It’s been an interesting return to the sport, because during his competitive career in high school, Scott was not just an ordinary runner. He was a very fast runner. His time for 400 meters was 49.5 seconds. That’s under 25 seconds per 200 meters.
Even more impressive, his time for 800 meters was 1:51.3. That’s running a 56 second first quarter mile and coming back with a split of 55.3 on the second lap.
Fink-Finowicki started his track career as a sprinter with a 200 time down near 23 seconds. Anyone that has done repeat 200s on the track knows how fast that really is. A 5:00 mile pace requires runners to go through 200 meters at 37.5 seconds. 30 second pace gives you a 4:00 mile.
So to run 1:51.3 for the 800 meters is not joking around. Fink-Finowicki first tried middle distance races during his sophomore year in high school with an indoor 600 meters. He had been messing around in training with some sprinter friends by doing longer distance runs, so the idea of covering more ground in a competitive event was not completely foreign to him. He found success by applying his sprinter’s speed in combination with distance training.
It is very likely Scott would have placed high in the state meet for Illinois had he not torn his hamstring at the sectionals meet his senior year at Wheaton-Warrenville South High School. “I had tweaked my hamstring earlier in the season during the first meet. It was cold outside and I pulled it a bit during a 4 X 100 relay. But I worked through that during the season and had run 1:51.3 for the 800.”
That time could well win or at least place in the Top 5 at the state final. So it was obviously disappointing when Scott tore his hamstring muscle in two that late spring day.
He went on to college at Illinois State University but did not compete in track and field. To this day his hamstring is in the process of recovery. “Since I started lifting again the left hamstring muscle is about 1/3 the strength of the right. I can hamstring curl 20 X 60lbs with my right. With my left it’s still about 20 lbs. But I’m working on it.”
He’s back to running and has lost 20+ lbs. in the process. He says it feels good to be running again. Even sprinting is now possible.
When asked if people appreciate the speed he once had, Scott admits that most people cannot conceive running that fast. “If they’re from the track & field community or the running scene, they get it,” he laughs. “Otherwise, no.”
That’s one of the tragic aspects of being a really great runner at one point in your life. To the average runner hoping to run a 7:00 or 8:00 mile, and to do repeat quarters at 90 seconds per lap, the idea of covering 400 meters in under 50 seconds or doing a half mile in under 2:00 is inconceivable.
The irony of having run that fast at any age (much less high school) and having to leave it behind because of injury and finding out what you could do in college or beyond is tantalizing. It gives you confidence to think about what you accomplished, and yet one can’t help wonder what could have transpired without the injury. A 4:00 mile?
Typically those are questions that go unanswered. We all have windows of opportunity in our lives. Some come early. Some come later. Scott Fink-Finowicki gets to say he ran a 1:51.3 half mile. There is never any shame in something like that.
And now he’s using his running to build the remainder of his life and career. There’s certainly no shame in any of that either. Like they say, running is a journey, not a destination. On we go.