I Choose to Race

Sometime between puberty and junior year of high school (the two of which are probably way closer in time than I’d like to admit), I became fast. Specifically, a fast sprinter. I mostly used this ability while playing soccer, but I also decided to join my high school’s indoor track team my senior year.

It was that winter that I learned a lot about pride and humility. I had a lot of pride because I was one of the top two sprinters in the school. But the more pleased and outspoken I became about that fact, the less people admired my speed. And the less they thought of me. Pride comes before the fall.

I learned about humility whenever we went to a track meet and I realized that (a) there were a lot of guys out there who were faster than me and (b) little things like form and practice matter when you have 55 meters to prove yourself against really fast sprinters. A poor start and losing form at the finish can make the difference between first and last.

I carried what I learned that winter onto college, where I played only intermural sports. Now I only play pickup sports. Sure, there’s still some pride and ego about my speed, but I have a lot of fun with it. I often try to find the fastest guy on the football field and guard him–same with frisbee and soccer.

Over these adult years, a few people have challenged me to footraces when they heard that I was fast. I always accept, because I’m genuinely curious to find someone who’s as fast as I am. Call me crazy, but I like a good footrace. And what I’ve learned from these footraces is that I’m not the only one with pride about my sprinting ability. The tricky thing about pride is that when you win, you became more boastful, but when you lose, it really stings.

That being said, I haven’t lost a footrace in 10 years.

Then came today.

I have two coworkers who are very fast. One plays frisbee at a national level. Troy is 28 years old, same as me. The only difference is that he has about 3 or 4 inches on me. He’s over 6 feet tall and has a long stride.

The other, Gabe, is a 22-year-old former college running back. He’s built like an ox and he’s fast. I’ve never seen Troy run, but I’ve played pickup football against Gabe, and I really respect his speed.

The three of us have talked about racing all year. I’ve instigated most of the banter, just joking around, figuring we’d do it someday, but not really knowing. I mean, why not. Although Gabe and Troy have barely an ounce of pride in them, they know they’re fast. They’re the kind of guys who rarely encounter someone as fast as them. Like me.

So the other day I challenged the two of them to a 50-yard footrace at high noon today on the Wash U football field. Both accepted, and the race was on.

Word got around that we were racing, and 10 or 15 people gathered on the sidelines to watch the race. I had someone record the race on my Flip, but due to a technical issue, the video didn’t take.

I do have a photo (courtesy of Erin Q.) that was taken a little before the finish line. Troy’s a stride or two back, so you can’t see him. Gabe is the shirtless one, and I’m in the red  Under Armour.


You can see that I lost my form near the end. I’m leaning for the finish about four yards too soon. I still won, but only by a stride. Definitely the closest race I’ve been a part of in many years. I think with a better start (my start was really bad) and better focus at the end, I could have won by two strides, but hey, I’ll take one. In a 50-yard dash–a race that takes around 6 seconds–that ain’t bad. (And no, unfortunately no one timed it. I ran a 6.7 55-yard dash, so this was probably right around 6 seconds. So if you compare me to Usain Bolt, he’s already in his car listening to Bob Marley by the time I cross the finish line.)

Overall, this was a lot of fun. Gabe and I might race later in the summer at a slightly different distance, and hopefully I’ll get video for you.

Oh, and I added a way for people to subscribe to this blog via e-mail on the right sidebar. It’s right below the RSS and Twitter icons.

0 thoughts on “I Choose to Race”

  1. Hmm. You’re a 6.7 in the 55? An average major leaguer is around 6.8-7.0 secs in the 60. Maybe I can’t steal a base in the majors. But I find it hard to believe that you’d only be an average/below average major league runner. You gotta get timed next time.

  2. Interesting how your pride and humility is reveled at the end of the post. You say that with a little better start you could have won by two strides. I think the same thing could be said by Gabe, “with a little better start and form I would have beaten Jamey.” Same statement, different perspective, just as valid.

  3. Would I have any chance against Troy? Perhaps in the potential Jamey-Gabe remach you alluded of there could be a Bob-Troy undercard.

    Then again, the last time I raced a sprint (100yrds back in ’06) I strained both hip flexors, which I’d never had get sore on me in my life before. Then again, I won, so it was all worth it.

  4. Honestly, I have no idea where Troy was, but Trevor said that he was a few strides behind us. Your straight away speed is quite good, so I think that would actually be a really good race. Trevor mentioned that he thought his speed was close to Troy’s as well. Maybe there should be another race between you three…(although, Troy seemed the least enthusiastic about running that race).

    • I’d be up for a race with Bob and Troy. Brian (Wellinghoff) also said he might be able to compete against Troy. Perhaps we could have some sort of Kentucky Derby race where the Gabe/Jamey rematch is the featured one that everyone comes to watch, and the Bob/Troy/Trevor/Brian race is run on the same field, but the crowd just stands around drinking and waiting for the main event.

      • Ha ha…see, I think it would be interesting to have all of us run the 100 at the same time. Looking across that football field, it seems like a long race to me. I may have to take a water break halfway through.

  5. What I want to see is a race between the CSC ladies. Sr. Linda, Cathy Modde, Cathy D, and Linda D. Also between the, um, older, gentleman. Fr. Gary, Brian, I’ll even throw my name into this group. Maybe this would be a good Gala item.

  6. A good race – nothing like it. Many, like myself, wish they could have seen it first hand, to see the form and starts. Looks like lots of attention was generated. I like the idea someone alluded to – using this attention for something good, like raising money for a good cause would be very noble and loads of fun.

  7. I enjoyed the story. Would love to see the video of the next race. And you were fast the first time you played soccer.


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