2015 USATF XC Club Nationals was always a given. A December vaca in the Bay? Uh, yes please. Clubs had always been an event surrounded by fantastic camaraderie and memorable reunions. Hell, I actually went to Lexington, KY for the 2012 Nationals, didn’t race, and STILL reminisce about it.
That said, I came into this year’s event with some definite expectations for myself. I tried to be especially intentional with them as this would be the first year I wouldn’t be on a team and thus wouldn’t have the motivation of running for teammates (alas, The CLAP expired as a registered club, and with an aging, injured, or retired athlete base, seems to be destined to go the way of Stacy’s Mom and the Harlem Shake, an undefeated one hit wonder). And yeah, for me, when it comes to 5k+, I need all the motivation I could get.
This would be my third 10k (all XC club races) and I had set a nice precedent in my previous trips. In 2010 I debuted with RMR at 67th place in 31:18. in 2013 with the CLAP I annihilated one of history’s most brutal courses for a 32:10 and a 27th place finish. Only 60 seconds off the winner! This year, the goal was to hang on to the back of the chase pack, and if I didn’t have it, well, I’d accept my fate on the struggle bus. The hope was to break 31 minutes.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have reached cruising altitude and you are now free to use laptops and other portable devices.”
I am aisle seated on an overpriced 40min United puddle jumper from Wichita to Denver. 2 babies are crying. The dude next to me has rancid breath, but I’m fighting back with a dirty shirt and some pizza breath of my own. And my left leg is twitching so badly there’s a fear it may spasticly flail out as the flight attendant patrols by. BUT THAT’S ALL OK, CAUSE IT IS WRITEUP TIME!
35 minutes left
The tragic truth of this race is that it was both a fantastic milestone moment as well as an entirely forgettable event. It was my first race in 27 months (and a mile no less!) and yet, I really felt nothing for this race. No nerves. No butterflies. I only took one pre-race dump… It smacked of a workout.
Have I lost that competitive fire? I sure hope not. (Somewhere, Jared just guffawed). Nono, don’t get me wrong, I’m competitive in just about everything I do, but this race was just average competitivity. Not enough to trigger that body-altering chemical release that normally rushes through you as you arrive at the race.
The event itself was thoroughly underwhelming. The race was held around a mall. While several mile races were scheduled for the hour leading up to the elite race, I only saw about 100 people cross the line in total. The spectators were grouped solely around the starting/finishing area, and merely numbered in the dozens, most surely family members of previous racers.
This turnout, or lack thereof, shocked me. One of the calling cards of the race was that Jim Ryun was there. You know, the former world record holder and first high schooler to go sub-4?? He’s also been a Kansas congressman! I was sure blessed. It was truly awesome to meet him and hear a few short stories. Oh well, all I can say is Wichita missed out, and the race organizers should probably re-evaluate their avenues of publicity.
Also, the competition was light. Christian Soratos, a 3:55 miler and Frezer Legesse, a 3:54 guy, were the only big guns. An old friend, James Noonan, from my racing past was also actually making his debut after his own 28 month sabbatical. But he’d only been training for a few weeks.
I was able to scout the course the night before, after I landed. It was a nice hump course (my favorite) which means that the first part is uphill and the finish is slightly down. This generally plays into my hands nicely because my long legs can still really eat up ground efficiently when tired. Conversely, I would get annihilated on a bowl course. Uphill running is a serious struggle for these puppies once fatigued.
It made the race plan simple; sit on the two big guns and see what I could muster for a kick!
Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been two years since my last writing, and consequently I expect this post to be of disturbingly poor quality. Hopefully you can discern some semblance of thought from underneath the rust. I’ve plopped myself down in the bustling heart of a coffee shop, beverage and pastry disappearing quickly, full of blogging zeal, aaaand already I’ve deleted more words that I’ve written. (Hell, it cost me half a danish of dead ends just to track down the word “semblance”… and even THAT still feels wrong.)
My return to writing mirrors my lifestyle at the moment. Seems I’ve spent the past two years deviating in various ways, sometimes quite drastically, from the simple train/work/sleep life of post-collegiate, athletic hermitude. But now, almost two years since my last post, and my last race, I find myself extremely content to return to the familiar tranquility and simplicity of hermit life, at least for the time being. But first… Continue reading »
It has been quite some time since I last raced, August 23rd I believe. Since then, I enjoyed two weeks solid vacation time, including my virgin trip to Vegas (that’s every bit worth the trip… Once. And springing for a fountain view room in the Cosmo was the best purchase of the weekend). However, vacation was extended 4 weeks by an uncooperative hip flexor/adductor-magnus and the mild resurgence of Osteitis Pubis it caused. So all in all 6 weeks of no running. Lots of drills and what-have-you after the first two weeks, but no running.
I started back the first week of October in which I believe I got in 25.5 miles, give or take point-5. This is to say I was kinda chomping at the bit to get after it while trying not to repeat the mistakes of ’11. Sanity was kept through a variety of characters in my life and a rush of exciting work. All of this though served to divert my attention and comfort my anxiety.
My first long run was 6 miles. Each week I bumped it 2 miles until I returned to that glorious, habitual 16 miler. I’ve been rocking those for 4 weeks now and my fitness is back to competitive levels in a crazy small amount of time! I finally did rehab right. Continue reading »
This race was a self-inflicted mental catastrophe. The one positive I take from this race was that I really do feel like I had the chance to win the race this day. But as it was I got 5th. Let’s see how it played out…
The first note of importance is that CRIM was a seasonal addon race 2 weeks after what was always supposed to be the grand finale in Pittsburgh. In fact, for 6 months I had planned a celebratory trip to Bethany Beach in Delaware with good group of Williams classmates the day after Pittsburgh. It’s probably the least training-friendly week of the year minus New Years with the same crew. So for about a week I did very little running, a LOT of beach volleyball, a lot of sweating which was sustained through beer and very little re-hydration.
After that it was back to Cleveland for a few days of sleep, and a tuneup workout before a trip up to Flint, MI for CRIM!
I was supposed to head up the night before with my buddy Tony but when that got postponed to the following morning I learned my first lesson: waking up in my own bed in Cleveland the day of a race does NOT put me in the right frame of mind to compete. I struggle just to run mileage back home for vacations and whatnot, let alone get the eye of the tiger. Plus, I was in my sister’s lavender room. Horses, frilly lace, and soft colors everywhere. Doesn’t exactly elicit the kind of animal aggression I need going into a competition. NOTED
Lesson number two was learned when we finally did get into Flint and set out for the shakeout jog. The course preview. While we were running this I was more engaged in conversation than in critical thinking about the road mile route. This is dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Simply evaluating the course would have changed my race.
The last lesson is that I can never, and I mean never, run a simple reactionary race. I don’t think I’ll ever be good enough that I can toe the line in a serious race without really caring, start the race, hold onto the shoulders of the leaders, and when they decide to kick, time my last burst of speed to take them casually at the line. Minimal effort expended. Centro for instance can surely do this in the prelims of the 1500m at nationals. Nick Willis can do this in a US road mile. However, I need to KNOW at what points in a road mile that it’s a strong possibility that a move will be made. I need to be mentally envisioning that move and where I need to be to take advantage of it. Most of all I likely need to preempt that move and be the aggressor. Continue reading »
Another race I wish I had written about immediately afterward, but never had the opportunity to do so, was the Liberty Mile in Pittsburgh. Fortunately, I have much stronger memories of this event than of most I’ve run.
I went into this race pretty pumped with my fitness level, specifically my raw speed (not many times have I been able to crack 25 in the 200m, but I was cruising multiple reps as a precursor to this event). The competition was going to be stiff, but my strategy was simple. Whereas in Charlevoix I was trying to blow out my tubes, and in Michigan I was shooting for time goals, here it was all about that finish line. Who was first and who wasn’t. (Somehow, that perfectly innocent line, while appropriate if I didn’t win, seems to take on an arrogant and egotistical twist in light of the result. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hope to have this problem more frequently in the future). The truly interesting note, for me, is that I swear I felt the same way going into USAs, tuned up and confident. Fortuneately, the weather this time around was more to my liking, 60s and cloudy. And I continue to wonder if the weather truly makes that much of a difference for me. It’s something that’s definitely worth taking note of in preparation for future championships.
The friendliness, accommodation, and hype leading up this race were every bit as inspiring as in Charlevoix or Ann Arbor, so come the 7:20pm gun time I was pumped up! My strides on the other hand were not as crisp as I was hoping for and I distinctly remember remarking that I wasn’t feeling as explosive or well-rested as I would have hoped for on the warmup. Yet another reminder that my pre-race feeling has very little to do with my performance.
Gun goes off and I tuck right in behind the leaders. I had a few targets in this race and I knew the course quite well. The course was a horseshoe and the last 600m was a straight shot to the finish line and I suspected that a strong move would be made by Batty, Clark, or McNamara sometime after the 1000m mark. If I was to have any chance I had to be right on the leader’s shoulder when they move the FIRST time. Continue reading »
This race was an opportunity. After USAs, opportunities for athletes to leverage their fitness and qualify for next year’s national and world championships are non- existant. It’s unbelievable to me how many US athletes travel to Europe to race. There are some races over there that are solely composed of US athletes. I think we can call that “a waste”… I don’t blame the athletes, I would have done the same if I could afford the travel and (this year) the time. Rather it’s the US track & field organization that fails to create the opportunities within the US. Their defense centers around the notion that interest in Track and Field just isn’t there to make the meets worthwhile. Maybe so, maybe so. In fact, I believed this as the truth until this weekend.
This weekend, Nick Willis and the Very Nice Track Club in Ann Arbor, MI managed to organize and flawlessly execute a track race that attracted several THOUSAND to a rural town 20min outside of Ann Arbor. Even more ridiculous, this was for just a single race. 1 mile. 4 minutes long. Thousands of people came out, not to watch a 3+ hour affair, but a single highlight. Now I understand the weight that an Olympic silver medalist brings to the table, but the US now has it’s fair share of distance medalists, and the track and field community would be foolish not to leverage that opportunity. Furthermore, imagine if you could secure a liquor license for a venue. I think professional track racing IS plausible. Just ask Nick…
I, for one, was thrilled to simply have a sanctioned track race in the US against good competition where a 2014 US qualifier was a possibility. A chance to take advantage of my fitness and potentially PR. I LOVE road miles, don’t get me wrong, but that oval track is the ultimate measuring stick.
On the day however, I could not believe the number of people that showed up, surrounded the track, filled the stands, and how much energy they brought! I was inspired warming up, inspired when I was announced, and giddy on the line.
My first real summer of running was after my sophomore year of college. My improvement that year was meteoric until mono choked out my spring season. For the next two years, my seasons distinctly culminated at the NCAA National Championship. But, once I made the decision to go post-collegiate, all of a sudden, a whole new season opened up. The summer season. Europe, and the glory and adventure it promised.
For four years now, I’ve dreamed of crossing the Atlantic with a group of carefree, enthusiastic athletes; crushing races and making memories. But this year the execution eluded me once again.
- Year 1: I returned from NZ, broke, slow, and adventured out.
- Year 2: Injured beyond repair.
- Year 3: Under construction after said injury.
- Year 4: Fit, but deflated and far from carefree.
It could have happened this year, and I believe I would have run well, but the only memories beyond the races I’d run would be of the variety of wood composing the hotel room desks I’d be working at. For the first time in my life, I’m working (albeit unconventional) 40 hour weeks. It sucks. And it’s not ballooning my bank account (yet … it’s all an investment in the future). But I’ve at least found the inspiration to compose a post-nationals racing season within the US, which, it occurred to me, is something I have never done and therefore a step in the right direction! Turns out, after nationals, I discovered how conditioned I’ve become to shutting down after the big race. It was a struggle for 2 weeks.
But thanks to a few fun races right at home in Boulder, the aggression returned! First up was a solid double on the 4th. A 3:49 downhill mile victory (I always knew I was a sub-3:50 guy…) followed by a 4k two hours later, where I had my ass unceremoniously handed to me by Andy Wacker. A week later I ran the Pearl Street mile post-workout and once again failed to make the local paper as 800m specialist Dey Dey trekked up from the Springs to drop the hammer on me in the last 200m. Both were fine races but it still burned me that I couldn’t even win on my own doorstep.
Oct 17 Note: I can’t believe both how late this is and that I actually got it out! Never been more than a week behind on writeups before… Others from the summer series are in various stages of completion. I ended up taking 6 weeks off in total since 8/22 due to burnout, natural disasters, lots of work (I’ll be introducing my new business, FinalForms, soon), and a nagging bitch of right adductor. I think I have it under control now, got all my ducks in a row, and finding my training mojo again. I’m scoping in on 2014!
“Big Rigs” is a verrry special children’s book that a verrry observant Williams captain picked out and is awarded at our verrry official team banquets. Whether to pay tribute to a wobbling, teary-eyed final mile at cross regionals, or to commemorate that steeple lap where limp legs caused the body to “ooze” over the final barriers, or possibly to regale memories of a certain mid-d shuffle so pathetic, full seconds were saved by diving at the line, truth is no one really hears the full commemorative speech over the derisive laughter in the room. The award is sealed in history with the signature of the named defendant on the book’s inside cover.
I’m dying to get my hands on this book again. (I’m not even sure this is the correct cover.)
My rig at Ryan Shay may not be worthy or even receive honorable mention, but I don’t remember ever feeling the lactic burn like I did in this race.
Nationals was a first-world disaster. I wrote about that here. But in the weeks since I had run some record-setting 200s and I was chomping at the bit to get after this summer series I had set up. First stop Ryan Shay!
The sole goal for the race was to HURT. The belief was that I could break 3:55 on a track, but only if that pace was comfortable, and every time I’ve dropped to sea level thus far, I’ve noticed it takes a really hard effort to blow out the tubes and convince my heart that it does not need to hit 180BPM on the first lap. The oxygen is there! Just believe! Continue reading »
Hubba, hubba, hubba…
Took me a while to have the courage to face this writeup. But don’t worry, I’m good. No waterworks all over your nice new shirt.
At the beginning of the year, I didn’t give USA’s too much thought. Heck, I was unsure as to whether I would make the A standard as I planned to be focusing so much on speed work. However, I did know that if I made it, I should have a pretty good chance of doing well (at least better than I should based on my 1500m fitness).
As the year went on, and I realized not only was my speed improving, but also my strength, USAs started to look pretty tasty! I PR’d in the 800m 11 days out, ducking into the 1:49s and it would seem the lead-up was going beautifully… At least better than any other year.
Not much to note in the days leading up to the prelim other than that they switched up the heats 2 hours before the race. It wasn’t much more than an annoyance, and fortunately I had Jay there to talk it out. Therefore, allow me to fast-forward all the way to the beginning of my race. Bottom line is that there was very little to complain about.
My mind was right. The race plan was solid. I had a great opportunity in front of me!
Bang goes the gun and I take my usual time getting off the line, perfectly happy to steer clear of trouble and linger in the back. Continue reading »
Well this post will certainly be lowering the bar for future writeups… Life’s been busy enough recently (between work away from the office and some quality half-altitude training / exploring in Bend, OR) that some of the little luxury and low-priority tasks like napping, friend-stalking, and blogging have slipped to the wayside. I gotta get my thoughts down about this 800m before they slip away forever though…
Glorious group of people for this meet (this trip in general). Kenyon was my true partner in crime, but appearances by Patrick WD and his athletes from Long Beach made my time in Portland pretty memorable and comically relaxing.
Warmup for the race was pretty unremarkable. Same 2 mile jog, leg swings, and 2 fast 120m sprints spiked up before the gun. I think these helped.
The race was very well set up for me for the first 400m. Pulled through by the field in 53.low. Then I believe I went 27, 29 for my next 200s. I was boxed in a little on the 3rd 200m. I wanted to be rolling a little faster by that point. But other than that, even on the final 100m, the race played right into my hands, opening up in lane one for me to move past 5 people! Sadly, I was not up to the challenge and the finish was rather unimpressive.
If I could have run that last 100m with strong, poppy stride I would have been thrilled with this race. As it is though, I’m still pleased with the nice PR and finally some respectable numbers next to my 800m time personal best. Also, this is one of the first times I’ve PR’d in anything running positive splits.
A couple comic notes:
- Note the IRISH boy spotting the field an extra 3m and still getting out to the front after the first 100m… Must have been 12 flat pace from a standing start.
- Somehow our rabbit lasted a whopping total of 250m. Mad props to the guy that took it hard after that…. And still beat me too. Stud.
OK, I told you this was going to be short and unedited. We’ll just have to accept that for now. US national championship 1500m prelims on Thursday! Should be a lot of fun!
Man do I LOVE road miles! While I entertained dramatic visualizations of glorious victory, I would have never thought a podium finish at the Twin Cities Mile in Minneapolis a possibility. Not against this field! Just to crack the top 8, I would have to tangle with an Olympic 1500m silver medalist, a World Champs 800m silver medalist, 2 NCAA National Champions, and several other studs that I had never beaten before! But to the right I offer you proof. Proof of a 3rd place finish. A 3:58.1 mile on the road. And evidence that I can duel with world class competition!
But perhaps even more importantly, I laid to rest a set of fears, questions, and concerns about what is important when approaching a competition… (Feel free to skip past life lessons straight to race play-by-play)
I knew I was coming into this race with an unparalleled level of fitness. Payton Jordan had been such a huge breakthrough. 3:39! But I also had so much left in the tank, so much room for improvement on those middle two laps. I came away from that race with the comforting notion that very few, if any can flat out run away from me at this point. Continue reading »
It’s ironic really that after one of the most memorable races of my career, I’ve been absolutely, flat out buried in work and unable to celebrate or share the experience!
But finally, I’m once again tapping away on a red-eye flight to Boston. Ideally I’d be sleeping but I’m a little to amped at the thought of finally writing this. Also, waiting for me in Massachusetts is a bachelor party for the ages. 40 men blowing out for 48 hours in honor of one Bill Ference. It’s going to be LEGEN…
This will officially be my last post regarding the Dark Ages, colloquially known as the period from July 2011 to May 2012 AD. With a 3:39 1500m I am, as of now, BACK and as strong as I ever was in 2011! And boy does it feel good.
It’s funny that it should happen at Payton Jordan, because it was at Payton Jordan one year ago that my ambition first stirred after 3 months of (blissful) dormancy. I distinctly remember wheezing my way through a 3 mile warmup with my old friend and steepler, Donnie Cowart. I felt somewhat pathetic as I made my way back to the bleachers, while he went on to run a personal best 8:26 that night. I had been right there with him not one year before… As I watched heat after heat of the 1500m break 3:40, fist pumps abounding, I realized I still wanted that. Continue reading »
It has been a stupidly busy past month for me, resulting in a bout of radio silence. And while life isn’t slowing down too much, I’ve at least got a couple race reports for ya (albeit rapid-fire).
CU Jerry Quiller Classic
First up is an 800 at the early season CU Jerry Quiller Classic. I went into this race with the weight of a DNF at indoor nationals on my shoulders and responded by returning to my sit and kick tendencies.
Gun went off and I went straight to the back. I must say, I LOVE starting in lanes. Screw waterfalls. In lanes, no one clips your heels if your stride is too long, and you can eyeball the perfect spot for an entire turn. I came through feeling comfortable at altitude in 56.5 and turned it on with the whole field in front of me. By 150m to go, I had the lead and didn’t let off the gas all the way through the line. 1:52.2. Not too bad. Not a PR but it ended up being a negative split.
Finished up the day with a 4 mile tempo and a 52.0 4×400 split for team Cheetah Lightning (huge fan base. No big deal. I think that’s mostly because of our 6’5″ anchor leg, who’s only known in the racing world as Blackdog.)
3 weeks later I had another opportunity at the same event. Another altitude 800 (incidentally, I was told the common conversion rate for 800s is .7 seconds at a mile high), and another chance to race for the win. I let the race unfold the same way. 56.flat this time through 400 and then went wide on the back turn. This was the first race I felt a little pep in my step on the last 100 and the result was a new PR: 1:51.24 for the win! And if I hadn’t run so wide on that turn it would have been faster. Continue reading »
WTF is this?
This is my little space in which to play. I ramble about what it's like to...
· Run a 3:57 Mile | 3:39 1500m.
· Build sweet websites.
· Live in
Santa Cruz, CA
· be convicted of grammar crimes.
If you're intrigued...
This is what to expect.