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I Ran with Ryan Hall

I couldn't believe it when I saw the announcement on Facebook: Ryan Hall would be doing a running clinic, 5K and dinner talk at my alma mater! I kept reading the post, thinking....Ryan Hall? The American record holder for the marathon and two time Olympian? At Houghton College? After thinking about it for a few days, I decided to register for the event.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought maybe there would be a few hundred people there ready to glean any advice they could, all super fit and fast. I was quite surprised to see only a few dozen there, including several young kids, some older runners, tall and short, large and small. I immediately felt comfortable there.

We started with a great presentation by Ryan. He talked about training plans, running drills, nutrition, race strategy. It was nice to hear I have been doing most things "right", and learned that there are a few things I should change. He then brought us to the track and shared his favorite running drills, and then in the weight room to demonstrate his routine.

We then headed over to the 5K on Houghton's home course, though due to some flooding it had to be altered. It was 87 degrees by the late afternoon race start, but I didn't really care. I met this other runner, Chelsea, and we were both determined to get a photo with Ryan Hall before the race start. So... we marched over to him, introduced ourselves and took pictures. He was such a welcoming guy, very friendly. We also met Glen Avery who is the oldest man to complete the World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons, 7 continents, 7 days). He and his wife were such joys to talk with. He talked about listening to your body and staying hydrated. He told me, "You can't run a race if your dead." That is quite true!

So onto the actual race. Both Chelsea and I had run the Buffalo Marathon just 3 weeks ago and neither of us were feeling ready to race. It was so hot and we were in an open field, but off we went. I stayed in front of Ryan for the first 1/2 mile, but quickly regretted my fast start! After that I stayed pretty conservative, just wanting to finish. Just after the mile 2 marker I caught up to Chelsea and we finished the race together. It was so nice to run in with her:) We finished in 28 min, which I was pretty happy about. After the race, Ryan and Glen signed my race bib and my Running with Kelly shirt, so cool!

After a quick shower, we enjoyed a dinner and Ryan spoke at length about how his running story, his family and his faith. I truly enjoyed the entire event and the new friends I met.

I could write so much more about some of the specifics he shared, but this blog would be way to long! What struck me most is that this incredible athlete is sincerely friendly, willing to share his perspective with a small group of runners from all levels, at this "in the middle of no where" school.

I just keep thinking.... I ran with Ryan Hall!

Happy Running everyone!

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