The Local Hero

Today’s Workout:
The Plan: 6 Miles + 4 20 second strides w/ 2 minute recoveries
The Actual: Full Rest Day (unless moving a delivery of lumber into the garage counts?)


You know the famous athletes, the ones that attract the paparazzi and, unless you live in a cave, you probably at least recognize their name, and you know the athletes that play “your sport”; that’s about it.  With that, it’s probably not surprising that until I surrounded myself with people that love the SPORT of running, know it’s history, keep up on the current pheonoms, etc. I couldn’t name one runner.  Okay, maybe Usain Bolt, but that’s because he falls into the former bucket and not the latter.

I’ve apparently fallen into a sport that has quite the local legacy, and that’s kind of cool.  The local heroes are some REAL heroes.  They not only have etched their names in the running record books but they are doing some real good for their local communities.

We start with Mrs. Joan Benoit Samuelson living right up the road in Freeport.  The first-ever woman’s Olympic marathon champion! And being that she’s local, I also got to get jiggy-with-it on the dance floor with her last year at a friend’s wedding (Right side, halfway down of the collage in A little help from my friends) – I was giddy!  She’s from Maine, returned to Maine, and in 1998 founded the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K benefiting a different children’s charity each year.  I had the honor of running this race last year, and plan to run it again this year.  She doesn’t just put her name on the race, she’s an active participant and out there cheering everyone across the finish line.  SO COOL!!!

Then we move to Mr. Ben True (note to Saucony….you need to work on your Athlete website.  It’s horrid!) who is not only from Maine but grew up in the town right next door and attended the same high school that my son will.  There are totally good vibes there, right!?!  He’s done some pretty amazing things during his professional career since 2009, the most recent being last month winning the New York Diamond League 5000m – the first American man!  Running clearly isn’t his only focus though, made clear by his decision in 2010 to train with In The Arena Track Club, an NGO that provides opportunities for elite athletes to compete professionally while working part-time to strengthen their local communities.  Somehow while ticking seconds off almost all his PRs, he found time to coach and manage the cross-country and track team at Indian River Middle School in Enfield, NH.  His training plans involved ice cream….can he be MY coach because Jenny won’t let me have ice cream!?!?

To round out this crazy crew, we land on Ms. Erica Jesseman.  She’s from Scarborough, went to college in New Hampshire, and is currently working (almost done mind you) towards her master’s degree in secondary education at Saint Joseph’s College (while logging 100 mile weeks by the way!).  Other interesting fact, she’s ran, and won, the Hartford Marathon three times.  I’m sure she’ll be happy to see me when I track her down at the start this year (I’ll assume she’s running it again) and ask her for a good luck high five!

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I knew this state was special, it was what drew my husband home and I gladly agreed, but to see how “our” athletes have stayed with their roots and look to give back to this great state, and sport, of ours, is pretty darn awesome.  It makes me take a second look at that email I got the other day from Girls On the Run looking for coaches.  You never know whose local hero you might be.

Who’s your local running hero?

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