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Running with Immigrants

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My wife, Amany, has been a runner her whole life.  She made it to the State Championships in high school in Illinois. She has long legs (for a short lady) and has been running for as long as I have known her.

I, on the other hand, have always hated running.  I remember in physical education class in high school, I was always complaining of “shin splints” and asking to walk around the track instead of running.  Little wonder that I was one of the heaviest kids in my class.

Fast forward to last September of 2013.  Amany forwarded me an email about a new running group that was forming at Big River Running, a local running and shoe store.

At first, I rolled my eyes but when I read about the program, it seemed doable.

Experts at Big River had scripted an entire “from couch to 5K program.”  This was the very first class to try and go from sitting on the couch and - after 8 weeks of training - to running a 5K.  I thought it sounded fun and signed up.

When I went to my first meeting, I noticed that out of the 50 newbie runners, I was one of only 2 men.  I thought I had mistakenly signed up for an all woman program, but that was just how the signups had turned out.

We met on Wednesday evenings and on Sunday mornings.  We started out with a brisk walk and steadily increased the distance we “ran” every week.  I had a chart and wrote down the mileage each and every time I ran.

I became great friends with the running ladies and I remember how at first I thought that I would never be able to run a mile without stopping.  But as soon as I hit that milestone, I started thinking about a two-mile run.

The training program ran from late September to the end of December.  We had some cold, cold days on the track, in Francis Park and on our Sunday morning runs around Forest Park.

On January 1, the vast majority of our team ran up and down Olive Boulevard in the City in the cold weather.  We all made it and went out to celebrate later.  We had actually run a 5K.  It was the first race that I had ever run.

Since January, Amany and I have tried to run at least one 5K a month.  We ran the Stan Musial run across the new bridge in February and I ran a 5 mile race on St. Patrick’s Day.

Last week, we ran the All American 5K from Kirkwood to Webster Groves.  I shaved a bit of time off my January time and Amany finished 3rd in her age group.  For that, they awarded her a free apple pie.

After the race, we met the 2nd place finisher.  His name is Justus and he is from Kenya.  This man ran 3.1 miles in about 14 minutes and 45 seconds.  He is in America on an F1 student visa and is studying accounting.  We had so much fun talking to Justus and plan on following his racing exploits for years to come.

Jim & Justus


[email protected]
PS # 1 – my new immigration book, Case Denied: The Top Ten Ways People Sink Their Immigration Case, is headed to print.  If you would like us to send you a free copy, please click here and provide your mailing information.  We will let you know when we expect the copies back from the printer in the next few weeks.
PS # 2 - Big River will be having another from couch to 5k program.  If you are interested, please let me know and I will tell you how to signup.  I myself may be doing the 10K training for a Halloween run.

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