I moved to Lake Jackson, TX in 1992. During my first year there I measured 16 existing race courses in the area for USATF Certification. I measured 2 more that were of my own design. Formed the Brazosport Area Road Runners Association, which still exists today. Coached every Wednesday morning (5:00 am!), the only way to ameliorate the stifling heat and humidity.
There was a young lady named Melissa that lived in the area, was perhaps the fastest person at the time, bar none. I began racing and her top spot on the totem pole was mine with little fanfare from me. But she didn’t take it well at all. Worth noting that she had six marathon efforts that were within :30 of qualifying for the USA Women’s Olympic Trials standard of 2:50:00. It was wrenching to see her get so close, so many times.
I offered to coach and train with her, guaranteeing her the sub 2:50 that she so desperately wanted. She declined. I went on to run 2:46 at the Houston Marathon, her time of 2:50:06 yet another disappointment. Our friendship (?) waned further after that.
In the meantime I started bringing my San Antonio buddies to the local races. Ridiculous to me that I was running in the mid-high 16s and winning races, with prize money. Enter Jose Iniquez (14:30 5K and 2:17 marathoner) and Tabitha Dominguez (16 mid 5K and 35:00 10K). They started lighting up the Gulf Coast road races, winning by wide margins.
That summer the duo came to Freeport, TX to run the Shrimp Boil 5K, a sweet little race with a couple hundred in prize purse. And a race Melissa had owned for 5 years in a row. Jose and Tabitha were running 1-2 overall, I was making my usual move at ~1 mile to catch Melissa, she always went out hard. I caught her on the causeway bridge at about 1.5 miles. She started screaming at me, “I hope you’re f****** happy now you S.O.B.!
So, what is the lesson you might ask?
First is that if you are a big fish in a little pond it is easy to have a clouded perception of the big competitive picture. I had no designs that my 16:45s were actually worth the prize checks I was cashing. Any more than I thought Melissa’s 18:00 5Ks were for the cash she was accustomed to. Second, there are some people that will hate you if you disrupt their self inflated, rose colored egos. And third, I will always be For Real Competition. Matters not who you run for, where you run, why you run.
Luka Thor scored the $1000 payday at Sunday’s Atkinson Half Marathon. Eric Rasmussen reported having cramping shortly after the mid way point, just about the time Luka started dropping 5:10s-5:15s. Luka went on to run 1:10:xx, Eric second overall in 1:13:xx. My field reporter relates that a “C or D” level Kenyan woman from the Kansas City area ran 1:20:xx for the women’s payday (quotation marks and grading are mine.) I haven’t seen the official results but understand there were a mere 50 runners total in the half.
UPDATE: Thanks to Logan Watley for sending the link to the results. http://www.allsportcentral.com/results/results.cfm?EventID=51188