Life lessons through self-motivation do not require a coach or trainer

July 22, 2014

Surprised and energized - The great thing about living on the resort side of the highway is you meet people you haven’t met before without leaving town. Personally for what I do, I find it exhilarating. Last Sunday, Mike Meehan from Allison Park, Pa., near Pittsburgh won the Seashore Striders 5-Miler in 26:06 beating the Congenial Crazy Man from Arlington Mike Wardian, 40, by 25 seconds. Ally Meehan, 13, won the women’s race in 33:29. "Yeah, my sister is pretty fast," brother Mike said with a smile. Mike is a 19-year-old entering his sophomore year at Penn State. His major is mechanical engineering, and when I said, ”You’re that guy,” he responded, "Yes, I’m that guy." He’s also the guy who self-identified as a triathlete when he was in high school. Mike is on the edge of new-age athletes who don’t need coaches with 30-year-old ideas and philosophies making them better people. “I do Olympic distance triathlons - mile swim, 25 on bike and 10K," he said. "The run is my strongest leg." Mike will compete in the age-group national triathlon in Milwaukee in August and join 3,000 other young and relentless studs who are taking fitness in another direction.

Picking the horses - I watch more foot races than anyone I know who is not senile, and I sometimes scan the field for potential winners. Last Saturday in Rehoboth prior to the Race for the Ribbon, I introduced myself to Jenna Farmer, a 17-year-old from Lewisberg High near Bucknell. I introduced myself, “I am not creepy old guy,” asked her PR for the 5K, she asked why and I said,"You look like a person who could win.” Jenna said, ”I don’t have one; I ran the mile in high school.” “OK, how about a mile PR?” She said, “4:55” and I gulped and said, “You are winning with that speed." Before the race I introduced her to Mike Wardian, composed a photo and she asked, “Why?” “Because Mike is a world-renowned endurance congenial crazy person, and when you go home and Google his name, you will thank me for capturing the moment before leaving your world to pursue other reluctant interviewees."

Mike won in 16:24, and Jenna was the first woman, in 18:55. Mike quickly drove to Ocean City, jumped in a 3-mile ocean swim race in choppy seas that took him longer to complete (2 hours and 30 minutes) than it takes him to run a marathon. The next morning Wardian ran the Striders 5-Miler in 26:31 and smiled, impressed with 19-year-old Mike Meehan, who won. The great lesson learned from watching Wardian, a former Michigan State lacrosse player, is he doesn’t have to win to be happy; he just has to be unrelentingly out there.

Stuck on stupid - I admit when it comes to premier players leaving a Little League team during the All-Star tournament to play travel ball and in some cases getting invited back to play if the team survived without them, I am miffed. I am doubly discombobulated when coaches leave with them, but none of it is any of my business except my business is sports and I can’t make sense of it all. The Senior League softball team won a losers’ bracket game July 17 against Laurel; then a nucleus of starters and coaches split on the 18th to play travel ball in Florida. The team forfeited the next-round game to Woodbridge.   Nanticoke ended up wining District 3 and gets an automatic big to the World Series, which is in Roxana. You remember last summer the District 3 Big League team won the World Series on ESPN bringing glory to Sussex County. And the Cape team with everyone there is as good as anyone. The Junior League boys’ team beat Millsboro 3-0 last July 17 in a winners’ bracket final but for the Saturday championship game was missing a half dozen players who hear traveling music. But Cape won the title game 8-4 over Nanticoke July 19 to become district champs. Luckily the roster of Nanticoke, the town formerly known as Seaford, was also gutted by travel ball evacuees. I may be stuck on stupid, but I think Little League has a real problem.

Snippets - The Race for the Ribbon, a race against breast cancer, attracted lots of locals and hundreds of stories. Friends Logan, Maggie, Riley and Melanie cruised happily together in 35:53. Go on now, git!