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Best foot forward still not good enough for Olympics

Last week I chronicled my pursuit of Olympic gold in the sport of race walking.
Walking can’t be hard. Most people can do it with ease. Get my wife in a mall and she could go non-stop for hours on end.
I mean, it’s just walking, right?
Wrong.
Two weeks ago when I first came up with the idea for the Olympics, my editor and I wanted to find the time a casual walk around the Corydon Central High School track would take, then I would try my hand at an all-out shuffle.
The first stroll seemed to take a lifetime as we crossed the line in 4:43.
Since Corydon’s football team was at the other end of the field preparing for their scrimmage game and I didn’t want to embarrass myself, I elected to stay at the east end of the field and walk 200 meters, then just double my time, which wound up being a snail-like total of 2:46. Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor said my gait looked like someone who had to go to the bathroom really, really bad.
Undeterred, I continued my training in the darkness of night all last week so as to avoid such ridicule.
The first thing I noticed ‘ or felt ‘ about race walking is the amount of strain it puts on the muscles surrounding the shins. Because a race walker has to keep at least one foot on the ground at all times, it requires a large amount of heel-toe action for each step. I’m no doctor, but this is probably where the pain in the front of the legs came from.
The second area that felt like it’d been shoved through a meat grinder were my hips. With race walkers basically whipping their legs forward, the hips take a big beating. Or at least, mine did.
This past Friday night, with my body primed and readied for 400 meters of hell, I put my best foot forward and tried to improve on my earlier effort.
The first 300 meters weren’t bad. But with each step after that, my shins and hips laughed harder and harder at what I was asking them to do and how fast I was asking them to do it.
But the fruits of my labor came when I powered past the finish line and saw my time: 2:39. In one week, I was able to shave seven seconds off my personal best mark.
Does this keep my Olympic dreams alive? Not quite. See, that time was for 400 meters and wrongly assumes I could keep up that pace for the entire race. The Olympic race is 20,000 meters.
Needless to say, gold medalist Valeriy Borchin of Russia has nothing to worry about when the 2012 games roll into Europe. Borchin finished his 50 laps in 1:19:01. I’m not sure I could run 20k in that amount of time. Were we to race heads-up, Borchin could finish The New York Times crossword puzzle, go to Subway, eat a foot-long and take a nap by the time I finally crossed the finish line.
My hopes of chasing down Michael Phelps may have been put on hold, but if nothing else, my too-lofty goal gave me a better appreciation for one of the most misunderstood events of the Olympic games.

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