Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A "Face In The Crowd" Speaks

Hamline's Brandon Gleason has made a lot of news off the track in the past year. On Friday night he made some on the track, taking third in the Snowshoe Open Mile. So, DtB sent Gleason a few questions on the recent happenings.

DtB: How did the Faces in the Crowd item unfold? Did you know it was coming?

BG: To be honest, I had no idea that the face in the crowd piece was being done. I was hanging out with a friend on Thursday night, and I got a call from one of my friends who works at Mayo. He told me that while he was eating dinner he was flipping through SI weekly, he turned the page, and there was my face smiling back at him. I will never forget that conversation because I thought he was just joking around.

I later found out from Stephanie Harris (our Sports Info Director) that SI contacted her and asked for a picture, and my coach gave consent. They (my coaches) didn’t want to tell me and get my hopes up, so I was totally out of the loop on the whole thing.

DtB: In Charlie's (Mahler) article, you predict it by saying that you'll be in SI some day for your comeback. Did the Hamline SID send stuff to SI or did they contact you or Hamline? What has been the response to it?

BG: When I originally told Charlie that I was going to be in SI one day, I never thought it would’ve come true. That is everyone’s dream, I think, to be in SI, and I see it as an incredible honor that I will share with everyone who has had a helping hand in my recovery and comeback because, without them, I wouldn’t be running. I do not know exactly if someone random submitted my story to SI or if Hamline did.

The response has been overwhelming and has brought more attention then I ever wanted (this is because I feel that there are people out there with better stories and greater comebacks then mine). I remember going to Barnes and Noble to buy several copies to send to my family and friends, and when I went to check out the cashier said I was buying the wrong cover issue (he was referring to the swimsuit edition), and I just left.

The Snowshoe Open was my first “public” race since the article came out, and I remember walking past the crowd to go say hi to my mom before the meet started, and someone from the crowd (he was from River Falls) stood up and yelled: “Hey, are you in Faces in the Crowd?” I was so caught off guard and nervous that all I could do was just turn my head and nod at him.

DtB: I assume the accident and operation has left scars. Does that draw attention from other runners at meets? From spectators? Do people say things to you directly or do you hear them talking about it? How have you dealt with the situation?

BG: When I am doing striders on the track before my races or walking past team tents, I do notice people looking at my leg and it doesn’t bother me, it is just something I have to live with. From spectators, I do not know if they can really see it as the scars are more on the inside of my right leg. No one has yet directly come up to me and asked about my leg or the scars.

Dealing with the situation of a couple of scars on my leg doesn’t even compare to the events I have been through this past year and more so these past weeks. This is because on February 3, I also stopped running for the indoor season. This is because on February 3, I received a phone call from my brother telling me that my father has passed away. My dad had been suffering a heart condition for the past four years. As a result, I spent the following week up north attending to family issues, and I think I only ran like 50 miles that week. I just felt lifeless doing them.

But, after much thought, I knew in my heart that my dad would want me to continue with school for the year and, most importantly, to continue to run. Therefore, I decided to run the 5K at Iowa State. I ran a decent time, but I was just emotionally drained, and I think it caught up to me at the race (I was at 8:47 through the 3K mark and then the wheels just came off). But when I was running the mile at the U, I know I was not alone.

DtB: You have the tenth fastest time in the mile on the NCAA Division III list. I gather that was a PR for you, at least for indoors. What was your goal going into the race?

BG: This was the first time since indoor conference that I ran a timed mile (except for our Burning Spear mile that we run in XC), and I had a seven second PR. My plans going into the race was just not to worry about time but, more importantly, to just race. I remember Schmed(Hamline assistant coach Paul Schmaedeke) telling me to just have fun and just remember all this is a bonus. The results were great. I ran the race evenly split and just enjoyed myself for the first time since the passing of my dad.

DtB: What are your plans for the rest of the indoor season? The outdoor season?

BG: My plans for the rest of indoor are not to race again until conference(March 7-8 at St. John's). I do not know what events yet but obviously either the mile, 3K, or 5K, and I will probably double at conference. I am just excited to be a part of the MIAC this year as the distance events are on the verge of being something really special.

As for outdoors, my plans are to make it to Oshkosh(NCAA Division III Nationals on May 22-24) in either the 5K or 10K.

Photo Courtesy of Hamline University

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