It is a vitally important cause. Helping the homeless can take on many forms from putting some change in a cup being held by a guy (or gal) on the corner, to donating used items to Goodwill, to contributing to United Way or some other organization. But run? Sure. For me, that's a no-brainer.
That's why I have made sure to be available to help out the folks at 'A Safe Haven' who put on the Run To End Homelessness. Heck, I can certainly run, and talk a little about it. It's also why I can't complain about the way this particular 5k went for me.
This was the 2nd annual Run To End Homelessness, and they doubled the number of runners over year one to about 700. That's big financially of course. But it also exposes a greater number of people to the issues and facts involved in homelessness. During my live interview of the co-founders of the organization, I learned that nearly a third of the homeless in the area are military veterans.
Clearly, in this country noone should be homeless, but especially those who've sacrificed for our country in the armed forces. A Safe Haven provides a bunch of services to put a roof over the heads of many homeless, but more importantly, they prepare clients to re-enter society. I believe a lot of their clients served as volunteers along the course, directing runners and handing out water. And that was much needed on a very hot morning!
So back to my race. First, it wasn't a race. When I arrived Sunday morning, I learned the scheduled start time of 8 o'clock was going to be pushed back to 8:30. Not a big problem for the runners, as there were few really serious runners who had warm-up schedules and the like to be concerned with.
But it was a problem for me. I had a live shot for ABC-7 scheduled for 8:50, and that would no only mean running a 20 minute 5k, which is my best this season, but it would mean finishing moments before going on the air. That is not a recipe for a coherant live shot.
Since the course involves two laps around Douglas Park, I decided to do one lap, then the live shot. After I was off the air I would do another lap just to get a little bit of a run in for the day. The organizers had some kids activities on site, and since I had my kids Sunday, this also served as my only opportunity to run when I would have childcare available. It was also a great deal for them as they got their faces painted to look like 'Hello Kitty'.
It was not going to count as a fast 5k effort however. Or even a race for that matter. I did the first lap at a relaxed pace, then dodged through the walkers for the second lap. I believe the clock read something like 35 minutes when I crossed the finish line. If I could subtract the time I spend on the live shot, it might be respectable.
Next week, meantime, I will be joining a much larger field of runners in the Rock-n-Roll Chicago half-marathon. The online registration is closed, but you can still sign up at the expo. And if you have a chance to go by the expo, it should be worth your time. Former world record marathon runners Steve Jones and Khalid Khannouchi will speak. Both, as you may know, set records at the Chicago Marathon. It should be interesting.
See you on the roads.....