A few months ago I thought it would be fun, or at least funny, to test my mettle as a former prep athlete turned journalist by taking on the top prep athletes in the BoCoPreps.com area.
The idea: get some tips from the athletes on what makes them the best around and try to use those tips to beat them at their own game. Most coaches laughed when I approached them with the idea. Once I convinced them I was serious, they laughed harder.
Brad vs. BoCoPreps was still something I wanted to do. How tough could it be?
For my first opponent, I figured I'd head over to Mead High School to challenge the fastest kid in the BoCoPreps.com area -- Alex Mead.
Less than two months ago in mid-May, the Mavericks senior ran 100 meters in 10.69 seconds to win the Class 4A state title. So what if I can't tie my shoes that fast, or that I can't recall the last time I ran 100 meters. I still let him know that I liked my chances.
I had the Mead for Speed. So, I poked the soon-to-be University of Northern Colorado Bear. That was the first of many mistakes.
Alex Mead's Colorado prep running resume:
-- In 2011, Alex burst onto the scene to win the 3A 100- and 200-meter state titles as a sophomore.
-- The 2012 Times-Call Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year, he defended his 100- and 200-meter titles and set 3A state meet records in both. Alex also anchored the Mavericks' title-winning 400-meter relay team that set a new 3A state meet record.
-- In 2013, Alex jumped up to 4A and won the 100-meter state title.
-- I sat in the infield at Jefferson County Stadium and watched him do all of those things.
OK, we all know Alex Mead is fast. But I wanted to find out first-hand just how fast he is before he heads off to join the Division-I ranks in Greeley.
Having not run track since middle school, Alex was kind enough to give me a few pointers on how to run my race and how to put together a strong start, something he himself struggled with early in his career. When some ideas become reality, they leave you thinking, "What in the world made me think this was something I should do?"
Feeling hopelessly awkward with unsure feet wobbling on the starting blocks, those exact words flashed in my head like a Las Vegas billboard when Alex stifled a chuckle long enough to say "On your mark, get set, go."
He went. I also did, kind of.
Alex was three strides ahead of me before I could look to see where he was. By the time I made it up to my inadequate top speed, he was already jogging towards the finish line.
We tried several more races. Even with a 10-meter head start the result was, not surprisingly, the same.
Honestly, I've always considered myself to have above-average speed. Apparently, nine years of observing others be athletic and learning to write about it isn't the best way to maintain that ability.
Alex's accomplishments on the track, on the other hand, are a testament to dedication and perfecting technique. He started his prep career as the smallest dog in the race and even today, he usually still is.
"First and foremost, never give up on your dreams," Alex advised up-and-coming runners while I battled to keep down my lunch after trying my hardest to keep up with him. "When I came into high school, I was not a big kid -- 5-6, 120 pounds. I just didn't take no for an answer. Always run your race. Never compete against the people you're running. Don't let them dictate your race. Just run your zones."
I thought about those words as I walked to find a nice patch of grass where I could expel some Gatorade from my stomach.
If you're an upcoming sprinter who wants to one-day be a state champion, Alex Mead's model is a good one to follow. Learn from those who did it before you and heed their words.
Just be wary of talking trash if you ever get a chance to take them on head-to-head. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi