Every once in a while, I am looking through my files for the planning of Fiddy2 and I happen across what could be my called my “first draft” of planned marathons. Of the 52 I had planned, I think only 13 ended up being run. For one reason or another, I had to change what I wanted to run to what I had to run (and most of the time, those reasons were completely financial). Well, one race that I wanted to run, and received nothing but positive encouragement from its race director itself was the Akron Road Runner Marathon. Luckily for me, two years later I will be in Akron this weekend to participate in this race.
Race directing is a difficult and mostly thankless job. Those who stick with it often do it for the love of the sport of running alone. So, I am not surprised when I contact races two years after Fiddy2 to find the upper echelon of the race infrastructure has changed. Fortunately for me, Jim Barnett, the same man who welcomed me with open arms in 2006 is still at the helm of the marathon in Akron.
In my third straight week of racing and speaking, I will also be adding another element to my current tour: pacing. Giving back to the running community as much as I can, I will be set to lead the 3:10 pace group doing everything in my power (short of actually grabbing the running shoes of the people next to me) to get as many people to reach the Boston Qualifying standard for men 18-34 year old men. Of course, I hope there are just as many women running with us too, if only because fast women mean the cameras will take more pictures of our group. And with more pictures there is a better chance I may actually like one of them of me.
But that is on race day. Prior to even lacing up the running shoes, I have been asked to be the featured speak at the Summit Athletic Running Club-hosted Pre-Road Runner Akron Marathon Pasta Party on Friday (6 pm -8pm). A much-more traditional setting for a speech than the last two races, I hope to provide some levity for those with the pre-race jitters as well as anecdotes from my experiences to all in attendance.
On top of that, at the Time Warner Cable Runner’s Expo I get quite a treat. Speaking informally on three separate occasions (at noon, 1:30 PM and 4:00 PM on the TWC Stage) I will field questions about Fiddy2, how I ran 84 miles in 12 hours, and what I do to both recover and get ready for the races I run. But the treat lies in whom I get to share the stage with: legendary marathoner Kathrine Switzer.
In case you don’t know (and shame on you if you run and you do not), Ms Switzer will always be best known as the woman who challenged the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon and became the first woman to officially enter and run the event. (What made this front-page news is when the Boston Marathon RD tried to physically remove her bib from her sweatshirt and Ms. Switzer's boyfriend physically removed the Boston RD from the ground!)
It is my humble opinion that she not only moved women’s running forward a whole decade in just one afternoon, but that she moved running as a whole in that direction as well. Simply try and imagine what running would be like today without ½ of the world’s population hitting the roads, causing innovations to happen every day all while pushing the limits of what only males could do just a generation ago. As I hope to someday meet my future wife out on a run, I definitely have Ms. Switzer to thank for helping to make that possible!
So I have a full weekend planned but fully expect to enjoy every minute of it. If you are in town, stop by and say hello at the expo, grab a ticket for the pasta feed and maybe go for a run with me. Nothing would make me happier.