Yesterday, in our band dressing room, one of the guys was giving me props for being a pretty good “Googler.” Finding stuff quickly, tracking things down. I’m sure there are those that know much more than I do, but I am pretty good.
Still, sometimes you find things you never expect. For example, months after Team McGraw’s participation in the 2009 Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon, I stumbled onto an article on the Great American Country (GAC) website entitled “Team Rio, Team McGraw Have Run of Nashville.”
It is a great article, noting the charity elements of both of our programs. The Team McGraw program was noted for its work supporting the Tug McGraw Foundation and brain tumor research; the award-winning Diamond Rio, both a great band and longtime friend of mine, was acknowledged for support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee.
Then…it happened. The GAC story posted our times. Guitarist Jimmy Olander of Diamond Rio ran 2:10; lead singer Marty Roe ran 2:20. Mark McGraw, Tim McGraw’s brother, did 2 hours. Suzanne Alexander, another friend of mine and an outstanding host for GAC, ran 2:24.
And there it was, in black and white: “Keyboard player Jeff McMahon, of Tim’s band the Dancehall Doctors, finished in 3 hours, 36 minutes.”
It’s not that I’m competitive – not so much against others, anyway – just myself. When I’m running for a time, I’ll try to pick folks off one by one in an effort to better my performance. But that’s in those races where I’m running as a runner. This wasn’t one of those times.
This time I was running…as a coach. It’s often the cooler gig: locked and loaded with a camera, cell phone, and extra sport beans, getting our folks to the finish line…and sending ‘em home with some runner bling!
Honestly, I don’t remember much about MY race. I can tell you about our runners, the obstacles they overcame, and the inspiration they exemplified. Team McGraw was in full force, and there was much to celebrate and share among our “Ya Gotta Believe-ers!”
The brightest spot on my radar was Jennifer Brusstar, president and CEO of the Tug McGraw Foundation. Jen had been ramping up her first half marathon adventure for over a year; I could not wait to see her step up to the challenge…and she sure did.
My bandmate, fiddler for the Dancehall Doctors Dean Brown, was also out on the course. He and I train together a lot, and I knew that he was good to go.
In total we had 39 runners, most of them half marathoners, with only a few taking on the full marathon. I kept up with my folks as best I could, picking up information from volunteers along the course.
(Have you seen Fred? How did he look? Good? Excellent! What about Wilma? Really? How far up? All right…I’ll go find her.)
Some sent me updates via cell phone. I tracked down folks having trouble, talked them through their cramps or pains or anxieties, and then ran on. Stopped to walk with an overly ambitious PR seeker that got hit in the face with “too much, too soon.”
One particular runner had almost decided that, despite the notable heat that day, she wasn’t drinking any more water; her stomach was distended, she thought, and she had drunk too much over the first five miles. No water for the next nine? In THIS heat? That doesn’t sound right.
After talking through this with her, I discovered she had hammered too hard on the provided sports drinks…not had any water at all…and the acid in the drinks was doing a number on her. She didn’t need to avoid water…but aim for it.
Whew. Glad we caught that one early. A glass or two of water and she was on her way to a strong finish!
One particular part of the course doubles back on itself – a hairpin that finds you greeting fellow runners on their way into the course on your way out. As it happened, there was my colleague and TMF president Jennifer Brusstar, looking strong and headed into the fray.
So, of course, I turned tail and headed back in order to run that part of the course again…with her.
There were others working support during the race, most notably our own Coach Kevin Leathers. Keeping folks out of the ditches, cheering them on, passing out Vaseline or nutrition gels or Band-Aids or other “this is what you” needs of the moment.
Team McGraw rocked…and I was much more thrilled to see so many inspired performances. Accomplishments that seemed out of reach back at Mile 10…were affirmed with a medal at the finish line.
My favorite part of the day? Back slaps and photographs, smiles of achievement, and a little warm and fuzzy knowing that I might have helped a little.
After checking my Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch, my half marathon (13.1 miles) was 16.21 miles long. My time was 1 hour and 26 minutes slower than my personal best, set two months earlier at the 2009 Sarasota Grouper Half Marathon. Perhaps I had let my training slip a bit since February…but come on…give a brother a break.
For the record…I recently ran a 2:03 half marathon at the first Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon. That’s an improvement of 1 hour and 33 minutes for the half marathon since the Country Music Half Marathon 2009. If I can shave off that much again by Dallas of next year…HOLY SMOKES…
I should run next year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon in 30 MINUTES… shattering the world record set by Zersenay Tadese just last week in Lisbon!