April 28, 2008

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

Bill Rodgers and myself

What a incredible event! That is the only way to describe the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon! This years event was the eighth annual and I've been fortunate to have been invited to Oklahoma City for the past seven years. To watch this race grow from a fairly small event to the thousands of runners it now attracts is a tribute to the outstanding job that Chet, Thomas, Jeff, Mark, and the hundreds of other volunteers do!

My good friend and running legend Bill Rodgers is also there every year and its always so fun to see Bill! My wife Jill and I arrived on Thursday evening and we were picked up by Kevin Hayes from Federal Express. He was so kind as to take us over to the Federal Express terminal and give us a tour of one of their big cargo planes, it's unbelievable how big they are and how quickly they are able to load and unload the planes!

It was a early morning alarm Friday as I had to be at the OKC NBC TV station for an interview on their morning show. After that it was back to the hotel where I met my good friend Mark Bravo for a run. Mark and I have made it a tradition to run together one day while I'm in town to catch up on things. Mark underwent hip surgery but is making a marvoulous recovery!

After our run is was time for breakfast then I spent most of the rest of the day with Bill at the booth at the expo talking to folks, having pictures taken, signing bibs and posters, and selling and signing my book, Staying the Course, A Runner's Toughest Race and C.D.s

Friday afternoon, Bill and I did a question and answer session at the expo which is always lots of fun! Friday evening we were all invited to the VIP dinner, lots of good food!

Saturday morning they have a run for folks that want to run with Bill and I, we had over 100 people show up for a nice easy 4 miler, most folks were getting ready to run the race the next morning, myself included! After breakfast it was back to the expo for a radio interview, hanging out in the booth, and then I gave my talk at 3pm, it went well!

The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon really has a special pasta dinner the night before the race! It's held at the Oklahoma City Memorial. When you look out onto the sacred grounds and see the 168 empty chairs of the 168 people that died in the bombing back in 1995, it really helps you reflect on just how precious life really is! To see the "tree" that survived the bombing, is unreal, I choke up every time I see it! Bill and I said a few words, had questions from the crowd, and ate lots of pasta!

Sunday dawned windy, cool, and a little wet! No worries about overheating this year! I woke up not feeling the best, felt like I was coming down with the flu. I warmed up and once the starting gun was fired, I could tell by the first mile something was wrong! I had planned to run the full marathon, but by two miles I opted for the half and ran easy to the finish.

For those of you looking for a great late spring marathon, you need to check this race out! Beside the wonderful event they put on for all of us runners, they also have given hundreds of thousands of dollars over the year to the Memorial! Thanks OKC for the wonderful time Jill and I had!

Keep up the GREAT work!

April 22, 2008

Boston Marathon

Roger Robinson, Katherine Switzer and Dick Beardsley

Dick and Bart Yasso
Dick, Jill and Ryan Hall

It was then a quick drive back to Boston where my wife Jill was already checked into our hotel. She flew in from Austin that morning, it was nice to be able to give her a big hug and spend some precious time with her! That night we went to a showing of the Spirit of the Marathon. Such a wonderful and inspiring movie!

Friday morning was the start of the Boston Marathon weekend. I spent that afternoon at the Marathon & Beyond booth signing books, race numbers, taking pictures, whatever the folks wanted me to do. It’s always so much fun being in Boston for race weekend!

I also gave a talk hosted by Runner’s World Magazine. My good friend Bart Yasso from RW introduced me, and then I spoke about "The Duel in the Sun" the race Alberto Salazar and I had at Boston 26 years ago, that came down to a 100 meter sprint at the end where Alberto outkicked me by 2 seconds, 2:08:51 to my 2:08:53!

Saturday morning it was up early for an 11 mile run along the Charles River, I got back and my wife Jill was waiting and I did 3 more miles with her. Breakfast and then off to the expo. I again spent time at the Marathon & Beyond booth and the New Balance Shoe Company booth. I so like visiting with the runners! I was very busy all day long but the time went by very quickly!

Saturday night, Jill and I had a memorable get together at a local Mexican food restaurant with Dave Shelbourne and his wife, Ivette, son Justin and daughter, Katrina (Jill's new pen-pal).

Sunday morning up very early for a 12 mile run along the Charles River and then it was time to watch the Women’s Olympic Trials Marathon! This is a huge race for these women as the top 3 finishers will make our Olympic Team and represent the United States in the marathon at the Olympics in Beijing later this summer. After the race it was off for another full day of duties at the expo! I also had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Hall. What a kind young man!

Monday morning up for a run and then Jill and I watched the 112th running of the Boston Marathon on a perfect weather day for running! It was then time to pack up and fly back home to Austin.

What a very busy and enjoyable week I had in the Boston area, thanks to everyone who helped make it all happen!

April 17, 2008

Ipswich High School, Ipswich, Massachusetts

After my afternoon talk and run I took off for the Ipswich, Massachusetts area where I met my good friend, Dave Shelbourne, from New Balance. I checked into a beautiful bed and breakfast where I was able to grab a quick nap.

That evening I had dinner at a wonderful seafood restaurant with Barry, the principal from Ipswich High School and his wife along with Dave and his family. I was so looking forward to meeting Dave's wife, Ivette, their son Justin, and daughter Katrina. What an absolute wonderful family they are! I had such a good time!

The next morning I was up early and out the door for a quick 7 mile run. I can't even begin to describe how beautiful the little country roads are around here! Dave picked me and New Balance Tech rep Greg Tindle up for breakfast along with his family for a wonderful breakfast, and then it was off to Ipswich High School for my talk.

I have spoke at many schools around the country, but the auditorium at Ipswich High School is the best ever! 600 kids packed the auditorium; needless to say I was more nervous than usual before a talk. Partly because, with kids if you don't get them listening right away, you spend the rest of the time trying to reel them back in, and secondly, Dave and his family were all there and I really wanted my talk to go extra well for them. Dave and Ivette had spent a lot of time getting this all set up. The kids were absolutely the best!!!

I was very blessed that the words were just rolling off my tongue! The kids and staff were really into it and when that happens I feed off of their enthusiasm! I normally don't mention this kind of thing, but with kids it rarely ever happens, after I finished my talk the kids gave me a long standing ovation, I had goose bumps on my goose bumps!!!

After that I signed books and chatted with the kids. New Balance was kind enough to provide every student that wanted one a copy of my book "Staying the Course....A Runners Toughest Race"

Thank you Ipswich High School for letting me share my story with all of you, and a big thanks to Dave Shelbourne for making it all happen, you are all the best!!!

After my talk it was off for a nice run in the woods with Greg and the XC coach from Ipswich High School. I then had the opportunity to be the official starter for a couple of events at the track meet that Ipswich High School was hosting that afternoon.

Brought back lots of good memories when I ran track way back when!

North Bedford High School and Metheun High School, Boston area

Up early for an 11 mile run around a bay off the ocean in Portland, beautiful is all I can say, especially when the sun was coming up off the ocean.

A quick shower and then down to the Metheun, Massachusetts area to meet with Dave from Whirlaway Sports, we had a great breakfast and then it was on to North Bedford High School to speak to around 700 kids, after that, it was over to Metheun High School to speak to the kids there.

The kids were great at both schools!

After my Metheun High School talk I then had the opportunity to run with some of the distance kids and their coach before their afternoon track meet, thanks kids, I had a great time running with you!

Thanks for taking it easy on this old guy!

April 15, 2008

Maine Running Company

I arrived in Boston around noon on April 15. I picked up my rental car and headed for Portland, Maine.
What a beautiful drive! It’s amazing how quickly after you leave the Boston metro area that you get into the beautiful New England countryside!

I arrived around 3PM, took a short nap, then went for a nice 5 mile run around Portland. At 6, I headed for the Maine Running Company Store. I did a short meet and greet, gave an hour talk, then signed books and chatted with the folks there.

I had a wonderful time!

Thanks to John, his staff, and New Balance for making my trip all possible!

April 12, 2008

South Dakota Bankers Association

I was so looking forward to speaking at the South Dakota Bankers Association in Pierre!
Everything went well including my flight from Austin to Denver. It was there that things started going "south" Pierre was in the middle of a big blizzard so the flight from Denver to Pierre was canceled and there were no other flights the next day that would have got me there in time for my noon keynote talk.

Unfortunately I had to fly back to Austin that night. The good news is that I am already on their calendar to speak at the 2009 event!

Toughest Race in Texas

The Toughest Race in Texas! The name definitely defines what this race is all about! It’s a great event that is an absolute ball of fun!

The Tuesday before the race I had the opportunity to speak to the kids at St. Stephens Episcopal School. I spoke to two different groups of kids during their morning chapel time. I had about 15 minutes each time, not a lot of time to go into great detail but enough to hopefully get the point across.

Saturday was the Toughest Race in Texas, held on the trails of St. Stephens Episcopal School. They had close to 800 runners! You could run one of two races, the 10K or the 5K. I ran the 5K with my wife Jill and our friend Laura Nye, we really had a good time!

We also had a booth at the start/finish area for the Dick Beardsley Foundation where our good friend and board member for our foundation Stacey Conley stayed and handed out information.

After the race I helped with handing out awards for the winners. All of the proceeds from the race go to help with scholarships for kids to be able to come and get a great education at the school.

Thanks to everyone at St. Stephens Episcopal School for the wonderful time I had and for letting me be the honorary chairman.

Keep up the great work!

April 8, 2008

Skier Gala, Minneapolis, Minnesota

From Asheville it was right onto Minneapolis! My good friend and co-owner of Rainbow Resort up in northern Minnesota, Amy Xu invited me to speak at her running club that Sunday afternoon which I did. We were all going to go for a run afterwards but it was pouring cats and dogs outside, so a few of us jumped on some side by side treadmills and did our run together that way! If there’s a will there’s a way!

Afterwards we dashed off to the University of Minnesota campus where I was the co-MC with champion XC skier Chad Geise. Chad and I did announcing together at a XC ski event earlier in the winter so it was good to see him again.

We all had a great time and it was very appropriate that as the banquet was going on, it was snowing a bit outside! Thanks Amy for the wonderful time I had in Minneapolis!

Napa Valley Marathon

I was very fortunate to have won the Napa Valley Marathon back in 1987, setting the course record, which still holds to this day! For the past 11 years they have been kind enough to bring me back as a speaker and I also usually run the race.

My wife, Jill, and I went out a few days early for our honeymoon. We were married last November but did not have the chance to go on a honeymoon right after the wedding. Jill had never been to the Napa Valley before. We had a wonderful time! The first three days we stayed at a quaint little bed and breakfast, Brannon Cottage Inn, in Calistoga, CA noted for their hot mineral baths. We really enjoyed the area and even rented bikes one day and went for a little bike trip in the valley.

Friday we headed back to Napa where we stayed at the Marriott Hotel which served as the race headquarters. That evening at the race social hour I got to catch up with my old friends that I see every year at Napa. Joe Henderson and his wife Barbara, John and Ann Keston (John holds many world records for his age from 70 now up to his age of 83) Helen and Norm Klein (Helen holds many world records for marathons and ultras and she set another at this years’ Napa race. She is 85 years young, and her husband Norm has directed many races including Napa and Western States at one time) Dave and Mary Cordt (Mary has won Napa a few times and is one of our Dick Beardsley Marathon Running Camp coaches, she also qualified for the Women's Olympic Marathon Trials with a 2:46) David and Nancy Hill (Dave is co-race director) Rich Benyo (co-race director) along with his wife, Rhonda who is the medical director for the race, Jan Seeley my good friend and publisher and part owner along with Rich Benyo of Marathon & Beyond, and my good friend and legend Joan Benoit Samuelson and her husband Scott. (Joanie was the keynote speaker this year)

Saturday was a busy day for all as I was on a couple of panel discussions, signed books and autographs at the Marathon & Beyond booth, and spoke at the special pasta dinner they had that evening up in Calistoga.

Sunday was the 30th annual Napa Valley Marathon and you could not have asked for more perfect conditions! It was in the low 40's at the start with sunshine and a nice little tailwind for much of the way.

I went out with the group of gals that were trying to hit the qualifying standards for the Olympic Trials of sub 2:47. Now when I run marathons I have two main goals 1) to win the Grand Masters Title and 2) run sub 2:50, I was very fortunate to do both and ended up with a time of 2:49:08

Honest to goodness, running in the 2:40's now seems harder then when I was running 2:08's and 2:09's 25+ years ago! I still enjoy it though just as much!

Sunday night all the invited guests were taken to a beautiful B&B and a wonderful dinner with the Napa Valley Marathon board of directors, where we were able to celebrate the success of the marathon and of Mary Cordt qualifying for the Women's Olympic Trials coming up in April in Boston.

Jill and I can't thank the Napa Valley Marathon enough for the wonderful time we had, keep up the great work!

April 4, 2008

Carolina Day School

After the Chicago Tri Club talk, I flew back to Austin and had a 4 hour layover before I left on my next flight for Ashville, NC. My sister Maryann and her family have lived in the area for over 20 years, it’s gorgeous out there! I arrived to their home in Waynesville, NC at about midnight, my nephew, Isaac, was waiting up for me. My goodness he has grown!

The next morning it was out the door for a very hilly 10 miler. I don't think there is a flat spot in that part of the country! My sister Maryann is a teacher at the Carolina Day School in Asheville and she invited me to speak to the students there. It went great, but my sister had never heard me speak before. When I got to talking to the kids about my addiction, I could not look over at her, the one time I did I could see her crying and of course that got me all choked up!

Even though the two of us did not get along to well growing up, both her and my other sister Sheila and their families were always there for me during my toughest times in my life, that my friends is what family is all about!

Besides being there to speak, my main reason was for my niece Molly's Bat Mitzvah. She did an incredible job getting up in front of all the people at the synagogue and speaking many times in Hebrew! I even had to get up and read and my last line was words in Hebrew. I was like a cat on a hot tin roof I was so nervous that I would not say them right, but I did!

Thanks Maryann, Mark, Isaac, David, and a special thanks and congratulations to Molly for a task well done, I had a great time!

Chicago Tri Club

I always love going to Chicago and this time was no different! My good friend Cary Lisota set it up for me to come to Chicago and speak at the Chicago Tri Club.

I was really looking forward to my talk and just as much to see her husband Jay, their Lab "Sam" and there beautiful new baby, Grace. What a cutie she is! Cary picked me up at the airport, I had a quick bite to eat, back to her house where I took a nap, then out for a quick 5 mile run, then off to speak!

It was so much fun! We had a meet and greet when I first arrived along with some good munchies. I spoke for about an hour to 150 club members and they were great! Thank goodness there is a running part of a triathlon, as I swim like a rock and don't bike much better, at least I can still run! I really admire these triathletes! I can't imagine swimming, biking, and then having to run upwards of a marathon! Uff-da!

Thanks Cary, Jay, Grace, Sam, and the Chicago Tri Club for the great time I had!

April 2, 2008

FFA Annual Banquet, Long Prairie, Minnesota

Flying right from Atlanta into Minneapolis, I rented a car and stayed at my sisters on Sunday night. The next morning it was up early for a nice run in a snowstorm!

Needless to say, the drive from the Twin Cities to Long Prairie, Minnesota was a long one! The roads were very icy but I finally made it there about 2 hours before my talk at the annual FFA (Future Farmers of America) awards banquet.

I always enjoy speaking to farm groups and especially ones for the kids! I was not a FFA member but I was in 4-H for a long time as I was growing up, what incredible organizations both of them are! We had a delicious meal and then it was on for my talk and the awards.

Thank you Long Prairie and the FFA students for making my stay such an enjoyable one!