A Hectic Weekend
After telling the people at the table that I had been sent down for a ticket. I made the point of saying that "I was told you were giving out tickets to the dinner, I understand the term 'giving out' was metaphorical." Thus, I departed the table $20 lighter, but with the right to attend. The food was decent, if unexceptional, but I wasn't there for the food. I was there for the speakers. Prior to the meal, I headed up to the head table and greeted Amby Burfoot, whom I'd missed in Boston.
First up among the speakers was Bart Yasso of Runner's World Magazine. I've seen Bart before but I hadn't seen this speech before. The talk was quite amusing and nicely illustrated with photos.
The second speaker was my main reason for making the trip, Ryan Hall. For those of you who don't keep up with the racing world, Hall broke a 25? year-old Amewrican record in the half-marathon with his stunning 59:43 run at Houston in January. He'd followed up last weekend with a 2:08:24 at London. That was the fastest debut at the marathon by an American.
Hall's talk was fairly brief, but it taught an important lesson. He told the tale of going up into the California mountains to visit his family prior to the Houston race. As our good pal Murphy tends to do, everything turned bad, sliding off the road, a missed plane flight, etc. The stage had been set for a bad performance. Mr. Hall ran his race by feel, and although all the preliminaries had gone badly, he felt good. I wonder if the bad luck reduced expectations and let him run more relaxed. The upshot was the race of his life. I particularly like his use of the term "brave, yet wise" when describing how to race. I had the chance to speak briefly to Mr. Hall after the event ended. He was gracious and giving. I saw him give his hand-written notes for his talk to someone who asked for a copy of it. I don't know if time will harden his attitude, but his attitude was wonderful to see.
The final speaker was Dottie Lessard-O'Connor. She is one of Runner's World's Heroes of Running. This cystic fibrosis sufferer told her tale of the progress of her disease and her desire to run. A double lung transplant saved her life, and allowed her to run for the first time since she was a young schoolgirl. She was well and healthy until she suffered kidney failure. Again, she was blessed to get a transplant. Today, she's healthy, a relatively new Mom, and, as she says, "a RUNNER."
Following the dinner, I had some driving to do, about 90 miles home. Followed by sleep and an early start to go about 40 miles to the NJ Marathon. After taking some photos of the start, I met up with running writer Roger Robinson and his wife, Katherine Switzer. They headed out for a short run while I shot some additional pix. We rejoined for breakfast and some conversation relating to Johnny Hayes, the 1908 Olympic marathon champion.
I spent most of the afternoon photgraphing a sheep shearing at the local living history museum. I followed this by an informal meet between the kids I coach and the local Catholic school team, with whom we're friendly. I'm pretty sure they won, but the kids seemed to have a good time.
Photos & corrections to follow.
I checked Amby Burfoot's blog and found his comments about the Lehigh Valley Half. He brings up a few points I hadn't and his statement "impossible not to like" is right on the money.