By David Adams
May 13, 2000
Honestly, its always hot here, but this day really was a scorcher. 97 degrees Fahrenheit, plus a dew point over 60%, equals... bad. The heat index was likely in the one hundred and teens. The 4x800 went off just before 5pm and I took off running leg one. We played around some throughout the season but settled on me leading off since I would usually run the mile following, sometimes just 30-45 minutes later. This gave me a little more rest. I also seemed to run better within the confines of a normal race vs receiving the baton and everyone scattered about. Shawn Cunningham, a sophomore at the time, had the speed and quickness of a sprinter which came in handy when the race was close so he was our anchor. My two best friends, Burke Lauderdale and Cameron Bishop held down the middle legs. Brian Knapp, who later raced under 1:50 at Clemson, did not make the cut. That year, his junior year, was his first year of competitive running
Coach Rudolph, HHHS head coach, later said he was surprised how aggressively I was running in the 4x800. I decided to go after the State Title with my friends instead of being fresh for a true go at the 1600m state record, that was and still is, held by Terrance Herrington at 4:08. I truly believe that I had the ability to run in the single digits but on that day, even fresh, it may have been a lost cause. Hilton Head did not dominate the team competition in cross country and track the way they have lately, so winning a title with my teammates was very exciting. I had long wished to share a moment like that with them. As Burke and Cameron staggered off the track to throw up and skip the cool down following their last race, I headed to the RV to get some AC.
Coach Mayo was icing my legs down in the RV and physically, I felt like I had just run a marathon. The effort was far greater than the stopwatch showed but this may explain why no one was close to me at the exchange. The two races hanging over my head didn't help much. I knew that Kevin Jones and Graham Lovett had both skipped the 4x800 to get ready for the 1600. Scott Wietecha ran the 4x800 but had the ability to choose between the 1600, 800 and 3200. The high heat made it very tricky to run three races successfully in one day. Had Scotty chosen to wait and regroup for the 3200 instead of going after the open 800, I may not be typing this blog post right now!
There was a moment in this race when all three of us were breaking. It took Kevin down entering lap 3 and on the 4th lap, where you will see Graham check back, I was done here as well. I was going to keep the race honest, no matter what. Like PRE always said, flat out, until I had nothing left. It didn't necessarily prepare me well for the racing that would take place at the next level, but I was going to be on the line between winning and walking it in. I told my dad after the race, "if Graham passed me I had nothing for him." My dad had never heard me say such a thing. Luckily for me he was toast too, and I somehow managed to close in 62.
Believe in yourself and put in the work. Working hard obviously makes believing in yourself easier but it's experiences like this that help you grow and learn what you are really made of. In an interview, I once heard Alan Webb talk about going to the "well" and how we only have so many deep trips in us. This was one of those trips for me. Don't shy away from the challenges that you face in life- they are there to help you grow. Every race that I have ever run has been incredibly painful, and I am a better person today for it. The pain you experience in a finished race or challenge in life will never come close to the pain of giving in or never trying. Remember that.