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Friday, May 20, 2022

Track & Field

Junior accepts grueling pace

Doug Kelley is the Cougars’ designated 800-meter runner. Four hundred meter runners fear the 800 because of its half-mile length. Distance runners don’t have the foot speed for it.

Kelley said it comes down to who has the highest tolerance for pain — whoever can accept that they will be temporarily deprived of oxygen.

“The 800 is basically a gutcheck race,” Kelley said. “You have to go out in the first 100 meters at a good, hard pace and just hold it.

“You pace and position yourself for the end to try to set yourself up for a kick to win it.”

Runners speak of an invisible figure that lurks in the closing meters of a race, waiting to pounce and hinder their running form. Some say it is like trying to run while carrying a cooler or tire; others say it is like trying to fend off an animal.

“The hardest part of the race is the last 200,” Kelley said. “That’s when the monkey jumps on your back.”

Kelley was the 2010 Conference USA Outdoor champion in the 800, but runner-up in at the 2011 C-USA Indoor Championship, finishing in a time of 1 minute, 52 seconds. As a result of his 6’3 stature, Kelley said he is more comfortable during the outdoor portion of the season.

“I’m more of an outdoor guy than an indoor guy,” he said. “I just have to make that transition and run the way I do outdoor, indoors.

I’m taller, especially on long tracks, so it’s harder for me to open up my stride on the curbs.”

Kelley became the best 800 runner in school history at the Texas A&M Conference Challenge on Feb. 12. But his personal-best times lingered around the 1:50 range since 2010. He broke the barrier on March 5, running a 1:49 at the Iowa State Last Chance Qualifier.

The junior from Leander, about 30 miles north of Austin, said that his treatment from head coach Leroy Burrell and the coaching staff during his recruitment is what made him decide to become a

member of the UH family.

“They really wanted me, Burrell respected me,” Kelley said. “That showed me a lot, and that made me want to come here and run for him.”

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