Last weekend I did the closest thing possible to running that I could... I volunteered at the Manzano MIle here in Austin.
Having seen Leo Manzano run two years in a row at the Penn Relays (probably my favorite weekend each year while going to Penn), I knew I had to attend. I remember him running the distance relay my Freshman or Sophomore year and blowing the rest of the field out of the race like it was nothing. Of course, he went on to medal in the Olympics last year and has always been such a fun and gutsy runner to watch. Turns out he also loves giving back to the Austin community... and the Manzano Mile is part of that generosity.
I had initially signed up to run but, after the accident, that clearly that was out of the picture. I showed up the morning of, planning to just pick up the tee-shirt I had already paid for and watch a handful of races. Instead, the ladies checking folks in looked a little frazzled so I offered to help.
After an hour or so of checking people in, Jack (of Jack & Adams fame, the local shop I plan on making my LBS and the shop helping sponsor this weekend's event) came over to see if anyone wanted to volunteer with the medals at the finish. Of course, that sounded like a blast, so I went over with one other girl to take turns awarding first, second and third to the top finishers of each age group in each mile race.
Despite the chilly/overcast weather, we had the best seats in the house:
Now, I was a miler in high school. It will always be my favorite race... not as painful as the 800, more tactical than the 32. I ended up spending the majority of the time handing out medals as part of the high schoolers and age group awards, while we switched off before the relays and "Future Milers of America" race. In the high school race alone, three boys ran sub 5s - pretty impressive with a field of only 10 or so.
However, the highlight was the 74-year-old-woman who ran a 7:28 mile. And looked completely flawless while doing so -- I still refuse to believe that she was 74. How's this for inspiration?
I was a little bummed that I wasn't able to run--though this might be an exciting race to unofficially train for next year. The fastest girl in the "Open" division went around 5:40 and went out way too fast for her first 800, only to fade on the back half. My PR in the mile is a 5:22 and pre-accident I was feeling pretty solid with my speed -- I would have loved to see what kind of damage I could have done trying to hang with her for a little fun on the track.
The best races, however, were the "Future Milers of America" heats. There were three waves: five to six-year-olds, seven-to-eights and nine-to-tens. I have to brag some about the little ladies running: the 7-8 and 9-10 waves were both won by girls.
Future milers of America, FOR SURE.
The youngest competitor of all though, still in diapers, was the cutest. I guess you can't blame her than for breaking down and pulling a little Julie Moss moment after a brutal 400m around the track:
What a great weekend. It was a good experience to hold me over while I'm stuck with the never-ending power-walking -- and definitely fun to watch some runners with pretty form kill it on the track. Next year, though... redemption.