Richard Doron Johnson

January 29, 2007

ING Miami Marathon

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 2:20 am

Wow is all I can say. The past three days (January 26-28th) were amazing. I went to Miami, FL as a runner/coach for the Foot Solutions team in Atlanta, Ga. I have been to plenty of races in my life, but this was the first time I was going as a coach and boy is it different. I always enjoyed going to run and see the expos but now I am on the other side of the fence and it is truly different. Before going I was notified that my flight and all accommodations were going to be paid for since the team I work with has eight elite runners attending. This is was a load off for me knowing this information. Then once I arrived with the team the ING Miami marathon directors sent a vehicle for us to be transported to the host Hotel. After arriving and be briefed on all the locations we had to be at we were given our room keys. In my room I had another Kenyan runner named Jared Nyambo. I had talked to him previously while we were both in Africa during the month of December but that was just over e-mail. Once we got settled in we realized that we had some common friends we both new and that set everything up for a great weekend. Other then being just a nice person this guy is lightning fast. He runs a 4 min mile, 61 minutes half- marathon, and a 2:14 full marathon. I was hoping to immediately learn something about running from this guy even though I was a coach. I figured he must be fast for a reason and I have got to find out what these guys do. During the first evening I asked a few questions but he seemed really like he did not want to talk about running so I left it alone. The next morning we had to be at a press conference for the opening of the ING Miami marathon for the news and public. This was great because I got to meet everyone involved with ING anything. All the directors of the Hartford and Atlanta office were there. This may seem like a really insignificant thing but when you run or participate in numerous races a year knowing people who know people helps. After taking some photos and being asked about what my day to day profession was people seemed shocked that I play piano at the level I do and run as much as I do. I am pretty sure this helped me out drastically because everyone wanted to talk to me about what I do and how music effects running in my life. The rest of the day was spent looking around the expo and hanging out with all the elite runners in the race. These runners are really great guys. They are friends and many of them form Ethiopia and Kenya grew up together even though they all live in different parts of the world. For them races are a reunion of friends to see who has been doing there job which is running.

The next morning I was going out to run a slow 4 mile jog and bumped into Charles from Kenya, He was going out to run also. He invited me and my first thought was exactly what I said “I am slow man. I am going to have to let you go.” He said, “Your not that slow you come on.” I said “ “you will see.” He was not joking when he said run slow. We were doing 10 minute miles the whole time. He told me if you don’t have it in your legs a week or 2 before the race you won’t show up 2 days before. After we were done I thanked him and then we went to breakfast. After we ate breakfast most of the day was spent in the room not doing much getting ready to race the next morning. I did go to the expo to hear Frank shorter speak. For anyone who does not know who he is, He won the Olympic gold medal in 1972 in a time of 2:12 and is the lead speaking authority on long distance running and doping charges in the world.

After listening to his 45 minute talk he opened it up for questions. I had then proceded to ask some questions about running that had been on my mind. After the talk he said he wanted to talk to me and wanted know who I worked for and what I did for living asking those detailed running questions. After explaining to him that I am a musician and travel the world 9 months a year but loved to run he invited me to his house so that one day we could talk more in depth about some of the issue in the running community that may help children get more involved.

Frank Shorter and I at the elite dinner the night before the race.

That evening at dinner Jared really felt like talking so he unloaded the psychology of running on me for 3 hours and what he planned to do in the race the next morning. I was over whelmed with so much information I had to start writing it down. By about 10pm it was time to go to sleep. The following day was Saturday or the day before the race. Most of this days spent in the bed laying around. The only other reason the athletes went outside was to eat. That evening though there was dinner for the elite runners, coaches, and ING staff members. This was a very fine time to socialize for two hours. The only bad thing about it was that the food was actually served at 8:30pm and that was too late for the athletes. The first hour and a half was a reception which was good for me but is bad for those trying to run and in the morning. I noticed that at the dinner all these elite guys eat as much as I do even though they weigh between 115- 130 pounds. I was thinking to myself that I hope they don’t run out of food at this rate.

The following day we woke up at 4am to get dressed and go to the meeting room at 4:45am. All the coaches and elite runners had to be there to get escorted to the start and get warmed up. The race was slated to begin at 6:10am. Unfortunately on our way over to the start it started pouring down rain and the humidity was high at 76%. The previous two days were great for running and now this. It did not seem to matter to any of the runners though because they were all running under the same conditions. As I warmed up with my new buddy Charles, he seemed very focused on what he was about to do. Every which way you looked you saw runners warming up. Well the time came and the gun went off and it was still raining. I waited to the last possible second to go out there since I was not running in the front. I have to say this race was rough running under these conditions. I felt like I was running in slow motion the whole time. Numerous people from out of town did not finish because they were not used to running under these conditions. I finished not doing my best time or my worst but nevertheless I did finish. Fortunately I new going into this race I am just running to have an up tempo training run. By mile 8 for me I was thinking the half marathon is over for the elite guys. I did wonder who had won though. By the time I finished and got back to the tent I saw all my team mates laughing and smiling like they had just been chilling for the past hour. When I asked the head coach for the team who won the half she replied “ Jared won and broke the course record by 2 seconds.” I said, “ Jared who?” She said, “ You know the guy who is your roommate.” I went over to him and said “You won!” He just replied, Yeah I am not sure of my time but I did exactly what I told I was going to do.” The other team members did great too. By the end of the day seven of the eight members of the team placed. This was a great experience for me being at this race.

Foot solutions running team poses with the CFO of ING and the Cheif district officer of Miami!

There are numerous similarities between running and being a musician. Most people will never understand this because they don’t do both, but for those of you contemplating finding out more about either you can e-mail me. I will gladly tell you about my experience from the ING Miami Marathon.


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