It was the middle 1970′s and I was coaching at Wright State. When we first started in 1973 we were terrible. We never won a contest in our first year and were being beaten by division III schools. But now, in the third year, these same runners, along with a few new recruits, had blossomed and we were competing on an equal level with most of the Ohio schools. All my runners were walk-on athletes as we did not have any scholarships.
In this particular race one of the runners, Terry Roeth, was running fourth for us. As always I was running from point to point cheering them on. The race was now nearing the last kilometer and I was urging all of my runners to finish strongly.
The top three Wright State runners had passed me and here came Terry. “All right, Terry”, I shouted, “Give it all you have. Move up. “Now as we all know, coaches shout these statements just to make it known to the runner that they care. But as Terry passed me he shouted something which I couldn’t understand and quickly forgot.
The race was over and the boys were jogging easily to cool down and we had run well in the competition. Finally Terry came over to me. “Bob, I want to apologize for what I said.” “Apologize, for what?” I asked as I was very perplexed. “For what I said on the course”, he replied.
Now I had completely forgotten that he had said anything, but I must admit I was now interested. “What did you say?” He looked at me with a slight grin on his face and stated, “Well, you know when you shouted to me about running faster or something like that.” “Yes, I remember”, I really wanted to know now. “Well, I was a little upset and I said, I’M RUNNING AS FAST AS I CAN.”
Well I guess I was expecting something a little heavier than that. I looked at him and started to laugh. “Go warm down, Terry. I know you were doing your best.” As I look back to that experience, I wonder if all runners can truly make that statement. It is a fact that the only person who really knows is the runner.