My first track meet ever, I lined up for the 100m dash next to a guy wearing Air Force 1s, jean shorts, and an NFL jersey. All eight of us in the race had no idea how to get into the right stance, and were jumping around trying to get a jump on the starter’s gun. When the gun did go off, my man in the Air Forces did not waste any time getting to the finish line. While I was not the fastest guy, I had so much fun—just running.
After winning the county championship in the 200m dash in the eighth grade, I had the opportunity to run with a track club during the summer. Humility is something I learned quickly as I ran against the likes of Michael Grant, one of the fastest 13-year olds in the country. I also learned what it was to have good form, and to develop my own by studying other athletes. In high school I became a perfectionist, studying video after video of athletes like Justin Gatlin, Dwain Chambers, Aziz Zakari, and Maurice Greene. I dreamed of dominance while watching Jesse Owens run and Bob Beamon jump. I scoured professional athlete progressions on http://www.iaaf.org. I began following other high school athletes on Dyestat and Milestat. I raved about Kelly Willie and Jeremy Wariner facing off at the 2002 Golden West Invitational, both running sub-46 in the 400m dash. Brendan Christian ran 10.20 in the same meet! I wanted that kind of speed.
I was fortunate that my football coaches in college allowed me to continue running track. Both sports taught me extremely valuable lessons. I developed a mental toughness on the track that enabled me to push through a sophomore season in which I fouled out of meets for both the indoor and outdoor seasons in the triple jump, until I set a huge personal record in the Southern Conference Championship. I developed a physical toughness on the football field that created a craving for contact.
My obsession with track and field statistics bordered ridiculous. After track meets, I would spend hours studying results from meets across the country. I kept a mental log of the progression of a number of athletes and offered my predictions for the NCAA Championships, US Championships, and World Championships whenever anyone showed interest. I am itching for the indoor track and field season to begin. I did spend some time this fall expanding my knowledge of cross country running and road racing. Look forward to comprehensive commentary on track and field at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels.