Anyway, not being particularly fast or strong, I of course ran long distance. Our practices were pretty easy, and I actually won a race--though Don Heiner, who trained with the high school runners, once lapped me. I checked out the high school coach at the end of school, who had the reputation of being very serious, and he pointed me to a map on the wall of the U.S. and told me that I'd eventually run across it: 3,000 miles of training. I liked a challenge, so was hooked, despite my lack of talent. In fact I probably called him about every other day that summer to check on my training. I would set the school record for miles trained my junior year and eventually crossed the U.S. and back again and then some, logging some 7,000+ miles.
But I didn't learn how to train smart until my senior year, and that's when I finally became a good runner. We had one of the best groups of distance runners in the state, so even with one of our top guns injured there were always at least two guys faster than me in the spring of 1975, my last track season. So I seldom had a chance at winning a race, whether it was an 880 (2 laps), mile, or 2 mile.
Then coach told me I'd be running the mile against a weak team and that only Jeff Edwards, among our stable of strong runners, would also be entering it. Jeff was sort of the opposite of me: young (a sophomore); cocky; raw (he hadn't been logging 50 miles a week all winter); and, alas, talented.
I had long given up my Olympic ambitions or dreams of winning any state titles. I thought I knew my limitations. But I figured that I should beat Jeff Edwards and win the race. And I certainly thought I deserved to.