What a day. For the first time since 2019 - the GW Parkway was closed off for thousands of runners - in April! - the correct time of year for one of the most picturesque runs in all of the country. It was awesome.
While running the Parkway Classic, I was reminded how important it is to be in person and have these races together. The connection with each other is so important - that's what I was again reminded of yesterday.
I ran the race myself, my favorite race to run. But more than the race, it was people I literally ran into along the way. Here is a list (sorry for anyone I omitted!) of people and our shared connection.
I got off the bus to Mt. Vernon. The first person I see:
Lisa Reeves - Race Director Parkway Classic. We embraced, and I wished her luck on what would be an incredible next few hours.
Lisa was with a group of people with our title sponsor, PNC bank.
Jermaine Johnson, the Regional President of PNC bank, was not running (this year!) but was there to support many PNC employees who were. We talked for 5 mins, and I was inspired by his "leadership" message - he is one of those people who can move you pretty quickly.
I grabbed my race number and a race number for my friend Michael Wardian - we talked about several things. I knew he was running this race then taking off to San Fran to run across the country - but I didn't know his son, at 113 pounds, played Linebacker for the WL Freshman football team.
I headed over to the starting line and connected with the best race announcer in the biz:
Marc Goldman - we talked about his job, and he told me to not take for granted the time with the kids - his 2 are in college - but remembered like it was yesterday having kids the age of mine.
The gun went off, and we ran down the GW Parkway. 2 miles in, I saw an old colleague Brandon Boucher - he used to manage our Clarendon store. We traded stories about trying to get runs in between changing diapers.
Mile 6 hits, and a runner introduces himself to me: Tom Kaiden from Visit Alexandria - we talked about the importance of this event to the City and his commitment to it from a personal and business standpoint. He runs the race every year.
Just after 8.5 miles, I hear a familiar encouraging voice:
Michael Fennel - was my personal trainer in Old Town. He was looking for a PR but had enough wind to tell me about starting his own business training people at Six Chiropractic in Alexandria.
The Finish was terrific. Too many people to list them all. But I did see my former College XC/Track teammate Carrie Dunn, and she had the scoop on Arlington Schools and life with older kids. We were recruited in the same class for the University of Virginia in 1994.
I then saw my neighbor:
Alison Cummings, who had just taken care of my cat the previous week. She had blazed an 84 min 10 miler, but the real star was her 11-year-old daughter, who might have a new career in the cat sitting business.
Then leaving the finish chute, I ran into the Mayor of Alexandria: Justin Wilson. We talked about kids and schools and celebrated all that Alexandria has done for businesses like ours in the past 2 years.
Then, I was off to have a beer at the Finish Festival. And I saw a training partner from years ago - 2003 MCM champ: Heather Hanscom. She finished her doctorate at GW and was there to watch her 3-year-old run the kid's dash.
Finally - I see my business partner Kathy. She is the mastermind behind the race. But honestly, we didn't even talk about the Parkway Classic, and we knew it went well. Really, I had to ask her about being the Center Ref at a youth soccer game the day before. She was as good at keeping those 22 kids in line as she was at making sure thousands of us runners got to the finish line.
So my point is this: It's not just about the race/run. This is an inclusive community of interesting, awesome people who all have a story to tell.
We were all lucky to get a chance to share the road together yesterday. Let's do it again soon.