Pardoe prepares to pick up the pace at Army Ten Miler
© Culpeper TimesThe words "athletic" and "Pardoe" rarely appear in the same sentence…heck, even in the same paragraph. I come from a long line of men whose only Olympic team qualifications include "Beer Drinking" (our favorite team event) and "Complaining About Politicians," (my father holds three gold medals in this.) I didn't even start exercising until three years ago. Now, as I lumber towards my 50th birthday, I am preparing to run my second Army Ten Miler.
'Run' is a pretty broad term when it comes to my form. It's more of a controlled fall that resembles a jog; IF you are at the right viewing angle. Given my weight, my sloth-like lifestyle, a lack of any hint of physical prowess, and half-shamble/half-stumble style of running ―most people call out, "Dead man falling!" when I plow on by with the grace of a bulldozer. I don't mind the laughs, since college I've been used to girls laughing at mecit's the guy chasing me with a defibrillator that hurt my ego.
Why would someone who has never taken part in an athletic event in his life try and run 10 miles? Well, it's a goal for me to work towards. I find that helps me. Like most people I need a target to aim at and exceed. Having a goal to work towards helped me. I read some articles on running and they said things like, "If you can run eight miles, you can run ten." Sure ―when you're 25. At my age, if you can run eight miles, you can run eight miles (barely). Having a goal helps me ―it gives me something to work up to. I think it's safe to say that no one has to worry about any speed records being broken.
The money generated by the Ten-Miler goes to a good cause; Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation. I'm sure there are better causes out there, but not for me. I write books about military history so there's a sense of obligation on my part to give something back to this community. Sure, I could just write a check ―but actually running with our nationfs elite is a more powerful statement of support.
Last year at mile eight I was passed by two men with no legs ― running on those springy prosthetics. Their part of the race kicked off 15 minutes after ours ―so these guys were flying. As they winged on past me I remembered thinking two things: "Damn I'm slow," and, "Wow, these guys are remarkable!" These wounded soldiers went out to fight to protect my freedoms out in a foreign land and had paid a horrible price. They were not wallowing in their loss, they were beating me in a 10-mile race. Needless to say, I picked up my pace. How could I not? No matter how fast I could run I could not measure up to such men though. This wasn't about speed or endurance but strength of character, and the two gentlemen that sprang past me were far ahead of me long before we even started running the race. I was honored to follow them and collapse in sweaty, exhausted heap at the finish line.
On Memorial and Veteran's Day, we remember those that have fallen and those that prevailed. I may be a bit old fashioned but to me, two days a year is not enough. We need to remember our veterans every day. And on October 22, I will attempt to honor them by running in the Ten Miler again. It will be painful, I'll be tired, but there are few places I'd rather be. I owe the men and women in our armed forces and their families at least that much. This year, I'm not running for me to meet my goal, I'm running for them and all they've done. What can I say, those two runners last year inspired me…and how often do you get to feel that way?
Time to pick up the pace...Hoo-rah!
Blaine Pardoe is a historian and author living in Amissville VA. His most recent book is Secret Witness, a true crime thriller. His website iswww.blainepardoe.com
Editor's Note: This year's Army Ten-Miler has over 30,000 registered to participate. All the best Blaine!