Abe’s First Log

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What is this Abe Log thing, you might be wondering? Well, it’s a blog about running the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon (CCIM). But why Abe? That’s a bit of a story.

I was in the shower one day following the first CCIM in 2009. The shower is where my best ideas and singing take place. The song was “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and the idea…Wouldn’t it be fun to run the Illinois half marathon dressed as Abe Lincoln?

It was supposed to be a one-off idea. Carry a flag, run in tails and a tall hat, and go back to running as usual.

Race day came, and things went nuts. People called out, “Go, Abe!” “Keep going, Mr. President!” When I finished the half marathon, a newspaper reporter ran over to interview me. Then, there was the television reporter. Suddenly, I’d become some sort of celebrity.

Why are you running as Abe? Are you an amateur historian? Do you have some sort of political agenda here?

“I’m just a dude in a costume,” I replied.

Maybe I didn’t say that exactly. I can’t remember for sure. That was seven years ago, but the result has been something special.

Once January 2010 rolled around and people started training for the coming CCIM, a friend asked me if I was going to run as Abe again.

“Naw,” I said. “I’ve retired him.”

But then others started asking. People I only sort of knew. Then a total stranger came up to me at a race and said, “I saw you at the Illinois Marathon, and you helped me finish. I could see your hat, and I just knew I didn’t want to quit.”

“But I’m just a dude in a costume,” I repeated my mantra.

You get a lot of strange looks when you enter starting Corral A with a costume and flag. There’s a question in some runner’s eyes that asks, What are you doing here?

For a little background, I’m an OK runner. I’m no elite, but I usually finish nearer the front than the back. I’ve won some age group awards in smaller races. I can be quick when the training is right. I’ve run six marathons and 36 half marathons with a PR half in 1:27:54. I BQ’d in Phoenix in 3:12:54, and I ran Boston (puking four times as I crossed the finish line). I’m a dedicated runner, and the CCIM is my one race a year I run for fun. I don’t focus on the clock or pace. I run it for the pure joy of being out there. I understand why people take it seriously. There are the hours on the road, the months of training through winter, and the costs (to both pocketbook and family time). But the CCIM is also fun. It’s local (for us in Champaign-Urbana). It’s a community event. We’re proud of our community and that the CCIM has become such a motivating force here. I’ve seen more people running here since the CCIM started than at any other time.

The CCIM is a great event, and I am thrilled to share my thoughts on running through this blog. We’ve got 16 weeks until the race!

See you on the roads!