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.
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 »
Post-mortum indeed. Something died out there. Let’s play it back and see what happened.
I’ve been pretty excited for US Indoors for several months now. It was a high-profile race with the opportunity to tangle with some good competition at altitude, which I’d expect to give me a bit of a natural advantage training in Boulder. Everyone knew the race was going to be a crawl for 800m followed by a flurry of activity. I had a pretty solid strategy going in to put myself in second with 500 to go and just before the turn, fly around the leader (who was bound to be one of the (relatively) slower guys), and try to gap the favorites.
Leading up to the race all systems were go. I’d been running some great workouts and feeling pretty confident. Some of these workouts had been with a 5k guy, Kenyon Neuman, and one thing I had been noticing is that while our raw speed was fairly similar, I was significantly stronger running 60 second pace. All this despite the fact that Kenyon was, no doubt, stronger aerobically. I’d always known that was my strength but recently I’d been fantasizing a bit about taking the race hard from a long way out and seeing if I could just run a 4-flat at altitude, believing that if I could do that, very few would be able to hang.
Also, the last serious race I’d run was still the USATF Outdoor 1500m trials in 2011, a race that I ran as well as I could but still ended up 6th, not advancing, and left wondering if I could have qualified on time had I taken it from the gun.
All that is to say that I was subconsciously primed to do what I did. Let me be very clear though that it was never my actual strategy, and I did not think I could lead a 4 flat at altitude anyways.
So fast forward to the race. Gun goes off and I got out fairly casually, happy to just settle in somewhere. However, right as the double barrel start was about to come together I realized I was about to be mashed potatoes in the middle of the group. This, I can never do. My stride is ridiculously long and best case scenario I get clipped a bunch. There was also the very real possibility that I’d actually go down. So I surged a little into 2nd and was pretty happy with my spot for about 100m. Continue reading »
Long and tangent-riddled. Whatever. Video below.
I had just finished a nice sunny morning shakeout when, with still sweaty hands, I picked up my phone. I figured I had about 20 minutes to answer any business related calls, emails, texts, etc that required immediate attention before I had to execute my pre-determined itinerary that ended with me at TD’s house in Boston.
Now normally I’m not one for serious planning (a luxury I can afford thanks to smart phones, the internet, and minimal responsibilities), but for this trip I had everything worked out weeks in advance.
See, this was the BU Valentine Invitational Weekend. This was my first mile in 20 months and the stars were aligning for the ultimate track race. I’ve run at BU 6 times. I’ve run personal bests all 6 times. It was 2 years ago to the day I ran 3:58.80 at the same race. I was going to have family there. I was going to have friends there. The Williams track team was going to be there. My best friend and training comrade from Charlottesville was rooming and racing with me. Everything. Was. Perfect.
But what the hell was this? My phone had blown up; all notification icons alight. At first I thought web-disaster. But no. Even worse. Winter storm Nemo had Boston in a tizzy and BU had been cancelled. NEEEMOOOOOOO!!!!! 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.