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Southernmost Running

20064_452103185133_27724755133_10827715_1296251_s It’s probably about 70 degrees as I write this. I say probably because it doesn’t really matter. Here in Key West – or Paradise as the locals like to call it – the temperature doesn’t seem to matter. The skies are cloudy, it’s been raining off and on all morning and – again to be honest – no one seems to care. I guess when you live in paradise just how wonderful the day seems has to be taken in context. I’m also reminding myself that it’s 29 degrees outside my front door at home, so it’s hard to complain about 70 degrees and cloudy.

I’m down here with Jenny and her group Chicago Endurance Sports. Their winter training program, called The Winter Warriors for the way they brave the weather in Chicago, picks a destination event to celebrate the end of the season. In other years they’ve gone to Cabo San Lucas and Bermuda. This year it was Key West for the Key West Half Marathon.

CESkeywestThere’s something special about training with a group, especially training in the winter in the midwest. There’s something special about the camaraderie and sense of common purpose that comes from meeting the challenges of winter training week after week. I can remember a 10 mile run we did a few years back where we ran the first 5 miles  north along the lakefront, with the wind at our backs, only to turn and have to run the last 5 into the blowing snow and wind. People’s hair was frozen. People’s eye-lashes were covered with a crust of ice and yet we were happy at the end of the run. Happy that it was over, to be sure. But happy that we hadn’t stayed in bed that morning.

key west start_blogDoing as many of the Rock ‘n’ Roll events as I do I’ve become accustomed to a certain level of production. Yeah, I know that not every race has white tigers and flying Elvi like Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas, but it’s not uncommon for events to have start and finish line structures. I was a bit surprised on Sunday morning when I asked where the start line was and was shown an actual start LINE. That was it. A LINE and the word START. But, I guess with 700 hundred runners, many of whom have done the race before, you don’t need anything more than that.

The course was essentially a run around the perimeter of Key West and the participants were treated to great Gulf and Ocean views. Because I was here as “support husband” I didn’t run the race, but did get to spend time out on the course.

I’m hoping to get to scuba dive tomorrow if the weather clears. I’ve taken the course and dove in New Zealand when we visited there, but have never gotten formally certified. I’ll be able to take a “pool” refresher course and then do a couple of dives.  Look for the photos over on my Facebook page.

Waddle on, friends.
John “the Penguin” Bingham, Competitor Magazine columnist
Author, The Courage to Start, No Need for Speed, Marathoning for Mortals and Running for Mortals.

Have a question for John? E-mail it to thepenguin@johnbingham.com.