Friday, January 13, 2012

Marathon Weekend: Part 1

This photo pretty much describes my mood tonight:

From the firework show after the Trials opening ceremony
During the firework display, I shook Joan Benoit Samuelson's hand.
Here's how close I was to her!
Others around me were swarming her for pictures together. I decided just to ask for a handshake, for luck on Sunday. Her hand was small, cool and dry, the hand of an Olympic Gold Medalist, one of the pathfinders for all women who like to run marathons.

Joan, Frank Shorter, Meb, and Deena were all gathered, along with many of the athletes running in tomorrow morning's Olympic Marathon Trials, for the opening ceremonies. I broke down and bought myself an iPod Touch last night, so for once I was actually able to take some pictures.

Yep, that's Meb!
Meb and Deena in the chairs reserved for the athletes; each one got a little flag and a bag of snacks
That's Frank Shorter in blue.
I wasn't able to avail myself much of my media pass during the day today. Before I was granted the credential, I had volunteered to work a 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift as a greeter and direction-giver outside the convention center where packet pick-up was being held. All of the press conferences were happening during this time, but it's not at all noble to renege on a volunteer commitment. And I found out later that my team captain had six no-shows for the shift, so I'm really glad I showed up.

In my neon yellow "Ask me" vest
It was also just fun being an answer person (I AM a reference librarian for a reason). Runners are such nice people, and it was nice to chat with a couple of Houston Marathon veterans about the course. There was plenty to keep my mind off the Big Task looming for me on Sunday.

But first, there is tomorrow--the morning of the Trials. Kathy is volunteering in the medic area (read her post about that) and has to be there at 6:30 a.m. The men's race starts at 8 and the women's at 8:15. I will hopefully meet up with some other bloggers for the start, and after that I plan to be lurking in the press area at the finish. And I'll definitely attend the winners' press conferences.

That's the Trials start line in the background and my media credential around my neck. And yes! I'm wearing a down vest over a sweater! In Houston!
Speculation is that a course record or two could be set tomorrow. The weather is almost too perfect to be believed: I was actually teeth-chatteringly chilly during my volunteer shift. I can hardly wait to get out there and watch the action. As I type, I'm sitting in the hotel lobby. The athletes in the Trials are doubtless upstairs with the lights out (which is where I'll be going soon), but there's a party vibe in the lobby among those of us who don't have to race until Sunday.

It's like Mardi Gras for runners!

There is one sadness in the midst of all of this: the death of Sherry Arnold. My friend Caroline has created a bib to wear this weekend in her half-marathon in Sherry's honor. I plan to print and wear this bib myself. For Sherry's family and friends. For women everywhere who deserve to run free (and alone if they wish) without fear.


  1. Run without fear.
    This should be something we dont even question.
    thank you for joining me Sunday

    What a great experience to be at the trials. Joan Benoit! I admire her so much. I still remember being glued to the TV in 1984 watching her win..that small woman runnning with her white cap and short hair...

  2. Oh, I love that your weather is looking so great!! What a neat experience to be able to be so close to the action. And how cute were you in your volunteer uniform? :)

    Enjoy every bit of the experience, and good luck tomorrow!

  3. I love this post! I'm excited for you and your weekend. I'm too, am so sad about sherry. We should all be able to run unafraid.

    Have an excellent race on Sunday. Enjoy!

  4. The trials were amazing to follow on Twitter! Can't wait to watch it on TV this afternoon.

    So great that you are honoring Sherry with the bib this weekend. I think we are all thinking of her right now.

    Best of luck with the marathon! Get your BQ!!!

  5. I'm so excited! I can't wait to see you tomorrow!! Is Joan Benoit running tomorrow? I about fell over when I saw her name in the results list for last year!

  6. Good luck tomorrow!!! So excited for you!

  7. AMAZING!!!!!! So cool!!! Best of luck are going to totally ROCK THIS!

  8. so great meeting you and what fun you have had already!!!

  9. What a very special day for you, I hope tomorrow is equally as special. I know it will be, there is no hope in that!!!!

    (I sat next to Joan Benoit on a plane from Moline, IL - where we had just both ran the Bix7 in Davenport, IA - to Chicago. Most awesome woman ever!)

  10. How fun to be in town with all of the excitement! I saw Joan running in the Maine Marathon I ran in October. Fun!

  11. Oops, I forgot to write what I came here to write... Have fun at the race tomorrow!

  12. So exciting! I can't wait to read more about your trip and rubbing elbows with the elites!