Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 5 Debbie Heald and Mary Cain - March 17,1972 to January 26, 2013

+Debbie Heald defeating the Russians March 17, 1972
Mary Cain, Penn Relays 2012

January 27, 2013
The second oldest high school record on the books fell yesterday.  +Mary Cain, Bronxville , NY,  took down +Debbie Heald's girls' indoor mile record from 4:38.5  to 4:32.78 at the New Balance Games in New York.

My co-blogger Roy Mason was Debbie's coach back in 1972.  Their story is well described in a recent issue of Runner's World  (Dec., 2012)  by Steve Friedman.   Mary's story is becoming well known, now.   She is  coached by Alberto Salazar after leaving her high school program this Fall.  The  question now  is "How much better will she run?" The other great question is, " Why has it taken so long for this record to be broken?"  Everyone seemed to feel it would happen this year with the times Mary was putting up in the last few seasons.  She is indeed a remarkable young woman and athlete, and now there will be enormous expectations on her shoulders.  She seems a very pleasant , calm and reserved teenager.  I hope that the adults around her will be able to guide her toward achieving her potential without removing  all the other aspects that growing up in our culture require us to learn to be grounded and happy adults.  Mary has already achieved a lot of things that Debbie never had a chance of experiencing.   Debbie's career was hampered by injury and illness that made her life an American tragedy.  But having several nurturing adults along the way did save her life, though it has not been a life unchallenged by fear,  pain and rejection.   It must be remembered that when she set her high school record,  it was also the world record for the mile.  It was against the world record holder, and in a meet of maximum importance in the cold war era against a powerful Soviet team.  She was alone at that meet, 3000 miles from home, no coach with her, running   in a pair of worn out shoes held together with duct tape.    No shoe company thought she was good enough to merit a new pair of shoes.  After all she had only qualified as the second best American to be at that meet.

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