- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2005

So many newbie runners feel it is imperative to go straight to the top — the marathon. But frankly, many of our new roadbuds would be better served by setting smaller goals and working their way up to the 26.2-mile distance gradually.

The Annapolis Striders have the right idea. The club holds a 10-week training course on the 10K (6.21 miles) for runners looking to double from the 5K distance or to improve their performance over the 10K distance.

Striders coach Donna Cogle ([email protected] or 443/623-6628) and her assistants plan to mentor participants through training runs and present information on training methods, such as intervals and tempo runs. Starting Oct.11, her class will hear weekly guest speakers address subjects like healthy eating, foot care, running attire, injury prevention and more.

The fee is $20, which includes a long-sleeved T-shirt and membership in the Annapolis Striders. Not a bad deal.

The first session will be Tuesday, 6:15p.m. at Mile One on the B&A; Trail Arnold Station. Sessions will be held Tuesdays at 6:15p.m. and Saturdays at 8a.m. I wish other running clubs would provide the same 10K or even half-marathon program instead of all of these marathon training programs.

The Annapolis course even includes a “graduation exercise” — the Cold Turkey 10K on Nov.20. No caps or gowns required.

The best part of the training course is that there is no written final exam. But if there were, could you imagine some of the questions on the test?

• When is the best time to seek out a Porta-John? (A) The week before the race. (B) Three minutes before gun time, when lines are the longest. (C) What is a Porta-John? (D) If you are female, is it a Porta-Jane?

• Who is required to wear a bib number? (A) Only babies. (B) Mothers and their babies. (C) Anybody who might spill food on his T-shirt. (D) Anybody looking for a place to stick spare safety pins.

• Where is the appropriate place to put my runner chip? (A) On my shoulder. (B) Under my tongue. (C) Tied to the rearview mirror of my car. (D) Who’s this guy Chip they are always talk about?

• Why do I have to indicate T-shirt size when all they have is extra large when I pick up my packet? (A) So the race organizers can see how many shirts of each size they should have ordered. (B) To determine if I know how big or small I am. (C) To send a memo to the “Director of Refreshments” to accurately estimate how much food will be required at the post-race festivities. (D) Why do I need another T-shirt?

• When I cross the finish line, what is the most important thing I need to do? (A) Stop immediately and pose in the Heisman Trophy position. (B) Start wondering how far away I parked the car. (C) Tell the person handing out entry blanks for the next race to kindly kiss my chip. (D) Fall to my knees and let out a blood-curdling yell to see if anybody is paying attention.

No more excuses — We have seen some of the best running weather of the year over the past week. September is a great month for racing, which is why race organizers across the region constantly vie for one of the four weekends of the month. Over the next several weekends, you can find a nearby race of just about any distance.

Charity races undoubtedly have helped fuel a huge surge in the numbers of runners and road races. There seems no end in sight to this upward trend.

There also seems no end to the number of new races that pop up each year, most of them now for specific causes, such as organizing a race to honor a fallen friend or family member.

This month runners will be signing up for races to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims and the Washington chapter of ROCKS Inc. Other runners will be honoring the efforts of the late Terry Fox while raising money for cancer research at the Washington Cancer Institute, and some runners will join up to benefit Pallotti Early Learning Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Do you need any other reasons to sign up for a race this month?

Correction — Because of errors with the preliminary results of the Annapolis Ten Mile race Aug.28, Sarah Maffei’s finish time was incorrectly reported. Her chip time was 1:15:02 and gun time 1:16:45.

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