Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2007

Column: Lesson learned at alumni run

July 12, 2007

Running two miles on little-to-no training isn't a wise idea.

Having dejvu? Almost. This is the second time I've written about running a race without actually being in shape.

However, unlike most successful movies, my sequel was better.

As many of you may remember, I participated in a Baldwin High School 15-minute run nearly two years ago. I was coaxed into running and paid for it.

It had been more than a year since I had run anything. I was a little cocky and decided to take the challenge. Needless to say, I didn't run well and my body paid for it.

You thought I might have learned my lesson. Not quite.

On Saturday morning, the first-ever BHS cross country alumni run was held at the Baldwin City Municipal Golf Course (cross country course as some of us call it). It was a simple two-mile run, which could be jogged or raced.

I had approximately a month to get myself in decent enough shape to run well. I knew old teammates and other former runners would be attending, so I had the motivation to start running in preparation for the event, right?

Did I run much before the big event? Of course not.

Running alone never interested me much during my competitive days in high school and college, so why should it interest me now? I also never cared to run when it was very warm outside if I wasn't forced to. Plus, running after a day at the office isn't much fun.

So, all of these factors combined together to make me mentally weak and pathetic. I could maybe use some other choice words to describe myself, but I should keep this clean.

Needless to say, I ran about three times on my own and twice at the Bulldog Days before the much-anticipated event. I knew I could make two miles, but how fast I could run was the more important question. I wanted to make a good impression, since, after all, I was hosting the run.

The idea for the alumni run originated in early May from 2005 BHS graduate Zac Towns. He suggested the idea in a Facebook group dedicated to coach Mike Spielman. The original plan called for a race against the current team and it sparked some interest.

After talking to Spielman about the idea, he and I decided to make it a two-mile run at the golf course. It wouldn't be a race, but instead more of a gathering with a cookout after the run.

Now it was time to spread the word about the event. I know next year I am having some help with this, because it's hard to reach people you don't know very well or don't keep in touch with.

The one successful way of spreading the word came from creating a Facebook event. Many of the former runners have profiles on the site. By the time Saturday rolled around, 19 people were attending and 12 were possibly coming.

I expected around 25 people, because I knew a few others that were attending and others that said maybe, had other plans. Spielman and I would have been happy to see 25 runners show up, but we were taken back by the result.

At approximately 8:30 Saturday morning, only 10 people had arrived at the course. By the time 9 a.m., race time, rolled around, 40 alumni were ready to take part in the first-ever event.

I was shocked!

The ages ranged from the class of 1996 to the class of 2011. Some current BHS runners participated in the event. The pre-race surprises made the event more special than I could have imagined.

One of those was 2002 graduate Janelle Regnier. She even came with a dog and ran with it. I was impressed. BHS graduate of 2004 Phil Wagner, who joked about his weight, lived up to his word and ran.

A handful of people jogged the course at their own pleasure, while the rest of us were determined to beat someone. I was a bit concerned when BHS senior Heather Garcia showed up. I knew she could smoke me if she wanted, along with many other male runners. But it wasn't her I had to worry about.

I beat Garcia, although I'm not sure how hard she tried. I'll still take the victory; might be the only one I ever get against the distance phenom.

The real trouble came from Erica Ogle, a 2004 BHS graduate and Pittsburg State senior. I was so worried about Garcia that Ogle never crossed my mind. That was a mistake. Ogle flew by Eric Black, 2002 graduate, and me at the quarter-mile mark.

After struggling for the last half mile, I did manage to finish ninth. My time isn't worth mentioning. I tried to block it from my memory, too.

We all cheered on the other finishers. It's amazing how people come together even though they may not know the other alumni.

I have to hand out a few honors:

Best race -- Cole Gladhart, 2000 graduate, who tied legendary Matt Noonan, 2002 graduate, for the race victory.

Best finish -- Jon Boyd, 1996 graduate, who out sprinted two former teammates during the final 100 meters.

Best outfit -- Melanie Pelot, 2001 graduate, who wore her BHS track shorts and t-shirt, to go along with her high school spikes that weren't worn for more than six years.

Most impressive run -- Beth Morford, 2000 graduate, who ran despite giving birth to two sons. She lived up to her "Beast" nickname she earned at BHS.

Biggest cheater -- Just about anyone not in the top five. Most of us cut a few corners here and there, just trying to reach the finish line ASAP.

Well, I must say thanks to everyone who did participate and thanks to all of the parents who brought some food. I also must say thanks to Spielman, whose many contributions aren't always noticed.

It was a great first year for the event, but next year we are shooting for bigger and better. The tentative date is July 5, so mark your calendars Bulldogs.

I've got 359 days to get in shape.

Anyone need a running partner?

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