Saturday Spotlight- Deirdre Meehan

Name: Deirdre Meehan (aka DeDee aka Dee)
Age: 49
Hometown: Brentwood
Current Town: Lake Ronkonkoma
Marital Status: Single
Pets: Cider, rescued pitbull
Occupation: Licensed Veterinary Technician

I’ve only been a member of SHW for a year so I was surprised when Lou asked if I’d consider being this week’s WOTW. I’m very quiet and reserved in groups and with people I don’t know well, so I was hesitant to accept his request. After going back and forth with him a bit I decided to step outside my comfort zone and accept the honor, so here I go….

I lived in the Bronx with my parents (dad: retired NYPD; mom: retired Suffolk County employee) and younger brother until I was six, at which time we moved to B’wood. I grew up living four houses away from an aunt and uncle and their six children and my childhood was spent either playing in their backyard or ours or riding my bike around B’wood with friends.

I was not involved in any organized sports or activities when I was young, but for some unknown reason that changed when I entered Jr High School. I have no idea why I decided to try team sports at that time, but my first attempt was at gymnastics. From one piece of equipment to the next I went – barely able to walk on a 4″ beam, let alone tumbling on one; sprinting down a runway and launching myself off a springboard unable to master anything more than a simple straddle vault; spinning around on the uneven bars, yet too afraid to let go and perform any actual moves. Needless to say, my gymnastics career was shortlived.

Next came kickline. I remember practicing kicks and routines in sweltering classrooms during the summer and freezing as I marched down Washington Ave in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. This was also a brief attempt at a team activity as I hung up my green and white pompoms and put away my white Keds sneakers within a year.

For more unknown reasons I moved onto Winter Track in 10th grade. It was clear from the start that hurdles, sprints and field events were not my thing. The team already had a good middle/long distance runner or two, so what to do with the newbie…? Racewalking! Yup, the coach must have figured if he could teach me that funny looking “duck waddling” form, I’d at least be able to score a point or two in a meet for them. Over time, and under the tutelage of Gary Westerfield and some of the walkers at SUNY Stony Brook, I actually became halfway decent at it. I attended the Empire State Games twice during high school and took 3rd in the 3000m scholastic racewalk in 1985. During Winter and Spring track my only running was when an occasional body was needed on a 4×800 relay.

My hatred of hills began in 11th grade when I joined the XC team and began to learn the language of Sunken Meadow- Snake Hill, Cardiac Hill, The Moat-none of which sounded pleasant. The best lesson that I learned from XC was: why run the hills and experience the discomfort of them, when I could walk them just as quickly without the agony. I stuck with XC and track for my Jr and Sr years of high school and ultimately earned varsity letters for every season and was named team captain for all of my Sr year.

From high school I moved onto Stony Brook where I earned my BS in Biology with with a Minor in Marine Science. I had assumed that my running days were over after high school until a fateful mid-August phone call arrived. It was the new coach at SB calling to ask when I would be getting my sports physical because XC practice was starting. With a sinking feeling I hung up the phone knowing that it meant more time at Sunken Meadow.

During indoor and outdoor track I continued racewalking for a year or two, until I was diagnosed with compartment sydrome in my shins and found myself spending more time at the athletic trainer’s office than I was training. The remainder of my time in college was spent as a middle/long distance runner. I was a mediocre runner-as my boyfriend at the time put it, “I ran well despite my training, not because of it”- but I did manage to run a sub 20 5k on the track.

Since that time I’ve managed to run sub 20 a few more times, but overall I’ve been extremely inconsistent with my training. I’m hoping to turn that around in the New Year after my recently sprained/fractured ankle heals.

That was a *very* long-winded intro and I promise to keep it shorter the rest of the week! Best of luck to everyone at Rob’s Run and I look forward to meeting some of you.

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