right?).

I do suspect that Kathleen throws stuff out every now and then just to try and keep ahead of the disorderly piles of junk--but I digress.

Back to the computer.

I saved last year's Champaign-to-Peoria route in GoogleEarth (did I mention that I save everything--including all my tens of thousands of computer files?), and pulled it up to look at once again. My intent was to see if I could not improve on the way we keep track of each run segment, and try to get a better grip on the pacing.

There are a lot of cool GoogleEarth tricks once you look under the hood. One of my favorites is the elevation view of any segment. It gives you the minimum and maximum elevations, along with the grade (how steep it is). In short, the wuss in me wants to ensure I don't attempt to run anything out of my league. I intend to run 20 miles this time, and don't want to burn out on some steep hills (yes, we do have hills in the area for those of you not familiar with the area).

So, I've been busy in my downtime looking over the best way to log and qualify each segment. I decided to take a look at the big picture. What does the entire route look like, elevation-wise? I selected the entire 100 mile length, then clicked on the elevation profile view.

Much to my satisfaction, the entire route, on average, is nothing more than a downhill run to Peoria. Sure there are some hills there--but hey, look at the big picture. We start at 749' MSL (mean sea level), and at the end, we wind up at 515' MSL. Even given that there are some hills there, on balance, it's a simple jog downhill to Peoria!


Join us!!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's the start of the 2012 St. Jude Run season!


There's still a chill in the air, and I'm writing about the 2012 run! This year, because of an overlapping conflict with coverage of the Summer Olympics, the St. Jude Run/Telethon will be earlier this year. Mark your calendar for July 20-21.

It's gonna be a hot run, but we'll be ready for it.

As the new blog header says, Kathleen and I have volunteered to be the newbie Run Coordinators for the Champaign-Urbana Run. With really super support from past volunteers (shout out to Amy Bleich), we will be doing our best to improve our performance from last year's run. We are optimistic that we can double our runners this year, and double our donation total. I tend to be ever-the optimist, and have a number in my head that I am keeping to myself, lest Kathleen calls the folks in the white coats for me.

I like to think out of the box...it is the pragmatic Kathleen's job to ensure that I keep the box in sight.

So, the theme of this year's blogging season will be about the trials and tribulations of being first-year coordinators, along with me getting back in shape--kicking and screaming the whole way.

One of the first things accomplished was to refresh the CU St. Jude Run website. Hope you take a moment and check it out!

Hope you enjoy the ride with us!

Ed and Kathleen