Paul Shipper wants to run a 4 minute mile. Trouble is, when he was on a track team, his coach had looked at his speed and said “Maybe we should try you for distance”.
“8+ minutes for a mile. If you run on one leg, you’ll have the 4 minute mile.”—Email from my dad after reading my second entry.
A few thoughts on my journey so far:
My wife read my opening post and took umbrage with the fact that I said I have a relatively ordinary family. “The kids are awesome and I’m super awesome,” she said. So, I guess I amend my original statement—my family is extraordinary. But everything else is still pretty ordinary.
It has been a few weeks since I’ve run, and I realize that I will never come close to breaking a four minute mile if I do not commit to running on a consistent basis. In other news, I have no chance of winning the lottery if I don’t buy a ticket. Duh.
Yesterday was Columbus Day and it was a gorgeous October afternoon. The temperature was in the 70’s, and as I sat at my desk and looked out the window, I wanted to go for a run. This is significant because, frankly, I almost never want to go for a run. I had finished my work, and since our office was technically closed, I didn’t feel bad about leaving early. I went to the high school to run around the track only to discover a bunch of high school kids using the field and the track (go figure). After stretching, I took off for the first lap and ran it at a fairly nice pace (I finished it in 1:46) but then just didn’t have it. I (very) briefly considered pushing through and running it anyway, but I just didn’t feel like it. I don’t know why. The weather was great, I was in a good mood and nothing was particularly hurting. But I didn’t want to run the next three laps. I don’t think it had anything to do with the high school girls’ soccer team stretching on the track or the high school boys playing flag football, all of whom kept looking over to see me run as I passed. I mean, I know I’m an old man to high school kids but I’m not generally self-conscious and I don’t really care if they think I’m an old dude running relatively slowly around the track. I just wasn’t feeling it.
So since I don’t have any real progress to report, I figured I’ll get my track background out into the open. For some reason, and for the life of me I can’t remember why, I decided to join the track team in 9th grade. My dad had run track in high school and college, so that might’ve had something to do with it but I don’t recall any specific conversations about it or him pushing me into it (my parents were never pushy sports parents). I DO remember that there were two senior girls on the team, Sue and Allison, who were HOT and on whom I had major crushes, but I had no shot with either of them. I was a late bloomer and at Christmas break of 9th grade, I was only 4’5” and weighed about 55 pounds (neither of those stats are typos). By way of comparison, my 3rd grader is 4’5” and weighs about 65 pounds right now. I was tiny and I’m sure they viewed me as more of a little brother/stuffed animal than anything else. Also, two of my best friends, a set of twins, were on the team too, as was their older brother. And upper classmen on a varsity team could get out of gym class, but not freshmen (and I was that kid who loved gym class). But again, I have no idea why I decided to run track.
I only have two specific memories of the competition during my one season on the track team. Despite my size, I was pretty fast. I had always played soccer and was one of the speedier players on the field, so I THOUGHT I was fast. However, soccer “fast” is a lot different than track “fast.” So at my first meet, my coach put me in the 100m dash. Again, my memory is a little spotty, so I don’t recall whether there was more than one heat. That said, I wish I had a picture of the starting line at the race. No joke, this was the line-up at the starting line: Big Black Guy, Big Black Guy, Big Black Guy, Big Black
Guy, Me, Big Black Guy. Again, because of my size, some of my competitors might only have been around 5’6”, but they looked huge to me. The gun went off and, just about the time I was hitting the halfway mark, they were all finishing. As I got back to my coach, he said something along the lines of “Maybe we should try you on distance.”
The first time out in competition, I ran the mile in 7 minutes flat. I don’t think I even came close to winning the race, but I felt much better about my close to last place finish because it felt like a respectable time. I think I’ll reach out to my old track coach via Facebook to see if he remembers anything about my short but distinguished track career. Stay tuned for that. There was a season on the cross-country team, and the running I did during law school, but those stories can wait for another time. For now, I have a really good cold beer to finish (shout out to Highwater Brewing for the Rio d’Oro…I’m not mad at you guys sponsoring this attempt at greatness, or at least sending me a case. Just saying) and the ninth inning of the NLDS Game 4 between the Mets and Dodgers to watch.
I start my running again tomorrow (or Thursday) with a renewed focus.
Photo Credit: Getty Images