Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My history of sports

I'm going to do a post about my involvement in sports and the different phases I have gone through. I'll probably do the same with career choices, extracurricular, and school later.

It began with baseball. I've seen videos of myself sitting on the floor of our apartment before I could walk or run swinging a bat to hit the wiffle ball my parents rolled across the floor. I also remember when we lived in Ohio I liked to go to the local park and sometimes run up or down the hill. Mostly down the hill. We also had squirt gun fights a few times although losing and getting soaked brought me to tears a few times. The was also the hide and go seek tag which I've played who knows how many times and that always involves running. Without talking to my parents and looking through old videos that's about it for Ohio life.

When we moved to St. Louis I expanded my horizons and played army a lot which meant lots of walking around and some running here and there. I also learned to ride a bike. Being so small I had this tiny red bike and honestly I saw it a few years ago and I was amazed that anyone that little would be able to ride a bike. Many of my friends were also into roller blading and I hung out with kids that were older than I and I'm not a big person so finding sporting equipment was often a challenge. I remember getting my first pair of rollerblades. We went to a few different stores but just could not find anything for a six year old. Finally at one store just before it was going to close we found this three wheel on each boot pair that fit with a brake on each boot. So I was able to rollerblade but then we played hockey as well so my dad found a hockey stick in the trash who knows where and cut the end off so it fit me.  Another interesting little story is that in St. Louis we went out at night in the winter a few times to this drain that would freeze over and chop the ice with hammers and put it in buckets. I also helped build my first snow cave one winter.

One story that sticks out is that one day at recess we got to play on the big kids playground and they had a track painted on the pavement 16 or 20 laps to the mile and my friend and I wanted to see if we could walk a mile during recess so that's all we did for the entire recess. I think we missed it by only a few laps. I haven't thought about this stuff in years and it's funny to think that I've been trying to see how far I could go since I was six or seven.

When I lived in Enid Oklahoma I was introduced to soccer. There were only three people on the field on each team at any given time.  I think I did ok because I remember playing a lot and not as much sitting on the bench. I also remember the cold days and people using hand warmers but I was not cold enough to need them. 

In Buffalo Oklahoma I played baseball. They had no soccer team. I played the outfield which got boring because unless something is hit your way there's not much to do. It was fun and I played two or three years but after one season of the pitching machine I was out because it was so scary. This ball flies at 50-60 miles an hour right toward you and even when I did hit it the bat shook in my hands so much that it kind of hurt. So I retired from baseball. We also had a basketball team of six people which was most of the boys in our grade. I got a fair amount of playing time and it was always fun to go to games because our whole team fit in a suburban and it was like an hour drive and I like long drives. We also played a lot of games in PE and got to run around a lot. Once we played football so long that we missed 40 minutes of our next class. We had boys and girls PE separate so you get us playing a game and the competition just kind of escalates.

While there we had at least one track meet where we traveled to another school and I remember running the 800 and coming in near the middle or end of the field but still beating a lot of people. 

Finally only once while we lived in Oklahoma my family took a trip to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. We went camping for the first time and hiking as a family and had a blast. I vividly remember hiking to emerald lake or whatever the highest lake below flattop mountain and hallets peak is and eating lunch on a big rock and staring at the vertical cliffs and mountains so high above. 

When we moved to Sabetha I went into seventh grade and at that age they started to take sports more seriously. I skipped football because I didn't want to get hurt. I played basketball and scored two points all season. I ran track and was one of maybe 2-3 distance runners. I ran the 1600 because it was the longest event they had for 7th graders. I also distinctly remember watching an 8th grader run a 5:01 1600 and set the school record. It was so impressive. I also went to summer camp at Spanish Peaks that summer and did the hiking merit badge and was never the slowest even with a 20 mile hike that we did on the last day. It was great fun because it took like 12 hours and I totally wasn't prepared for a 20 mile hike. My backpack and water bottles were all wrong and uncomfortable. My family took a vacation after that through Wyoming and Montana and South Dakota. I out hiked my mom for the first time on Avalanche Peak in Yellowstone. So now I was the most athletic in the family.

In eighth grade things started to change. I still did basketball and scored 10 points in the whole season. I was still in PE and got to try a bunch of different sports from wrestling to archery. But in track they finally let us run the 3200. I didn't do too well and often got beat by this one really good girl but never the less I scored points a few times and we had a new kid that also liked to run the long distances and having him there would push me to try and be better even though he lapped me a bunch.

In high school I was always bored after school during the fall of my freshman year so I began riding my mountain bike on this 16 mile out and back route. Sometime in September or October someone finally told me about cross country because I had no idea it even existed. I did track that year. I vividly remember the first day of practice. We ran 4-5 miles I ran 5 miles with the really good runner on our team and the two other freshmen on the track team and it was the farthest I had ever run at one time. I had blisters and I was dead. The three of us sat there on the freshman side of the locker room just in a daze because in middle school we did maybe 3-4 miles total in a long practice here the first day we did five miles. It was a shock. I think I ended up running like a 12:36 3200 and still got beat by the same girl. She was state champion a few times I think so it was really just inconvenient she was in our league. Also in our region but not our leage were these two sisters Amy and Emily Mortimer who I never raced but I saw Emily the younger sister race and she was quite a bit faster than I. We also had a runner on our team that year that was really good as in 4:20s miler and 9:something two miler. He won state in both the mile and 32 and competed at state in the 800 but was too tired to take it seriously so he jogged it. He went off to a junior college and had some success then got injured and had a fight with the coach and I have no idea if he even runs any more.

My sophomore year I did cross country. Somewhere in my brain I'm sure this season changed me. I opened with a 22:02 I think for a 5k and over the season brought it down to 19:09 I think. But the important fact is that on a team of about 10 guys I was 4-5 so I was one of he scorers. I had never been a varsity scorer so to have some importance on the team was great. Our team ended up getting 3rd at regionals and going to state but I got badly sick and even though I ran at state I didn't score so we had a bad day in 2001. Another highlight of that season was regionals i can through the two miles in 11:54 and it was the first time I had broken 12 in the 2 mile. I think that's the race I PR'd in. Also that season I began logging my miles on Million Mile Ultra Run. That includes run and walked and I started from the day I found the website so the end of September 2001. Also during xc that year I did the Multiple Sclerosis 150 mile bike ride in Septemeber which was 90 miles one day and 60 the next. Pretty crazy a 15 year old riding a bike that long and feeling good enough to go to practice Monday. I came back in better shape then I left. After cross country that year I felt good and wanted a new challenge because I didn't want to play basketball or wrestling and after spending 3-5 every day practicing it was hard to not go running. Over Thanksgiving break that year I planned to run to Bern where my mom worked which was just about 13.1 miles. I was planning to run there, eat lunch at the special Thanksgiving meal they were having a run back. When I got to Bern two hours after i started there was obviously no running back. So my dad drove me home after lunch.

After the pain of that run went away I still wanted to run so I found a half marathon from Topeka to Auburn. I had learned from the internet that marathons beat up your body so I didn't want to hurt myself and a half sounded challenging enough. I just ran some and come race day I ran and I don't remember any splits but my time was 1:35 something and I was dead at the finish. I think I cried. Before they let me leave with my mom some woman gave me hot chocolate with extra sugar and it was amazing. It took a while before I was recovered and wanted to run again but that year in track I PR'd again in the 16 and 32. I think I ran on a 4x8 that year too. 

That summer I did my three week long ROCS trek at Philmont and then tried to hike the two highest mountains in Colorado and kind of did it with a total of two peaks over 14,000 and 8600 feet of elevation and 15 miles in about 14.5 hours from 3:30 AM to 6 PM (two hours after I told my family they should start worrying about me).

Junior year more of the same. I got to 18:33 in cross country. I was number three runner on a team with only five people until our top runner got an IT band injury and we didn't have the depth to even score at league and at regionals with all five of us we didn't do well enough to go to state. I did the bike ride again only I did 100 miles the first day so I could get a little patch. I did the half marathon again and ran 1:27:52 and won the 19 and under age group. This is in part due to learning from the internet how to better train. On Friday I would do a long run 8-10 miles and on Tuesday I would run 800 at sub 3:00 pace. My best session was 10x800 at 2:52 to 2:58. It ended up being my first win of any kind. In track I had my best season of 5:03 in the mile and 11:06 in the two. While I would run 5:06, 5:07, and 11:12, 11:18 in high school i wouldn't break either barrier. 

My senior year we had a strong team and got 7th at state which was the best our school had ever done on the men's side as far as I know. Our women's team won the thing. I ran a 18:26 which I attribute to doing Yoga almost every night. Our coach also drove us to the breaking point that season. We had done 6 AM doubles in the past but this year we were doing four 6 AM practices, five after school practices and practice on Saturday. We eased off as the season went along but it was too much. People were falling asleep at the dinner table. I was routinely going to bed at 9 PM. I mean we did win league ( I think) and regionals ( I know) so we ran well but at what cost? I did the bike ride that year and got a yellow jersey for doing it three years but in the winter after xc I had no motivation to run I would try but just feel so run down so I didn't do the half marathon. During track I tried to run fast but 11:18 and 5:06 were also that I could muster. I walked off the track after the 3200 and my friend and i just hugged and cried because it was over. I never thought I would run a track race again. 

I continued running after the school year for fun and did a race the Fire Cracker 5k July 4th and then took 6 months off with not a single step of running. When I started to get back into running in January it was slow but after two months I had to join the track team at WPI because of the team aspect and my competitive nature needed an outlet. The rest is in the WPI archives of my very slow freshman season followed by summers at altitude and finally higher mileage with my first 70 mile week spring break my sophomore year and then KERPLOW I ran really fast and her I am.

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