A Coaches Run with Danny Mackey
Years ago, Brooks Beasts TC Head Coach Danny Mackey and I were on the same semi-competitive running club in the Portland area. We lived one block away from each other and met regularly for daily runs.
Much of the year these would be in the predawn hours. We had a few friends who'd join us on occasion, but the majority of the time it would be only Danny and I. We wouldn't speak much — we weren't really awake as we didn't drink much coffee back then. It didn't matter. It was comforting to be putting in the miles together. Step by step. Day by day. Our company was enough for each other.
Today, long retired from competitive pursuits, we keep up the tradition. Albeit running fewer miles and slower. And much later in the mornings, after the sun has come up.
He lives in Seattle and me in Portland, so the frequency of our runs together is few throughout the year. Save for the North America outdoor track meet circuit. We both coach middle distance runners and are typically in the same city every weekend May through June. Outdoor track season is Coaches Run season for us.
Like all distance running friends, we touch on a variety of subjects on those Coaches Runs. But mostly we nerd out on running and coaching related topics. I learn so much from him each run. I look forward to them as much as our athlete's races later in the day.
In 2015, we ran together before the final day of the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. He had several Brooks Beasts competing.
I asked him what to watch for from his camp. His immediate reply, "The Bison." (This is Nick Symmonds' nickname.)
I was surprised. I thought Danny would name any other Beasts athlete but him. Nick had a late start to training that season and had valiantly been battling injury all spring. It was a frustrating season for Symmonds up until that point. His form going in had not been the best.
Taken aback, I replied, "Really? Why?"
Danny cooly informed me, "He's ready. He told me so this morning."
Our conversation paused as we gasped for air charging up a hill by Pre's Rock in Hendricks Park. When we crested the hill Danny continued, "When a champion tell you they're ready, they are ready. Do not underestimate The Bison, Marcus."
In the final of the 800m, I watched Symmonds storm down the homestretch in dominating fashion to his 6th US Outdoor 800m title. He crossed the finish line in full flex. Danny and I exchanged several hi-fives and a hug.
Later, when the excitement wound down, I Googled "Characteristics of Bison" on my iPhone. The description read:
Bison temperament is often unpredictable. They usually appear peaceful, unconcerned, even lazy, yet they may attack anything, often without warning or apparent reason. They can accelerate to speeds up to 35 mph covering long distances at a lumbering gallop.
It is a fitting description of Symmonds. And from that day on I've never underestimated The Bison since.
Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm