Pearls from past Pace Setters – 1976: Bill Meehan – Athlete of the Month

Collated by Christine Bishop

Bill is known to us all as the tall man running around with a digital camera. Bill is always trying to capture the best angle of runners. The result is all the memorable photos we see on the HMRRC website! In fact, Bill has covered nearly every major HMRRC race for decades. Bill is known especially for his coverage of the Just Run Program. In this capacity, he takes photos and videos as well as drone footage for the events. In fact, Bill incorporates nearly any other new technology he can find to better illustrate the event and the joy of the children taking part in the Just Run program.

For years Bill has been the Graphics Editor of The Pace Setter, but few realize the tremendous amount of volunteer time and love this effort entails. He is responsible for editing and then placing photographs from every race on the web site. That duty is more daunting than you might assume since he usually captures over 10,000 pictures for such events, as the Mohawk River Marathon. Once all these images are taken, he must then figure out which to keep, which to delete, which to edit, and which to display. Additionally, it is his task to guarantee that all events are covered by photographers. Bill deserves great praise for his untiring support of the HMRRC and by extension his support of running in the Greater Albany Area.

Enjoy reading about Bill’s early history in the HMRRC!

– Christine Bishop 


Bill Meehan, Pace Setter Athlete of the Month: 1976 (republished 2024)

Age: 30

Occupation: New York State Labor Department - CETA Program Coordinator

Bill served as Co-President of HMRRC this past year, and he continues to advise the club.

Running for me started as a way to get in shape for other sports in high school. Gradually it became a sport in and of itself as I caught the spirit of the cross-country team. But it was only a seasonal sport, and I did not continue running on my own in the off season. Run around on the neighborhood streets in my shorts without my teammates? I never even gave it a thought. Running was not a part of my life. It was just an activity I participated in at school.

In college the spirit of the Albany State Cross-Country team--otherwise known as the Munsey men, Golden Bohunks, Purple Idiots, and other names--had a great effect and I became more dedicated. I even began running in the off season. It did not seem so weird to run around perimeter roads and even the streets of Albany occasionally. My best race in college was 27:30 on a 5-mile cross-country course. During my college career I ran one road race--the 10.5 Labor Day race in Westport, Conn. which is still being held annually. I recall running that race in about 63 minutes.

After college, the incentive of running for the team was gone and I stopped running. Three years later, in the summer of 1974, I decided it was time to get back in shape. So, on went the old sneakers and up to Mechanicville High School I went to run around and around a large field. When I finally converted to running on the roads it became much more enjoyable. One of my favorite workouts was to go out 2 miles at a normal pace (15 or 16 minutes) and try to go back in 12 minutes (I do not think I ever made it). That Fall I ran my first race since college--the Troy Turkey Trot (5 1/2 miles), which I finished in about 36 minutes. I ran for a few days after that, and I was through for the year. Playing squash with Larry Shapiro (now also a runner) occupied my winter months.

I began running again in the Spring of 1975 but that year I did not make it to the Turkey Trot because of shin splints. So, the following Spring of 1976 I started once again, and I have not stopped since. I think the pain of starting anew each year is what has kept me going. I could not bear going through that again.

More truthfully, what really hooked me on running was training that summer for the big one- the marathon. I have my friend Dave Champagne from Plattsburgh to thank for that. I ran with Dave in Plattsburgh while on overnight business trips. He told me about a marathon he had run in Buffalo (Skylon) and suggested I give it a try. At first, I scoffed at the idea, saying I had never even considered such a thing. But the more I listened to Dave (I will never forgive him.) and thought about it, the more possible the idea became. And if ever I was going to run a marathon, it better be on a flat course; Skylon was the ideal opportunity. It is amazing what you can talk yourself into. So, bright and early the next morning Dave and I hit the road. We ran 10 miles that day and I nearly crawled the last two.

At the time it was already August, so I only had two months to train for the big day on Oct. 16, 1976. I arrived in Buffalo with three goals: first, to finish the distance (I had never run more than 17 miles); second, to finish in 3 1/2 hours; and third, to finish in 3 hours (a dream really). Amazingly I did it (2:59:13) and it was one of the happiest days of my life. I had tears in my eyes as I approached the finish line with hundreds of people cheering and the voice on the loudspeaker saying the runners finishing now were still under 3 hours.

I probably would have stopped running that winter as in past years, except that now I was qualified for the Boston Marathon; so, I had to keep running. I could not let this opportunity go by.

I did not run in Boston that year because I became sick the night before the race. But more importantly, I was hooked on running. Running now defines my life more than anything else and I enjoy it for many reasons. It is both an emotional and physical outlet and I feel healthier because of it. I also enjoy running in races because of the excitement of running fast and pushing myself to the limit for a sustained period of time.

My training methods now are considerably different than in college when I did mostly hard, interval workouts. -That was necessary of course to develop speed and strength for cross-country and track. What I did not know then was the importance of a distance base.

In my second career I have reversed that and now I do much LSD. Most of my training is at a 7:30/mile pace and sometimes as fast as 7:00. I also find that fartlek running and training on hills has great benefits. Last year when I was running my best races, much of my training was on hills. Even without many speed or interval workouts, my speed and strength improved steadily.

I believe another reason for my success was that I was never overtrained. I rarely ran more than 60-70 miles a week. I do not think I could ever achieve my full potential at that distance, but I also never had any stress injuries.

Most of my personal records were run in 1978. The three races I am happiest about came in the Fall. In September I ran in a 10-mile race near Camden, New Jersey in 55:58, finishing 11th in a field of over 600 runners. In October I finished 7th in the GE 10km race with a time of 34:11. And finally, in my third consecutive Skylon Marathon, I finished 94th in 2:48:24. I was also happy earlier that summer when Faustin Baron and I hooked up in a 2 mile race on the track and I ran a PR of 10:23.

I have not regained that form this year, but I have not given up either. That is one thing I like about running; I do not feel I have reached my full potential, so I always have hope that I'll be able to better my performances. Meanwhile, I am enjoying my daily runs more than ever. And recently I have enjoyed pacing others to good finishes in races. I recently paced Larry Shapiro (my old squash nemeses) to his best 10km race (38:39).

My PR's are: 1/2 mile (2:18); mile (5:00); 2 mile (10:23); 5 mile cross-country in college .(27:30); 6 mile (34:50); 10km (34:11); 15km (53: 16); 10 mile (55:58); 20km (1:12:50); half-marathon (1:22:53); 30km (1:55:49); marathon(2:48:24).

My goals for the future are to continue running and enjoying it without letting it become an obsession. In racing my goals are hopefully attainable and within my capability. My main goals are to do a 10km in 33 minutes, and a 10 mile in 55 minutes. Also, -I would like to run a 2 mile in 10 minutes; the Bankathon (30km) in 1:45; and a marathon in 2:45. I did have a goal of breaking 30 minutes in the Turkey Trot, but they changed the distance after I had come so close in 1977 (30:11) and in 1978 (30:17).

Click on the link below written in 2023 to find out what Bill is doing almost five decades later for The Pace Setter!

Meet Bill Meehan – Documenter Extraordinaire

Then and Now:

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