The day I met Kathrine Switzer

Who is Kathrine Switzer?

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon. An all-male event for 70 years. She signed her name for the race entry as KV Switzer and at the time long distance running was questionable for women because of course we were so fragile that our uterus would fall out! Women faced many prejudices back then which Kathrine was ready to debunk. That day in 1967 the men in the race and even the photographer was very supportive but not the Race Director. He personally proceeded to run after Kathrine and physically grabbed her to remove her off the course. At the time Kathrine was not trying to be a crusader but realized in that very moment it was a much bigger statement to simply finish this race. That 4hr20min changed her life and many others. In 1972 five years after she crossed that finish line, women were officially allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon. In 1974 Switzer WON the NYC Marathon. She has had many career highlights including being named one of the Visionaries of the Century (2000), Hero of Running (2012), and Runner of the Decade (1966-76) by Runners World Magazine. Kathrine continues to deliver her visionary message and inspire many with her charm and class. When I heard she was coming here to Baton Rouge, Louisiana that first weekend of December 2014 for the Baton Rouge Beach Half/Full Expo and Marathon weekend, I made it my goal to meet her and she more than exceeded my expectations. I was personally introduced to her by the Race Director Craig Watson ( like “I” am a somebody lol) Kathrine seemed genuinely excited to meet me. I don’t get flustered that easy but I could barely speak as I stumbled my words to tell her how much of an honor it was to meet her and wanted to sincerely thank her for everything she has done for women in running. She is an icon to many. She actually introduced me to her friends who are also very lovely and gracious as well. I can see that Kathrine keeps excellent company. After chatting I asked Kathrine for a picture and if she would sign my bib (a new tradition that I decided to start on the spot even though this was my 15th Half lol)

Can you tell I am just a tad excited?!

Can you tell I am just a tad excited?!

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The next morning I looked for Kathrine before the start of the Baton Rouge Beach Half/Full. I mentioned to her that I was part of the Varsity Sports running group and if she would take a pre-race picture with us as well as stay for our Runner’s Prayer. A tradition that is done before the start of the race with the group. It was an honor to have her company with us that morning, especially since it was going to be a challenging race with the very high humidity and fog that laid before us in the miles ahead.

Our group race pic

Our group race pic

Kathrine was a great sport and stayed for our "goofy" pic as well :)

Kathrine was a great sport and stayed for our “goofy” pic as well 🙂

Runner's Prayer to give us extra blessings for a good race day.

Runner’s Prayer to give us extra blessings for a good race day.

Even though I did not have a stellar performance at that race, getting a hug from Kathrine Switzer after crossing the Finish made my day. So gracious, supportive and inspiring. We were blessed to have her at the BR Beach weekend events. Thank you Kathrine! #261 #BeFearless

Another reason as to "Why I Run" the people you meet :)

Another reason as to “Why I Run” the people you meet 🙂

For more on Kathrine Switzer:

sixdegrees

Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon Recap

A week out the weather forecast was all over the place for this race. It went from 80% to 40% rain chance. What would the weather bring for race morning bring on Saturday? This event is put on by the Running Chicken Track Club and would be its 20th year. The race expo was held at the Marriott on Friday. Since I got there early not all of the booths were setup but I did get a sneak peek of the race medals as promised by the race director Craig Watson.

The Finisher Medal for the Full was the same but had a blue ribbon instead of red and the word 'Half' omitted out of course

The finisher medal for the Full was the same but had a blue ribbon instead of red and the word ‘Half’ omitted out course. The medal was smaller than expected even by Craig but I like the funky chicken.


The Swag Bag from packet pickup was full of goodies and also included a nice bag for bag check in the morning. The race shirt is shown on the left. A white, dry fit race shirt which again featured the club chicken which was different this year from year’s past but I liked it.
brb swag
Another check on the weather Friday evening and it looked like the rain would be only at a 10% chance for the 7am start however it would be chilly. The ‘feels like’ temp would be 29 degrees due to the 16 mph winds. This would be my coldest race yet and especially hard since it was 80 degrees two days ago! We have a common saying down here in the South. “If you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes!!” I don’t mind cold weather but it helps to be able to adapt to it. I felt blessed though because I heard the St. Jude’s and Dallas Marathons both were cancelled for the next day due to the accompanying ice/sleet and even lower temperatures. The race director for our local races Baton Rouge Beach and the Woman’s Half Marathon decided to grant free entries to those that were not going to be able to run these races. For some it was to be their first Half or Full Marathon. My heart went out to those that put months and expense into these race plans. I personally had several friends that went to St Jude’s but every single one of them said “it was for the kids” and handled the disappointment with the utmost grace. My race evening prep was done but I was still a bit unsure what I would be wearing until I got to the race. Hat or no hat? second layer needed? disposable sweatshirt? sunglasses? Basically everything went into the car. Since this was a local race that was easy and parking for the race was available by shuttle or you could park a block away which is what I elected so my car could be close by. The next morning I met up with several friends from previous races and the race started at 7am sharp as promised. It was a chilly and windy but by mile 2 I was already peeling off layers. There was plenty of water/powerade stops throughout the course for the apprx 590 runners. Yes, this is a small race but since I have ran this route for training several times I decided at least once I should earn a medal for it! Surprisingly there were people that came in from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Minnesota and more for this race. The first Half of the race I felt pretty strong and once again I realized I started out too fast and struggled. I was warned by my dear friend and coach Stephen to make the second Half more challenging mentally than the first that it would help in Full training. For this race I was hoping to finish slightly under 2:06 even though my past several Halfs have been 2:10-2:12. Around Mile 9 I looked at my time and realized I was way off so I just decided to push harder and finish as strong as I could despite the winds picking up. The course would be wrapping up soon as we came back towards LSU Lakes. I told myself there was no surprises coming up just try to push faster and get to that Finish line which I did at 2:10. I have no regrets with the race I ran. I completed it the best I could.(I always expect more from myself which I am sure everyone does.) I enjoyed it and quickly spotted Ken, Stephen, Jennifer and even Francine who came out to support despite the cold.
Such a great group to be a part of. Thanks Ken, Stephen, Jennifer and Erica!!!

Such a great group to be a part of. Thanks Ken, Stephen, Jennifer and Erica!!!


Our friend Fred is not in the picture because he had pushed through and was going for the Full. This would be his 31st Full. This race is special to him being that it was his 1st Full back in 2008. Five years later he is still going strong. Amazing!!! We all wanted to hang out longer and wait for Fred but it was extremely cold and as all runners know wet skin due to sweat is not the most comfortable thing when its cold. Standing there shivering we said our goodbyes. I once again did not partake in the post race food which there was an abundance to choose from such as donuts,catfish,gumbo,jambalaya and of course alligator sauce piquant! I never have much of an appetite after a race and since it was so cold I desperately wanted hot coffee which there was none so that was the end of the race festivities for me.

Even though I didn’t meet my race time goal I would not say this was a bad race. It was however a challenging race. Every race is unique whether its the weather conditions, roads, people etc. You learn to enjoy the experience and learn something new at each one which makes each special. Today I learned to ‘dig deep’.

This race was important to me as it was part of my path to my 10th Half which will be on 1-19-14. The Louisiana Half. I am glad I included Baton Rouge Beach as #9. The roads this race covered has been a bulk of my training during the past two years since I started running so it seemed only right.

I did get a small scoop from Craig for next year’s race. Since it will be the “21st” year the theme ‘may’ be: “21, now were Legal!” He’s toying around with a lawyer chicken maybe tie and glasses? You will have to check it out next December to see what they decide on.

Race results for Baton Rouge Beach Half/Full can be found at: http://www.brbeachmarathon.com/

Question: What did you learn recently from a race?