Imagine yourself on a cool, dark, and crisp spring morning with 30 runners in a circle, warming up and getting ready for a run. This was my first morning with Mile in My Shoes (MiMS) back in 2018. We show up at the US Bank parking lot at 6 am on Tuesday and Thursday, do a warm-up, huddle in a circle, and the run leader tell us all to think about the question of the day.
That first morning I met runners running their first mile to runners who had been at the halfway house, and now we’re training for the Twin City Marathon. It was (and is) a continuous, exciting adventure in people and running.
What Is Mile in My Shoes?
Mile in My Shoes (MiMS) brings together residents of the Twin Cities with diverse backgrounds through the power of running. Based in homeless shelters and re-entry centers for people exiting incarceration, MiMS is a catalyst for community-building, boosting health and wellness, building leadership and self-efficacy, and spurring personal and social action. By running together, our Resident Members and Run Mentors not only find common ground but begin to learn from and reach out to one another for support. As they transform themselves, they change one another.Â
The First Mile (in My Shoes)
Everyone starts with a run/walk a mile on their first run, and there is always a group of mentor runners to help achieve that first step goal. Many of the residents have never run before or are running after just coming out of prison. This first mile is an adventure into a new place, physically and mentally. I can remember one resident who ran an 8-minute first mile and then lighting a cigarette to cool down. The goal is to help everyone know what a Mile in My Shoes feels like to that person.
Our typical weekday morning run is finished by 7 am so residents can get off to work. We typically warm up, chat, run 3-4 miles, then do a parking lot workout at the end. (Adam always had interesting and challenging workouts).
Timed Mile in My Shoes
During the course of our season, we do at least two timed miles, and for VOA south side. We run on the Greenway as an out and back. Let me say that I had little experience pacing and no experience pacing anyone for the mile. I have only run one “timed” mile in my life, and that was in 2014. My running partner sprinted out, and at the quarter-mile mark, I noticed we were at a sub-five-minute pace. As I struggled to breathe, I said, “I am not going to make it at this pace!” He trudged but started slowly as his breathing labored. We had slowed to a six-minute mile at halfway, and again, I tried to slow things down a bit, saying we need to slow down a little. At the three-quarter mile mark, we had to walk. I convinced him to at least start jogging, and we did. We finished with an eight-minute mile. It was an excellent experience for both of us.
5k, 10k, Half Marathon
During the season, we train for the Downtown Run Around, which is an event put on my Mile in My Shoes in the summer. We also train for several races throughout the year, including the Minneapolis Half Marathon, The Twin City 10 mile, and culminates with a Thanksgiving run at the end of the season. In 2019 I was able to pace Kelly at the Twin Cities Marathon. Running with Mile in My Shoes is the most rewarding experience of my life and one that I will cherish forever.
It’s the people not the running
At the end of the day, it’s not the running that makes Mile in My Shoes unique. It’s the people that we meet and create authentic personal relationships. It’s our conversations during our runs, especially during long training runs in the hot Minnesota summer. I will continue writing about my experiences with MiMS and all the fun I have with the group and the people.
Support Mile in My Shoes
Mile in My Shoes launched its first team in May 2014 by Mishka Vertin and Michael Jurasits, two volunteers, in partnership with Catholic Charities Higher Ground of Minneapolis. You can learn more and join here.
I look forward to seeing everyone in 2021