Sunday, August 21, 2011

Black endurance athletes

I have played two of the American big three sports with a fair amount of acumen over the years. High school varsity football and basketball for most of my life. I was never particularly gifted but at 6’3” and fairly strong (peak bench 315lbs, squat 605lbs) I had my advantages. I ran track and had an above average showing at all distances (4.5 40 yard to a 5:20 mile), but one year didn’t give me enough exposure to the sport.

When I stopped league flag football after 9 years of playing in order to support my kids weekend activities I needed another competitive outlet. Running was something I enjoyed, but didn’t pursue so when my wife brought home a Runner’s World magazine and asked me to help her train it was on. This was in 2008. I took that push and have never stopped. I love the accomplishment and fanfare of the marathon (best of 4 is 3:53:32; age grade 53.49; an 8:54/mi pace) even though I know my best age grade result is the 5K (21:06; age grade 62.13%; an 6:54/mi pace) or the 10 mile (1:12:57; age grade 61.33%; an 7:17/mi pace). I am training for 2 more marathons this year and am giving it the work and respect they deserve.

I also have become enamored with the idea of triathlon. I am addicted to Universal Sports and see these events all the time. I was a spectator to a neighborhood friend’s sprint triathlon and I am considering trying it out. I am definitely not afraid of swimming, but I am not trained. I think the bike issue is not a problem with ability, but rather with expense (I can’t spend $1K per year on a bike). So what do I do? I want to race. I also think Kona is on my bucket list (yes, I know this is highly unlikely).

So, I spent a little time just wondering to myself, “where are the other black people in endurance sport?” Some of my college acquaintances (mostly women) run, few are competitive, but do give it their all. I see these sports as a most white area, which in and of itself is not a problem, but I wondered why I see less black people in these niche sports. I saw a few bulletin board posts on the web, that attempt to answer this question, but I doubt they were answered intelligently. I do think economics come into play, but I don’t I am not a high income earner (marathon entry fees hurt my budget) and I definitely see a lot of distance runners (again mostly women) and serious bicyclists in my neighbor, which is most a black community (in the DC suburbs). Once again, I don’t want to make this anything racial, but why are there so much fewer black endurance athletes in the pro ranks. I think just one (like a Tiger Woods – though he doesn’t market himself as Black) would do wonders for the participation.

This weeks training was:

- Tuesday: 7.11 miles in 1:01:19
- Wednesday: 7.31 miles in 1:01:33
- Thursday: 7.02 miles in 1:02:53
- Saturday: 16 miles in 2:41:47

I totally *bonked* today running out of energy early at 9 miles and did a lot of run-walking until the end, which was 4 miles short of my goal 20 mile run.

So far the month of August has been:

- 28.38 miles
- 39.78 miles
- 37.44 miles

1 comment:

Tim said...

Good to see you still out there running. Great job and great post.