It’s hard to imagine Eli Manning coming to the Linc for an Eagles-Cowboys game on his week off, or Tiger Woods standing amongst the gallery at a PGA event. But this weekend at the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon, the race’s reigning champion will be standing and cheering along the course with thousands of others.
After winning last year’s Marathon, Michael McKeeman of Ardmore told Sports Doc he thought he’d just experienced the perfect ending to his running career. Turns out he wasn’t joking around. He’s not running in 2013.
“Sure, I still run,” McKeeman clarifies. “I’ve done a few smaller events—some 5Ks—but no marathons since last year.”
But he has stayed active in the running community. In last year’s profile, McKeeman thanked the coaches and mentors who’d helped him along the way profusely—and now, he’s joined their ranks. He started his own coaching business, Run Like Mike. He has several clients who are running the Marathon this weekend—so he will still be present.
“In a lot of ways, [coaching] is harder,” claims McKeeman. “At least in terms of being nervous or anxious before a race, it is. When I’m out there running on the course, it’s up to me. When you’re coaching someone, once that race starts you’ve really offered all you can. Then it’s up to them.”
And unlike basketball or football, Coach McKeeman can’t call a time-out if he sees a problem or make halftime adjustments on a difficult course. “That’s all got to be handled ahead of time,” he agrees. “So yeah, I think I’ll be more nervous this year.”
As for the future, McKeeman takes a ‘never say never’ approach to marathon running. “Sure, someday I might choose to go back at it and try another marathon,” he said. “But probably not in any competitive sense. The amount of time, commitment, etc. it takes to win an event like that—I’m getting older, and I think those days are behind me.”
It’s not as if he doesn’t have his reasons. His work at the Bryn Mawr Running Company, plus the recent birth of he and his wife’s first child give McKeeman plenty to occupy his time. And that’s before the challenge of building his coaching business.
So come Sunday, there will be a new champion at the Philadelphia Marathon. But for a change, the current titleholder will be there to cheer on the new winner.
Stay tuned for more 2013 Philadelphia Marathon coverage at philly.com/phillymarathon. And don't forget to join us here on race day to follow all the action.
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