March is nearly upon us, the mercury is resting comfortably at sixty degrees, and the ground is finally thawing out enough that you won't risk shin splints just walking across your lawn. You know what that means - track season is nearly upon us!
Okay, maybe only I and a select few other crazy runner people associate the weather turning spring-like with the dawn of distance running season, rather than St. Patrick's Day, Easter egg hunts, and March Madness, but I'm a happy camper. After eight years of cross country and track in high school and college, another six years of amateur road racing, and two years of coaching, I can't help but get a certain itch in my legs whenever the snow melts away and the running paths are clear once again. Now that our track is no longer buried under ten inches of snow, I've officially set our school's track & field tryouts for the middle of next month. I'm not thrilled that we have to limit our roster in that way, but that's a rant for another day.
At any rate, with running on the brain, it's quite appropriate then that I should make the following discovery in my computer lab, yesterday afternoon:
As I was making a sweep in between classes (to check the equipment), something caught my eye underneath one of the computer stations. Lo and behold, the flash of white wasn't something boring like an index card or a discarded note between classmates; as you might be able to tell from the image above, it just happened to be an abandoned Sports Illustrated for Kids trading card. I guess I won't be finding these sheets of nine cards each when the magazine rack gets it's regular purge in the next few weeks.
This is the second time in the last month that I've stumbled across dis"carded" cards - of course, in this particular, the found treasure is in much better shape. Last time it was football, what sport could it be this time? When it comes to SI for Kids oddballs, it could literally be anything.
If the introduction to this post and the picture which kicks it off didn't already give it away, SURPRISE, it's running!
While many kids and adults who pretend to be kids for the cards might immediately toss such niche sports to the side (as whoever tore into this panel did), I actually have a binder dedicated exclusively to runners on cardboard. Shalane Flanagan will slot into this collection nicely, alongside Alan Webb, Meb Keflezighi, Jesse Owens, and crew. As an added bonus, Flanagan is even a personal favorite of mine, as my collegiate teammates and I binged on the 2008 Olympic games, during our summer training camp, and followed closely when she took home the bronze in the 10K. Since then, she's also made headlines for being the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since 1977, among many other victories.
The front of the card features Flanagan as the harrier is just about to break the tape at that historic 2017 NYC triumph - her time was 2:26.53, nearly an hour fastest than my personal best!
As pumped as I was to find come across a card that fits into one of my collections in the most unexpected of places, I was a tad disappointed that this was the only card from that SI panel left behind. Normally, I curse the name of students who leave their workplaces a mess; but, when that litter is trading cards, I can selfishly make an exception. Out of curiosity, I had to take to Google in order to figure out what other eight athletes accompanied Shalane on that perforated sheet:
Ultimately, there are no other cards on this sheet which would directly fit in with my collections, it all works out in the end. I bet that whoever left Shalane behind was after the Jimmy Butler card, even though it features him on the Timberwolves; Butler is still a popular player in the Chicagoland market and basketball appears to be the overall favorite sport of this student body.
In the end, there's no more valuable resource for niche sport collections than SI for Kids - my runners binder has several such singles contained within it's pages, including 2016 NCAA XC Champion, Karissa Schweizer, above (another recent pick up). Does anyone else on the blogosphere have personal collection built around sports not traditionally immortalized on cardboard? I'm talking beyond the major games - i.e., baseball, football, hockey, soccer. Am I the only oddball who collects cards that feature people who run really fast and/or far? Does anyone else consider themselves a "crazy runner dude or dudette?" Please feel free to let me know in the comments section below!
In the meantime, it's time for me to dig out my short shorts, moisture-wicking tank top, and Saucony Omnis - Ms. Flanagan has inspired me to hit the trail and start getting back into the regular swing of things. After all, I can't let my sixth, seventh, and eighth grade pupils get the best of me this track season!