Oh yeah, life goes on: Masters lovers doing the best they can
Here’s a little ditty about Rog and Diane, two American kids growin’ up in the heartland. It’s my latest masters love story. (Earlier episodes told of Jim Chinn wedding, Larry Barnum and his Aussie bride, and Dave Clingan and sweetie.) In this case, Rog is M65 world champ Roger Pierce and Diane is W45 world medalist Diane Tedford Pomeroy. They recently announced their engagement on Facebook, and I shamelessly wrote Roger for details. Mostly, I was curious about what happened to his three-decade marriage to Fran. In April 2006, my post was titled: “Roger Pierce credits wife for masters track career.” But life happens when you have other things planned. And so it was with Roger.
Roger courageously tackled my questions:
My wife, Fran, and I divorced over four years ago, after 35 years of marriage. We had drifted apart after our children had grown and moved on, and we both had different goals for the remaining years of our lives. It was a very difficult time for both of us, but we remain friends.
Diane had been a member of my Mass Velocity Track Club for more than a year before I actually met her, in 2012 at the Cleveland outdoor nationals.
We had spoken for a few minutes just before her 400 final, and I had given her some suggestions on how to run it. She went out very aggressively in that race, I was standing on the infield, next to the track and as she passed by me in the lead with 70 to go on the last straight, I could see she was completely exhausted and just about ready to collapse.Incredibly, she looked over at me, and I could see in her face that she was absolutely finished, and for some reason, and I’m not sure why, because I didn’t know her that well, I yelled at her: “Don’t you dare quit!” At this point, another runner had pulled up beside her and was about to move past, but Diane immediately straightened up and rose to the challenge, running stride for stride with the woman for the rest of the race and diving at the finish line, winning by the slightest of margins.
She lay sprawled on the ground as the officials milled around checking the times and whatever else officials do after races. No one paid any attention to her. I ran to the finish line where she was lying in a fetal position, clearly exhausted, and bending down I asked her, “Are you OK?” She responded with “Yup, I’m OK.вЂќ And I said, “You just can’t stand up … right?вЂќ
She nodded yes. I picked her up, and she looked at me and said: “You helped me win the race, thank you so much.вЂќ And then she jogged off across the field (on wobbly legs). I didn’t see her again until 2012 at the National Indoor Championships in Bloomington, Indiana.
At the indoor nationals in Indiana, we spent a good deal of time together talking about track and cheering each other along in our races. She placed second in the 400 and won the 800. I had gone into that meet with only five weeks of training after being injured for all of the indoor season. Yet I still wound up winning the 200 and 400, and placing third in the 60 and running on two winning relay teams.
At the Bloomington airport after the meet, as the number of athletes gathered together for something to eat before their flights, Diane, who was taking a different flight from mine, happened to mention that she needed to get a coach to teach her how to sprint. I told her I’d be more than happy to do it, by Internet if necessary, and she accepted my offer. That was March 2012.
Her progress as a sprinter has been absolutely phenomenal. She went from running 45 miles a week to less than 10 miles, dropping her 400 time from 66 down to 61 and her 800 time from 2:32 down to 2:22, and ran 200 and 100 for the first time, eventually getting down to 28.03 and 14.01 (she also ran a 1500 in 5:03 just for fun) all in less than six months of intense interval training.
It was a truly remarkable change in a woman who had previously been a middle- and long-distance runner.
We fell in love very soon after I began coaching her, and our lives have been greatly enhanced by our love and commitment to track. I found myself with someone who loved track as much if not more than myself. We trained together, traveled together, and last summer, she moved to my hometown of Essex, Massachusetts.
We are training partners who are totally committed to the pursuit of excellence for each other. It really doesn’t get any better than this вЂ” absolutely priceless, and we both feel so blessed.
So when is the wedding?
Roger and Diane write: “We really don’t have a date yet, but we would like to be married by this time next year.”