My New Balance Experience: Zack Beavin (St. Xavier)

Bernard Lagat ran a 13:07 at the Armory earlier this year, setting a new American indoor 5k record. Watching that race online was cool enough. Knowing I would soon be running on that same track was even cooler. The idea of running at the storied Armory with some of the nation's best had me very excited for the trip weeks out. I can't say I was disappointed.

I arrived in New York Thursday afternoon at about 2, traveling with my mom and a couple of teammates. We took a cab to our hotel and then promptly headed to the Armory to run a bit on the track. At the Armory, a group of us from St. X did an easy 5x200 workout to get ready for our races the next day. I was entered in the Emerging Elite 2-mile, a race that had a qualifying time of 9:25-9:40. The fact that a 9:25 got you in the "slow" race was a crazy notion to me, but I was happy to be running against some guys with times I was shooting for. After our run on the track, we headed back to our hotel, got some dinner at a local restaurant, and went to bed. I needed every bit of sleep I could get. Friday was a long day…

I woke up fairly early and headed to the Armory with my teammate Sam Lewis who was also doing the 2 mile. We warmed up on the second floor (the track was on the third) and stretched in the marshalling area. While I've run on banked 200 meter tracks before, (IU and Mason Dixon) I had never done anything over 1600 meters on one. I guess I've been spoiled by UK's 291 meter flat track, because holding position at the Armory was the hardest part of the race. Passing on the turns of a 32-turn race costs a lot of energy, which really only leaves the short 50 meter straight-aways to pass people and regain positioning in the pack. I managed to hold my spot and run pretty even splits, running a 3 second PR. It was a fun race on an awesome track, though I must say I'm ready for normal-sized tracks again (as fun as zipping around banked turns is).

I was pretty happy with my race, and the fact you can take a few seconds off for the extra 18 meters in the full 2 mile was making me feel even better. PRing early in the day is a good recipe for having a good rest of the day. I got to watch all of my teammates run and also caught the Assumption 4x8 races. It was fun watching Kentucky compete on a national level in several events. Also, with Coach Medley absent from the scene, I got to work as split keeper for the rest of the events. I have to say, recording times is a lot easier than trying to run them; coaches have it made.

About half way through the day I got to meet Jenny Simpson, the World 1500 meter champion. She signed a giant poster of her winning at worlds that is now hanging up in my room. The rest of the day was highlighted by watching some of the nation's best who were running that day. I got to see Edward Cheserek open in 54.6 in his 1600 meter leg of the DMR to take his team from 6th to first in 400 meters. He hung on to run a 4:07 split. Later that night, I watched Erin Finn destroy a national record in the 5k with her 16:19. But the best race of the night was Connor Sheryak's victory in the first heat of the 5k (but I'm probably partial on the matter…). I loved getting to run against some great competition and PRing on Firday. However, I feel like getting to watch and be a part of such a great day of high school track will stay with me much, much longer. I walked away from the Friday session, dazed that all the fastest people didn't even race that day.

I got to bed pretty late that night. Despite being a professionally run meet at a world-class facility, it was still a track meet. So obviously it ran way behind schedule, meaning we didn't get out until late at night. We were running the 4x 1 mile the next day, hoping to break 18:00. Saturday was much less eventful than Friday for me, though. The 2 mile the day before took more out of me than I had expected, and my legs just felt flat. My teammates, who also raced the day before, all felt the same way. Despite the fact we were lapped in our heat by the eventual national record breaking team, I feel we still ran a respectable time o 18:12. Had circumstances been better for us, we might have run faster. But I feel we did well for what we were given. Big props to Assumption's 3rd place 4x 1 mile team, though!

After the 4x 1 mile, we headed back to the hotel and spent some time walking around Times Square. With Syracuse losing in the Big East Tournament, a lot of tickets opened up for the final, which Louisville happened to be in. Though I am a UK fan, watching the Big East final at Madison Square Garden was awesome. I can't say no to good college basketball. I got back to the hotel past midnight, again, and with the time change, we had to get up very early the next morning. The trip home was one long nap.

New Balance Indoor was a fantastic experience. I got a dose of national-level competition in both the 2 mile and 4x 1 mile, and I got to witness some of the best in the sport do their thing. The general atmosphere of the event gave some swagger to running. For too long running has been viewed as a weak, nerdy sport. Events like these are bringing a cool factor to running that will only help the sport grow in years to come. I feel blessed to have been a part of such a great event, and I thank Coach Medley, St. X, and especially KTCCCA for helping make it possible!