I’ve been cleaning up and cleaning out recently. While doing that, I came across a paper with my high school running times. It’s kinda fun to look at those results from 1990-91.
I started my career as a middle- and long-distance track runner: 800m, 1600m, and 3200m. My results that first year weren’t so great—usually bottom third in my division, often next to last or worse—even though I’d gladly take many of those times again. I mean, 5:38 for a mile? Are you kidding? It’s been forever since I set out to race a mile, but I’m not sure I could do it in under six minutes. (Although it would be fun to try, for a certain definition of “fun.”)
In May 1990, the month before we moved to Wyoming, I did a 5K—the Windsor Heights Annual Mini-Marathon—on a lark. I don’t remember much about the race, except that I thought it was really long, and I was happy to be in the top third with my 23:11 time.
Then I went to Wyoming and my running really improved. I ran over the summer and took to the altitude, dropping a minute off my 5K time. The following spring I had a very busy track season, running at least twenty-three races in just over two months. (It’s little wonder that it was my last season of running track.) It’s fun to see my times drop during the spring, setting PRs of 0:58 for 400m, 2:16 for 800m, 5:19 for the mile, and 11:28 for two miles (3200m). I ran a lot of 4x800m relays, and even now whenever I run around my local high school track and see the curved “break line” on the far end of the track (where the lead-off runner of the long-distance relays would break to the inside) I always smile to myself. It’s where I had to start using my elbows a little bit to stake out my place, and it’s also the place where in one race a young runner once made a sharp 90-degree to run from the outside of the track to the inner lane. Ha!
Since July 1991, all of my races have been 5K or longer, and until 1998 most of them were off-road. It’s hard to compare cross-country races, but my times went from 20 minutes at the beginning of the season to a PR of 18:57. I even led the junior varsity race at the 1991 northern Wyoming regional state qualifier for the majority of the race until fading and finishing sixth, one place away from qualifying for the state meet. Ah well.
For whatever reason, I stopped recording my results in my final year of high school. I probably wrote them in my journal, which I no longer have. (Which is good. No one needs to be reminded of my teenage angst, especially me.) I ran a lot during the summer of 1992. I ran up and down the steep mountain trails, reveling in the switchbacks and creek crossings. I ran through the wilder parks in town, crashing through the sagebrush that crowded the path and hurdling gates at the park boundaries. A friend went running with me once—just once!—and I think I almost killed him. Another friend returned the favor when he invited me to go for a run around town. We easily ran 10 hilly miles that warm August evening. (“Easily” might not be the correct word.) All that running paid off, and I had a good season in 1992. My times may be lost to the fog of history, but I remember them being fast . . . like 17-something for a 5K. Of course, the fastest guys on my team and almost all of the runners from Wyoming Indian High School and from Gillette were running in the 15s and 16s, but I was having a good time finishing higher up in the standings.
And then I made one of the two biggest mistakes of my life: I more-or-less stopped running. (The other being not having gone abroad when I was at Grinnell.) I didn’t race again for six years and then decided on a whim to hop into a local 10K without doing any training. It was not pretty. Less than a year later I was diagnosed with diabetes, and the next spring I decided that diabetes sucked and I wanted to start running again just to know that I could. Time passed, which brings us to today.
I also found some fantastic pictures from the early 90s, too!