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Now that some time has passed, I’d like to review my thoughts on the race. This won’t be an objective post. As a member of the organizing committee, it’s impossible for me to present an opinion that won’t be biased. With that warning, let’s get started.

My race:

I went into the Run the Line event with very little sleep. My son was competing at the Texas High School UIL State Finals in Austin the day before, and we drove straight home afterward. After getting to bed around 1:30 AM, I awoke at 6 AM to get our bands and course signs out.

I made it to the starting line pretty tired.

During the early portion of the race—through Nix Creek Trail, I felt good…like I was on auto pilot. In fact, I felt sharp enough that I kept checking my physical condition, waiting for the pain to begin. Legs – check, chest and breathing – check. All good. We made it to the halfway mark and relay handoff point, and I still felt lucid. My tired feeling was long gone. I was in race mode.

It was near the halfway point that I began to realize that this race may be faster than my first half-marathon a year ago had been. Still, I didn’t expect that I’d beat my best time by ten minutes.  Even ore amazing, instead of the routine I followed after the race last year—heading home to bed all day—I went out and played nine holes of golf later. I felt great.  It was a good run.

The Positives:

1)      The volunteers were incredible. I was so appreciative of all four musical acts that came out and helped. They stepped up for the community and I’m really appreciative of that.

I knew the musicians would be there, but I didn’t expect the huge number of volunteers. There were cheering people at every stop street. It was motivating to have so many volunteers cheering along the route. I can’t say enough about the huge number of people who helped out.

2)      The organization of the race. Although I served on the organizing committee, I could see how the race details all were expertly handled…so many details that I hadn’t expected, even after being in countless meetings.

3)      The post-race party. The fact that the party is downtown, in front of Hopkins, gives the race a true “small town” homey atmosphere. That was fantastic.

 4)     The announcing and the bling. Mike Jones does a great job announcing. The medals and tee-shirts are both top notch.

The Negatives:

1)      The starting line festivities. For a race that has so much positive energy, there could definitely be more excitement at the beginning. You couldn’t hear much of the prerace stuff going on. I think the crowd realized Tony Judd was singing the national anthem halfway through. This could be improved.

2)      Actual homeowners. Come on, Texarkana! Although there were people all over the course, the actual number of times I saw surprised homeowners was amazing. Apparently, although the race committee tried to get the word out, it seems that people didn’t know the race was happening.

3)      Finish line music. At one point I heard “Penny Lover”, a slow song by Lionel Richie playing as people were crossing the finish line. I’m not sure why mellow music was playing at the finish line, but that should change next year.

As you can see, the positives of the race far outweighed the negatives. If you haven’t experienced Run the Line, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. The fun during the race and the post-race party are something that everyone should experience, whether you’re a runner or fast walker.

I haven’t posted in FOREVER! I probably should let you know what’s going on.

We’ve begun the process of rolling out committees on Partnership for the Pathway. What that means is that YOU will be able to get involved to ramp up the pace of change in Texarkana. The sad truth I’ve learned is that less than half a mile of trail costs over $60,000. That’s a ton of money. Although there are plenty of people in this town that think trails are important to the community, we don’t have the manpower to work fast enough to achieve large successes.

That’s not to say that there aren’t already a ton of people out there like you and I; there are many that I meet every day who are worried about safety, home values and exercise. However, we’re disconnected and unmotivated. All of us have tons of other priorities, so part of our challenge is to cut through all of the other daily activities that people have and convince them that getting out of their chairs is important.

Here is the action so far: 

-          Our Communications Committee kicked off last week! We’re excited to bring you a more steady flow of information about trails and the outdoor community.

-          The Trail Sponsorship Committee, which works on grants and capital campaigns is having a kickoff on Monday, April 11th at the home of John and Julie-Ray Harrison.

-          The Membership and Trail Development Committees aren’t far behind. You’ll be hearing from organizers about initial meetings of these groups shortly.

Lots going on. On this note, I’m turning over this blog to the communications committee of the Partnership for the Pathway. That’ll give you more frequent posts, a wider range of viewpoints, and hopefully a wider range of topics about good health, safety, trails and nature. I can’t wait to see what everyone dreams up for this blot.  I do know that this blog will be an important place for information in the next several months.

Keep reading.  It’s getting fun!

Run the Line Recap

Tomorrow I’ll have a much better recap, but for today I’ll just mention that I’m ecstatic about how the Run the Line went.  I know I’m not objective about this race, but I loved the number of volunteers along the course, the musical acts, the addition of the Pleasant Grove tunnel, the hilarious water stations, and of course the chocolate stop.

That’s on top of the fact that I beat last year’s time by over two minutes, which makes me feel pretty smug and full of myself.

More tomorrow!

A short story—my spouse, Cheryl, ran her first marathon in Detroit, Michigan.  Like Run the Line, it’s known for running in two different locales during a single race.  Not that it matters for our preview, but

the Detroit Marathon runs under the Detroit River and into Canada for awhile.  She said that she got to the “26 MILE” sign and felt elated—until she realized that it’s 26 POINT TWO miles.  She said that the POINT TWO made her cry.

That shouldn’t be the case with the POINT ONE at the conclusion of Run the Line.  Once you reach the 13 Mile marker, you’ll be right around the corner from the finish stretch.  When I say “right around the corner,” I’m being literal.  If you don’t see the finish when you see the marker, count to three.

Our master of ceremonies, Mike Jones, will goad you home the last several yards.  Mike is known for his witty commentary and hosts many of the local events around Texarkana.  We’re happy he’s able to help with our race, along with all the other volunteers who make it possible. 

Once you finish, a volunteer with place a medal around your neck.  The design, created by Partnership board member Tony Judd, has the flags of Arkansas and Texas, and is one of the prized medals in my collection.

You’ll end in front of Hopkins Ice House, our finish line location hosts.  Inside, you’ll find some great food, prepared for and provided by Bryces Cafeteria, Johnny Carino’s, and Roger & Debbie Sheppard.  A quick story about Roger & Debbie.  They own Sports Magic, who provides our tee-shirts.  As a way to give to the community, they offer all the grilled portions and they prepare them.  There are so many of these stories that I wish I could tell all of them! 

Back to the preview….. there will be soft drinks and water for everyone, beer for those over 21, and lots of runners trading war stories inside Hopkins Ice House.  Across the street, the Texarkana Antique Car Club is displaying some beautiful old automobiles.  While you’re stretching out your legs, be sure and take a stroll among some classic cars.

And that’s our race preview!  I hope you enjoyed it.  Good luck with the race.  I’ll see you at the starting line!  I’ll be the super-sweaty middle aged guy listening to an mp3 player…..  ;-)

Next week I’ll have a long list of “thank you’s” plus race recaps, so be sure and check back after you run!

YOU’VE REACHED THIS FAR without stopping, and now there’s only a mile to go.  You’ve already done 12 of these….what’s one more?  I saw a great bumper sticker while running my first marathon this January.  It said, “26.2 miles, what can go wrong?”  You can turn that into “13.1” miles at Run the Line.  However, no matter how you feel at this point, I’ll share with you, nothing can stop you with only one more mile left!  Luckily, it’s a fun mile, too.

Just after the 12 Mile Marker, you’ll take a right and head again toward downtown. Now you’re on Hazel Street, angling toward State Line.  Here you’ll encounter our “bring it home” entertainers, the CDX Band.  This water station has some history!  This was told to me by a third party, so it may be wrong, but this is the way I heard the story:  In the early days of Run the Line (this is year #4 for the race….so I’m talking WAY back in 2007), the good people at the City of Texarkana, Texas Fleet Services agreed to help our fledgling race and sponsor a water station.  Because some of them are runners, and they know how much runners enjoy a little music on the trail, they brought guys who play instruments and formed a band.  Every year since (until this year), they’ve been our sole entertainers on the course.  For that, we’re incredibly grateful.  If you like what you hear with the CDX guys and want to contact them, call Jim Powell at (903)748-9732.

Drink your water fast, because you’re going to want to savor the next site….I know last year–my first Run the Line–I did.  Just past the water station you’ll merge onto State Line Road.  You did it.  You’ve toured the Arkansas side, the Texas side, and now you’re Running the Line.

Ahead of you is the U.S. Courthouse and Post Office, the only facility of its kind in the world. There are over 20 city, county, and state law and judicial agencies for Arkansas and Texas.  As you’d expect, the building is divided in half, with those on the right (west) side housing Texas agencies and those on the left (east) holding Arkansas offices.  That’s all neat trivia, but for you, it means that you’ve arrived again downtown and you’re a few short blocks from the finish.  You’ll swing around the traffic circle and take in a few short blocks before veering off on Olive Street.  Now you’ve Run the Line and it’s time to bring it home!

RUMOR HAS IT THAT SOME DAY, John Harrison might really retire.  You doubt the rumor when you start talking to John about trails because of the excitement in his voice when he talks about Run the Line and building healthy, safe trails for the people of Texarkana. While working as a banker, he served on the Comprehensive Planning Committee for the City of Texarkana, Texas, and realized that if trails were going to become a reality, he and his spouse Julie-Ray were going to have to get behind them and push.  Not only can you Julie-Ray and John out running and walking daily, but they work together tirelessly with Partnership for the Pathway to build a healthy, safe environment for the people of Texarkana. John was nice enough to briefly pause his frantic work organizing the Run the Line race to talk about this year’s event with us.

What do you like best about Run the Line?

Run the Line is a lot of fun when the runners start coming in down at the finish line.  Listening to Mike Jones, our announcer, is a lot of laughs.  He is an extremely good master of ceremonies.  The camaraderie amongst the runners at Hopkins Ice House is palpable.  What a great time!!!

What led you to become coordinator of the race?

In 2007 David Peavy came to us with the idea of a half marathon as a fund raiser for more trails around Texarkana.  It seemed like a big risk, so the first year we asked David, ‘if there’s a loss from the race, would you split the cost with us?’  He said ok, and we approved the event at our next board meeting.  After that we started assigning tasks to all the board members.   I must have been absent at that meeting since they put me in charge of asking people for money for the race!  Fortunately, for David and for our trails, the race did not lose money the first year.

How many runners do you expect this year?

I expect 375 runners on Sunday.

What do you see as your biggest challenge in growing the Run the Line?

The biggest challenge we have is trying to make sure all the details get handled.  As the race gets bigger, there seems to be more and more details to take care to have a successful race.

What are people telling you are their favorite parts of Run the Line?

The favorite things that I hear about Run the Line is running on all the beautiful trails and the Awards Ceremony at the Ice House.  Don’t let me forget all the great food fixed by Roger and Debbie Sheppard.

Mile 12 starts in the historic Highland Park area.  Not only are there gorgeous old homes and tall trees lining the street, but this year we’ll have some rockin’ entertainment to help you bring it home!  Just before the water station you’ll pass Spotlight Karaoke Professional DJ and KJ Service.  Johnathan Lenaway will be out spinning tunes for you as you head toward the home stretch.  You can find out more about Spotlight Karaoke DJs at (903)733-4663 or email Johnathan at karaokeman@cableone.net.

You’ll reach water station #7 as you complete Pine Street and turn toward Olive Street.  This is another beautiful stretch of road on your way back downtown.  Just after you finish Olive Street you’ll turn left and see the “12” mile marker ahead.  You’ve almost reached the finish!!!!

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