The Anatomy of a PR: Pittsburgh Marathon

I remember reading a series of Instagram posts from Allie Kieffer called “The Anatomy of a PR” after her PR in the New York City Marathon, so I decided that sitting in the airport for 4.5 hours waiting for my flight was a nice opportunity to make my own version for the Pittsburgh Marathon.

The weeks leading up:

It’s no secret that the spring 2019 track season was not my best. For only the second time since my sophomore year of high school I did not break 20 minutes in a 5k race. I came in dead last in my heat at nationals (yes, the rumors are true. A girl did in fact stop on the last lap to throw up and still beat me).  I ran my slowest 800 split ever. Before you get upset for me with being so negative, I should mention that while this may have been my slowest season yet, I still count it as a good one. I squeaked out a PR in the steeplechase, raced the 100m for the first time, had a near success in project breaking 70, and even ran my first 10k. Oh and the highlight of my season? Beating out Shannon for the club shot put record (she can’t have all the records people). I got to see so many of my friends absolutely destroy this season, and that made me happier than simply breaking 20 again could have. So… while this season did not necessarily leave me disappointed, I was still left wanting a little more.

The day before:

I woke up to my alarm at 6:30 and dragged myself out of bed for a short shakeout before starting the trip to Pittsburgh. I felt a bit sluggish throughout those humid 1.5 miles but I brushed it off because it was early. After showering and eating breakfast, I was off to get Ethan and Rachel in Baltimore.

As soon as Ethan got in the car, he informed Rachel and I that he had not eaten breakfast yet or slept much the night before. I said “Ethan, that’s a you problem”, tossed a bagel at him, and started towards Pittsburgh. Most of the drive was uneventful except for our stop at the Flying J… Oh man. You enter the gas station mart and are greeted by a Koi pond and possibly the largest deer head I have ever seen. Then we entered Mother Trucker’s Café, where you can buy road trip snacks, shower, and play slot machines all in the same place. Rachel and I waited while Ethan bought some snacks. We overheard the cashier say, “Yeah, I used to be social, but then I found drugs I like” to Ethan, and we were out of there.

We finally made it to my brother’s apartment in Pittsburgh around 1:30pm. After dropping our stuff, we left for the expo to pick up our bibs, tshirts, and all the free goodies that we could. The rest of the day was spent walking along the water, relaxing, and watching tv until it was an acceptable time to go to sleep.

Race Morning:

I slept surprisingly well on Matt’s futon until my watch alerted me it was race day at 5:00am. I got up and did the usual pre-race things: changed, considered changing again because there’s never the “right outfit” to avoid chafing, ate a bagel with nothing on it, and brushed my teeth. We all looked around at each other nervously and made our way outside into the drizzle. Eventually we got on the bus towards downtown.

At the Start Line:

Ethan and I branched off from Rachel and Matt once it was time to go to the corrals and we found our way into corral A. The way the Pittsburgh Marathon set up the corral system (4 corrals for about 30,000 runners competing in various distances) sucked a little because Ethan and I were way back in the corral. My whole plan leading up to the race was to stay with the 3:30 pace group for as long as I could to try to hit the Boston qualifying time, but I couldn’t get anywhere near the pace group in the corral. So that plan went out the window… I tried not to worry about it too much, but I knew 8 flat for 26.2 miles was a very aggressive pace for me and being with a group would make it much easier. Finally, we started moving forward through the drizzle towards the start line. I crossed the line, started my watch, and settled in for the 26.2 miles ahead of me.

Mile 6:

The first few miles were pretty crowded, so I probably wasted a decent amount of energy weaving around people who should not have started as far up as they did. By mile 6 I caught up to the 3:30 pace group who had started about 1-2 minutes ahead of me by averaging around 7:45 for the first 6 miles (big mistake there). I was relieved to catch up to the group and it felt nice to settle into a slightly slower pace. The next few miles were fairly uneventful, I met a nice girl from penn state’s club team.

Mile 12:

I was still feeling pretty good at this point, but honestly not as good as I should if I was going to be able to finish at 8:00 pace. I knew mile 12 would be challenging. We started up one of the many bridges in Pittsburgh, so it was a slight hill but nothing too bad. I smelled something weird, but I figured it was just something in the crosswind on top of the bridge… I wish. After the bridge was the biggest uphill of the entire race. The pace group kept a constant effort up the hill, so even that one wasn’t too bad. We picked up the pace after to the hill to make up some of the lost time, but I was still able to keep up with the group.

Halfway:

I went through the half in 1:44:00 exactly, 3:28 pace. That would be a pretty significant PR and a Boston qualifying time, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I was still with the pace group, but I was fading. And I still smelled something bad every once in a while…

Mile 15:

By 15 I started falling off the pace group, AND I finally discovered the source of the smell. Some guy in the pace group had POOPED HIS PANTS AND CONTINUED RUNNING. Now mind you, we passed multiple medical tents along the way that would have cleaned him up, but no, he just kept trucking along. I was honestly glad once I fell off the group enough that I couldn’t smell it anymore. But, already hurting at mile 15 of a 26.2 mile race is a scary feeling.

Miles 16-24:

Not going to lie, this was a dark time. Uphills left me winded, downhills hurt my legs, and some of the miles were barely under 9:00. Multiple times I had to calm myself down before I started crying because I did not know how I was going to finish. I just felt terrible. At this point, I realized I just had to take it one mile at a time and try not to walk at all. Despite being convinced it would never end, the miles kept passing, and I even managed to keep the pace under 9:00.

Mile 25:

By 2 miles to go I got a bit of a second wind and was able to pick it back up. I think this was mental more than anything since I knew I was actually close to finishing. When I hit mile 25 there was a clock and I realized I had about 10 minutes until my PR time. I thought I still had a shot at PRing if I really pushed the last bit (I was unable of doing the math to back it up at this point, but it seemed about right). I mentally dialed in finishing and dropped the pace again.

Finishing:

I honestly felt like I was flying. I think my 26th mile was about 7:30 which isn’t quite flying, but compared to my nearly 9:00 miles it was. When I finally saw the finish line I looked down at my watch I realized that I was in fact going to PR. I dropped the pace once more to give everything I had until I crossed the finish line. I crossed the line in 3:33:43, a PR by about a minute. I staggered towards my metal and through the long chute towards the snacks and water. I was so relieved to have finally finished the marathon that seemed like it would never end. My legs HURT. It wasn’t even that they felt tired, they just hurt everywhere. I finally made my way through the chute and started looking for Ethan.

After:

I found Ethan and he wasn’t sure what his time was yet, but somewhere right around 3:00:00. I couldn’t have been happier for him. We both paced around in pain waiting for Rachel. Once we spotted her, Ethan let out a loud, “RAAAACHEEEEEL” (I’m sure you can imagine how he sounded). Rachel gave a big smile in response and I knew she must have hit her goal, she ran 3:49:30 on the hills of Pittsburgh!

Despite the pain I felt for many of the middle miles of the race, I left Pittsburgh happy. I had managed to PR despite a too aggressive race strategy, Ethan PRd by an entire hour (and now can finally leave that first marathon behind him), Rachel hit her goal of sub-3:50, and my brother finished just over 4 hours. To me, the beauty of the marathon is that inishing is a feat in itself, anything more than that is just an added bonus. Sure, I didn’t hit the Boston time but I guess I’ll just have to run another one for that.

A Review of Cars 2: The Best Movie of All Time

Are you looking for a movie that’s one of a kind? The first movie of it’s kind in history perhaps? Well look no further, because Cars 2 is the greatest movie of all time due to its riveting character development.

Many criticize this movie due to its non-stop car murders, sending a bad message to young children that glories murdering cars. But if you think about it, it prepares your kids to to several things including the following:
1.) Don’t trust strangers. Especially those you meet on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean
2.) Keep your friends close. Unless they have a remote detonated bomb attached to them
3.) No matter how dumb you are, stay hopeful! The queen of England may knight you one day!

Needless to say, Cars 2 is full of inspirational messages to young children. The character development is also amazing, as a foolish tow truck named Mater begins to doubt his intelligence, looks, and potty training skills throughout the movie. However, by the end of the movie, Mater emerges as a genius spy who risks his life to save his best friend, become a knight of the Queen in the process, while also being declared one of the smartest people ever.

Tell me when was the last time someone told you that you were the smartest in anything? Okay, yeah you be the best person to ask about what the best thing to order from Taco Bell is, but you aren’t smarter than that dang tow truck from Radiator Springs!!!

Mater ends the story by dating the girl of his dreams, some random British spy that he met outside the guys bathroom. Despite her judgmental attitude against Americans, she is quite the car, as she helps Mater save the day and defeat global warming in the process.

Oh and he does all this while that stupid old fashioned car called Lightning McQueen just goes full diva and drives around in a bunch of circles for 2 hours.

I end my review with this simple statement: If a tow truck can become the smartest knight in history without spilling his oil once throughout his entire life, then you quit your job and start driving tow trucks for a living. Because tow trucks are America’s greatest asset! BECOME THE TOW TRUCK YOU WERE MEANT TO BE.

From Briggs

P.S. I am Mater. Mater is me. We are one.

P.S.S / P.P.S : Rylan has a great choice in movies, even if they include nascar references

P.S.S.S / P.P.P.S: Why are you still reading this? Was this post not inspiration enough to send an email to the queen of England asking you to for knighthood??

The Life of a Power Walker

Short post here about the life of a power walker

A sequel to Jacob Grant’s Life of an Aqua Jogger

A response to Matt Stasiukevicius’s A Brief Slam

The power walker is, with no doubt, the victim of some freak accident

That relegates him to go with out biking or running when practicin’

His team runs off, and he just watches, then meanders to some road or trail

He looks at the wrist where his watch is, time is going slow he wants to bail

____________________________________________________

Without focus… he must choose a mission

He picks a quick 5k walk ambition

Your power walker does tempos to condition

Yes! With much haste he trains his legs to perdition

!   

_____________________________________________________

The power walker will face his race at the lake

Primed to chase, no time to waste, oh so much at stake

Well prepped, step after step, he draws closer to fate

In the end the thirty-minute mark he does break

But…

______________________________________________________

Lack of competition has left a hole

Sick of repetition – set a new goal

The W at Cap Relays might make him whole

Hit a stint of sprint training with all his soul

________________________________________________________

Gun goes off and he dashes like Lighting McQueen

He crashes, fatigue hit him like a tambourine

Guy passes and crushes the power walker’s dreams

What a sad way to end such a wonderful meme

______________________________________________________

Defeat was not part of the plan

Training and reigning champ, not hand and hand

But now he seems to understand

Its not how fast you walk – its why you walk… M A N

A Brief Slam

A certain member of the club, though undeniably our most creative member, is failing to reach his full potential. Strike up a conversation with this fellow and you will certainly be entertained by a broad range of maniacally strung together ideas. Most impressively, however, so many of these ideas come together in a beautiful reality as I’m sure anyone present at formal, track Nat(e)s, the weekly study sessions, or really any club event can attest. Unfortunately, for every successful meme there are some ideas that never come to full fruition. One example that haunts me is a certain blog post that has yet to grace us, and while I respect a lack of deadlines that often yield false promises, the wait is just killing me and I wonder if this post will ever see the light of day. My understanding is that the production of this post has been all but halted by multiple technical shortcomings of pen and paper. To this I propose a solution. It is 2019 and in the word of Patrick Star “we have technology!” When you type out a draft in a word processor you can save the draft with a name and location of your choosing. If you forget where you placed this draft you can even search for it. If you forgot to save the draft Word may have saved the draft on its own. Brother, you are simply walking on this paper, get up and run on this computer. “You keep tryna flex, but you looking like a damn T-Rex.”

(Note: this post is intended to be purely inspirational)

There’s a First Time for Everything

By Briggs

You know what’s weird? Despite being the webmaster for several years, designing the entire blog, and encouraging people to post all their stories on it, I never actually posted a real blog post myself. I figured I would come up with something funny to write up and post sometime, but as the quality and effort put into blog posts increased (Yes Colin I’m looking at you for last season’s essay that kept me up until 2am the night before the Philly Marathon) I realized I would have to write about something very meaningful. I just had to wait for the right moment that I could write a post about.

Well, I think that special moment happened this past weekend, on 4/20 none the less! Buckle up for a legendary tale about pain, more pain, disappointment, misery, and sweet redemption.

The Beginning of an Obsession

Ever since I started racing the 5k my sophomore year, there has been one thing that has constantly eluded me despite training as hard as I could and trying to put myself in a position to succeed. That thing was a sub 17:00 5k. At the 2017 iteration of NIRCA Nats, I ran a 17:20, which was a solid time for my first 5k race but far from what I wanted to run. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting an amazing time from that race anyways, as it was a day after running a great 1500 race, achieving a 4 second PR, and after my skin had made an impressive attempt to impersonate a tomato by getting terrible sunburn. But despite all of that, I was disappointed with time because I knew I could’ve gone faster.

Fast forward to my Junior year, you would think that after a year of hard, quality training I would be in way better shape and in a position to destroy my 5k times from a year prior right? Nope. Not even close. It was unfortunately more of the same unsatisfactory performances in the 5k, including a 17:22 at the Danny Curan Invitational and a miserable 18:04 at NIRCA Track Nats where I was not mentally engaged, and my legs felt like Nate’s shoulder after a night of the Olympics. I knew I was in better shape than I was my Sophomore year, and I was definitely more prepared to race the 5k, but for some reason my times weren’t showing any signs of improvement.

Needless to say, coming into this year with a PR of 17:20 in the 5k annoyed me a lot. I knew I was way faster than my 5k times indicated I was, I just needed to increase my mileage a little bit and just focus primarily on the 5k instead of the 1500m for one season. I knew it was my last season of track and I couldn’t let myself end my college running career without breaking 17 once. I needed to break 17 just so I could be content with myself and know I fulfilled my goals and didn’t leave anything unfinished or half done.

But I knew I could do it as well. Heck Hiro ran a 16:52 his freshman year at NIRCA Nats, if I can’t run a 16:59 as a senior with a lot more experience and mileage on his legs, then what does that say about me as a runner? Additionally, after the debacle at Princeton Invitational during XC season, I would not let Hiro have bragging rights in the 5k AND the 8k.

So as 2019 began I began a new base training phase focused on solely increasing my weekly mileage to levels that I would be disgusted with my freshman year. I started by making my absolute shortest run 8 miles, which if you told the high school Briggs he would be doing that then he would probably laugh because he thought you were joking, shortly before he ran outside to go do a snow angel wearing nothing except running shorts. Slowly but surely, I began hitting 60 – 65 mile weeks and felt great while doing it. Usually, I don’t do high mileage weeks like this very consistently, but training for the marathon during XC season got my legs used to running longer, so it felt natural to keep increasing the mileage. There were runs where I felt like I could just keep running forever and I briefly thought to myself:

Wait, if I kept running at this pace I could probably run a Boston Qualifier Marathon during my long run. Would Boston accept a Running2Win entry with appropriate GPS data as proof that I am worthy enough to subject myself to 26.2 miles of torture?

After coming to the sad realization that Boston would not recognize a bunch of random neighborhoods and streets in Gaithersburg as a Boston qualifying course, I just maintained the mileage going into the new semester with a renewed confidence in my fitness.

The Death of a Training Group

Oh boy, I am not going to enjoy writing this part. With my goal of the sub 17:00 5k in mind, I knew I needed to start doing workouts in late January. So naturally I hit up my favorite training group partners of Shannon and Nate to do a 8 x 2 minutes hard 1 minute easy fartlek in the middle of a snowstorm. Now even though we were in the same training group, Shannon and I did end up spreading out during most of our workouts towards the end of XC season. However, I could always count on her to stick with me through the first rep, even if it was way too fast like it always was.

But this workout was different. I put a decent gap between me and others by the end of the first rep (part of this was because Shannon dropped her key and stopped 100m in) and didn’t really feel like I was pushing too hard. Despite being alone for the rest of the workout, I kept up the pace and by 6th hard section I was about to lap Nate. I didn’t anticipate the gap being this large, but I was too excited about how fast I was going, or how fit I felt too care about running alone at this point. Nate and Shannon stopped around 5 or 6 reps and I went on to do the full 8.

Now this workout was significant for two reasons

  1. It really showed me my increased mileage was paying off and gave me a great amount of confidence going into the season
  2. It was the last workout that Shannon Nate and I would do together

Now that 2nd reason is both a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, I was getting a lot faster and it was a good sign that I was going to be able to run great times in races this season. But getting faster meant I wouldn’t be part of Shannon’s and Nate’s training group anymore. And that was really sad for me because I had some great workouts and fun memories with them during cross country season. However, as a parting gift to my favorite training group of all time, I decided to break Nate’s shoulder and sideline him with yet another injury, effectively breaking up my favorite training group.

For the next couple of weeks I would be a free agent on the training group market before settling into a new training group involving Rex, who I hadn’t seen since the first day of club running practice my freshman year, Laskowski, and brief appearances from Ryan Kapoor, Konrad, and even Bill (but only when the 5k workout was the same as the 800 workout). And with my new training group I began having some of the best workouts of my entire running career. There were a couple milestone workouts that I was particularly happy with that I’ve highlighted below.

February 5th: 5x1000m repeats with 200m jog

This was the first workout I did with Rex and was just meant to get my legs ready for faster workouts since I haven’t really gone faster than tempo pace in a few months. A smart runner would’ve taken 400m jogging rest between reps, but I am an idiot and thought 200m would be enough. Despite the short rest, I got faster with each rep and split 3:32 3:29 3:27 3:25 3:23. This was amazing considering I was hitting low 3:30’s during the same workout in XC season (and I did this with half the rest I was supposed to have as well). It was especially impressive when you consider that I when I did this workout during XC, it was at the end of the season, but this time I did it even faster during the first few weeks of the semester. I knew I was doing something right and my training was looking like it was in a great spot.

February 22nd: 3.5 x 3 hard 1 easy 5 hard 2 easy fartlek

This workout encapsulated pack running at its finest. I came into the day still looking for a solid training group to join me and Rex on workouts and found one at the very beginning of the workout. It was an absolute squad of Ryan Kapoor, Daniel Jordan, Konrad, Rex, and I just grinding away at this fartlek, exchanging leads every so often so nobody would be working too hard. I remember being in the back of the pack at one point and just thinking to myself:

“What the heck is going on? Am I really running a workout with dudes that have run a sub 2:00 800? Am I really this fast now?”

Well apparently I was that fast because we were cruising and were all together the entire way, motivating each other to keep up the pace on every rep. I haven’t really run in a pack like that during a workout ever in my life. Even in high school, to get a pack together like that during a workout meant a couple people would have to slow down their workouts so others would have a pack to run with. But here every single one of us was giving a hard effort and it worked perfectly. I gained even more confidence in my fitness and training off this workout.

March 4th: Vo2 Max Test

For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a Vo2 max test entails, it is a essentially a 10 minute treadmill run at progressively increasing speeds every 2 minutes. After a brief warmup, you begin the test running at approximately tempo pace, and every 2 minutes the speed increases by ~2 km/hour (roughly 17 seconds/mile).

Now I had no idea why I was doing this test, but it sounded like a cool thing that could use to see how much faster I have gotten and if I was really in shape for the sub 17:00 5k. After my 3-minute warm-up at 7:00 pace I began my test at 6:00 mile pace, progressively speeding up until I finished my test with 2 minutes at roughly 4:58 mile pace?? Yeah, I was surprised when Jessica, the person conducting the test, told me how I was running at a pace 10 seconds slower than my mile PR pace for the last 2 minutes.

But the real shock didn’t come until 3 weeks later when Jessica gave me all the data for my Vo2 max test. Coming into the test Bill, who is an all-knowing god when it comes to this kind of stuff, predicted I would be around a 65 for Vo2 Max, which would be way ahead of where I needed to be for a sub 17:00 5k. But when I sent over all my data to Bill to translate the numbers into something I would actually understand I was so thrilled with what he told me.

Basically your VO2 is 67 mL/kg/min. Your lactate threshold is about 61, so about 90% of your VO2 max. That’s impressive and indicates that your highly trained. . . Lastly your running economy is that of an elite middle and long distance runners, so I would definitely be encouraged by that. It seems like you’re really fit and genetically capable of breaking 17”

Boom. That surpassed my wildest expectations of anything I could’ve learned from the test. The confidence boost from Bill comparing my running economy to that of Eliud Kipchoge gave me such a high that I had no doubts I would break 17 this year. It was just a question of how far under 17 I could go.

March 13th: 2x(2x1000I with 400 jog, 2x400R with 200 jog, 200F with 600 jog)

Quite possibly my best work out of the semester and it made me realize just how much potential I had for this track season. My Running2win entry for this workout sums up this workout almost perfectly:


“So far this season i’ve been hitting really good times during workouts and have felt more in shape then I have probably ever felt during track season and this workout was one of those ones where everything just really clicked.

Did 2x(2×1000 2×400 200) and split 3:16 3:14 68 71 31.5 3:15 3:13 69.9 71.7 31.6. I started with Bill Ryan Laskowski and Jake but didn’t think I would be able to keep with them the entire time. But I was able to stick with them and I wasn’t struggling to do so either. 

After the workout me and Laskowski were talking about how he was always way ahead of me during XC but now we are doing workouts together. Can’t believe I’ve improved that much in such a short time, but now I’m definitely thinking sub 16:30 and low 4:20’s for the 1500 this year. Can’t wait to start racing ‘soon'”

After all these workouts I was in such a great place mentally and had such an extraordinary amount of confidence in my fitness. I was able to run longer during easy runs, my workouts were way faster than they were in the past, and I had peaked at 75 miles / week while consistently running 70 miles every other weak. I could practically taste the sub 17:00 5k at this point and I wasn’t even worried if it would happen. I knew that it was going to happen. I was so pumped to finally start racing after all these weeks of training and finally break that barrier that had taunted me for the past 2 years.

The Cavalier Invitational

After several weeks of high mileage, hard training, and the burning anticipation to race, it was finally here, my first race of the season at the Cavalier Invitational. Everyone kept talking about how the UVA track has a great atmosphere and usually results in some impressive races, so given my great training I knew I could run some fast times and surprise myself in a big way.

And well, I guess I did surprise myself. But it was exactly the opposite kind of surprise from what I wanted.

As has been the trend in my running career, I started my track season by not just running poorly, but somehow running what might be the 2 worst track races of my life. Its not a great feeling when you roll up to a track and feel 70-degree weather with no clouds in the sky after being used to training in rainy and cold conditions. But that’s what ended up happening and by the time the 5k came around, I did not feel good in the slightest.

I felt exhausted during the warmup and knew it was going to be tough to run a fast time. But then all my doubts and fears were exacerbated when I watched Shannon run a 18:41 5k when she was definitely in sub-18 shape at the time. When I asked her how she felt out there, all she said is “It’s so freaking hot out there” and I couldn’t help but dread my upcoming race.

By the time the race itself came around, I had calmed down somewhat and was off and racing before I knew it. I just tried to do what I did for every 5k that I race, just look for competition and work off them for as long as possible. From a spectator’s view you would think I was doing great, after 4 laps around that track, I had just split a 5:20 1st mile and was in a decent pack of 4 runners. It would be understandable if you thought something like:

Wow Briggs is doing great right now! He might run really fast!” 

But all I was thinking was:

Wow I feel like shit right now. I’m actually about to die

And die I surely did, dropping from the pack almost immediately after the first mile and slowing down enough to run a 17:51 5k. That’s a pretty bad time given the goals I had set for myself.

But I wasn’t that discouraged by the race. Sure, I would’ve liked to run faster, but almost nobody ran a good time in the 5k. From Colin dropping out midway through the race, all the way to Stas running a 17:04, most of the times left a lot to be desired. It was just terrible conditions for an early season race, and I knew I could run faster.

After a brief cool-down, I proceeded to follow up my poor performance in the 5k with an even worse performance in the open mile, by losing to Shannon AND Michael Hughes. As I did with the 5k, I just ignored these results and simply set my sights to the home meet coming up the next weekend.

The Terrapin Invitational

Eager to show that my races at UVA were just a fluke race and not a true indicator of my fitness, I signed up for my classic 5000m / 1500m double at our home meet. After a couple good workouts during the week and good weather coming in for Saturday’s meet, I was sure that I was going to run a great time. I wouldn’t have to sit a car driving for a couple hours before I raced, so my legs would be fresh, and Rex was running the 5k as well, so I would have someone to pace with the entire time. Literally nothing could go wrong, I was sure I was going to break 17.

Well, as usual, something went wrong. This time it was solely on me being an idiot.

When I first made my goal this season to run a sub 17:00 5k, I decided that I need to change a couple things in order to achieve it. The 1st thing was obviously my training, so I increased my mileage and started doing workouts faster. But the 2nd thing was more difficult, I decided to alter my strategy of how I ran the 5k.

Specifically, I wanted to go out more conservatively in the 5k and try to even split it as much as possible. Up until this point, I had gone out way too fast in the 1st mile and flat out died the last 2 miles in every 5k I had raced. For this race, I decided to just try to pay attention to how I was feeling and not go out too hard in the first mile.

My new racing strategy worked, for the first lap at least, as I ran a 80 and felt so smooth. But then as I came around the 2nd lap, I heard someone yelling out splits and I heard that I ran an 86 second lap. I briefly thought to myself:

Wow an 86 is on pace for 5:30 mile, right? That felt so easy, this is going great

But then the effects of the all dumb fuck juice I drank before the race began to wear off and I realized that and 86 second wasn’t even close to 5:30 mile pace. It was freaking 5:44 pace. Snails can go faster than that. Briggs why are you going so slow??

In hindsight, I should’ve realized I was going too slow way earlier because Rex had a good 30 – 40 meter lead on me 2 laps into the race and we were supposed to be running together. I just wasn’t mentally engaged enough to follow through on that. I proceed to pick the pace up and run 80’s for the next couple of laps until I got back on pace and caught up to Rex.

Okay you messed up at the beginning of the race but now you’re back on pace. That last mile was 5:26. Perfect. Just stay up here with Rex and we can work together and run a great time.

But as we neared the halfway point of the race, I felt us slowing down ever so slightly. I decided we needed to pick up the pace immediately if we wanted to keep 17:00 in reach, so I made a big move in hopes that Rex would realize what I was thinking and match my move.

No luck. I ran the rest of the race alone, struggling to maintain the pace as there was nobody ahead of me that I could focus on catching or pacing off. With a couple laps to go, I knew I was going too slow, but I didn’t realize how much I had slowed down until 200m to go when I saw I had come through 3 miles in 16:30. I needed a 30 second 200 to break 17? Yikes that probably wasn’t going to happen, but I kicked it in as hard as I could and finished with a time of 17:08.

Was it sub 17:00? Nope. But it was a 12 second PR and after all my years of running I knew I had to take the small victories when they came. I was disappointed in how poorly I was mentally prepared in the early stages of the race, but I also knew that in a race with more competition, I probably could’ve stayed on pace and run a sub 17:00.

I still had no major worries, as nationals was coming up the next week and there would surely be enough quality competition there to push me under the 17-minute barrier.

But nationals was next week, and I had to stay focused on the present. I still had to race the 1500m and could probably run a solid time in that, or so I thought. On dead legs, I proceeded to lose to Shannon AND Michael Hughes in the 1500m again. At least I was consistent right?

Waiting for my Moment

So after a somewhat disappointed couple of races at the home meet, I refocused on getting in a couple of less strenuous, but quality workouts to make sure I was in peak condition for NIRCA Track Nationals coming up that weekend. But I could tell something in my body was off early in the week during an easy run through Greenbelt trails and I fell way back of the entire group midway through the run. The group probably had a solid 100 meters on me, and I felt like complete shit and was really contemplating just walking the dreadful 4 miles back to campus. But after a fortunately long traffic light stop, I was able to catch up and tell everyone how I’m going to slow down for the last couple miles because I don’t feel great. And thankfully Rylan replied with the most encouraging words you could possibly imagine:

“Oh it looks like you’re catching my cold Briggs!”

Of course. Thanks Rylan. But while I really wish he was wrong, I couldn’t really deny the fact that I was coming down with some form of sickness, whether it be Rylan’s cold, or a less intense strain of the plague that nearly destroyed half the team during XC season. After finishing one of the most miserable runs of the season and getting back to my apartment, I immediately started taking Advil regularly in hopes of mitigating the illness before it got any worse.

With some mixed success, the illness didn’t get worse and I felt good enough to finish my two workouts for that week at decent paces, but I still was worried about how much time my body would have to recover before Nationals that weekend. Thankfully, I felt much better on Friday than I had felt throughout the week and thought this would be the race weekend I have been waiting for.

And just like that, Saturday morning arrived, and the conditions were beautiful with a cool temperature throughout the morning and clouds covering the entire sky. I knew these were the perfect conditions for fast times in the 5k and this was immediately confirmed when Lucy Hilrades of Purdue won the women’s race in a time of 17:02.74, absolutely destroying 2nd place and the meet record in the process. As if I needed any more motivation to run sub 17:00, now I knew I had to just so I could say I didn’t lose to a girl from Purdue.

After the typical warm-up, agility drills, and watching Justin almost fall of the track several times during his 5k, I was ready to run and got on the line for my chance to break sub 17. The race started innocently enough, as I relaxed and let most of the others run ahead in a more aggressive start than I desired. I settled into a rhythm of running 82 seconds per 400 and just tried to find other competitors to pace off and run with.

However, it turns out that it would be harder than I thought to pace off someone. Every time I made a move and caught another runner, they would instantly start slowing down, forcing me to pass and just focus on catching the next runner in hopes they would maintain the pace. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen as I kept making moves and passing runners who were dying for the first 8 laps of the race. But I still had Coach Sybing and the rest of the team cheering me on let me know that I was on perfect pace to run sub 17:00. I briefly thought to myself

These are perfect conditions, I’ve got a huge squad cheering me on, and I’m on pace through 2 miles. What more could I ask for? This is it. Today is the day for sub 17.

But those last 4.5 laps turned out to be my greatest demise. Despite the team screaming at me to keep making moves and catch the Wisconsin runner ahead of me who was wearing a backwards hat, my legs were absolutely destroyed. While I should’ve been closing the gap between me and the runners ahead, the gap just stayed a constant size. I didn’t realize how much I was slowing down until I saw the clock was at 13:00 with 3 laps to go.

Fuck. I need to run 3 consecutive 80 second laps to run sub 17? This is going to be hard

I stayed as mentally tough as I could, grinding through the pain, telling myself not to give up, and trying to pick up the pace. But I slowed down way too much for it to matter at that point, as I sprinted the last 200m as hard as I possibly could, only to run a very demoralizing 17:09. 1 second slower than last week.

I was completely exhausted after crossing the line and couldn’t explain how I had failed to break 17 yet again. I paced the first 2 miles exactly how I wanted to, passed so many runners who had gone out too aggressively, tapered my training during the week going into the race, and despite all of that, it still wasn’t enough to break 17.

As my teammates tried to encourage my, telling me I ran a good race despite the result, I couldn’t help but feel like I completely wasted my big chance. Colin tried to rally me, by telling me that I was in sub 17 shape, and I just needed the perfect race to do it, but there I was in perfect running conditions with a bunch of my teammates setting up a cheering squad that stretched the entire length of the track, and I still couldn’t get the job done.

I felt awful, and I thought it couldn’t get worse. But somehow it did, because I proceeded to watch the rest of the boys run the races of their lives and run amazing PR’s, cumulating in a 15:09 from Mitch to place 6th in the nation. I was so excited and happy for my teammates, but afterwards I couldn’t help feel slightly bad because while almost everyone else ran amazing in the 5k and broke their PR’s by at least 20-30 seconds, I still couldn’t find a way to chop 9 stupid seconds off of my time.

All of the others, including Singer, Laskowski, Stas, and Mitch, had their moment of amazing racing and showing everyone how fit they were. Later in the day, Shannon had her moment of brilliant racing by winning the 1500m title, to build on her earlier PR-smashing performance in the 5k.

Everyone on the team was going crazy and was so excited for all of these brilliant performances. Seeing all the clipboards being broken after each great race was truly amazing and I was so happy for everyone, but I somewhat selfishly wanted it for myself, for me to have my own broken clipboard. But I had absolutely wasted the chance of a lifetime to do it. I had absolutely wasted the chance to break that 17-minute barrier yet again.

Afterwards in the hotel room that night, I couldn’t help but wonder:

“When is my moment going to come when I run the race of my life? Is it ever going to come?”

One Last Chance

After my forgettable performance at Nationals, I had lost absolutely all confidence in my ability to run a decent 5k and was almost at my absolute lowest point mentally.

All that confidence I had from great VO2 max tests and mid-season workouts? Disappeared completely.

That excitement and optimism for having a great race at the next meet? Gone. Replaced with fear of running a terrible race and failure.

Earlier in the season I thought I would be running sub 16:30’s easily, but now I just desperately hoped for a 16:59 by any means. And to make matters worse, there was only one meet left where I planned on racing the 5k, the Widener Invitational.

After a very light week of training, included only doing a single short tempo paced workout, I packed away my overnight bag on Friday afternoon, and proceeded to travel with a few other members of the team up to Chester, PA, where I was either going to return with a triumphant victory, or soul-crushing failure.

Now normally, the Widener Invitational runs their 5k on late Friday afternoon, the day before the rest of their track events. But unfortunately, there was a thunderstorm occurring in the region all afternoon Friday, so the 5k was postponed until the end of the meet Saturday.

On the bright side, I didn’t have to run in humid, non-ideal racing conditions. On the downside, I had to stay and watch the entire meet on Saturday with a steady nervousness about my impending 5k race. But I couldn’t change any of it, so after a great night-before-a-race dinner of Buffalo Mac & Cheese, I went to bed early in preparation for my race the next day.

For the duration of Saturday, I proceeded to watch hundreds of runners run great races and great times in their respective events, including multiple PR’s from almost all of our club’s runners. But with every race I just kept thinking to myself

Why can’t the 5k be right now? I just want this to be over with already.

But unfortunately, the 5k wasn’t for another 8 or 9 hours, giving me plenty of time to internally stress out, but giving me also plenty of time to contemplate my race strategy.

Would I stay with my conservative racing strategy and try to even or maybe negative split? Well that’s what I tried to do at Nationals, and that race went terrible so maybe not.

Maybe a super aggressive start around 5:10 pace so you can bank time for when you die on the 3rd mile like you always do? Well that just sounds like a super stupid way to run a 5k.

Eventually I decided I would just go out at 5:24 mile pace, try to bank a little time for the 3rd mile, and hang on for dear life that last 4 laps.

So as the rest of the club finished their events and got ready to head back to College Park, they wished me good luck and bid Ryun and I farewell. But as I was saying goodbye to Mitch, he gave me a piece of advice that might’ve been the most important thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

“Just go out and race hard. Don’t worry about the time”

I might not have realized it at the time, but those words would turn out to be very important as they stuck in my head for the next few hours. After a lot of thought, I realized that for the past 2 years I had been so worried about running sub 17 that I had almost completely ignored the racing aspect of it. It had gotten to the point where maybe my starts have been too conservative. Maybe going out more aggressively and seeking out competition was what I needed to do.

Ultimately, I decided that Mitch probably knew how to run a 5k properly and that I should take his advice, essentially scraping my previous race strategy and solely focusing on competing with the other runners.

A couple of hours later, after visualizing the race multiple times, I stepped on the track in my green Michigan State singlet tucked into my bright neon yellow running shorts that would’ve made even the most colorblind spectators cringe. You would think that as I toed the line in what could be my last ever collegiate track 5k, I would be thinking about how much training I’ve done to get to this point, my past racing failures, and how this race would be different. But there was only one thought on my mind as I stared down the starter, fueled by the 10 hours of anticipation I had spent watching the track meet:

Just fire the damn gun. I’m ready to race

Boom. The gun was fired. The race had begun.

I instantly went out and attached myself to the back of an 8-runner pack. I stayed calm and relaxed, keeping a constant position at the back of the pack while playing Morgan Wallen (shoutout to Rylan for getting me hip) country songs in my head. The first 2 laps are rather uneventful, as I dodge a bunch of aggressive early moves, just trying to avoid stumbling and falling. But as we approached the 2 lap mark, I thought to myself:

Briggs you are here with a chance to break 17 and you are just singing songs about tractors and whiskey? Wake the fuck up it’s time to race. This is your last chance.

Almost instantly, the songs I had been previously singing to myself stopped. As I stop singing to myself, a runner in a bright green Rowan singlet does a jump cut to the outside of lane 2, cutting me off while he stumbles and almost falls in the process.

Well that was a stupid move. Its 2 laps into the 12.5 lap race idiot, why are you trying to imitate Odell Beckham with an aggressive juke / jump cut around a pack?

The aggressive / idiotic move woke me up, as I quickly realized I felt great, my form was smooth, and my legs felt super light. I instantly weaved my way through the 8 person pack, right past the runner from Rowan and attached myself to the back of a 3 person pack, a move that was met with roaring approval from Coach Anderson.

Now we’re 4 laps into the race, and my pack and I round the corner as Ryun yells out that I had just run an 80 second lap and was at 5:17 for the mile, indicating I am running at a great pace.

Perfect. 5:17 and I still feel smooth. Let’s catch some more of these boys!

And so I did, passing groups of other competitors, and attaching myself to the pack of another pack before I made another surge. Pack by pack, I passed them like clockwork until the halfway point of the race, where I tuck in behind a stray runner in an effort to save energy for the 2nd half of the race. Ryun was yelling out my splits and I was running at a constant 79/80 second clip, so I knew I just had to maintain the pace for as long as possible.

But as I passed Ryun on the 7th lap, he was not happy with my race strategy, screaming at me to not get complacent, to not stop passing people, and to keep making moves.

Ugh Ryun, I’m already way ahead of pace I don’t need to make moves.

But I was too tired to argue, so I obediently surged ahead to another pack of runners and inserted myself in the middle of it.

8 laps down. Ryun is happy with my recent move and yells out that I’m on sub 16:40 pace through 2 miles, before correcting himself immediately after and yelling that I’m actually on sub 16:30 pace. Normally I would’ve gained a boost in confidence from that 2 mile split. But all I could think about were my closing 400 splits from Nationals a week prior.

84, 86, 87, 83. You were on pace last week at this same point but then you did that, so nothing is guaranteed. You’re way ahead of pace, just don’t die super hard, keep your shoulders down, your form relaxed, and you’ll be fine.

As I waited to feel the familiar feeling of my legs turning to iron, and for sheer exhaustion to break my will to race, I somehow kept passing packs and stray runners. And the feeling of misery that I had become very familiar with last week never manifested itself. . . until 1000m to go.

For the first time in the race, a runner has just passed me, and immediately threw in a surge to go chase the next pack. I was tired, my legs started moving a little slower, and I couldn’t match his aggressive move. Ryun screamed at me, with a tone of urgency saying I had to go and speed up now. His tone of urgency and intensity made me believe I had fallen off pace and was in danger of missing sub 17.

Oh no. Here we go again. I’m going to miss sub 17 again aren’t I?

But as I worried about failing to reach my ultimate goal and slowing down, something amazing happened. Something I didn’t know I needed. Something that would help me to overcome any mental barriers my brain had previously constructed to block me from sub 17.

A runner passed me. But this wasn’t just any runner. This was the runner in a bright green Rowan University singlet who had been cutting me off and stumbling the first two laps of the race like an idiot. And I didn’t forget any of those previous moves for a second, because as soon as he passed me, a sense of anger swept through my body and I forgot about how tired I felt and focused on how badly I wanted to beat this dude.

But why was I so angry at him? I didn’t even know this kid. Was it the dumb unnecessary moves he made early on in the race? Maybe. Was it the fact that I couldn’t tell whether his singlet was yellow, bright green, or orange due to my colorblind eyes? Maybe. But it didn’t matter why I was angry, all that mattered is in that instant of time, I gained so much motivation and energy from him passing me.

Immediately, I throw in a surge to try and match his speed. I succeed, managing keeping the gap between us at a constant size. With 300 meters to go, I make another surge and pass the guy. I feel him try to match my move and stay on my shoulder, but his steps become quieter with every second as I know I have just created a gap between us. With 150 meters to go, his coaches on the infield are screaming at him to kick hard and catch me. The thought of him beating me in the final straightaway of the race made me absolutely furious. I look dead at his coaches and think to myself.

These are the guys that want you to catch me? Well, let’s see you try to come and get me buddy.

I throw in a final surge, speeding up to a full sprint, trying to break whatever was left of his spirit. I wasn’t going for a close win at the finish line, I wanted to absolute destroy this kid and make him regret those moves he made earlier in the race.

100 meters left, I’m still in front and feeling like I’m pulling away. 50 meters left, and I know I have this Rowan kid beat, as I can barely hear his breathing anymore. I sprint all the way to the line but can’t help but stare at the clock during the last 25 meters in sheer amazement. As I cross the finish line, I have a grin on my face, staring directly at the clock.

16:27. A 41 second PR.

It Finally happened.

After 2 years of failure, I had finally achieved my goal of sub 17. I hadn’t just broken it by a little bit either, I had absolutely demolished the barrier and went ahead and broke 16:30 as well. This was the race of my life. This was my moment that I had been waiting for. I laid down on the track in pure disbelief, as Ryun ran over with the same grin and disbelief I had, congratulating me and saying we had finally done it.  

The Meaning

After the race, I was ecstatically happy. I still couldn’t believe I had run that fast. I thought the best part of the day was finishing the race, having broken the barrier that had cruelly taunted me for the past two years. But it turns out the best part was actually seeing the club’s reaction online when Ryun and I got back to the car and turned on my phone.

The Facebook chat had blown up, with so many congratulatory messages from so many different people. Apparently, Shannon had been stalking the live results ever lap of the race and leaked the news to everyone.

I had never seen such a huge reaction to a race, let alone a race none of them were there to witness. If that wasn’t enough, the group chat name had been completely changed in my honor. Seeing how excited everyone was for my race, even when they couldn’t watch it was incredible and meant a lot to me, seeing how much everyone on the club cared.

And how did Ryun and I celebrate? The only way someone who had the race of their life could celebrate? We drove to the nearest Walmart and broke the first clipboard we could find.

What a race is was. What a season is has been. Thank you to everyone for making it that way and making the journey as fun as the destination.

P.S. Sorry this was so long, but I ran out of stuff to procrastinate doing my homework with. Happy procrastination season!

Widener Recap

By Ryun Anderson

    April 20th, 2019: the day before Easter. A day when Jake Downing paid homage to the meme gods by finishing 69th in the 1500 on 4/20. And the day when Maryland Club Running “pulled a fast one” (as the youths say) on Widener University.

On Saturday, a small squadron of Terrapins traveled to Chester, Pennsylvania for the Widener Invitational. With nationals having taken place the previous week, many runners decided to take the weekend off (although a few competed at both meets).

The day began innocently enough. Shannon Young arrived at the track first, accompanied by her parents. The weekend storms had forced Widener to postpone Friday’s races, so she was faced with the unenviable task of tackling her first-ever 10k at 9 a.m. in a steady rain. She came through the 5k at 19:45 (having only broken 20 minutes in the event two weeks earlier) and held on for a solid 40:35 finish, practically daring any girl on the club to try and break her newfound club record.

Luckily the rain let up at the end of the 10k, and as the weather began to heat up, so did the times. Despite arriving shortly before the start of the 1500 (and consequently re-defining what constitutes a proper “warm-up”), Kate Eckart ran away from the rest of her heat in a new personal-best time of 5:03.66 (moving past Luanne for the club’s #3 mark). Christina Higgins, not to be out-done, put together a nearly perfectly-paced race and tied her personal best at 5:28.46 (#9 all-time).

The boys were up next, set out to test the theory of whether 5k training does indeed make your 1500 slower or if Ryun just uses that as an excuse for his diminishing footspeed. Mitch put the former theory to rest when he left his heat in the dust during the final 600 meters, running 4:07.02 (#5 all-time) and reassuring himself that his speed did not, in fact, peak in high school. Matt “Running is an art, not a sport” Stasiukevicius put on an impressive display of consistency for the second week in a row, running three straight 68s en route to a 4:13.76 personal best. Jake Downing ran two seconds faster than his HILARIOUS (albeit fairly accurate) 4:20 seed time, although he kept the meme alive by strategically finishing 69th overall. Niko Fedkin rounded out the 1500s by brute forcing his way under the 4:30 mark for the first time, completing a perfect set of college PRs in the guys’ 1500.

The next set of season bests came in the 400, when the dynamic freshman duo of Clay Buckman and Liam Killea decided to get in on the fun. Clay continued his deliberately precise season-long plan of whittling away at his 400-meter personal best – not unlike Michaelangelo painstakingly crafting the statue of David – by obliterating the second heat and lowering his club record (again) to 49.38. Liam was not far behind, clocking a season best of 51.01, good for #4 all-time.

Kate and Christina then realized that the 800 had snuck up on them faster than your end-of-semester research paper is sneaking up on you (yes, you), but were able to make it to the starting line in plenty of time. Kate evenly split a 2:26 and Christina showcased the blazing speed that also apparently comes with increasing mileage, crossing the line in 2:38.29 (#8 all-time). Ryan Kapoor then proceeded to embarrass his entire section, at one point leading the race by well over ten meters and holding on with a shiny new PR of 1:58.22 (#6 all-time).

Ian Tumulty then took a break from his picture-taking (never mind his previous race in the 110-meter hurdles) to tackle the most heinous track event ever conceived, the 400-meter hurdles. However, inspired by the 52-second (yes, you read that right) winning time in the first heat, he clocked a solid performance of 64.25 (#5 all-time). When converting for the fact that he did this in a long-sleeve shirt, I would have given him the first-place medal, but the Widener officials apparently thought otherwise.

After Liam’s 200 (23.45, milliseconds off of his season-best), all but Briggs and Ryun departed for the great state of Maryland. The two left behind, however, had one singular mission: get Briggs under 17 minutes in the 5k. By the time Briggs’ race rolled around just before 7 p.m., the sun had gone behind the trees, creating ideal racing conditions. After back-to-back 5:17 miles, it became apparent to Ryun that Briggs was not only going to break 17, but had a chance to crack 16:30, as well. A couple well-timed moves and a serious final-lap kick and Briggs crossed the line triumphantly in 16:27. The two, spirits abuzz after the event that had transpired, eschewed a cooldown in lieu of a trip to Wal-Mart, where they bought a clipboard and a pack of Sharpies. The clipboard, suffice to say, was not long for this world.

All told, the Widener Invitational was a roaring success for Maryland Club Running (that’s a Lion pun, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who knows what Widener’s mascot is). It tested the pain endurance of both runners and sunburned spectators alike, most (if not all) of whom walked away with shiny new season-best times. It also clearly proved that we as a club race much better when not wearing our club uniforms, which, okay. As long as you’re not wearing Penn State gear.

Nationals Recap

Day 1: Courage, Camaraderie, and Clipboards

7 years ago, a plucky organization of volunteers who had previously planned nothing but half marathons and other road races decided that it was time to expand their race repertoire to better serve the college runners that frequented their races. What they planned next was the first rendition of the NIRCA Spring Track Championships, including only a half marathon, a select few distance and sprint events, and excluding all field events. Over the years it has grown, improved, and morphed alongside college club running culture into the gorgeous and eclectic extravaganza full of elite caliber athletes, dedicated running junkies, and absurdist meme lords. It is this alternate universe that UMD Club Running entered as four rental vans, fresh with a coating of Indiana highway dust, pulled into the parking lot of the track the University of Miami of Ohio. Fueled by a burning desire to compete, coasting off the strength of months of consistent training, and motivated by a coaching staff of broke boiz Ryun Anderson and myself (who entered the meet armed with 9 clipboards primed for smashing in celebration/frustration), UMD Club athletes pit themselves against club athletes from all over the country.

Track action got off to a quick start in the 100m prelims, with Ian Lynch finishing in 13.44s and Kareem McDavid in 11.98s. Onlookers sat amazed not only at the performances, but at the fervor with which UMD Club athletes cheered on the “Kareem of the Crop,” specifically with how they continuously smashed a clipboard on a fence, trying to break it in celebration. One NIRCA representative even praised the team’s spirit, stating “Yeah, don’t do that.” Inspired by this feedback, Treasurer Brian McCullough responded by severing the first clipboard of the day with his knee, technically heeding the advice of the NIRCA representative. Immediately following the 100m dash, lone hurdler Dylan Briske began his triple event weekend with a 1:10.58s finish, where he miraculously did not have to jump over his blocks as he finished this time.

Fans relocated themselves around the track to achieve maximum cheering volume for the next event: the women’s 5k. The first of two heats featured Maddie Mandich, who even-split her way to a season PR of 21:48, while only being minorly distracted by the pack of wild animals in UMD clothes willing her on with creative chants from the other side of the fence (earning UMD Club a feature on NIRCA’s Instagram story). Mandich’s time was almost a 70 second improvement from her time at the Terrapin Invite a week prior. The second (and final) heat of the women’s 5k featured the dynamic roommate duo of Julia Heiges and Shannon MacMaster. Heiges fought hard to a time of 20:26, while MacMaster pulled away from all but three runners, placing 4th for an All-American finish with an absolutely absurd time of 17:48, going under the previous club record by over 40 seconds and PR’ing by a similar amount. Onlookers sat dumbstruck by the performance, and some coaches and their assistants were so excited that they even destroyed their own clipboards (that’s 2 and 3 right there). MacMaster would immediately celebrate this performance by skipping the awards ceremony in favor of an extended cooldown.

Attention turned back to the sprint squad, as McDavid and Lynch doubled back to run 23.72s and 26.83s respectively in the 200m dash, while Corey Townsend, well warmed up after driving back the hotel to grab his spikes, stepped on the track and laid down a 25.84s performance.

Just as quickly as the they left the track, the women’s distance team returned to field a 4 x 800m relay composed of a doubling Heiges and Mandich and a fresh pair of 800 specialists: Kate Eckart and Katrina Hrabinski. Hrabinski executed a tactically flawless 2:25 lead-off leg, complete with a certifiably feral final 200m in which she passed 3 competitors and handed off in 4th place. Heiges held her ground well against competitors in the second leg with a 2:49, passing off to Mandich, who, even on tired legs, smashed out a 2:56. Eckart anchored the way home, making two key passes on her way to a 2:26, securing a 7th place finish for women’s 4 x 8 in 10:37, which incidentally ensured that every single female competitor from UMD earned an All-American award.

After a couple boring sprint semifinals immediately following the 4×8’s (in which, I would like to point out, the winning men’s time was 7:49 holy moly), the stage was set for 2 hours of pure endurance, agony, and passion. Yes, it was time for a NIRCA Nats special: 6 heats of men’s 5ks, and luckily enough for UMD, we managed to have someone in each heat of the 5k. Don’t ever say we don’t have a wide pace range on this club. Teammates flooded the infield to shriek encouragement over every inch of the track.

Our first competitor was Matt Sebsibe, who, emboldened by his first track 5k in spikes, ran a smart race from beginning to end, passing competitors the entire way, including one particularly bold pass that just so happened to end the life of the fourth clipboard of the day. Sebsibe would close the final 200m in 38s for a massive season PR of 18:28. Justin Turner entered his heat in his traditional modest fashion, and then proceeded to prove that he was actually hustling us the whole time, like that episode of Drake and Josh where Josh is really good at billiards. Good times. Stating that his “stretch-goal” for the race was a 17:40 due to lack of consistent training, Turner proceeded to chase the front pack for his first mile, which took him out in 5:24. While the pace may have waned as the race went on, the effort never did, and Turner proved that by shifting gears from 42 second 200’s to ~37 second 200’s in the final 600m, for a very near lifetime PR of 17:28, well past Turner’s stretch goal.

Heat three was populated by two club veterans: Vice President San Dinger and Resident-Guy-Named-Briggs Briggs. In a show of pure NIRCA spirit, your very own VP charged out in the front and provoked the crowd for noise, “meming” his way through the first mile in 5:10. Briggs, as a change of pace, was not the meme of this race and took the more modest approach, even-splitting his first two miles. Singer would later pull away from the field alongside two other competitors to set a lifetime PR of 16:19 (though he could not defeat the heat winner, the grossly mis-seeded “grown-ass man,” Virginia Tech’s Harry Wood), while Briggs was narrowly edged out by the women’s 5k champion by about 7 seconds, running 17:09.

Heat 4 marked the beginning of the year of the Matt, as freshmen duo Matt Laskowski and Matt Stasiukevicius duked it out with an incredibly deep field. Laskowski, a self-proclaimed “no-kick” kind of runner, poured his energy into the first two miles, hanging on to the lead pack to shoot for a quick time, while Stas tucked into the back of the field. At the end of mile two, Stas seemingly floated past the enormous field to take second place in a staggering PR of 15:46. Laskowski would follow soon behind in a huge PR of 16:06. The two would commemorate their PR’s with a two halves of deservedly smashed clipboard number 5. Heat 5 featured a notably hat-less Rylan Flint, who sat perfectly relaxed on the leaders for 2 miles. Flint executed a clever race strategy that carried him to a lifetime PR of 15:34, which also earned him a finish in the top 20.

Finally, exhausted fans on the infield stepped up to their final challenge of the gauntlet: cheering on the fast heat of the men’s 5k, starring hometown hero Mitch Welter. Welter, who missed the entirety of his freshman and sophomore seasons of outdoor track due to nagging injuries, entered his first track championship with grand expectations. Excitement rode high for 8 laps as an enormous pack of about 20 runners stayed bunched in the front, each of them flirting with 15-flat pace. Welter positioned himself perfectly in front of a tidal wave of runners, sometimes even pushing up to challenge the leader himself. The paced certainly lagged a bit in the middle mile (if you can call 4:55 lagging) as leaders interchanged, and it wasn’t until about 4.5 laps to go when the pack at the front burst, giving way to a line of runners all battling for a podium spot. While fans watched on in uncertainty, Welter never faltered in the final mile, blowing by two competitors in the final lap in about 65 seconds to seal a 15:09 PR and a 6th place finish as an All-American. Fittingly, Welter’s 6th place finish doomed the 6th clipboard to same fate as its predecessors, and just like that, the long, tired days of 5k’s were finally over.

During the endless storm of 5k’s, Briske had recovered from his stint as a hurdler and snuck in a 4.94m long jump performance. However, Briske’s day was far from over, as he stepped up alongside Townsend, Lynch, and McDavid in the men’s 4 x 100m. Excessive amounts of “salt” were reportedly pumped through McDavid’s veins as the UMD men’s 4 x 100m wrapped up the event with a ~67% handoff success rate. However, as any STEM student will tell you, 67% is typically a C+ with the curve, and everyone knows that C’s get degrees.

The long day was wrapped up with the 1500m. Mandich stepped up to complete a tough triple of 5k, 4×8, and 1500, as she savagely flexed on two girls before essentially erasing them from existence as she kicked past them, hitting a season PR of 5:55 despite the fatigue.

Mandich’s performance was followed by the loaded final heat of the women’s 1500m, which featured a star-studded squad of MacMaster, Hrabinski, and Eckart. MacMaster, a self-proclaimed “5k-runner,” glided to the front of that race alongside Penn State’s Suzanne Stein (last year’s 5k champ) and Purdue’s Lucy Hilarides (this year’s 5k champ, who ran 17:02 earlier and also destroyed Briggs’ will to exist). Up against seasoned competitors with such storied credentials, it seemed, at least to the fans, as though a third-place finish would be a perfectly reasonable for MacMaster.
That’s what made the subsequent events so utterly astonishing; MacMaster threw in a surge with 500m to go and hit the bell lap in the lead. UMD athletes scrambled in a frenzy around the infield to will her onwards, hoping to help her outlast the imminent kick of Hilarides and Stein.

However, MacMaster’s lead on the two champs only grew, until about the 200m, when fans began to suspect that the kick simply wasn’t coming from the second and third runners. Indeed, MacMaster powered downed the final straightaway as UMD athletes screamed themselves hoarse to celebrate UMD Club Runnings’ second ever NIRCA National Champion (and first ever female one): Shannon MacMaster, 1500m, 4:44.13. MacMaster’s mark obliterated her own club record from a week prior by 4 seconds, and she was joined at the finish line by Hrabinski, who was narrowly edged out of 9th place in 5:02, and Eckart, who improved upon her previous PR by 2 seconds in 5:08. Coach Anderson, moved by his team’s effort and the history he had witnessed, blasted the seventh clipboard out of existence, and turned to focus on the final few races of the day.

After a wildly successful race by the women, the excitement seemed to bleed into the first heat of the men’s 1500m. Comeback kid Nate Lieske was unfortunately foiled by the track officials, who controversially denied his God-given right to race in an oversized bunny mascot head that he purchased at Wal Mart a day prior. Nevertheless, Lieske proceeded to dazzle the crowd with his ceremonial handcrafted Jorts, as he laid out his first official track race as a UMD Club athlete in 5:08, sealing the last 50m whilst eating a carrot that he had in his pocket the while time. Sebsibe, Briggs, and Turner all doubled back after their 5k’s to run what Coach Anderson refers to as “literally everyone’s 1500,” complete with (1) an unnecessarily fast first lap, (2) an incredibly slow second lap, and (3), in the case of Turner specifically, “WHEEEEEELS” in the last 400m. Sebsibe, Briggs, and Turner finished in separate heats with times of 4:54, 4:35, and 4:33, all of them featuring some very pronounced acceleration in the final lap.

The absolute final race of the day belonged to McCullough, whose most pronounced exertion of the meet thus far had been smashing the team’s first clipboard. Hoping to score from the 2nd to fastest heat, McCullough shot off the line surrounded by a dense crowd of what could only be described as “mouth-breathers.” While inhibited slightly by the traffic surrounded him, McCullough reportedly channeled several spirits and attained Nirvana as he unleashed his kick in the final 300m, earning him a 13th place finish in 4:04.

After some brief lunch in downtown Oxford, the team returned to quiet Connersville, Indiana, to rest up for the second day of Nationals competition.

Day 2: The Biggest Storm that Never Happened

Nerves were tense on Saturday night, as the outlook on Sunday’s weather looked dismal: rain and thunderstorms from 8AM to 3PM, which incidentally, was exactly when the meet was scheduled to take place. NIRCA drafted contingency and cancellation plans for both the half marathon and the final track events of the weekend, and UMD Club Running did the same. In order to keep people out of the rain as much as possible, the team elected to shuffle the car assignments to send the car of half marathon runners to the meet on time, while allowing the rest of the team to sleep an extra two hours and keep out of the rain.

These plans, while thoughtful, proved overly cautious, as the storm shifted away from Oxford, leading to slight drizzles in the morning that soon gave way to completely clear skies. Half marathoners took advantage of this miraculous turn of events to bring even more hardware for the club. Spurred on by an unencumbered Mitch Welter, who furiously shuttled himself around the half marathon course to catch a glimpse of the race whilst blaring the Pokémon theme song, the seven half marathoners of UMD flew over Oxford hills before making a beeline back to the track for the finish.

Not only did Adolfo Blassino win the first 400m of the race (which, in the end, is the part that matters), but Rylan Flint, rebounding off of a stellar 5k PR from Saturday, stunned the field and the spectators as he blazed back on to the track to win the race in 1:13:23 by over 20 seconds, making him the Club’s second NIRCA National Champion of the weekend and the third in history. While the reaction to the victory was certainly delayed, Flint’s performance was deemed too impressive to allow another clipboard to survive, and thus, clipboard number 8 met its end in emphatic fashion. Flint not only smashed the oldest record on the club record books (2007, incidentally the only record not from this decade) by over 2 minutes, but led the male half marathoners of UMD to a third place finish. Indeed, the half marathon was scored by taking the total time of the top three runners from each team, meaning that new All-American Brian McCullough (8th, 1:16:23) and VP Daniel Singer (27th, 1:21:52) helped earn a shiny new trophy for the Terps. Supporting them was Jack Reimer (42nd, 1:24:47) and Blassino (54th, 1:26:46).

While not fielding enough runners to be scored as a team, ever-together pair Julia Heiges and Shannon MacMaster ran side by side for the entire race, with Heiges kicking past MacMaster in the final 100m in thrilling fashion. That kick earned Heiges a 10th place, All-American finish and MacMaster 11th place, both with times of 1:35:23.

Once the half marathon had cleared off the track, the sun broke out of the clouds and the 800m finals began. Maddie Mandich completed the toughest schedule of any UMD athlete by completing a quadruple of 5k, 4×8, 1500, and 800. Mandich would run 2:46, improving on her 4×8 split from a day before by nearly 10 seconds. A couple heats later, Mandich’s 4×8 teammate Kate Eckart was back on the track in the fastest heat, where she blazed out a first 400m in 70 seconds before making several key passes on the final 200m, finishing in 2:25. Uncertainty permeated the air as the teams awaited results, as a few runners from the second fastest heat finished awfully close to the finishers in the fastest heat. However, it soon became clear that Eckart’s final kick had paid off; she placed 8th and earned her second All-American award of the weekend.

Lone wolf Matt Stasiukevicius was eager to show off his range after his monstrous 5k PR on Saturday, and it became apparent that nobody else on the team was. UMD fans waited through nine heats of 800’s before Stas graced them with an impressive show of speed for a 5k runner, splitting just below 60 seconds for the first lap and rounding out the finish in 2:04.
Finally, after a short day of track competition, UMD’s final race of the day arrived in the form of Katrina Hrabinski’s 3k steeplechase. Choosing to forego the 800m, Hrabinski walked into the finals as fresh as anyone could be after two hard races the day before. Hrabinski was racing the event for only the second time in her college career, and she employed a unique “heel-clicking” steeple form to battle it out with two Michigan competitors before sealing her second All-American finish of the weekend in a new club record of 12:12, good for 5th place. While spectators were forced to wait an extra hour for Hrabinski’s award to be given out, I think there can be no disagreement that the wait was well worth it. Sayonara, clipboard number 9!

UMD Club Running pulled up to Miami of Ohio at 7:30AM on a Saturday morning. Two days later, they left with a four new club records (two from Macmaster, one from Flint, and one from Hrabinski), two national champions, twelve All-American awards, three separate features on NIRCA’s Instagram story, twelve confirmed lifetime PR’s, two newly mute coaches, zero Tinder matches, and notably, without the ability to simultaneously have nine people write things down against a portable firm surface whilst standing up. However, while NIRCA Nationals is always a season highlight, the season is far from over. Stay tuned for our final four track meets and the Frederick Half Marathon!

Capital Relays Meet Recap

Brought to you by the Office of the Treasury

              After a spring break filled with road trips, naps and procrastination twenty-three of UMD Club Running’sTm finest descended upon American University. They proceeded to dominate events ranging from a 100m race walk to the 5k.

Those who had been to this infamous track before recounted stories of iced over turns while the newcomers admired its odd, rectangular shape. After paying the $150 meet fee in an unorganized wad of fives and ones, it was time to get down to business for the Terrapins.

The women’s 5k went off first featuring a 20:43 second place finish for Julia Heiges and a 21:29 fourth place finish for Christina Higgins. This strong start for Maryland was followed by the men’s 5k. Mitch Welter finished second in 16:20 while wearing trainers. Ryun Anderson can be loosely quoted as saying, “Mitch totally would have thrashed that Georgetown guy (the first-place finisher) if he was wearing spikes and not on pacing duties”. Matt Laskowski, Welter’s pacee, finished third in 16:36. Also in the field was Adolfo Blassino who shocked spectators with a mid-race wardrobe change. Justin Turner (18:19) and Elliot Hayes (19:47) helped close out a strong Maryland showing in the 5k.

The 100m dash featured yet another Maryland podium finish by Harry Rentzeperis who placed second in allegedly 12.1. However, multiple spectators clocked him between 11.6 and 11.8.

Luanne Zimmerman placed third in the women’s 1500m with a strong 5:20. Maddie Mandich absolutely obliterated the second heat in a time of 6:00, finishing eighth overall and scoring a point for the Terrapins. On the men’s side, Mitch Welter fulfilled Ryun’s prophecy by spiking up and thrashing some poor Georgetown guy in a time of 4:22 (Meet Record). Niko Fedkin placed fourth in 4:31. David Brown finished sixth overall from the slowest heat in his first ever track race as he destroyed competition from his own heat, the entire second heat, and much of the first heat in 4:38. Christian Jefferson Ruiz ran 5:09.3.

Maryland took the win in the men’s 4×100 in 46.5 (Meet Record). A star studded team of Clayton Buckman, Matt Patsy, Kareem McDavid, and Evan Flickinger proved to be far superior to the rest of the field as they comfortably won despite some interesting handoffs.

In the women’s 400m, Hannah Drilling placed second in 1:09. On the men’s side Clayton Buckman ran a blistering 50.3 (Meet Record)… ON A RECTANGULAR TRACK. Matt Patsy followed in fifth with an inspirational 57.7. Two of UMD Club Running’sTm resident Broke BoysTm – Nate Lieske and Jack Wavering – were observed sprinting back and forth across the turf (Meet Record) as if their injuries were momentarily cured during these riveting events.

Kate Eckart blew away the competition in the women’s 800m in 2:28.3 (Meet Record) after opening a sizeable gap on the rest of the field within the first 200m. Maddie Mandich doubled back from the 1500 in a strong 2:51.4 good for seventh. Konrad Shire continued Maryland’s domination in the 800m with a decisive victory in 2:05.9 (Meet Record). He was with the pack through 400m, but after hearing a 64s split for his first lap, he dropped an audible F-bomb and proceeded to humiliate the competition with a strong last 400.

Hannah Drilling returned from her second place finish in the 400m and upgraded to a first place finish in the 200m (31.2) (Meet Record). The men finished 1-2-3 with Harry Rentzeperis (23.4) (Meet Record), Evan Flickinger (23.8), and Kareem McDavid (23.8) to cement overall Maryland domination in the sprint events.

The women’s 4x400m took a comfortable win in 4:47.4 (Meet Record) featuring Higgins, Heiges, Eckart, and Zimmerman. Kate Eckart buried any hopes second place Georgetown had left with an impressive 63 second anchor leg. The men also won in 3:47.0 (Meet Record) with Shire, Laskowski, Brown, and Buckman beating second place George Mason by over 10 seconds.

The women’s team placed second with a score of 61. The men’s team won the meet with a score of 110, more than doubling the score of the second-place team.

The 100m race walk resulted in a disappointing second place finish for a sling-free Nate Lieske. However, multiple spectators have reported that the victor hailing from UMass Lowell initiated an illegal skipping motion in the latter half of the race. Sources say Nate is content with his race-walking career and is playing with thoughts of retirement. However, no official decision has been made.

Overall, Capital Relays was a glorious day for UMD Club RunningTm. Nine meet records were set, and the Terrapins frequented the podium.  

The First Day of Spring

I don’t care what scientists say. I don’t care what the general public says. And I definitely don’t care what Punxsutawney Phil says. Today was the first day of spring. After breaking out the tank top on yesterday’s long run I heard rumors of sixty degrees and clear blue skies in today’s forecast. For those of you who may have seen me biking on campus today, you may have noticed me disappointingly toting around my pink and white plaid shorts underneath the slightly chilly grey skies. I had been duped by mother nature, and it was just another Monday morning in march.

Then came 4:50, a much appreciated new time to get ready for the best part of the day and, lo(h) and behold, nothing but sunshine! Nothing, not even the Rec-Well audit, could get in my way of a great run now. After a particularly beautiful announcements speech by Colin, there were some desires to run Hills for Days. A decent idea in my opinion. Brian had just finished running it and I do appreciate the nature views on such a nice day, but it seemed a little short. Rylan offered that we could always add on after – I was down. Another circle, clearly more powerful, headed by Colin sauntered over to us and declared that they were doing Metro. I was down with doing a Greenbelt Metro. It’s a solid run with some nature and I’m sure it would be a chill run. Turns out, they were doing Metro Metro, like College Park Metro. I was very disappointed and pushed hard for Hills For Days. It was pointless, I had no sway.

Taking my first, uneasy steps down Wellness Way (I had to look up the name of that street) Rylan came up to me and we began talking about trying to get to Greenbelt Lake. When we got to the Cherry Chill path we decided to send it. My question of “Greenbelt Lake?” was only answered by the same question with an entirely different inflection “Greenbelt Lake?” By the end of Cherry Chill Rylan and I realized we didn’t really know where Greenbelt lake was, so we were gonnna do a Cherry Kill, or maybe it was reverse, either way it was new and exciting to me.

The new bridge at the end of the Cherry Chill path looks done, but a chain link fence blocked our path. Luckily I saw the adjacent road with a wide shoulder about 10 meters away when Rylan was about to ford the crick. After this shaky start the rest of our journey was quite successful; the apparently previously sus bridge was moderately friendly to runners and we didn’t have to play frogger across the pre-rush hour beltway. Within 4 miles of campus we were already running through scenic fields and up never before seen hills. The new scenery combined with the beautiful weather put me in awe. A few turns and a few miles later we were already at Route 1, albeit a part unfamiliar to me, but much to my happiness we decided to continue onwards towards the “ag fields” as Rylan continued to call them. We ended up running through more fields that were very much worth the high speed limit on whatever road we were on. The juxtaposition of the open fields, the aging infrastructure, and the nearby urban route 1 was very notable and interesting.

Nearing mile 8 neither of us really knew where we were, but we were reassured when we turned onto Cherrywood Ln. It was aptly named and we slowly realized that we were, ironically, coming up on the Greenbelt Metro station and thus running by Greenbelt lake. We then got to walk through the, now rush hour, Greenbelt Metro station and we found our way to familiar Rhode Island ave. Our biggest disappointment on the run came when we were in the area of the historic Berwyn Metro walking tour. We were looking for a giant lima bean? Maybe it was a soybean? Either way, the bean was not to be found. The final stretch was notable for the beautiful, now dropping, sun and some really annoying gust of wind that came on the sidewalk up the parking lot and lasted strangely long.

In the end, did we run too far? Probably, but I also got to experience a beautiful new run on the day with the best weather of the year so far. I’m proud that Rylan and I did not give in to the peer pressure of the easy run. I appreciate anyone who has made it this far in my completely random post. I thank Rylan for taking me on this run. And mostly I don’t want to write my english essay. I have included a map of the run for anyone who wants to experience the awesomeness that is this yet to be named run because I will totally be running it again (I tried to upload the picture but I kept getting some weird error?). Only 4 more days till break.

Peace,

Matthew Stasiukevicius

Happy Valley Recap

Rebounding off a Saturday night of long travel, sketchy pizza places, and a hotel of questionable hygiene, the members of Maryland Club Running discovered quite the shock before resting up for the night. The hotel which they inhabited did indeed offer “breakfast,” but the magic word “complementary” was notably absent from that description. Panicked visions of famine and empty wallets raced through the minds of our team of stalwart protagonists.

Nevertheless, our resilient athletes took it upon themselves to rouse themselves a half hour earlier than planned on Sunday morning to forage for sustenance in the surrounding area before the meet began. In the semi-urban wasteland that is State College, PA, hidden food oases such as grocery stores, Dunkin Donuts, and some weird bagel place called “The Crust” revealed themselves, and with full stomachs and focused minds, the group swaggered into the venue with… well, swagger.

The races, under the watchful eye of local reporter Ryun Anderson, kicked off with the Distance Medley Relay, a rare yet welcome event. During this event, we witnessed five young athletes make their Maryland Club Running racing debut, as Maddie Mandich, Shannon Young, Konrad Shire, Liam Killea, and Matthew Statsiisduifbvibjrbuirvuxus took center stage and propelled our Men’s A and B teams to top ten finishes and our Women’s team to an 11th place finish. Also notable was a particularly speedy 800m leg from freshman Jake Ayres, who for some reason was not listed on the travel report and was not actually seen at the meet…

Immediately after, Sprint Chair Paige Munshell began her stellar day with a 7th place finish in the 60mHH. Munshell would later go on to complete an impressive triple, placing 10th in the 60m dash (with a new club record of 8.85) and 8th in the 200m dash. Meanwhile, fellow hurdler Ian Tumulty decided to scratch out of later events in order to focus on the 60mHH and a subsequent trip to Five Guys. Tumulty’s newfound passion and focus for the event enabled him to reach his goal of “not being last in an event of literally 4 guys.” Tumulty placed 3rd and proceeded to spend the rest of the meet graciously capturing his photogenic teammates in pictures that will fortunately, never ever be erased.

Munshell was not the only athlete to set a new club record last Sunday. Sophomore Noah Chong, in between his engineering homework set, threw 10.85m in the shot put, earning him a 4th place finish, a shiny new club record, and an impressive amount of chalk on his neck.

Excitement came from the distance side as young talent made, as Cardi B calls them, “money moves,” in the mile. Coming off her strong DMR leg, freshman Shannon Young chased a lead pack for the first half of the race, which allowed her to lock down a 6th place finish, with veteran Julia Heiges coming in quickly behind in 11th. On the men’s side, freshman sensation and manager of all our money, Brian McCullough took it upon himself to challenge Penn State’s Bryan Moon. Bets and wagers flew through the air as Battle of the Brian’s took place on the track, and fans were rewarded with a 4:25 full mile from McCullough, second only to Moon’s 4:23.

Hungry for more action, fans were again presented with a treat in the form of “the most painful mile I have ever witnessed” from Briggs Briggs, who almost perfectly duplicated his earlier performance in the mile leg of the Men’s DMR.

Fan’s and athletes alike took their time to recover, both mentally and physically, during the official’s intermission at 12:30. Slam poetry was delivered by McCullough’s other half, the cruelly crippled power-walker Nate Lieske. Naps were taken, lunches were quickly devoured, and Sour Patch Kids: The Cereal became the topic of many heated debates.

Nevertheless, action picked right back up as Statsdybbsfivobgriegons, the only man to not scratch out of the open 400m, proved that yes, distance runners can go sub 60, or as historians refer to it, “sub-Steens.”

The energy provided from this performance carried on into the next event: the dreaded 800m. Apparel Coordinator Simone Evans, ironically without a club uniform, flew off the line boldly and scored a strong 4th place finish in 2:36, but even she agreed that, had she been wearing a uniform singlet, that 1st place would have been a piece of cake. As if to prove that freshman are the only people foolish enough to run this dumpster fire of an event, McCullough and Shire took to the track and recorded some promising beginning of the season performances. Shire negative split his way to a 2:06, while McCullough thundered away from the field with 400m to go to take first place in the 500m dash, only to be savagely passed by 3 other competitors as he barreled through the last 300m to finish in 2:02.

Fresh from foregoing the open 400m, newcomers Killea and Harry Rentzeperis joined veteran Ian Lynch for the 200m dash (who was rebounding from an earlier performance in the 60m dash), where the big boys laid out an impressive spread of 8th (Rentzeperis), 13th (Killea), and 25th (Lynch). While not confirmed, it is speculated that former Sprint Chair Matthew Marcel looked on the 200m with a single tear of pride rolling down his face, his heart warmed by the efforts of the active sprinter core. Either that or he was thinking about the ticket he got on the way to the meet.

With the 200’s rounded out, those teams who remained at the meet huddled to the side of the banked curve for a glimpse of the final distance race of the day: the ever elusive 3k. The Terps packed three women and three men into the fastest heats, and the gambling addicts that hadn’t gotten their fix since the 800s began throwing down large wagers: dimes, quarters, even full dollars!

Shannon MacMaster, Emily Hawkins, and Sarah Shapiro duked it out in the fast heat of the women’s 3k with Shapiro securing a 17th place finish, Hawkins scoring 8th (going under the previous club record by over 10 seconds), and MacMaster figuratively ending the lives of every racer in the field. MacMaster led the race from start to finish, securing first place, a free T-shirt, a 12 second victory over the nearest competitor, and a new club record of 10:33.31.

To the palpable dismay of Penn State Track Club’s president, the Maryland boys also performed excellently in 3k, with Matthew “Mike Wazowski” Laskowski locking down 6th place, and Colin “R2W” SyBing and Rylan “Strava” Flint going 1-2 respectively <— very important. While no club records were set, Flint notably shaved more than 10 seconds off his 3k time from this meet a year ago, and all athletes were proud of the performances.

While most of the team “yeeted the heck out of there” after the 3k in order to dodge some impending snow on the drive home, diehard fans remained to witness the second fastest indoor 4x400m in club history from MacMaster, Evans, Mandich, and Heiges. The team was possibly most proud of Heiges defying all the haters and slashing time off her seed split of 80 seconds. The men’s team, as is custom, scratched out of the 4x400m. One of the prospective legs, when pressed for his reasoning for scratching, replied “Oh absolutely not.”

In the end, the Terps returned to College Park happy to be far away from Happy Valley, but proud of their early season performances and excited for the coming season. Next: Capital Relays at American University.