Everyone who really knows me knows that I love running, and I love football. I was searching for a spring marathon for 2014. As I was searching the internet I came across the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon in Canton Ohio. The medal was shaped like a football. I thought perfect race for me. I sent the picture to my friend CG. He laughed, he loved the medal. CG knew it was the race for me.
Unfortunately I did not make the race in 2014. My Dad was admitted to the hospital in early April. He was actually dying of cancer. I took several trips back and forth to Mississippi to see him, so my training suffered. I would have stayed the whole month, but I had to work. I decided to defer the race, due to lack of training and I wanted to go back to Mississippi the weekend of the race. I was worried, I had this bad feeling. I am so glad I did, my Dad ended up passing away on Sunday 4/27/2014 the day of the race.
The race organizers let me defer to 2015 so the plan was to do the Marathon, but my body was not having it. I had plantar fasciitis ( condition in which the fascia – connective tissue on the bottom of my foot is inflamed) and the whole month of February I was sick with the flu, and several colds. So my training again suffered. I decided to downgrade to the half. I figured my foot could handle that. I have learned the hard way to listen to my body.
So April 2015 I would do the Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon. The whole weekend was bitter sweet, due losing my father a year to the date of the race. I decided to run and think happy thoughts of him. My father loved football. He was a Pittsburgh Steeler fan. He was the one who first introduced me to the game. I remember my grandfather being a Dallas Cowboy fan, and my Dad being a Steeler fan. On Sunday they would have words. It used to amuse me.
I flew into Akron-Canton airport. It is very small airport. My hotel shuttle then picked me up. McKinney Grand Hotel was where I had made a reservation. The host hotel was full when I made my reservation. I was not pleased with McKinney Grand. The people were very nice, but the hotel was old and not the cleanest. It did not meet my standards. It also was farther away from race and expo than the host hotel. One of my running friends that I hat met at a race RT had a double and was willing to let me stay with her and another running friend. So the hotel let me check out Saturday although my reservation was until Monday.
I initially did not want to rent a car. I figured I would use Uber, which was not the smartest move. Uber was new to city, and they did not have that many drivers so it took up to fifteen minutes to get picked up. I also seemed like their prices were higher than what I was used to in Chicago. So I got a car on Priceline for the remainder of my stay. I would recommend a car to anyone who is going to Canton.
The Race expo was fun. I met so many people from Black Girls Run Cleveland. They had a booth at the expo. It was nice to see some friendly faces who could give me some information about Canton. I had traveled solo to the race, so it was nice to make some new friends. I picked up my race bibs for 5k and half marathon. I also bought a key chain, which was a replica of 2014 race. I loved it, it was shaped like a football as indicated above.
Saturday I woke up and felt so tired. I wanted to stay in bed and skip the 5k, and just do the half marathon. I forced myself to make it. I thought it would be fun. I arrived at stadium. I met a member of BGR Cleveland who was about to run her very first 5k. I was so excited for her. We actually ran part of the race together. I run into one of my college classmates who I had not seen since college. I met his friends and family. I also saw one of my friends that I had met at another race from Detroit. One of the many benefits of running is the people that you meet. I have running friends from all over the United States, even some in other countries. Bonds that will indeed last a lifetime.
We start the race, and my foot was feeling fine. I started slow, because I was running for fun not time. I had to save some for the half marathon the following day. I stop to take pictures with a man dressed as a referee, and Captain America.
I picked up the pace. I was rolling and having a great time. I get close to finish life and see the medals. I was like , “WOW” talk about bling. Then I see what made the race worth signing up for. I see the one and only Hall of Famer Dan Marino. He was giving people high fives at the finish line. I get another racer to take pictures to capture the moment. I get my bling ring medal. I was in a bit of heaven
My foot was hurting a little at the end, but it was worth it. It was time to move to the host hotel. Later that evening NBMA had a meet and greet. I was blessed to meet some runners from Charlotte, Washington DC, and Maryland. Also adding new people to my running circle.
It was time to head over to Half Marathon race start. I met allot of people who had just got in from Kentucky. Some had run a marathon the day prior, some a half marathon. They were in the process of chasing 50 states. Some half marathoners, and marathoners have the goal to do a half or a whole in all fifty states. Many do back-to-back races. I met a gentleman who was scheduled to run seven half marathon in a week.
I had on my #1 football team paraphernalia. I happened to be the only Eagles fan there, but that was ok. The race started my foot was bothering me a little, but I ran and listened to my race playlist. I had just recently downloaded Empire sound track, which was a great move. I thought happy thoughts. I thought about my Dad , and I was in celebration mode. As one of my good friends always says “ Run Happy”, and that is what I did. I was running to the beat. Every mile I cheered. The crowd support for race was ok, not great. After 6 miles my foot was talking to me, but I kept it up.
Three songs from the Empire soundtrack gave me great motivation. One being “ Your So Beautiful” the beat alone kept me on pace. I also love hearing I am beautiful, because I am. I am not conceited. I give all glory to God for everything I am, because I used to have low self-esteem. I had to learn to love myself. The second song that helped was “Keep It Moving” because that is what I had to do. I had to keep running with one foot in front of the other. I had to keep going every mile to the finish. Running is like life you have to keep in moving. Keep moving to the finish line. The third song that stood out to me was “Conqueror”. I am a conqueror, and I don’t accept defeat were the words that gave me motivation. I was pumping my fists, moving to the beat having a great time. A few people looked at me like I was crazy, but I did not care. I was running my race, my pace, having a great time.
I was nearing the end. I saw the Hall of Fame building. I had to finish strong so I sped up, and tried to encourage others at the end. I was saying to them we are almost done, come on we can do it. The race ended in Fawcett Stadium. This is the stadium where they play Hall of Fame football game each year. As you run in the stadium they announce your name. I hear “Ouida Brown from Chicago” and sped up even more until I hit the finish line. I had done it. I made it. My foot held out, it carried me to the end of the race.
Half of Fame Half Marathon was a great experience. I would recommend it for anyone who loves to run, and anyone who loves football. To top off my weekend I went to the Pro-football Hall of Fame Museum. I speed three hours and would have stayed longer, but they were closing. I took over one hundred pictures, and plan to go back soon.
Check out my slide show from the Pro Football Hall of Fame if you are interested.