"You run like a girl!"
If the comment was made in reference to Buckeye Local schools own track and cross-country team coach Diane McCracken, you might want to stop whatever your were doing and take the time to thank the would-be heckler.
Putting the final touches on The Relay 4 Life Spring 5K Run/Walk 2014 were Village of Tiltonsville City Council members and Race Director, Diane McCracken, Buckeye Local Relay for Life Committee member. McCracken will run in the Boston Marathon on Monday. Pictured from left, seated; Darla Kuri; Korrene Prince; Kris Prati, Mayor; Diane McCracken, Race Director; back row: Jason Staskey, Ray Viola, Mike Roth, George Beard, Ty Lollini and Bryan Felmet.
The Boston Athletic Association, in partnership with John Hancock and Manulife Financial, has invited everyone to virtually join the Boston Marathon experience and be a part of the first ever Boston Marathon World Run. Those who wish to run the race with McCracken can do so at www.baa.org. Participant information, AT&T Athletic Alert, Bib #23568.
This local coach is just days away from running in the Boston Marathon, one of the top such events held annually worldwide.
Earning a spot on the starting line at the Boston Marathon was no easy task for any of the athletes about to take to the streets of Boston in pursuit of whatever it is they individually hold up as a measure of true personal success for this very demanding road race.
But a glance in the direction of that reality only seems to sweeten the reward for participants, as they initially join the first of several lines they will have to successfully negotiate in the coming days in order to successfully cross both the starting and finish lines of this much loved marathon.
McCracken is now officially counted as being among the select few whose respective applications to enter this world class marathon were accepted as having met a specific and strict set of standards before even being permitted to ask for official approval to join the field of racers.
If you do not meet the qualifying requirements, you are not allowed to run in it as a registered participant.
McCracken, an avid runner and a track and cross country coach with the Buckeye Local School District, will be one of 36,000 official registered participants in the upcoming marathon race, and she can hardly wait to start the next stage of this always challenging preparation process which she set herself in pursuit of some time ago.
The number of official participants is up over the previous year's level by an additional 13,000 racers.
It has been an experience which has and will continue to bring her an exceptional sense of satisfaction as an athlete, as a coach and as an individual long past the moment she races across the marathon's finish line.
"Running is a lifestyle in the McCracken household," she offered, reflecting on the presence of running time and race activities whether it be in a beautiful vacation spot or around the local communities. "From the YTR loop, (Yorkville, Tiltonsville, Rayland) to the beaches of Florida, and as far away as the pink sand beaches on Harbour Island, Bahamas, running is a very important part of our family life."
Her husband, Wayne McCracken, connected Diane to a half marathon road racing event in Florida as a Christmas present, the Paradise Half Marathon held in Naples, Fla.
Training for The Boston Marathon is serious stuff in its own right. McCracken's training efforts can range in totals from 30 to 50 miles per week, on a six day a week basis.
"Always put a rest day into the week," she offered. "Healthy eating habits are also valuable assets in the training process."
Her personal recommendations include consuming a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables (carbohydrates) and chicken, fish and eggs (protein).
"My road-racing career started when the 'empty nest syndrome' was about to strike. My youngest daughter, Melissa, was the last one heading to college. During the spring of her senior year, I started running. She was my coach. I have always said I got my speed by training with a 16 year old. She pushed me to her young pace," said McCracken.
"As I trained, I challenged myself to compete in my first road race, the Debbie Green 5K, which was held on my 45th birthday, Aug. 3. My daughter, Melissa, was to run the 5K as well; however, prior to the race, she had to have her tonsils removed."
So while this caused the two to divide ranks slightly, it provided McCracken's daughter the opportunity to begin an informal job which she maintains even now - becoming her mom's cheerleader.
"To this day, 11 years later, she has been one of my biggest fans," shared the proud mother.
McCracken and her husband, Wayne, are both avid runners.
"This sport allows us to be strong, competitive individuals, enabling us to share quality time together. It helps us stay physically fit, while we enjoy the next stage of our lives, into the 50's something," she said. "Road racing gives us an opportunity to run for a cause, a charity."
It is a practice she revels in taking on as she does year after year as race director of the Relay for Life Spring 5K Run/Walk, which was originally headquartered in Yorkville and this year moved into Tiltonsville.
"We had 339 participants, profiting $6,640. This is why I run. This is how my running gives me another family, my participants. Behind every runner is a loving, compassionate person. We have had the opportunity to meet amazing people along our travels," she said.
"It is a very disciplined sport. As we work coaching our athletics, we speak to them by using running as a way to focus on their individual life. Running takes dedication, along with a drive, to be a successful individual. It makes you strong. You learn how to organize your time, and even learn to become a better student.
"Wayne and I started our distance training by participating in the largest 15K in the United States," she explained of a March 2012 event in Jacksonville, Fla. "Both my daughters, Erica (Basich) Sayers and Melissa (Basich) Nickerson, along with Erica's husband, Gregg, participated.
"It was a great time. During that year, I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, Ogden Half Marathon, Parkersburg Half Marathon, and the Columbus Half Marathon, along with several 5K events."
During the months of training for those events, she decided it was time to consider preparing to run in a marathon, so during the winter of 2013, the husband and wife began to train for that specific goal.
With a personal finishing time of 3:54.06, the local track and cross country coach won her age group (54-59) and qualified for the Boston event. Of special note: her finishing time put her qualifying level for Monday's race as that of a 45 year old runner. Her age group's qualifying time is actually 4:15, she offered.
In response to the tremendous outpouring of support and high level of interest in the race after the tragic events that unfolded on April 15, 2013, the Boston Athletic Association, in partnership with John Hancock and Manulife Financial, has invited everyone to virtually join the Boston Marathon experience and be a part of the first ever Boston Marathon World Run. This virtual experience allows everyone, regardless of ability or geography, to join in the athletic spirit of the event by setting and completing self-determined running, walking or wheeling goals by the evening of the 2014 Boston Marathon, April 21.
"For those who wish to run the Boston Marathon with me, you can do so at www.baa.org. Participant information, AT&T Athletic Alert, Bib #23568," she said.
During the last two weeks of training, McCracken said she found herself thinking of those unwaivering supporters of her and of her beloved sport of running: her husband, family members, Buckeye Local's student athletics, co-workers, and running friends.
"I find the need to run for those we lost, running for those who were injured," she reflected. She noted the opportunity to participate in the race this year is quite humbling for her personally, as is the reality that she has earned the right to be a participant in one of the world's most prestigious road racing events.