My “FIRST” College Meet…UPDATED!!!

So, some of you might know this…some might not, but I was a sprinter in high school. Well, to be fair, I became a sprinter after starting as a distance runner. I didn’t run anything longer than a mile during track season after my sophomore year, and actually WON State Sectionals in the 400m as a senior before moving on to Rider University. At Rider, my college running career lasted exactly one meet, where I ran a 4×4 leg at Princeton before my career ended unceremoniously. From there, I floundered for a bit, gave up on running, and got fat. Then I became a sprinter again, was briefly fast, then got fat again. Then, I (re)became a distance runner. Which leads me to the present…

I’ve run a lot of races. From the 55 to the marathon, I’ve done it all. I even added the 400h and experimented with the steeple recently. But when I run, it’s pretty local stuff. Open meets, community miles, local 5ks, etc. Other than my two marathons, and the couple of times we went to Vegas for the halves, I stay within myself. Even when we go to masters nationals, etc. it’s not that big of a deal – any of you could come with us, and probably do pretty well! But what I have NEVER done is run in an actual college/non-relay race, and that’s about to happen on Saturday!

This weekend, I am throwing myself to the wolves. Well, maybe the baby wolves. I entered the Lions Invitational at TCNJ in the 1500 for sure, and either the 400h or the 800m. I’m not “worried” per se about placing, because I’ll be in a heat with others around my seed time (except the 400h, where I’ll be the slowest and oldest dude) but I’m worried about not deserving to be there. I’m worried about being the old guy who thinks he can hang. I’m worried I’m not good enough and will look like an idiot. So how do I avoid that?

Run like a 38 year old, not an 18 year old. Proper pacing, smart moves, strong finish, trust my kick. And if it doesn’t go well, figure out why and try again! UPDATE: Due to the long day AND other obligations, I’ll ONLY be running the 1500m. Sorry for those who were hoping to enjoy my 400h skills lol. Next time…

An open letter to my Masters running friends…

After having the privilege of watching the invitational 1500m during USATF Indoor Nationals yesterday, I have just one thing to say:

I wanna be like you. 

You all inspire me; inspire us – to be great. To be the best version of our current selves, and to maybe be the best we have ever been. You run times that inspire us, and you show the world that life, at least a running life, doesn’t end after college ends, kids are born or a career takes over. For me, I was blessed to join a club made of mostly of people who fit this description – good, hard-working, honest & sincere people who have made the decision to keep at this sport, even when life gives them reasons not to. And now, I want to be more like them – and to be the best version of myself I can be, as a runner and a person. As a coach, and a husband. Hopefully, one day, as a father, too.

But here’s where it gets tricky. I want to be like you, but I have never been like you. I was a locally good sprinter in HS (after transitioning FROM middle distance early on) and a failed quarter-miler in college, whose career lasted all of one meet, due to my own stupidity. I became a distance runner because I met my future wife through track & field, and I realized that when she would go for runs that we would be spending time apart. So I started logging the miles with her. Slowly at first, adding distance over time then shaving time off my runs as my fitness improved. We ran races together – sometimes pushing each other, sometimes picking up each other’s pieces. Then, after training myself up to a few marathons (and falling on my butt at those) I started working my way back down the ladder and rediscovered track & field in my mid-30’s. That love for the sport is burning stronger than ever since I (we) joined GarminRunners. 

As I said, though I want to be like you all, even if I’m not nor have I ever been. I ran times of 2:07.9 and 4:56.1 as a high schooler in the 1990s – before a desperate “throw the freshman on the varsity 4×4” changed my course as a young runner. So when I see masters runners running incredible times at 40, 45, 50, 55 years old – male AND female – it inspires me AND it intimidates me because while they are trying to be as good as they used to be, or as good as they can be today, I’m trying to be better than I ever have been – Meghan was at least good enough as a high school and college runner to “qualify” as even remotely in your realm. And she has way more time until 40 than I do! She’s getting closer to her old times again, and I am now at the point where I am not just setting age-group PRs but lifetime bests, and even then I’ve still got a long way to go to be in your league. But that’s the road we’ve chosen to go down; the path we’ve already started following. We don’t plan on backing off until we get there.

So thank you, all for being you and making me want to be like you. It’s not gonna be easy, but someday I’m gonna  be out there with you. Maybe I’m the alternate for one of these events one day. Then, I have the honor of getting my butt kicked by you guys. Then maybe I PR off the back of the pack somewhere. Then, who knows maybe I hang in there for a bit but get out kicked.  Then getting a little closer each time, I finally hang with you guys! Luckily, if masters running truly begins at 40, coach Pelerin has about 22 months to figure out how to get me closer! 

So, thank you…and, see you on the track!