Camino de Santiago: Fat Man Walking

Fat, chubby, husky and pleasantly plump are all names I’ve heard before. And yes, pleasantly plump was actually the way someone suggested you refer to overweight people. My thought is, maybe refer to them by their name? But what do I know? That’s not really the point though. The point is that I am a big guy and I walked the Camino. I know I’m a big guy, it’s not like I can hide it.

Walking the Camino as a big guy, I really stick out since most people who hike the trail are a lot smaller than I am. That’s not to say that I was the only overweight person on the trail because that simply would not be true. There were several of us out there, doing what we needed to do to accomplish our goal. I may or may not have been the biggest person on the trail during my time (How could I possibly know that?), but I can say I was one of the biggest. This isn’t to pat myself on the back or anything. That’s not the point of this blog either.

The point of this blog is about judging. On the hike I saw a lot of people, of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, age, sexuality, religions, etc. I saw a lot of people and they were all very different. While walking I, unfortunately, made a lot of judgements in my head before even learning their name. I’d see the people out late every night and think one thing, then I’d see someone walking really slow or really fast and think another. It was sad, really, that I didn’t give people more of a shot before instantly judging them.

This is a problem that isn’t mine alone, but it needs to stop. We all need to stop doing those snap judgements. Sometimes the snap judgements may be correct, but that doesn’t make them the right thing to do. Just because someone is (insert trait here) doesn’t make them (insert trait here). I think most people who saw me on the Camino would never have guessed I was walking the whole 500 miles. And yet…I did. They would have probably also been surprised to hear I’ve run a marathon, 3 half-marathons, two triathlons and a bunch of other races as well. Again, not to brag, but rather to show that our initial judgements can be way off, so how about we say hello before we think we know all we need to know about them.

Go out there and say hello to someone. Take a chance that your judgements are wrong and find out for yourself.

5 Ways to Make Newbie Runners (Veterans Too!) Happy at Your Race

Marathon Finish Line

Since starting to run a few years ago I have been a part of a bunch of 5ks, 10ks, a few half-marathons and even one marathon. There were some great races and then there were some not so great races for me personally as a runner and for the organiztaion of the race itself. My personal philosophy is that the races should serve the newbie runners more than the veteran runners. Before you stop reading, please let me give you my 5 reasons why and then you can feel free to comment below tell me why you agree or disagree. Here is what every race should have:

1. A unique t-shirt

  • This shirt should be an optional add-on so people who have become inundated with t-shirts from their plethora of runs don’t have to get one.
  • The shirt should be something  people would actually want to wear (crazy thought I know) which means nothing innapropriate and with a cool design and offered in sizes that the runners wear (I’m a XXL and don’t always get a shirt that fits).

2. Coupons

  • Most local businneses would have no issue giving people a discount so ask them and you shall receive – especially if it is fitness related because that stuff ain’t cheap! New runners won’t have a lot of stuff but would be discounted items for dure!

3. Raffles

  • Again most local busineses will be willing to give a gift card or item from their store for your race. What’s better than running a race, finishing dead last (even if it is your personal best) and then winning a prize just for coming out and participating. What a way to encourage a new or old runner to keep going.

4. Race bib/medals

  • People collect stuff and want to show off their accomplishments. For shorter runs bibs are great for people to keep and for longer runs (over 5 miles) a medal is a great addition and could be offered as an additional purchase if need be.

5. Party at the end

  • Let’s celebrate! I mean, who doesn’t like a party? Why not let everyone bask in their accomplishment by allowing themselves to have some fun right after they worked their butt off. Throw some food into the equation and just about everyone will be happy!

Here is my experience with some of the above. I love to show off my running experience by wearing the race t-shirts, but due to my size or the fact that the shirt is ugly I don’t wear half of my shirts. Some of the best I have received was the Cherry blossom 10-miler and the  12/12/12k that I ran just this past Wednesday at the wee hours of the morning (12:12 to be exact). I also love getting the medals because that is something that I can keep and show to my theoretical kids someday in the future.

The real reason I wrote this blog today was I was a little frustrated with the run I did this past Wednesday. I just mentioned that I loved the t-shirt, but now I am going to talk about their inability to allow people the true experience of celebrating their accomplishment. At the end of the 12k (7.4ish miles) we ran under an inflatable archway (which was nice), then were handed a popsicle stick with a number on and were told to turn it in. Once we did that, there was nothing else going on. It was time to go home. For me, it was slightly disappointing, mostly because I have ran long races before, but I ran with a girl who had never done a long race before. If I was her, I would have been pretty disappointed that that was all their was to my “celebration.” My favorite celebration is done every year for the Ohio Michigan 8k and involves a concert, food and beer. It’s pretty nice and everyone seems to enjoy themselves. That is a way to end a race! It doesn’t have to be that extravagant though, but there should be something.