Capon Springs runner avoids “middle-aged jogger” status to clock 5:09 at 1,500 meters
After running 30 of the 31 editions (missed year 3) of the Apple Blossom 10K in Winchester, Va., it would take something significant to keep Jonathan Bellingham of Capon Springs, W.Va., from continuing his streak. In fact it took two key events — the 80th anniversary of his family’s resort and his training for the Senior Olympics qualifier — that kept him from the starting line this year.
Seems it was worth the sacrifice as both went well for him.
A sold-out crowd came to the history presentations and he placed third in his age group at the Virginia state games in the 1500-meter run.Bellingham finished in 5 minutes and 9 seconds — besting the 5:19 standard by 10 seconds. As a West Virginia resident, he will represent his home state at the senior games even though he competed in the Virginia qualifier.
Bellingham will have a whole year to train for the national championships in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2013. The extra motivation is that his wife Betsy’s grew up just south of Cleveland and all her immediate family still lives there. In fact, over the Easter holiday, Bellingham went to the track site and ran a time trial to test his fitness. Otherwise, all his intervals training took place on his home track at Handley High School. Bellingham remembers well the tough workouts and races he did on the same spot over 30 years ago as a distance runner for Handley’s famed nationally-ranked cross country teams.
“The senior Olympics idea came about after Apple Blossom last year,” Bellingham said. “After not training much and putting on some weight, my finish was more back in the pack that I had been used to. I had resigned myself to finally losing my runner status and it was time to transition to becoming a middle-aged jogger.”
Then with words of encouragement from fellow masters runner Mark Stickley, owner of Runners Retreat, and some advice from guests of the resort who had competed in last summer’s games, he decided to launch a comeback. He started training last fall, but old injuries and new ones made it hard to make any progress. The skill of Dr. Darrell Voll of Active Health Chiropractic was required to keep things aligned. An occasional massage and reflexology session helped, too. After all, dropping down from competing at the 10K distance to a metric mile was no easy feat. “I’m not known for my speed so 1,500 meters is more of a sprint for me. I had to totally change both my physical and mental training in order to compete successfully at this distance.”
Plus, when he showed up in Richmond on May 12, his ongoing hamstring and hip issues made him a little nervous. But when he saw men and women in their 80s and 90s warming up in their track suits, he felt a wave of inspiration that carried him to meet his goal.
As athletes from all over the world gather in London this summer, Bellingham will follow his own path as he tries to stay in shape over the next 14 months in preparation for his shot at Olympic glory next July.