Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Magical Mile (The start of my life as a runner)

**A look back at the event that made me start to love running and how I decided that running was what I wanted to continue to do for a long time!

Back in Middle/High School all I cared about was the MILE(actually 1600m)! I would be entered into 3-4 different events and I could win them all except the Mile and I would be very upset! In middle school without much competition it was actually pretty easy to win the 800, 1600, 3200, and 4x400 each meet. I think I lost a total of 1 time between all three(800,1600,3200) my 8th grade year. But the time I lost it was in the 1600 to Larry Atkins who would win the state meet 1600 state title our jr year of high school(I was third in that state meet 1600). I revenged that middle school lost in the 1600 to Larry at our last meet that season with my middle school PR of 5:03! It was the revenge factor that carried me to what was a 2 second best time because I couldn't lose in what my mind thought was "my event"! My best times that year were 2:15, 5:03 and around 10:40's if I remember correctly and what was cool about it was the only training done to prepare for races were 100m sprints at practice!(Training of Champions we

On to high school I felt the same all I wanted to run was the Mile(1600), I even have some funny stories of winning the mile at meets then fighting(all in fun) with the coach to get out of the 3200 when we ran at single session meets. In two session meets the 3200 was before the 1600 so he was always in agreement that there was no need to get tired for "my event". My progression was strong and smooth until my Senior year. I went 4:45 as a freshman(broke my ankle the day before regional playing basketball so missed a good chance to run faster), I ran 4:34 as a sophomore to finish 5th in the region where top 4 got to go to states, 2nd-4th were also 4:34 in that race as we had a blanket finish. The worse thing was my time was faster then the other 3 regions winner, so I had to stay home during the state meet although it was the 5th fastest time of the year at that point. I was heart broken but determined that it wouldn't happen again the next spring.

My junior year started out like every track season for me in high school. I didn't run a single step of training until the first day of practice. I did however play year around basketball which for as much as we played I think it kept me in pretty good shape speed wise. During the junior season I had an early season setback when I rolled my ankle playing basketball(during the AAU State 17-u tournament, where I had back to back 55point games against Beckley and Parkersburg and was on top of the world I thought for playing big time college basketball) but my ankle healed and before you knew it, my time was dropping faster then ever 4:40(last regular season meet)..4:35(conference champ)...4:32(regional champ)...and then bam 4:25 at the state meet to finish third in one of the faster years of the 90's. It was a race I led in usual fashion out in 60, 2:06 at 800, then hang on(passed with around 600m to go) and hanging on always hurt so bad I told myself every single race I'm going to stop, which I never did.

So my senior year starts after the ending of our regional basketball tournament lose. That year unlike other's we decided to train differently in order to get that State Title Mile Crown, I was very naive when it came to running. In the past 3 year's all we had done was 300m repeats almost every day. I ran probably a total of 10miles a week and most of those came from meets. It wasn't easy training though, we ran the 300s as many as 15 all-out. So basically our training was fast running, all the time. So the senior year we decide I need to run mileage, which we had read is the way to go. Only problem was I tried doing 6mile runs right off the bat. Being that over the years a 3200 race was the longest I had ever ran, so this wasn't a good approach to reaching the goal of being the state champ. What happened was a ache in my shin from the first week that got so bad I would limp around all day then try running at practice and meets. It never happened for me that year due to what was later found out to be a stress fx. I ran the entire year on it not knowing and only got down to 4:44, 1 second faster then what I had ran as a freshman.

Most would think that would be the perfect way to say I'm done with this running stuff and sign to play basketball(had offers from Winthrop, Liberty, Old Dominion(Va), Coastal Carolina, and many D2 or smaller schools and even a walk-on invite to Iowa) Most of my basketball recruitment was being helped by Donnie Jones(Florida assistant at the time and current Marshall head coach) that had contacts at most of those bigger schools and was always helping me out.

But all I could think of was running. The turning point that it was the way I wanted to go was when Casey Batey put his arm around me at the state meet and said "we still want you to join us man" after I think I limped to a 5minute 1600 and dead last place finish at the state meet. With tears in my eyes that meant a lot to me and it was the main reason I decided to try and become a runner. Along the way it didn't hurt that Marshall University Basketball Head Coach offered me an invited walk-on to play basketball while I ran at MU. I knew going in though that I would play(sit the bench) for one year and then devote myself sporting wise to running 100%.

Some might wonder what made me think about sharing my Magical Mile past well one it was the event that made me like running and I was reminded of that this past Thursday when I did a fast finish mile at the end of my 55minute run. I ran 4:36 which at the end of a run isn't to bad but it felt really good to being pushing a mile again.

It makes me think I wish I had the chance to run the mile more when in college. I ran a total of 1 year of track due to playing basketball my first year, being hurt the next few seasons(indoor and outdoor) and then the program getting dropped while I stile had two years left of eligibility. My best college time was 4:26 which I ran a total of 4 times that indoor season along with a 4:27 and 4:28 DMR split. I always thought I would run between 4:15-18 if I had those last 2 years and would have stayed healthy. But of course I will never know that for sure. I have ran 2 hard miles since college both being more for fun and while training for longer races, they were 4:26 and 4:32(solo time trial).

My time to run fast for short stuff probably has past, but with the chance to attend many indoor/outdoor meets with our University of Charleston women over the next few year's I won't be surprised if I give the Mile one more go and see if I can do something that would be Magical for my ability and bring a smile to my face knowing it was the reason all my running ever started in the first place!

No comments: