Monday, April 23, 2012

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden, New York city.  If walls could talk, you'd hear whispers of prestige and awe.  The blood, sweat and tears of championships won and dreams lost add to the aura.  The countless hours of work and dedication all lead to this one moment.

The Garden first opened in 1879 and has since changed venues four times.  Regardless of the location change, the Garden has been host to everything from political conventions to boxing championships.  What I enjoy most are the competitions held here to determine the best of the best, earning it the status of "the world's greatest sports arena."

Madison Square Garden at night.
Photo by

My first exposure to the Garden was in high school when I competed as a junior handler at the Westminster Dog Show.  Not lacking in prestige, Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show began in 1877 and is "America's second longest continuously held sporting event" with the Kentucky Derby being the longest.

Westminster Dog Show qualifying Junior Handlers at
Madison Square Garden.
I was showing a dog I had just met because my dog was unable
to show for medical reasons.
Can you find me?

To show at Westminster, your dog must be a top-ranking member of its breed.  The purpose of the Junior Handler dividion is to prepare you to become a professional handler.  As a junior handler, your dog is not judged, but instead you are judged on your handling skills and how well you present your breed accordingly.  To enter Westminster, you must qualify with 10 first place wins within the year in the Open division and be 9-18 years old (you have to qualify to compete in the Open division, as well).

Pride N Joys Clean N Up, aka "Chamois."
Chamois was my juniors dog for a long time. She showed so
well she brought tears to my eyes.
This was one of the qualifying wins to show at The Garden.
Chamois is now 14 years old.

Side Pride N Joys Summer Glory TD RN OA, aka "Glory."
Glory was Chamois' mother, my best friend and the best creek buddy you
could ask for growing up.
Here we just earned a new title in Open Agility with 3 qualifying runs, at the National Specialty no less!

It just happens that my next passion would also hold a premier event at the Madison Square Garden.  This year, there was much controversy over the decision to move the Millrose Games to the Armory after 98 years at the Garden.  While the Armory boasts fast times, one of the biggest draws of Millrose is to race where so many other great athletic accomplishments have taken place.  

For example, while he did race at Millrose,  Bernard Lagat, 8-time Wanamaker Mile Champion did not have a presence in the historic Wanamaker Mile this year at the Armory.

Bernard Lagat takes the win.
Photo by

The Millrose Games is not the only sporting event to leave the Garden.  The Alltech National Horse Show began in 1883 and first made its appearance at the Garden in 1926.  Since then it has moved from the Garden a few times, most recently in 2011.  

One of the greatest examples of hard work and believing came in 1958 when Snowman, a horse destined for slaughter, won the Triple Crown at the National Horse Show.  Bought for eighty dollars, the old plow horse nurtured back to vitality by Harry de Leyer, became a legend.

Snowman easily clearing a jump.
Photo by 

Just a couple of the many memorable athletic moments that have taken place at The Garden.

The Fight of the Century.
1971...Joe Frazier versus Muhammad Ali.
In our country at this time, tensions were high and
each fighter essentially represented opposing opinions on the Vietam War.
Photo by

Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 9 seconds in 1995 to lead the Indiana Paces to an upset win over the New York Knicks.  In the final 18.7 seconds, the New York Knicks had the lead 105-99.

Of course great sports accomplishments happen all over the world, but one can't argue against the special atmosphere the Garden has established in over a century's worth of competitions.

Super Bee is glad she doesn't have to be
groomed & fluffed for hours.

Monday, April 9, 2012

2012 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

This year, I had the opportunity to race in the 40th Cherry Blossom 10 mile on April 1st in Washington D.C.  The race is part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival, which celebrates the blooming of the 3,000 cherry blossom trees that were given to D.C. by Tokyo, Japan in 1912.  

Unfortunately, with the warm weather
the cherry blossoms bloomed a week or two before race weekend.
Photo by National Cherry Blossom Festival.

This year, almost 17,000 runners completed the 10 miler.  Pre-race interview by

Once again, I was number F8....once again spelling fate.  This time however, I took it one step further by finishing 8th place overall.  This was my first race back since the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, so I was looking to kick off spring racing with an effort outside of marathon pace.  I ended up settling into a pace too comfortable for the distance, but it was still a strong opener.

The start and finish of the race at Washington
National Monument.
Photo by Cheryl Harrison (my Mom).

Kevin of catching some pre-race footage.
Photo by Cheryl.

A lot of times, the elite runners are considering inspiring.  However, I met someone at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run who's story far out-shines our stories.  Meet Greg Wagner, who as a three-year old survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and stroke and has since gone on to complete five marathons, twice qualifying for the Boston Marathon (among many other accomplishments).  He was the poster child for Children's Hospital and paced this year's Children's Hospital representative, a 12 -year old cancer survivor, in the 5k.  Greg's story is a great example of how powerful not only the body is, but mainly the mind.

A finish line that won't stay empty for long.
Photo by Cheryl.

Finishing up. 8th place, 3rd American in 56:04.
Photo by Cheryl.

Top ten women receiving awards.
Photo by Cheryl.

It's always nice to race near home, so that my family can easily watch me race.  I was reminded though, that it's not just my family watching.  On the start line, I met a gentleman who has been following my career since high school.  Hopefully, I am still making my hometown proud!

A big thank you to Bill Orr, the Elite Coordinator, for making the weekend seamless and a pleasure.  I look forward to returning to the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run.   

To see more pictures of the race go to