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Meshingomesia Track Club First Across the Finish Line in the Great American 5000

The Meshingomesia Track Club (MTC), with its roots near Indianapolis and participants from Indiana, Colorado, California, New Hampshire, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Arkansan, North Carolina, and Ohio, became the first team in the Great American 5000 to cross the finish line on Monday, June 29. The 24-member team finished more than 550 miles ahead of the next closest team, covering 198 miles per day, and with a team average pace of 7:23 per mile. It was an impressive team accomplishment, and we caught up with TJ Dailey, the team captain, who shared his thoughts on the first-place finish and the overall experience. Read below for more from TJ:

TJ Dailey, Meshingomesia Track Club

The consensus among our team is that this was one of the most incredible events we’ve ever participated in. We’re elated and exhausted at the same time.

We all agree that this is the perfect test for a runner, and as a matter of fact, it’s the perfect test for the human spirit. You have to have an equal mix of speed, endurance, consistency, determination and humility to win this thing, there is no other event like it. You also have to have 100 percent confidence in your team, especially when the event is virtual, and you’re spread across the country….THAT is where this event separates itself.

It’s easier to get a group of people who are physically with each other to push through something for a handful of days. It’s an entirely different challenge to keep a group of people engaged, inspired and motivated when they are in different states, and at least half of them haven’t met each other in person. It’s like the difference you feel in a meeting room vs. a video call. Something is just missing. Going into this, we thought we’d feel emptiness, but we didn’t. Here’s how we kept it rolling:

1. Trust: Set the expectations up front! Ours was that you would run an hour a day, every day, for 17-18 days, or however long it took to finish. Keeping your word day in and day out builds an unbreakable trust, and your team will go to “the well” for you when needed. We may take commitment to another level (the wife of one of our runners gave birth to their third child in the middle of the race, and he did not miss a single minute of time), but doing that pushes each person to deliver day in and day out.

2. Belief: This race defies running logic. For a typical event, you usually train, race and then you’re done. Even when you’re training, you typically won’t have more than two hard days a week. So the concept of basically going out and running tempo runs for 16 straight days seems totally foreign, and completely counterproductive. There’s no type of event or training that prepares you for that kind of effort. When we began, we all thought we would be 30-60 seconds slower per mile than we ended up being. Four days in though, things hurt, but they kept clicking, so we just threw the limiting beliefs to the side.

3. Humility: You need to know when to throttle it back, and how to do so responsibly. This is a team race, so you can be strategic. You don’t need to run an hour hard every day if you can’t, just do two 30-minute segments, or four 15-minute segments for that matter. Remember if you were physically doing this, you would plan to do just that. You wouldn’t send someone out who was tired to run a full hour or two, you would break their time up into segments they could handle. Also, if you trust your team, you know that if someone needs a day off, it’s real, and you have no problem contributing to the make-up time.

Posted by Meshingomesia Track Club on Monday, June 29, 2020

4. Communication: We communicated a lot, and broke the team down into seven small groups so that it wasn’t overwhelming. Communication has to be constant, if for nothing more than to communicate wins. Did someone just hit a huge run? Let everyone know! A great example of this was the night before our last day. We were all gassed, and our top performer ran 11.20 mile in an hour (5:21 pace)….doing that 15 runs into this thing got us riled up, and set the tone for the final day. We had something like that happen just about every day. Having the whole team on Strava helps as well, as you can give kudos and comment on runs as they come in. You may not think someone needs your support, but someone does, especially when there are 23 other people in the fold.

5. Management: Someone has to be the guy/girl in charge. Someone has to know where you’re at relative to your time limit for the day, someone has to update the team nightly with statistics so they know where they need to be. Being virtual requires a LOT of touch points. You need to know who’s run for the day, who’s left, and what each person is capable of. That really helps you nail your goals.

6. Self Care: We’re lucky, 11 of our members live in an area that has a business called the Recovery Room. It features Cryotherapy, Normatec, Game Ready, Red Light therapy and more. We were in there every single day, and if we weren’t, we were taking ice baths, icing, rolling, massaging, etc. Our average group age is 39, so we’re not young. Recovery is key, and it was at least an hour of our days the past two weeks. Combine that with a ton of sleep, and your body can keep going a lot longer than you think it can.