Monday, April 22, 2013

NOLA IronMan 70.3: A Spectator Sport

Yesterday was the annual IronMan New Orleans 70.3 here in the Crescent City. Typically, if there’s a big distance race in town, I would be out there participating. However, not being a fan of swimming (much less swimming in Lake Pontchartrain), I routinely decide to sit this one out.

This year though, I decided to participate in a different way. In light of recent events, I decided that supporting the athletes that were swimming, biking and running was much more important than sleeping in and watching Sunday morning reruns of bad reality TV on the E! network. I texted friends Saturday night to make plans and head out to the run course to cheer at some point in the race.

Sunday morning we texted again to determine a spot that would work well to meet, deciding that the finish would be crowded and the support would be sufficient. Instead, we decided to meet at the entrance to City Park by the New Orleans Museum of Art at 10am with the front-runners expected to start passing within 15 minutes. I stopped on the way to pick up mimosa ingredients (to toast the runners, of course) and arrived right on time. The course was still open to cars and there was no one around. We triple checked the course, date and time of the race to make sure we were in the right spot. Soon after confirming we hadn't missed anything, other spectators started to join us with their Bloody Mary's in hand and we became slightly less insecure about drinking out of champagne flutes on the course.

It was a great experience sitting on the front lawn of NOMA watching athletes take on the 70.3 challenge, with the extra "cool factor" of the close footrace heating up in the men’s division right as they passed us in the 10th mile. I spent the better part of the day clapping and cheering on runners as they approached the end of their long event. These participants certainly deserved the awesome hardware they received at the finish, with the replica of the Armstrong Park arch as its main focal point. It was inspiring to see the IronMen and Women, and even makes me consider wanting to take on the challenge myself.

What have you experienced while spectating a race that inspired you to take on a new challenge?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The 2013 Boston Marathon

For the majority of Americans, yesterday was just another dreaded Monday. There’s a mundane routine in place to head in to work and start another week. For runners, yesterday was different. It isn’t just Monday. It was Marathon Monday, and the annual running of the Boston Marathon.

As you can tell from my blog post yesterday, it’s a very exciting day on the calendar for runners. No matter your location, no matter your skill level, you know that the race is taking place and more than likely know someone participating. It’s a race that people train years for which to qualify, and then undertake many more months of prep for the big event. I’ve had the great opportunity to go through the process twice, and run the Boston Marathon in 2010 and 2011. Its an achievement I’m proud of as a runner, and it holds many of the memories I cherish the most about participating in the sport. Unfortunately, for those runners who were taking part in the 117th Boston Marathon yesterday, many won’t get to share those same memories and revel in their own personal victory of crossing the finish line. It is for those 27,000 marathon runners and their friends and families, many of whom comprised the victims injured by the attack on Boston, that I feel for the most.

My Boston Marathon experiences are much like that of any other runner who takes on the distance in Beantown. There’s the amazement of qualifying, registering and getting accepted in to the race. Then there’s the training that happens for months prior, and the pre-race jitters the week before heading to New England. Once you’ve touched down at Logan Airport, all of that is behind you. The energy of the city overtakes you, and everyone knows as soon as you step off the plane that you’re there with one mission in mind. Picking up your race number at the expo solidifies your status as a runner, and purchasing your Boston Marathon jacket is a rite of passage. Arriving at 4am on race morning in Boston Common to take yellow school busses to the start line in Hopkinton is a small price to pay for the experience you’re about to enjoy. The 26.2 mile jog through Boston suburbs back to where you started the day is worth everything you’ve been through to get to that point. Typically what waits for runners at the end of that journey is a pewter forged medal to wear around your neck, and even more importantly a lifetime’s worth of bragging rights and stories to share with friends. All of that was marred yesterday for past, present and future participants, as well as the people who support them in their journey. It casts a shadow on an event that’s revered in sports, and the entire country was shaken to its core.

I knew several runners participating in this year’s race, which was cut short by two explosives planted near the finish line. Everyone I know in Boston is safe and accounted for, and for that I’m thankful. I’m also thankful for the friends and family that texted and called throughout the afternoon yesterday as the news broke, making sure that I hadn’t made the trip to run. I was safely in my office watching the tragedy unfold on social media, but having people reach out in support was greatly touching and quite consoling.

At this time, details are still sketchy and the person(s) responsible are unknown. To me, however, the “Who?” and “Why?” are unimportant. The victims that were injured in the blasts are by far of the utmost importance and are in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts and prayers in this time of disaster. The person(s) responsible will pay for their crime, and I have no doubt that the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in 2014 will go on as scheduled, probably more successfully than any that has come before.

The City of Boston and the runners that make an annual pilgrimage there are resilient. They encompass much of the spirit that our country was founded on, which includes perseverance, endurance, and the fortitude to stand up for what they believe in. What happened on Marathon Monday 2013 in Boston may have temporarily shaken the structure of a community that extends well beyond that of runners, but much like the pewter that’s handed out on Boylston Street to the race’s finishers, its American Made and meant to withstand the test of time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Viewing Party Of 1

Its Marathon Monday. Patriot's Day in the Northeast, and the running of the 117th Boston Marathon. And I'm sitting in my office having my own personal viewing party watching the live stream on the official BAA Website (please don't tell IT about the bandwidth I'm using).

This is shaping up to be one of the most interesting Boston Marathons that I can remember. Not because of how close it is amongst the competitors, but because of the complete opposite. The wheelchair divisions are complete at this point, with both the men and women’s' sides finishing with complete blowouts. The women’s' footrace is shaping up to have a blowout as well. The unbelievable athleticism across all divisions is awe inspiring, and its causing me to be completely worthless on this workday.

As a two time Boston finisher, I know how difficult the course is and what it's like to run the Newton Hills. The rush that you feel as you pass the CITGO sign and Fenway Park. And the outpouring of emotion as you turn on to Boylston to cross the finish.

Congrats to the 27,000 runners who started the race this morning, especially those who I personally know that blew out PR's to BQ and punch their ticket to participate in this race. One day I hope to be back in that number.

Friday, April 12, 2013

United Way of St. Charles Bridge Run 10K: The 2013 Recap

I usually start off race recap blogs with the negative aspects to get it out of the way, and then move on to gushing over the bright spots that made the event a race that I enjoyed. I’m not going to deviate from that layout for this recap of the United Way of St Charles Bridge Run; however, in this instance, the good won’t outweigh the bad.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Crescent City Classic 10K: The 2013 Recap

Runners, walkers, families, friends, and alcoholics alike look forward to the day that they get to take over main streets of the CBD and Mid City. This day is annually the Saturday before Easter, the day that plays host to a perennial favorite on the New Orleans Race calendar, the Crescent City Classic 10K.