Anyone with a sibling knows the challenge of trying to carve out your own niche in this world. TJ Dailey had brothers who excelled in soccer, basketball and other sports. When Dailey discovered running, his world was forever changed.
“Once I got into it, I realized how much it balances me,” he says. “It helps me open my mind and process things for the day, releases stress, and I always feel so accomplished after doing it.”
He calls running his necessity, and he’s not the only one who feels this way. Back in 2012, Dailey began meeting with a handful of other men from Hamilton County to train for local races, creating the Meshingomesia Track Club. The club has since grown, and people have also moved, which means members are spread across the country now. They remain connected through their love of running.
“We have almost 40 members nationwide, but now instead of us all running together, they have developed their own running pods,” says Dailey, the team’s captain.
To stay active and motivated, the group signs up for various races. To train for those races, the team uses a smartphone application called Strava, which is like a social media platform for endurance athletes. The mobile fitness tracking application, which has 60 million users globally, enables users to upload and analyze their workouts.
“Think Facebook but with an endurance support focus,” says Dailey of the application, explaining that athletes can track runs on their watch or other device, and the information is imported into the
application. Team members can see each other’s accomplishments, and can like or comment on performances.
Club members participate in races throughout the year including 5K runs and full marathons. Members mostly do road races and relays. In 2015 Dailey ran a six-day, 314-mile race, for which he ran across the state of Tennessee. According to Dailey, the team members mostly participate in middle and long distances.
When Dailey turned 40 he pledged to run a coast-to-coast race, and this year the club decided to participate in the Great American 5000 race, an annual 3,107-mile run from San Francisco to New York. When Dailey learned that the race was going to be virtual this year due to the pandemic, he assembled a team of 24 members, most of whom are in their early to mid 40s and are spread across seven states. Every day each team member had to run one hour per day, and could run anywhere they wanted in that hour. Once they uploaded their mileage to the site, that progress was aggregated and the team’s pin moved across the country as miles were completed.
Though each team member ran as fast and as far as they could during their 60 minutes each day, the number of miles logged usually varied. For instance, the team’s top runner was logging between nine and 11 miles in an hour, and the team also had a relatively new runner whose mile times clocked between nine and 10 minutes.
To help prevent injuries, Dailey and his local teammates went to the Recovery Room in Carmel when they were sore. They used NormaTec arm, leg and hip sleeves to push excess fluid out of tight muscles, and cryotherapy to reduce inflammation and increase circulation. The runners were diligent about stretching before and after workouts.
“You’ve got to roll, ice and get your sleep,” Dailey says.
All the hard work paid off, as Dailey’s team won the Great American 5000 by 550 miles. It was an impressive feat considering that more than 250 teams consisting of 4,500 runners from across the country participated. Though Dailey’s team didn’t consist of Olympic athletes, they ran against running legends like Ben True and Michael Wardian, who set a world record for fastest marathon while pushing a stroller.
“Wardian is also the only person ever to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, and sub-three all seven of them,” Dailey says. “I think the professional aspect of it validated it for us, and then performing way over and above our expectations made the win even sweeter.”
Every day Dailey’s team was turning in running times that surprised even themselves.
“It’s funny because you wake up in the morning and you run a race at a particular pace,” Dailey says. “The next week you’re out running 500 yards at that same pace and you’re thinking, ‘How did I run a seven-minute-pace marathon and now seven minutes feels like a five-minute mile?’”
On day 11 of the Great American 5000, two team members named Phil and Will, who are in the personal aviation industry, were in Colorado. Phil posted a picture to the group’s online thread titled, “Will & Phil & Lance the Champ.”
As it turns out, they were in Aspen helping Lance Armstrong interview pilots for his personal plane, and they invited him to go running with them.
“That was really cool,” Dailey says. “That’s like playing golf with Tiger Woods.”
For more info on the Meshingomesia Track Club, visit facebook.com/meshtc.
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing