Mike Long Track


By Jack McDermott

It seems that every issue of RunnersWorld has to have an article titled, “How to set your PR” or “Running your Best 10K”. You never seem to see articles titled, “Vomiting on Race Day — The Secret to Failure.” I should say, you never see articles like that — until now.

Anyone can run a great race, but what really defines you as a runner are your failures. These races build your character, make you more colorful, and give you interesting stories to tell your Sunday running group. To truly perform below your potential may take years of practice. Fortunately, you have an expert in your midst. If you follow my advice not only will you perform poorly, you may even get a free ride to the hospital.

Preparation — You should always treat every contest as if you are going in for gallbladder surgery – do not eat or drink anything 12 hours before the race. Carbo-loading and hydration will merely serve to add a few unwanted pounds prior to race day.

Speed-Work – Remember how you passed that college biology final by staying up all night to cram? This strategy also works for racing. The day before a race while other suckers are tapering – go out and run a hard 5-miles at race pace. Besides, I think it was Dr. Ruth Westheimer who once said: “A tired muscle is a happy muscle.”

Dress for Success — Follow your mother’s advice and “dress in layers” to keep the body heat in during these warm summer months. Also wear 100% cotton to absorb any water, sweat, snot, urine, or other bodily fluid you may excrete during the race.

Race Fee – Do not bring a race entry fee. You should spend your precious warm-up time wandering around the parking lot asking strangers for a loan. All you need to do is hold out your hat, and everyone will automatically know what that means. Sort of like when you show-up unannounced at a GWTC board meeting – everyone just assumes you are there to ask for money.

Pre-Race – This is your one opportunity to intimidate the competition. Before the race be sure to taunt your friends and make outrageous claims about how fast you are going to run.

Geometry – The shortest distance between two points is a straight-line. So in local races where there is no chip-timing, be sure to get as close to the front as possible at the start. Elbow faster runners out of the way regardless of your intended pacing.

Beef Jerky – Carrying beef jerky in your pocket will attract lots of dogs (for road races), or carnivores (for wilderness runs). This will motivate you to run faster. However, be sure to run in the same direction as the course when a wild beast starts chasing you.

Pacing – Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”. Therefore you should never run even-splits. Instead, surprise yourself. Run a fast mile, a slow mile, a fast mile, and see what happens.

Vitamins – Always try to eat something new and bizarre the morning before a race. Some of my favorites include over-the-counter herbal supplements. I like iron-pills (overdose to the point that magnets stick to your skin), garlic pills (to keep away vampires), and shark cartilaTge (so you can hum the theme song from “Jaws” as you pass unsuspecting runners). And now for something completely different …

The Bathrooms at Mike Long Track We recently had a very historical moment in Tallahassee that definitely deserves mentioning – the christening of the new and improved bathroom facilities at Mike Long track. (Now called the “Bobby Bowden Bathrooms” – let’s face it – sooner or later everything at FSU is going to be named after him.) As you may know, last year the Leon County Health Inspector condemned this “building” because even the cockroaches were dying from the raw sewage floating on the floor. No one seems to know what brought about this condition, however, FSU placed the blame squarely on the running community.

The bathrooms would have been destroyed if it were not for a generous grant from the Florida Bathroom Preservation Society. This $50,000 grant allowed FSU to refurbish these facilities making it a place were both runners and cockroaches can co-exist in harmony. However, FSU disavows any legal responsibility for the garnet and gold paint that has reportedly caused several University of Florida graduates to have violent allergic reactions during Tuesday intervals.

The question that now confronts university officials is how to keep these bathrooms pristine. Their first plan was to keep it permanently closed, but after numerous complaints, they have decided to open the bathrooms on a trial basis. In addition, FSU has developed a separate bureaucracy — the FSU bathroom police — which should not to be confused with the FSU parking police.

These “police” will monitor the bathrooms for potential violations. People not flushing the toilets will receive a $15 fine, leaving paper-towels on the floor will be a $10 fine, and not washing your hands before you leave the premises will result in a $5 fine. If someone is caught flushing foreign objects down the toilet (this could include cigarette butts, feminine products, or unflattering race results) – they may have their bathroom privileges permanently suspended.

I leave you this month with a quote from General Custer as he was being enveloped by the Sioux Nation: “Everybody Run!!!!”