Some are rather wordy …
1. I was pushed by my junior high coach to high jump rather than run 800m. But, I practiced running everyday anyway because of my dad's story about beating his older brother in the 880 in high school. He did not want to pass my uncle. He urged my uncle to go catch the other guy, but finally had to go do it himself.
2. I went out for cross country on a whim when met two classmates who were planning to go talk to the high school coach after school. (Ours was the first 9th grade class to attend new middle school instead of the high school next door). The funny thing was that I rarely socialized with those two guys so it was just a fluke that I spoke to them that day and went out for cross country that year. I was a little late getting home to go to the lake with my family and I went on my first run that Labor Day weekend at the lake. But, in general, I rarely trained outside of an organized practice. I ran one JV meet, improved my 2 mile time by 2+ minutes over the course of the year, and was the third runner at the regional meet.
3. The coach that formerly slotted me for the high jump let me run the following track season. He liked setting up mini competitions in practice and once had me racing against some high school sprinters. One or two of the sprinters dropped out after the second lap. On the final lap, the one remaining sprinter dropped and another jumped in relay style. It was a very close finish, but coach gave me the win.
4. Though I was very out of shape, I had an incredible run in Germany in the late 90's while I was there for National Guard. I asked permission to go to work late that morning so that I could run a 5K. I thought that it would be cool to have a race T-shirt from Germany. When I showed up, the race had been cancelled and I was invited to run 10 miles with some regular army people (2 women and 1 man). Though I suspected that I should probably get back to work, I decided to take them up on it. We ran 10 miles on some incredible pine needle covered trails and though I was hurting very badly in the middle, I got a second wind and finished strong. That is my best memory from the trip. The best moments in life are those that you're too busy living to stop and take a picture. Same trip, different run, I got lost and wandered onto a property where an armed German security guard came out of a guard house. We did not speak each other's language, but eventually, I pointed back the way I had come and he nodded.
5. I weighed a hefty 225 in June of 2000. (I probably peaked higher than that a month later, but did not weigh myself often.) I married my wife that August and adopted my wife's healthier diet and very moderate exercise via walks and simply not spending as much time sitting in front of a computer. I started running again after my weight dropped to around 190 and it was not so uncomfortable to run. I returned to competition representing my company for a corporate challenge event the following spring and my competitive fires were reignited. Corporate challenge remains one of my favorite events. My company did not participate for a couple of years after some mergers, but I am happy that this year we are competing again and I especially look forward to competing on the track in preparation for the National Master's T&F meet in June.
6. I got lost on my first long run from my current home. I covered 27 miles instead of 20 and walked a lot once I became uncertain about how many miles I would end up running.
8. I most likely never exceeded 30 miles in a week in high school.
9. I knew that I could compete at the state level after placing 6th in cross country as a junior in high school. That December, I resolved to win a title at state track that spring, but those plans were sidelined by injury. I ran 4:30 for 1600m at the first meet of the season and then I was injured with a not completely diagnosed hip injury until the week before the league meet. Coach kept me out of the league meet and I trained hard for two weeks. I probably put more effort into it than I should trying to make up for the missed weeks. Try as I might I could not break 5 minutes for 1600m in practice. At regionals in the 1600m, I positioned myself just behind the right hip of the leader and we ran that way for 1500m — a perfect race for a sit-and-kick type such as I was then. As we left the last turn, I kicked hard, but I watched out of the corner of my eye for the other guy to reel me in. I knew that I could not win because I was out of shape, but nevertheless I ran as hard as I could from my pursuer. But, he never showed and I won in 4:30. I also qualified for state in the 3200m — placing third in a very painful race. In hindsight, I should have run the 800m rather than the 3200m. I ran state and placed 6th in at least one of the two races, but I do not remember my time. It was a very disappointing season considering what I had envisioned for myself.
10. I won the state 1600m and 3200m titles my senior year of high school. I might have done well in the 800m also, except that it was only my third 800m race and I had never learned to run in traffic. I panicked when I found myself boxed after 300m and wanting to move with 400m to go. By the time I was no longer boxed in, I was in last place and finally recognized the mistake that I'd made by slowing down to get out of the box. With two medals, I must admit that I gave up when I saw that I would not be competing for the win. Perhaps if we had been competing for a team title, I would have pushed myself to get whatever points I could. But, we had a very small track team. (Most of the best athletes in school played baseball and softball in the spring.) Coach never talked about competing for team points. It is funny that my 20 points alone put us ahead of some schools that we never could place ahead of at smaller meets.
+1. Though I had won state titles, I walked onto my college team. The coach had spent his scolarship money, but I was treated like a scholarship athlete anyway. Some walk-ons were not treated so well, but it helps to have beaten a couple of his scholarship athletes. I had lost the competitive fire after high school. I enjoyed running and training and being part of the team in college, but racing was no longer important to me. I was not a big partier like some of my teammates who flamed out and never performed. I just lacked the drive that I once had. I had a couple of instances that showed me what might have been, but I found more injury than motivation. Looking back, I recall working very hard for someone who did not really care about competing, but the fact is that meets were not important to me and I found more injuries than motivation. Eventually, I quit after my second stress fracture. I enjoy racing now more than I did in college.