Sunday, May 29, 2011

How wonderful and random to meet one of our "Miles & Trials" film fund donors and supporters while on location shooting at the Cleveland Marathon on 5/15. Even cooler was that she recognized me while she was on her way to a big PR in the half marathon! Thanks, Maryclare!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oh Well, Sh*t Happens!

Heather was planning on running the Eugene Marathon on 5/1 but then she got sick and lost a few weeks of training, so she set her sights on the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon for her second Olympic Trials Qualifier on 5/15 (she'd previously attempted it in Chicago). Well, the morning before leaving for Green Bay, she learned that the forecast called for 30 mile per hour winds and being singularly focused on qualifying for the Trials, made the difficult and immediate decision to head to Cleveland to do the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon instead. I was just waking up and about to head out the door at 6:45 a.m. to catch a ride up to Green Bay with some other runners who were doing it when Heather called and spent the next several hours scrambling to book a hotel room in an already sold-out city (I managed to get what was possibly the last room available in the city and at a great rate, too) and reserved a spot on the Megabus from Chicago to Green Bay. Our Associate Producer of the Eugene segment, Jill Czarnik generously used her frequent flier miles and donated a one-way plane ticket to me so I could get there in time. 

It was extremely foggy with very low visibility and the plane actually had to circle over Cleveland Airport for 20 minutes with the possibility of the pilot having to re-route to Pittsburgh or Columbus. Thankfully, it cleared enough for us to be able to land in Cleveland but over an hour behind schedule, so I didn't arrive in CLE until 1:00 a.m! 

I found a taxi to my hotel (thank you to Henri at the Intercontinental Guest House for giving me the AAA discount even though I don't own a car!) and my head hit the pillow at 2:30 a.m.  2.5 hours later, I got my wake-up call at 5:00 a.m.  It's a miracle that I got there at all and I managed to get to the start line at the Cleveland Browns Stadium at 6:15, just in time to spot Heather behind a barricade wondering where she would store her gear bag since there was no Elite tent or gear check.

I ended up wearing Heather's backpack on top of my own and must have looked pretty strange, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame with two humps.

The Hunchback of Cleveland
The gun went off at 7:00 a.m. and I was jumping up and down, wishing the best for Heather. Without having had time to pre-plan for Cleveland, I found myself on an unfamiliar course searching for Mile 12, the only mile marker I could get to on foot ahead of Heather where I'd be able to get footage of her racing, then get back to the finish line before 9:46 a.m. (she needed to run 2:46 to get the Olympic Trials B Standard). Things were a bit confusing out on the course with both the 10K, half marathon and full marathon being run simultaneously and it was difficult to find the 12 Mile marker, or determine which runners were doing what race. I finally stopped and set up my camera at about 11.5 miles and waited anxiously for Heather who, if she was on her 6:20 min/mile pace, would arrive at around 8:15 a.m. Well, 8:15 came and went with no sign of Heather. At 8:29 a.m., I called her coach in Chicago, Bill Leach to let him know (since Heather was a late entry, she was not to be found on online runner tracking). He said something must be wrong, and my heart dropped. 

The Female Lead Pack at Mile 11.5... but where's Heather?
I waited a few more minutes before reluctantly heading to the finish line. It had begun raining and I was drenched and worried about my camera. I kept wiping it off with a towel and put a plastic trash bag over it. When I got to Mile 13, I suddenly heard a woman call out my name. I looked and it was Maryclare McQuade, a runner from Virginia who had donated a plane ticket to me when I was trying to get to Houston in January to film the USA Half Marathon Championships and Houston Marathon! She recognized me while running the half marathon! She PR'd in the race and on her way back to her car after finishing, stopped for a quick interview. It was so awesome that she recognized me just from our Facebook page and let me know that we are indeed producing a film that people will be interested in seeing.

Maryclare McQuade
After interviewing Maryclare, I looked at my cellphone and noticed I had a message. It was from Heather. She gave me the unfortunate news that she was experiencing stomach issues and decided that if she'd made a pit-stop, she'd lose two minutes and with it, her OTQ. It wasn't worth putting 26.2 hard miles on her legs and not be able to qualify, and having to recover for weeks before attempting another marathon so she made the wise decision to stop at Mile 10. I called Heather back and we convened a few blocks from the finish line with her husband David and mom in tow. I did an on-the-spot interview with her about what had happened and when she began shivering, let her go back to her car and off to her hotel room to shower and rest.

"Oh well, shit happens!"
Before she headed off into the mist, Heather urged me to get to the finish line quickly to catch the two other women she'd been running with who also were attempting to run an Olympic Trials qualifying time. She was right... this film is about women who are trying to make it to the Trials but more importantly, to tell the stories of all women who have a dream. I managed to make it back in time to see last year's Cleveland Marathon winner Nicole Camp win again and realize her dream and punch her ticket to Houston with a 2:43:47 PR! Nicole and her parents graciously allowed me to interview them after the race. 

Nicole Camp
We also met the lovely Jackie Pirtle-Hall of St. Charles, MO, another Trials contender who missed her OTQ by a mere 1 minute. A heart-breaker, to be sure but like Heather, Jackie plans to get it done!

Jackie Pirtle-Hall
And so even though our Heather didn't make it this time, our crazy 28 hour trip to Cleveland resulted in some wonderful (but wet) footage that will be compelling to watch! Heather is not done yet, though... she's ready to try again and will toe the line at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota on June 18th. We hope that we can raise enough money through donations to our Film Fund to rent our video gear and cover our travel costs to see Heather fulfill her dream! If you'd like to help us out, please click on the Donate button on the upper-right hand side of this blog.

(p.s. A huge thank you Beth Salinger of Endurance Marketing who granted me a last-minute media credential and Coach Jenny Hadfield who delivered it to my hotel. Also kudos to Dick Pond/Fast Track Racing's Marvin Banal and Tim Hamilton for giving me a ride back to Chicago after their races. We all returned home tired but happy!)
"Team Dreamsicle" 
Matt Jeromin & Marvin Banal
(not pictured is Tim Hamilton, our safe driver)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hello, Cleveland!

 Big change of plans... Mother Nature's decided to mess with Green Bay with a forecast of 30 mph winds on Sunday, so Heather's decided to head to Cleveland instead for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon tomorrow morning. I know that Heather's disappointed that she won't be doing Green Bay because she has a lot of friends and family in the area but her singular focus is qualifying for the Trials, and this girl will do whatever it takes to get that OTQ. I asked her what time she was shooting for and if she would try to get under the 2:46 B standard time and Heather replied, "I'm gonna give it everything I've got." And indeed, she shall!

Wow, this is gonna be one heck of a documentary film!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Five Days 'til Heather's OTQ Attempt in Green Bay!

We've got another one of our girls chomping at the bit to qualify for the Trials... Heather Prekop will go for it in the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon on Sunday, May 1st. This producer is doing all of the pre-production planning necessary to ensure that we get footage of Heather at the start, on the course and finishing in sub-2:46:00! Here's an interview with Heather speaking about qualifying, what she learned from her first attempt in the 2010 Chicago Marathon, and how she balances training with work and her personal life. (Sorry for the poor audio... it was very windy and we forgot a windscreen for our microphone).