Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Meet the #runAkron Team: Coach Jeff

In just 39 short days, Team #4PrincessesAndAFrog will be reunited and running the Akron Marathon Relay together! In today's post, you'll meet Jeff; our "Coach Frog." I first "met" Jeff through #runchat on twitter and he's become a dear friend in the last few months. He's a super fast, super experienced, and super fun to be around runner- just read this post and you'll know why he's our favorite frog!

Name:  Jeff Smercani
Location:  Pittsburgh, PA
Favorite Race Distance:  Marathon
Races on your “Bucket List”:  Tough question! I’ve completed some of the best in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Disney World, Las Vegas, Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh & Twin Cities to name a few. I guess the big ones left to concur would be Big Sur, LA, London, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and the original course in Athens, Greece.

How did you start running?  
I was overweight - 205# at my heaviest and would get out of breath going up a flight of steps. I received a call that my Grandmother whom at 84 years of age was diagnosed with breast cancer and going through treatment.  I decided to run the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to raise money for Breast Cancer in honor of my Grandmother's fight.  I became hooked on running and ran my first marathon a year later.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you/weirdest thing you’ve seen while out on the road?  
I was training on my favorite trail and came upon a deer standing off the side of the trail. As I caught up to it, I fully expected the deer to run off. Instead it looked me right in the eyes and started to run alongside me for several yards!  I thought I had a new training partner there for a while.  You gotta love nature!

I can’t run without...
My Garmin.  It keeps me consistent with my training pace and I’m obsessed with running accurate distance! 

What’s the best piece of running advice you’ve been given?  
During my first marathon the Pace Team Leader told us “You can’t bank time! You bank energy!”  For every minute ahead of pace in the first half of a marathon, you generally give that back plus an additional minute for each one you are ahead. Very smart advice.  I’ve learned this lesson the hard way more than once!

In the starting corral for a race you can find me...
Nervously bouncing, swaying side to side and praying for a safe race for all competitors, volunteers, race officials, safety personnel and for God to allow me to perform to the best of my ability on that day.

If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you wish you’d known before you started running?  
Take nutrition and hydration seriously!  Listen to your body, take ample rest days and allow injuries to heal properly. Eat a good quality meal full of complex carbohydrates to fuel your run the next morning.  You can’t cheat on your training! Make sure you get your long training runs in; they are the foundation of your training for a successful and enjoyable race. Also try to enjoy the races more. I’m never going to win; therefore I enjoy the atmosphere, talk more and enjoy meeting people.  

When I’m not running, I’m...
Enjoying Trivia with my friends (I’m a self-proclaimed Trivia Geek), chatting on Twitter, planning or day dreaming about my next runDisney trip with my wife or watching movies.  I’m a diehard Red Sox, Steelers and Penguins fan.

What’s your favorite post-race food?  
Immediately after finishing a Marathon - My wife usually has my Kettle Chips and an iced tea.  Then it’s on to the BBQ, Bacon, Cheeseburger and Salty Fries!  BRING ON THE SALT PLEASE! :-) 

My running mantra is...
“A Consistent Comfortable Pace - Wins My Race!”

If you could run with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?  
Besides my Akron Marathon Relay Team? :-)  I’ve already met and had the opportunity to run with some of the Greats – Bill Rogers, Dick Beardsley, Jeff Galloway and Kathrine Switzer.  I’d love to run alongside Meb Keflezighi, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Paula Radcliffe and Shalane Flanagan provided they slow down to my pace! :-)

About Jeff:
I’ve completed marathons in 11 states and Canada.  I’m a runDisney fanatic having run 7 Disney Marathons, 3 Goofy Challenges, the Dopey Challenge this year and registered for Dopey next year as well.  I just completed my 30th Marathon running my hometown Pittsburgh Marathon with my Akron Marathon relay teammate and friend Lauren Bailey helping her complete back to back marathons while raising money for a worthwhile charity.  I’ve recently started pacing and coaching friends offering a variety of tips, techniques and training plans.  I’m starting to consider “crossing the line of sanity” and attempting my first Ultra run of 50K or longer.  I’m active on Twitter - Give me a follow at @JSmerc26pt2 - I enjoy chatting, talking about running, races and meeting fellow runners. 

And there you have it; the whole #4PrincessesAndAFrog Team: Jeff, Steff, Lauren, Chelsea and me. The next Akron posts will be of the actual race- can't wait! Blue Line, I hope you're ready for us! :-)

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