"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Runs Gone Wrong #4

The uphill, four miles in. Pretty steep.

First WPIAL alumni run (December 2000)
I stumbled upon this when I came to visit Coach A during my first Christmas break as a college freshman. Scott Sehon was also stopping by, and he invited me to join him and some other gents from the WPIAL for a jaunt the next morning. I readily accepted, not too concerned that I had barely been running for the last month, even at my then-sedate Division III level.

Then next morning brought 10 degrees and heavy snow and strong winds, weather my thin nylon pants, part of my high school warmup suit, were not equipped to handle. As I met up with a group of 15 or so runners, all of whom were far, far more accomplished and at the most basic level able than I, I didn't really seem that intimidated. Chris Dugan, a several-time All-American in cross country and track at NC State and several-time state champion at Southmoreland High School, offered me a pair of his pants. My legs have never felt faster than when they were on those pants. However fast they felt, however, they didn't stay that way. The brutal climate, coupled with an increasing pace and hilly route, crushed me on the way back down the hill from Nevillewood, and on my way back on Scrubgrass, by feet had gigantic blisters on my arches. I managed to limp back to the Mt. Lebanon track and join the gang for breakfast at Gab 'n Eat, but I didn't run for days after.

Sehon agreed with the foolishness of the run nine years later. "The most absurd thing about that run was not that we did 13+ uphill to Nevillewood, but that we did it in sub-0 windchill temperatures. It was brutally cold that day," he said.

Despite how awful the run was, I gained a lot from the endeavor. It was the first time in months I remember running with someone else at a decent pace in a non-race environment, given my weak team at Hampden-Sydney. I had a chance to hear a lot from Division I runners and I realized that with a real training program, teammates and a competent coach, I could enjoy collegiate running. I also had a chance to talk to Roch for the first time, and he made quite an impression on me. A few of us discussed a shared acquaintance, who acted pretty spazzy and oafish, but Roch implored us to give him another chance. It was that simple gesture that won me over and motivated me to seek him out at races then after and eventually get involved in promoting the race held in his memory.

The downhill where I actually fell back, 8.25 miles in


  1. Well that's a silly comment. I doubt we EVER spoke to each other even once. I'd love to hear how you determined I acted "pretty spazzy and oafish", especially 10 years later, then write about it in a public forum...

  2. Actually I remember pretty vividly- spazzy when you reacted loudly and negatively to losing to Greg Costello at the Baldwin Invitational mile in 99, oafish when you and some other dude pushed my teammate Bob well into a cross country meet at Cal U in 98. We've talked here and there over the years, most recently at a used bookstore in Oakland. I was wrong to fully identify you, though, and I will fix that.