Back in July of 2017, shortly after the Boilermaker 15K, I made a pact with myself that I would not cut my hair until I ran a personal best time in a race. Since then, I have trained with a vigor and enthusiasm designed to reclaim the fitness I enjoyed in my 20s. My initial results, while still a long way from my best, were encouraging. I ran a challenging cross country 8K in 29:40, and ran a hilly 5-miler in 28:53 that fall.

Over the winter, I convinced several friends and teammates to meet me at 6am on Wednesday mornings to thrash ourselves with hill repeats, intervals, and tempo runs. We all were rounding into pretty good shape and I was looking forward to kicking off my season at Johnny’s Running of the Green 5-miler in March.

Well, I never really felt like I was racing that day, and watched as Mark Streb, whom I had been keeping up with in workouts, pulled away from me mile by mile. My finishing time of 28:18 was a far cry from the 27:30 I was hoping for, but at least I was fit enough to be disappointed with a low-28-minute result.

The next month was the Flower City Half Marathon, where Mark Streb and I were both going to race to try to run around 1:16:00. We ran together for 4 or 5 miles, but I backed off the pace when it felt too hot, and again watched him recede into the distance. I didn’t look at my watch until I was around mile 12, and knew that I would be close to my PR of 1:16:41. I gave it my all in the last mile, but wound up 10 seconds short with a 1:16:51.

The hair must have slowed me down

So while I could not cut my hair yet (which was getting downright shaggy by this point), and missed my PR, I was satisfied with my performance and happy to have finally raced well. However, I knew that most of my other PRs were out of reach unless I dedicated another six months of training, and I did not want to let my hair grow that much longer. I was already being mistaken for a woman, or a hobo, or both.

Zoinks! That’s a lot of hair (for both of us)!

I debated running a distance that I had never raced before, and toyed with the idea of running a 19K or a 4-miler, but eventually decided to participate in one of the Penfield Summer Track meets and try to break my 800m PR, which is a decidedly pedestrian 2:22 from the same meet a few years ago. While I was confident that I could run faster than that, I did face some obstacles. I had run the Vermont City marathon a few weeks before, taken a week off from running, donated blood, and not done any workouts in the weeks leading up to the race. But I didn’t let that stop me!

I got out pretty hard and by the time I hit 400m I was already deep in the throes of oxygen debt. As I started my second lap, I could feel a curious tingling sensation in my arms, which I experience at the end of marathons, sometimes. I’ve never had it happen 70 seconds into a race before! Dave Rappleyea was on the infield around the backstretch and yelled at me to pass the kid ahead of me, so I did, and tried to catch a few more people, but couldn’t quite do it. I was tying up bad the last 200m and just hoping I wasn’t running 6:00 pace, but ended up crossing the line in 2:16. It’s still not a great time by any means, but I’m happy to finally have an 800m PR that I am not completely embarrassed by!

That night, I unpacked my hair trimmer that I haven’t seen in so long, and gratefully buzzed all of my hair off. I swear I felt five pounds lighter and ten degrees cooler. And now I can back off from training so hard and enjoy not having all that hair hanging over myhead anymore!

More hair than you can shake a stick at. Hadley is unsure about the new, nearly bad man who took the place of her daddy.

Categories: Matt's Blog


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