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

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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

!   

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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…

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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

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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

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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

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 Odyssey of a Homemade Singlet

In loving memory of five dead pigeons

              To truly understand the journey our beloved homemade singlet undertook during its glorious existence we must start from the beginning.

Chapter I – The Canvas

The date was February 16, 2018. The location was Thousand Oaks, California. I entered a running store with my aunt and mother called Roadrunner Sports. My aunt lives in California and she decided to celebrate my first time visiting her out there with a trip to this store. She told me that she would buy me a pair of shoes and a clothing item of my choice. First, I scoured the shoe display searching for something with decent support and cushioning for longer mileage. Eventually, I settled on the Brooks Levitates. (I used these shoes through out indoor and outdoor track that year. They were ok, but I hear the Brooks Levitate 2s aren’t the same.) Next, I began to rummage through the clothing isles waiting for something to catch my eye. I thought perhaps a new pair of split shorts or tights would be in order. After a few minutes of searching I saw something that interested me – a simple navy-blue singlet. My high school singlet was the only one I owned at that point, so I decided picking up another one wouldn’t be a bad idea. I ended up using it in one road race, but it was quickly replaced by a different singlet and collected dust in my closet until I brought it to Maryland with me.

Chapter 2 – The Paint

The date was September 1, 2018. The location was College Park, Maryland. I entered a convenience store with my roommate called North Convenience. I had recently moved into my dorm and my roommate and I decided to buy some masking tape to hang things up in our room with. We quickly found the isle containing all the tape and settled on a roll of white masking tape. Despite my protests, he ended up paying the entire cost. However, the tape was ineffective at sticking to the wall and the roll ended up at the bottom of some drawer.

Chapter 3 – Rendition One… The Birth of a Meme

              Shortly after joining the running club, we ordered apparel that included an official club running singlet. However, the apparel was not expected to arrive until a couple of weeks before nationals. There was the option to rent a singlet from the club, but for an unknown reason this did not appeal to me. As the first meet of the season approached, I decided to use my original navy-blue singlet. Quickly, I realized that it had absolutely no Maryland spirit, so I bought a pair of Maryland flag shorts from Amazon. The day before Paul Short while I was packing my bag, I decided that the flag shorts were not enough, and I had a Eureka moment. I searched through a drawer until I found that reject roll of tape that failed to stick to the walls, and I applied a simple masking tape “M” to the front of the singlet. After stepping back and admiring my creation from afar I decided to add a line under the M. Once I finished the line, rendition one of the homemade singlet was complete.

The reveal of the first home-made singlet at the start line of Paul Short went well. Overall people seemed to like it. However, Mitch informed me that It looked like a Michigan singlet. This observation was valid as Michigan also has navy blue singlets with an M on the front. The realization that I had unwittingly represented the wrong team weighed heavily on my soul throughout the race and the weeks that followed. I was determined to return to the next race with an improved version.

Chapter 4 – Rendition Two… The Sting of Failure

              Throughout the two weeks leading up to the second meet of the season I reflected on the lessons I had learned at Paul Short. I thought long and hard on what I could do to improve the singlet every day. Many ideas crossed my mind such as printing out a picture of the Maryland flag and taping it to the jersey. However, this idea, and all the others, were tacky and stupid. Before I knew it, the night before Princeton had arrived and I had no ideas. I decided to scroll through pictures of college team singlets for inspiration and saw multiple designs with words going down the back. This was quite aesthetically pleasing so I decided to implement it into rendition two. I started the creation process with the same “M” with a line underneath on the front. Next, I made a “MARYLAND” running along the back of the singlet vertically by cutting strips of tape in half. It took a few tries to get the placement and sizing right, but the result was beautiful.

I wore the second home-made singlet to the meet and revealed it right before the warm up. The reveal was a huge success as everyone was a big fan of the MARYLAND addition. Pride and happiness carried me through a great warm up. However, when we returned to our area after the warm up I was informed that all the letters on the back were falling off. I looked down at my chest and noticed the M was failing as well. Shock and despair filled my mind and heart instantly. I had no choice but to remove the MARYLAND. Elliot helped my repair the M with some safety pins and more tape. Unfortunately, we had to sacrifice good looks for structural integrity. While we were standing at the start line Briggs looked at what had become of the singlet. I cannot recall his exact words, but the general idea was that I was a disgrace to the University of Maryland and the team. Each kilometer of that 8k race was dedicated to one of the letters that fell off my back.

The night after that race was hard. I wondered if I was cut out for making singlets. I questioned what I was working towards. Was this a dream that I was chasing, or just time that I was wasting?

Chapter 5 – Rendition Three… The Singlet Stronger than its Creator

              During the week between Princeton and NIRCA Regionals tragedy struck. I felt a pain in my left shin and would find out a few weeks later that it was a stress fracture, but at the time all I knew was that it hurt way too much to run on. Despite not being able to run I accompanied the team to regionals for moral support.  The day before regionals I decided to create a singlet and bring it just in case. However, the pain from my recent failure was still fresh and I only put the M with the line on it.

While I was talking to Brian at the meet, he told me that he did not have a singlet. I happily gave him rendition three of the homemade singlet to use. Although I had succumbed to injury, my creation was going to continue to cross the finish line. Brian did not warm up in the singlet, and the tape ended up staying on fine. Through this meet I learned why I had failed at Princeton. The sweat from warming up in the singlet weakened the tape before the race even started.

 Chapter 6 – Rendition Four… The Game Changer

              A few days before the UVA meet I was discussing the homemade singlet with Mike (DiDonato). He told me that he wanted to wear it, and I happily agreed to create another one. I was eager to apply what I had learned at regionals to rendition four of the singlet. The night before the meet I once again meticulously created a MARYLAND down the back.

The morning of the race I made sure that Mike did not warm up with the singlet. This day was the most fun I have ever had while spectating a cross country meet since nearly everyone was making a meme of it. I ended up giving a hype up speech, handing a slice of bread to Dan, Brian, and Elliot mid-race and handing a whole loaf of bread to MT. However, deep down beneath all the memes I was slightly nervous about the performance of the singlet. Heading to the start line, it was in perfect condition. The gun went off and I scrambled to my bread hand off positions throughout the course. About two miles into the race I saw Mike run by and was happy to see the MARYLAND was still intact. Next, I stood at about 500 meters to go and continued to hand out bread. Shortly, Mike came into view with someone in a unicorn costume in pursuit. As they passed I caught a glimpse of the MARYLAND still fully intact. I was nothing short of overjoyed. After a failure at Princeton that made me question everything, this victory was huge. Also, Mike out kicked the unicorn so we all won that day.

CHAPTER 7 – Rendition Five… The Finale

              As nationals approached, the club apparel arrived, including the singlets (they are amazing). Shortly after they arrived I decided that nationals would be the homemade singlet’s last race. It had served its purpose as a place holder and was beginning to show signs of wear and tear from its journey. There was a small hole forming in the back and there were permanent stains from the clay and mud of the UVA course. I wanted the final rendition to be the best one and considered many elaborate editions. However, I eventually settled on adding color to the tape for the first time. The night before we left for nationals, I spent a concerning amount of time drawing the Maryland flag design on the line of tape beneath the M with red, yellow, and black sharpies.

The night before nationals I was discussing the singlet with some guys and both Briggs and Craig offered to wear it. As it worked out during race day, Craig would be the one to take it across the finish line for the final time. I enjoyed watching all the races take place throughout the day, and unlike UVA I was not nervous about the performance of the singlet. I knew deep down that it would perform well on the national stage. After all it had been through, I had no doubt it would hold up.

The gun went off for the Freshman/Sophomore race and Craig set off carrying the singlet through its final 8k. It was admittedly hard to spot the singlet in the sea of runners, but we managed to pick it out in the crowd a few times. Each time we saw it everything was still intact, and this would remain true as Craig crossed the line. The singlet’s odyssey was complete. It had crossed the finish line of every race that season

Chapter 8 – The Conclusion

I find it quite poetic that a useless roll of tape and an unused singlet combined to make something so memorable and meaningful. Something that I will laugh at every time I see a roll of masking tape. Something that helped me bond with my teammates. I’ll miss spending an hour cutting and coloring tape, but this meme has run its course. Here’s to the next one.

Acknowledgements

 I would like to thank the people that made this possible. Thank you to Mitch and Briggs for encouraging me to improve my singlet when it did not live up to its full potential. Thank you to Brian, Mike, and Craig for taking it across the line when I couldn’t. Thank you to Lent and Hiro for documenting the singlet’s journey through photography. Finally, thank you to the club as a whole for the funnest (I firmly believe funnest should be a word) XC season of my life.