Sunday, December 12, 2010

Injured Runner finds Time to Write, Rant

It started with a tiny pain on Wednesday night. I was doing my second run of the day; a four mile loop along the light rail line. I got home and my left ankle hurt just a little bit. No biggie. As I ran with the Dowd crew Thursday morning, it got just a little bit worse with every step. Four miles in, and I knew nothing good could come out of continuing to run. So, I turned around and made the long walk/jog back to the YMCA. 36 hours later, I set out for my pre-race run and didn't even make it to the end of the street. I have no idea what is wrong with me. My left ankle throbs with every step. It even hurts as I sit here. But, it's not swollen. I am going to make a doctor's appointment first thing Monday morning.

The bad news is, I had to drop out of the USA Track and Field Club Cross Country Championships which were at McAlpine on Saturday. Also, it appears there is a lot of spin classes in my future. There is nothing more mind-numbing. Although, going to spin class at 1:15 is better than sitting here watching Atlanta roll over the Panthers today.

The good news is, it's December. I was taking this month easy anyways. Aaron got to run as me at the club XC race and got himself a new PR.

Tyler let me borrow his cycle cross bike Saturday morning, so I could ride around the Thunder Road Marathon course. Congrats to everyone who ran. I don't want to list any names because I'm bound to forget one, but I do want to mention Lauren's PR performance in the half-marathon. I am really proud of her.

And that is what I want to rant about. Not Lauren. Thunder Road. Even though, I have only run the half-once, I think this has the potential to be a great event. The expo is well-done, the course is challenging and scenic at times, there are friendly volunteers and a unique theme that mixes foot racing with car racing. But it seems like the city sees it as a big burden. There is no better proof than the city's forced moving of the event from December to November. The December date was one of the things that made this race attractive to runners. It only competed with one other regional marathon and no major marathons, and was a great opportunity for people who wanted to close out their year with another 26.2. Now, it will be up against marathons like New York, Richmond and Outer Banks. The reason: Charlotte's shoppers complained about the traffic. I know people complain about traffic in every city, every time there is a race, but it is absurd to me that this city caved. We are talking about an event that pours money into the economy and brings thousands of people into an uptown area that is constantly begging people to visit. Is that not worth four hours of detours one Saturday morning in December? The race doesn't even go by any major malls.

Other cities embrace their marathons. There are always a handful of grumblers, but for the most part, it's a chance to show some city pride and welcome visitors. Obviously Boston and D.C. make a big deal out of their marathons because they are on the top of a lot of people's lists. But so do similar sized cities with similar sized races like Richmond. On race day morning, the Richmond Newspaper had a story about the marathon on the front page. The night before, the local TV stations did extensive live coverage. The day after, one station did a half-hour recap show. What kind of media coverage did Thunder Road get? It wasn't even mentioned on the front page of our paper (although Theoden's blogs were prominently posted on the website), and besides a brief interview with the race director and defending champion (on the show I produce), it only recieved brief mentions on the local news. That's really the only difference to be me between Richmond and Charlotte. The expos are about the same. The volunteers are just as friendly. There is a little more crowd support, but not much separates these two events. Unfortunately, the one major disparity is a very noticeable one.

It doesn't make sense because Charlotte is a very active community. We have a thriving running and triathalon scene. Yet, we can't support what many consider to be the holy grail of long distance running. The rest of the country is embracing marathon running. It's participation has soared 10% in just one year. Charlotte has a chance to get on board that train before it leaves the station, and we have a well-organized, top caliber event that will gladly lead the way. But until the city sees it as a boost instead of a bother, it can't possibly reach its potential.


  1. Great post Jay! From '95 to '03 the coverage was pretty good, yet since that time it has really gone down hill. Having said that, thank God for the Charlotte Running Club!