Tag Archives: Mile

Growing Up. Not Growing Old.

Last week I hit the jackpot. I got to spend some time with some young adults. Strike that. I’d rather not use that word “adults” here. I was lucky to spend some time with kids. And these were no ordinary kids. You know what? Strike that word “ordinary” too. I don’t believe there is any such thing as an ordinary kid. I was lucky enough to spend time with some extraordinary kids.

These kids have dedicated a part of their lives to entertain, inspire and motivate other kids. Some of them sing. Some of them dance. Some of them run, play football, soccer, gymnastics and any number of other sports. Some of them open up cool things up and show you what’s inside. They make others smile, get moving, get out. And so many kids today need something or someone in their lives that makes them happy. These kids are that something, that someone.

They came out to the Michael Johnson Track here at Nike’s WHQ. It was raining. It’s always raining here. They were all jet lagged. And they were hungry. Kids are always hungry. They were tired. Tours and walking and listening and more walking will eventually even tire a kid out. But here they were at the track being introduced to a Coach that wanted them to run.

And you know happened? Did they complain or make excuses? Did they ask for shortcuts or whine? Did they say they couldn’t or wouldn’t do it? Nope. They’re kids. So they said “let’s roll”. And when I said in return “get ready to race the Rio Olympic Gold Medalist Matt Centrowitz” did they back down? Nope.

They formed a relay, lined up, ran their hearts out, cheered for each other & took him down. These kids reminded me that all that is great, brave, honorable and pure about us lives within our youth. And we all have those younger versions of ourselves alive within us still. We just need to smile, get moving, get out. We just need to be on more relays together, run our hearts out, cheer for each other, and we too can do impossible things.

We can grow up and not grow old.

When the victorious tribe left the Michael Johnson Track it was still raining and the clouds still blanketed the sky. But I swear the day seemed brighter…and so did the future.

When Sir Roger Slayed the Dragon

History and myth have always had an awkward relationship. They inspire each other. They fight with each other. They challenge each other. They support each other. They sound like a married couple. They belong together. And the greatest stories as we tell our children, our family, our friends, often remind us about who we were, are and can be ourselves.

One of my favorite stories, the one about Sir Roger and the Dragon, involves great journeys and battles, chivalry and gamesmanship, trials and tribulations, fact and fiction. It is a story, a great story. It deserves to be told. It needs to be told. Here is the story, the story the way I tell it, the story of Sir Roger and the Dragon…

Roger was born in 1929 on the eve of a long darkness. The world was on the brink of chaos as the intermission between one Great War and another was ending. The promise of peace that had been fought for at the cost of millions of lives only a decade earlier was an empty one. This time, the world would march towards a far bloodier and devastating conflict but not before years of despair. Into this, a time of fear and doubt, Roger was born. The reality of his childhood was one of global economic hardship. Rationing was not only the norm it was a cold necessity for survival. When a child is born into a world like this it is not only bread and butter and tea that is in short supply. So is hope. Hope can’t be rationed though. A child can survive on an ounce of cheese and 4 ounces of bacon and a shillings worth of meat and a few candies each week. Hope isn’t divisible. There are no 1/3 rations available. Young Roger would have to find hope and guard it. Through diminished rations, and dire reports from the warfront, through the despair of the Fall of France and through the terror of the Battle of Britain, Roger would have to hold on to whatever innocence and vitality he could. This resilience or perseverance or optimism, maybe faith is a better word for what he was able to foster and save, it would be needed later in his life. He survived this time but was changed. He was hardened where he would need to be calloused and he remained unscarred where he would need to be flexible enough to dream about taking on the Impossible.

He also fell in love – with movement, with running.

Roger remembers a beach, the sand and the breeze. He remember how they feel as he walks then jogs then runs. He remembered how it felt to move with and against the Earth and how it felt to power his own machine – his body. He could make that machine move with grace and with speed. He could struggle against himself and his own and others perceived limitations. He could struggle against the walls and ceilings that the world had placed around and above him, his generation, his country. This struggle brought liberation. When he ran he was free.

He had found love. His hope had survived.

He would need both when he met the dragon.

Roger was aware that the body and the mind are partners. Without an athletic mind the body becomes dense and slow. Without an active body the mind becomes weak and uncoordinated. Roger found exercise not only on the trails and roads of England but also in his books and in his studies of medicine. It is fitting that Roger was drawn to the complexity and mystery of the human body. Roger would explore his physical capabilities in lockstep with an exploration of another uncharted territory, the brain. The more he learned the more unlocked potential he saw he (we all) contained.

He realized he could achieve the impossible because it was possible.

It would take a special person to take on this Dragon. Somewhere in the Kingdom, a Kingdom that was still healing from losing so much treasure and life, there had to be someone. That someone would need to have survived the great darkness and war with their soul intact. They would need to be someone who still dreamed when they slept at night. They would need to be someone who found strength within themselves. Someone who found strength when they looked out at their Kingdom – a Kingdom that had stood fast and survived – a Kingdom that had vowed to fight anywhere and everywhere the great darkness had tried to spread – a Kingdom that fought against impossible odds – a Kingdom that had vowed to never, never, never give up – a Kingdom that never gave up.

That Kingdom now needed someone to show that, the War over, they had healed enough to stand up. They had regained the strength to get back on the starting line. They had the will, training, the foundation to take on the impossible again. They needed someone to remind them that like them hope had indeed survived after so many hard times. The Kingdom needed a knight. A knight to take on the dragon. The dragon no one else could slay… the dragon that Roger would face on Iffley Road on May 6, 1954.

This dragon had protected the barrier for all time. Challengers from the world over had met the great beast on the field of battle, a dirt oval. Many had come close. But, none succeeded. The dragon remained.

4:00. 4 laps of 440 yards each. One mile. Perfect. Impossibly perfect. Unbreakable?

Change happens slowly. A change can happen quickly though. On that dirt oval, young Roger took on the great dragon named Impossible. Some believed it could not be done. He knew it could. It took Roger 3 minutes 59 seconds and 4 tenths of a second to defeat the Impossible.

The dragon was slain.

Barriers, like dragons, are not destroyed so others can replace them. They are destroyed so we can be free. A little over a month later a different gentlemen, John Landy, broke 4 as well. He ran even faster than Roger.

The dragon was dead. The gates were open. The Kingdom was free.

Newspaper accounts tell us that 3000 people witnessed the boy- born into the Depression-who became a teenager of the World War-who became the young medical student of a broken Kingdom-who became the great Neurologist-battle the dragon and win. But, we know that he was always running for more than those 3000. He was running for all of us and his race continues to be run every time we try to achieve greatness.

It was not until after the Sub 4 that he was given the title, Sir. When I tell the story, I twist the legend and the history. When I tell the story, Roger takes the line as Sir Roger Bannister. When I tell the story, a story that needs to be told, a great Dragon faces a great Knight.

And in the end a great Knight wins.

That part, my friends, is not legend. That is history. That is his story.

That is our story.


If you want to support, share and celebrate the sport and one of its true heroes, Sir Roger Bannister, you can help make a terrific documentary being made about him a reality. PLEASE check out this link and support the sport and the story!!!

Mr. Rupp! Tear Down These Walls!

Finally! We have something, really truly something to be jacked up about in our fledgling sport of Track & Field!

According to Oregon Project Head Honcho/Coach Alberto Salazar and his star pupil Galen Rupp there are going to be some fireworks this Indoor Season. Yes, some real deal epic throw-down record attempt fireworks!

I am giddy, a little lightheaded now that I think about it. I may be in the early stages of shock, I’m not a doctor. I can’t really be sure. I am definitely euphoric though as I type this post. This is not like Track & Field. It seems as if the sport goes out of its way to be boring and impossible to engage with. Yet, this seems really exciting! Feeling woozy.

Check out these two awesome trailers about the Oregon Project record attempts. The first one can be found here. Great stuff right? Want some more? Check out trailer #2 here. Yes, baby yes!

There is actually some legitimate excitement being created in track & field! I know, crazy right?

It seems like each of the last few years Rupp has said he was going to go after a record. One year it was the 5k at Arkansas, another year it was the 2 mile at Boston, last year it was the 1 mile (3:50.92!!!). Each time there were momentary glimpses of what track could and should be: large crowds, high-pitched-crazy-person screaming, fanboys and fangirls swarming the rails, and kick ass racing.

The 2013 mile record attempt by Rupp was the single coolest indoor race I have seen since Eammon Coghlan got 18,000 fans to rise to their feet and cheer him to the first ever sub 3:50 Indoor Mile at the Vitalis Meet in NJ. That was not a typo by the way, 18,000. Here, watch the race by Rupp in Boston last year. Listen to that crowd, see the relentless drive by Rupp, and did you notice your heart rate jump? Now, here you can watch Eamonn Coghlan break the 3:50 barrier at the 1983 Vitalis Meet. These races are Track & Field at its best.

This year is going to be extra special thanks to Coach Salazar getting his entire stable of runners all hot and bothered for the Indoor campaign. Jordan Hasay, Mary Cain, Treniere Moser, and Cam Levins are also going after big time records this season. 2014 will have THREE record attempts in 24 days by Rupp alone.

Did you get that weird feeling there? Did you? Did you have a momentary flashback to Seb Coe and his infamous 40 Days? Huh? If you don’t know what I am talking about, well, that is part of what is wrong with Track & Field. We don’t celebrate our history because we don’t KNOW our history! Anyway, back to Rupp but be assured that the Seb Coe lesson is coming, and coming soon, to RUNonsense.

The first record attempts take place TODAY – Thursday,January 16, 2014 and Flotrack will have LIVE coverage. Mary Cain and Treniere Moser will go for Jen Toomey’s 2004 1000m American Record of 2:34 at 7:25 PM ET. At 7:40 PM ET Rupp will be going after the American Record in the 5k. The time to beat? 13:07! There is so much that is right about this. What I am really happy about is that the powers that be decided to have the record attempts back to back on the schedule.

Again, I am dizzy. Does this mean that someone associated with Track & Field thought about, actually thought about what would make for the most exciting experience for the FANS! What is next?  Onscreen info with AR and WR splits shown (like in swimming) so we can see if Rupp or Cain are on pace? I need to calm down and not be so greedy.

So, what do we do? I’ll tell you what we do! Watch the races! Sign up for the coverage on Flotrack, read the articles on the race, share any and all coverage on your Twitter, Facebook, Digg accounts. Blog about the races and the athletes and the coverage. Talk about it. Shout about it. Run some extra miles in anticipation of it. Run some extra miles after it. No matter what be EXCITED about it.

We, as participants of this great sport, we as fans of this great sport, we as salesman of this great sport have only reaped what we have sown this last few decades. The sport has been boring because we are boring. Well, not any longer. Rupp and Cain are getting ready to rock. The big cheese himself, Alberto Salazar, says so. Let’s get excited. Let’s get rowdy. Let’s spread the word that there is finally a party in Track & Field. Put on your dancing shoes spikes because tomorrow in Beantown we have a party to go to. Finally!