Monday, February 29, 2016

Camp Hyannis Marathon Weekend 2016 - Three Running Greats

Even though I do not eat pasta the night before I race, Tom and I still attend the pre-race pasta dinner to hear running greats speak.

We had an early dinner at the Roadhouse Cafe

I've discovered that I need to eat salmon before a race. We both had fish with garlic mashed potatoes and their classic Roadhouse salad with their home made Roadhouse salad dressing. It was warm and cozy but the energy was electric as everyone was asking everyone else, "Are you running tomorrow."

We entered the Hyannis Resort Conference and Convention Center Ballroom. I remembered the first time we walked in back in 2009, the night before my very first half marathon race. Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter were there and I met Ric Beaudoin and the gang who connected Team McManus with L Street Running Club and the Merrimack Valley Striders. There's something magical that happens when you walk into that ballroom for the pre race pasta dinner and this year was certainly no different.

We looked around and saw some familiar faces and then we lighted upon Tony and Mary who have been faithful campers like we have been throughout these past 7 years. They were seated with Bill Rodgers, Geoff Smith and Jacqueline Hansen and they invited us to join them. Mary and I exchanged the warmest and longest hug and we got caught up on the past two years. Tony and Mary are like brother and sister from another mother and mister. They come to Hyannis together as best friends. Instead of sitting around a campfire we gather together at a round table.

The subject turned to running stories. Jacqueline shared with us how she was the guide for the Olympic Trials course in LA. She knew that Shalene and Amy Cragg were going to make the team because they asked to see the course twice. We were spellbound as she talked giving us the inside view of the Olympic Trials. LA is her home town.

Bill was delighted to hear of my running comeback.

Geoffrey Smith mentioned that he was there to promote his upcoming races and Paul Collyer, Event Director invited him to stay for supper and talk. He said he is never one to turn down a free meal. I asked him how he was feeling since his return from his home in Liverpool and he said he is slowly getting back on schedule. We talked about his upcoming races and recent controversy around race directors in Rhode Island.

Tony invited Jacqueline, Bill and Geoff to speak first individually about their running journeys and also speaking to life as older runners and then they came together to answer questions from the runners:

I was mesmerized at how Jacqueline shared with us that she was inspired by a runner named Cheryl Rogers who ran a 2:50 marathon. She mentioned that she and Cheryl remained friends for all these years and Cheryl married a man named Flanagan. Their daughter is Shalene and she hosted Cheryl during the Olympic Trials. She gave us more of the inside scoop about Shalene and said she would be fine.

Runners were hungry for advice from these three running greats. Bill Rodgers offered that we are all explorers. The cool thing is we are all here. Let's celebrate! Bill also asked the runners, "Has anyone dropped out of Boston more than me?" He shared with us at the table that a DNF is very smart! We took our annual photo together and he whispered to me, "You run with your heart. I've always said you run with your heart."

I was able to ask Bill at the starting line, how is it that with baseball or football fans can't get anywhere near the big names in the sport but here we are standing together receiving expert advice and support from the best of the best. "That's why we are the greatest sport," Bill replied.

As people asked Geoff Smith for training advice he was quick to offer that the most important part of any program is rest. Consistency is the only key to success. "The worst invention was the Garmin," Geoff said. Everyone is individual and you have to figure out what is optimum for you. He did share that you break into spread training through running hills. "It's a lifetime commitment. It's about going out and having fun. Leave the Garmin at home," Geoff advised in his wonderful British accent.

Jacqueline had this beautiful energy and aura around her. She is incredibly humble and fielded questions about Title IX as well as providing practical training advice and shared wonderful anecdotes about her experiences as a woman distance runner.

I felt as though as I was infused with a new perspective about my own running; that it's a beautiful sport where everyone discovers for themselves what is going to work best. There is no one formula that fits all and we are all explorers finding out what works best for us. This wisdom and knowledge would hold me in very good stead on race day.

After the talk, Tom and I went to buy Jacqueline's book, "A Long Time Coming."

I was moved to briefly share my journey with her and gave her my blogger business card. I was held in this beautiful space by her clear loving eyes. She told me there is a woman in Europe who is looking for women over the age of 50 who are blogging about their running journey and she was going to share my blog with her.

I left the Ballroom feeling so blessed to reconnect with dear friends at Camp Hyannis and to feel touched by grace to meet Jacqueline Hansen, reconnect with Bill Rodgers and spend time with Geoffrey Smith who we flew to Bermuda with for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend...but more about that in tomorrow's blog - Race Day - Redemption Weekend.

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