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This guy Dean

I recently had to speak at a Runner’s Brunch with a few other speakers about my past year and the process of making my “Breakthrough.” Having to look back is always a fun and interesting experience but with this particular experience I was forced to be super critical and succinct in summing up the absolute core of how I made my breakthrough, what exactly was it that made the difference, why exactly did it happen.

I ended up writing this big speech that was a concoction of many of the posts I have made here over the past year and included all the details I felt were defining of how I remember the past year from my perspective.  When it was all put together I came up with a 15 minute speech filled with everything I wanted to “preach” about as important to me. I was worried about presenting my findings because I knew it was way too long and detailed. At the brunch I sat beside a gentleman who was a part of the community running group in town and in the process of talking with him he made a very interesting point that “hey man you lived it, shoot from the hip, talk from the gut, if its genuine in meaning it doesn’t need to be detailed, just tell it like you remember it.” This made sense to me and so when it was finally my turn to speak I ended up deciding to scrap my entire speech and just wing it up there. Long story short the point I wanted to make was simple, I have mentioned it here on my blog before but I’ll give a quick re-iteration.

I’ve tried to figure out what made me so special? I thought about it and decided that there is really nothing inherently special about me, nothing about me as an individual is unique or extraordinary in any way… My “thing” is that I run, but lot of people run, I don’t feel I’m talented because there are far more gifted people than I, I work hard but plenty of people work harder, there just isn’t anything about me that sets me apart as more deserving of a breakthrough than anyone else. I’ve stood beside true greatness and realized how little we have in common, those people have everything I do not. Then I asked myself what I had that they didn’t and the answer to that is what I feel was the most defining feature of my breakthrough. The thing that I have, that sets me apart, that no one else has, was the people in my life, my Family, my training partners, my friends. Having all of them in my life is the only inherently special thing about me, nobody else has that, and when I raced that breakthrough night in, in my opinion, that, them, were the reason that something special happened to me. I used to think breakthroughs were about hard work and dedication, but for years I had been approaching it all wrong. I realize now the key to my breakthrough was being happy, full heartedly truly happy, something I had never fully achieved until now, I found a place that feels like home, I do the things that I enjoy with my time and I surround myself with people who inspire me. I never would have gotten anywhere worth going on my own but I got somewhere special I never expected to be because of all of them, that’s the way my breakthrough happened, and that’s the way it should be.

That is the just of what I talked about, I rambled and vomited out words semi-coherently about how all the people surrounding me each contributed in their own unique and meaningful way to inspiring me to aspire to emulate their greatness and believe that I could one day be just as awesome as they are. All in all me rambling about myself is ok once in a while but I also want to tell you about this other gentleman who spoke at the brunch and blew me away with his awesome story.

This guy Dean, is an older runner who runs with the community group. Maybe something around 50 years old? (Sorry if you find this Dean, you’re still 20 at heart!) Well he didn’t talk so much about a breakthrough so much as about not having one. He spoke about how he aspires to run sub 19 in a 5k and how over the past year he tried several times and failed each and every time. This guy was so modest about his awesomeness talking so intimately about how gut wrenching his failures were that I wanted to go up and give him a big bro hug and tell him how much I understand exactly what he was talking about. People look at me now like im some sort of great runner who only knows how to be good but that is so so wrong. Me and this guy Dean are so much alike. I’ve wanted to run 3:45 for years, it took me failing miserably for seven years to finally do it. Failure and I are close friends; we spend a lot of intimate moments together and I am defined by those failures not my one success. By all “Common” and “traditional” macho societal standards this guy Dean is not a runner, not an athlete, not a success story, and even if he broke 19 minutes on paper he would still be considered nothing special. That’s so fucked! (sorry but the moment called for the language). Dean is a badass, he has zero potential for athletics but he perseveres anyways, he will break 19 minutes and when he does it wont be ability, it will be done based solely on his will and strength of character. It’s all relative, me running 19 minutes for 5k isn’t impressive, me running 15 minutes for 5k isn’t impressive because I have the inherent potential to do that, but me running sub 14 for 5k? That’s impressive because I’m not that inherently capable of it, so if I found it within myself to run that fast then that’s awesome. Dean “completing” a 5k isn’t impressive, Dean running 30 minutes for 5k isn’t impressive because he has the ability to do those things, but Dean running sub 19 for 5k? That’s impressive because he’s not that inherently capable of it, so if he found it within himself to run that fast then that’s awesome. It’s all relative, and long ramble short, Dean is one of the most inspiring runners I have ever met, he is a badass, and while he obviously has my support in his journey to his goal, I don’t really feel he needs it because since he persevered this far, I have no doubt his breakthrough is overdue, but certainly on its way.


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Posted on Sunday, October 6th 2013

Life is an Adventure

This blog counts for the last three weeks of training because basically they are all just a massive collection of miles that have blurred together for me. My main objective since recovering from the car crash has been to get my fitness back under me so that I can tackle my workouts with a fully capable body and we can get back to the all important point in training where all the true obstacles I need to overcome are in my head.

I feel I’m at that point now, this coming week will be my first 80 mile week of the fall and if all goes well there will be several more and maybe even a trip up to 90 if the god of skinny punks allows it to be so. I am in full grind mode and it feels good to be back.

With it being a new year and with all the new horizons I have opened in the past year I have been left pondering what it is I need to commit myself to doing consistently over the long term in order to continue to grow as an athlete and person, and like I said last post the whole point is to be able to tell myself at the end of the year PB or not that I at least committed to doing the things I believed would make me better. So I’ve been doing core, and hurdle drills, and dynamic stretching routines, and am even making some exciting and interesting plans with one of my new coaches about meeting once a week to improve my form efficiency and output. Lots of little things, all good things, and the only real cost is my time I need to spend investing in these activities. So that’s always an interesting question I ask myself, is this really worth the time I’m spending for the reward I’m reaping or should I cut it and concentrate on other things.

I had an interesting meeting with my coach this past week where he didn’t exactly tell me what I thought he was going to say, it took me off guard, but in a good way. I chose him as my coach because we think the same way, the only difference is that he is always a few steps ahead of me. More of less in this meeting I asked him what does a guy 5 or 6 seconds faster than me do that I don’t that I should be doing to get to that point. What I thought he would say is something like “Well you need to do more core, start lifting weights, do more drills, add in plyometrics ect…” basically I thought he was going to tell me I needed to do just a whole lot of little things.  He didn’t discourage me from investing in anything I felt would be beneficial but he instead informed me that I was looking at the question all wrong. The answer to what everyone else was doing was irrelevant because the question should instead be what makes me a better runner. As soon as he said that I realized that’s was probably the answer I would have reached on my own but it would have taken me a little while longer to realize the obviousness of it, like I said he is always steps ahead saving me time.

His prescription on what he believes is most important for me right now is to build up my engine. Last year was about creating an engine and now we are going to ramp it up and give it some power. Simply put my workout load and intensity is going to increase and be my primary focus and it will be these basics of power and endurance that will carry me to the next level and not so much stressing over the little things. He also reminded me that being happy was important to my running, if stressing over little things is going to get in the way of me being happy about what I am doing then we have a conflict. That’s something I constantly think about but it is nice to be reminded of the obvious from time to time.

I am excited moving forward, good things are happening in my life, I am also going to be talking at a runner’s brunch this weekend about my breakthrough season last year. Having to think back on everything that happened got me thinking about how the first journey, the one I just completed was about chasing and achieving something I believed I was possible/capable of doing. Now with old goals accomplished and new ones made the next journey, the one I am just starting, is about chasing after something I never believed I was capable of and seeing where that takes me and what it reveals about who I am. Life is an adventure.

Posted on Thursday, September 26th 2013

the universe giveth & the very next day it taketh away

The past week has had highs and lows on the furthest parts of the spectrum. It started off well with a great birthday Tempo where I surprised myself with one of the best starts to a fall base season I have ever had in a day that concluded with a relaxing ice bath in the river post workout and a stop by the pear tree in the arboretum. Life was good and I couldn’t see how anything could possibly ever go wrong. That was until Tuesday night when I was riding my bike home from work and without warning I was clipped by the mirror of one of those heavy duty ford trucks which caused me to be flipped over my handle bars and sent skidding across the road.

While it did suck and I’m not particularly happy about the incident or the driver who never stopped, I am thankful to be lucky enough to only have sustained minor cuts and scrapes along the right side of my body, however the landing on my right hip after the fall did cause a minor injury that forced me to the sidelines for the rest of the week. In hindsight I can hardly believe how my world can change so drastically in 48 hours. One second I am running one of the best workouts of my life, the next I am lying uncomfortably in my bed unable to move due to the pain. It seems that the universe giveth and the very next day it taketh away.

I can’t be too upset about the whole situation thought, ever since I moved out here a year ago I have had nothing but good luck and fortune. Plus its been years since my last injury which is a blessing although that is mostly due to my vigilance in preventative measures it still requires a bit of luck because even thought I prevented the preventable I could never really expect to prepare for getting hit by a truck. Oh well… I am still forever grateful for how lucky I am for this injury not being very serious and with some proper treatment I am almost back to new a few weeks later.

So I am maybe two weeks behind where I would have liked to be with my fitness but it doesn’t really change much in the big picture. Since my season concluded at the end of July I have been using the time to come to grips with the leap in ability I have made over the past year, I celebrated it, I accepted it and most importantly I made some decisions on what I plan to do next. If you were to go back to the very start of these blog posts you could find that I made my intentions publically known, I was a mid 3:50 guy and I intended on running 3:45, announcing that was a big leap of faith for me. However, as of right now I am going to keep some of my intentions to myself, it’s not that I don’t believe in myself and these new ambitions its just that I’d like to keep some aspects of my life to myself for the moment.

What I will say is that I have made some exciting plans/goals for myself over the coming year. When I first moved out here and had a rough 5 year plans the goal of my first year was never to PB but simply to survive and adapt, obviously things went better than expected. The goal of the second year was to take that newfound adaptation and apply it by attempting to PB from every distance ranging from 400m to 10k. I think that is possible, I believe I am capable of that task, really the only hard part will be lowing my new 1500 pb but absolutely possible. The others PBs aren’t all that fast so maybe its cheating but still it would be a good way to show myself on paper that I have grown not just as a miler, but as a well rounded runner.

That is the main goal for this year, to PB across the board, which to me signifies my growth as a person. Yet last night when I was talking to someone I will call my ‘head game’ coach it got me thinking about how too much emphasis on forcing new personal bests could be a bad idea. What if I don’t do it, would the year be a waste? Yah probably. So how do I approach this with the proper perspective? I feel that the emphasis needs to not be focused solely on the results but instead on the process I use to get there. I want to make sure that if I find myself at the end of the year without a PB to my name I can still say to myself that I did what I believed would make me better and so when I reach the end, whether or not the results say so or not, I am better.

This means the process of training is everything, I have set a few ‘new’ goals for things I want to do with my training, and so if I want this year to be worth anything I need to prioritize them. It’s a culmination of many things that will make the difference a year from now, not done sporadically when its convenient, done all the time, consistently, seen all the way through until the end. A few of these include:

-Average 9 hours of sleep a night
-roll out twice a week
-hurdle drills twice a week-core/strength sessions twice a week
**1 session dedicated to form improvement
**1 session dedicated to general strength
-Form session with coach once a week
-cross training once a week
-take post workout drill to full extent 3 times a week
-dynamic stretching routine done before workouts and after easy runs

It’s not about being anal or too hardcore about being a runner, to me its about deciding what I honestly believe will make me a better runner and person one year from now, and the do myself the courtesy of committing to following through on those beliefs. Maybe it will work, maybe it wont, in the end if I am true to my intentions, PBs or not, at least I will able to say I did what I believed would make me the person I aspire to be.

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Posted on Thursday, September 12th 2013

what kind of man I am

So after two weeks off it seems I am finally back into this whole hardcore jogging enthusiast thing I got going on with my life. My down time away from running was much needed after such a wild year on the grind. The last time I took two weeks off it was such a struggle to contain myself for such a long period of time away from running mainly since it frustrated me to be sitting around being lazy while others were out putting in the miles. I guess I still inherently feel that way but I’ve learned that to make it through the year without getting run down prematurely I need a significant block of time away from it. A new lesson I have learnt is that this is especially the case emotionally, my body lasted fairly well so far into the summer this past year but emotionally when you have so many highs and lows testing your passion for the journey, there are limits believe it or not. It’s not a bad thing, just something I need to work on so that next time around I can handle it all better.

I should also mention that contrary to how my posts may depict it my season did not end with that triple PB week like some sort of majestic last minute hoorah from a fairy tale. I kept going for a few weeks afterwards and it wasn’t as pretty. The week directly after was actually pretty cool, I struggled a bit to catch my breath but I was still in the 3:41 shape from the previous week except I had cleared up my Achilles tweak and felt better than ever. I didn’t have a race to use this awesome place in health and fitness on so instead I played around with it in my workouts and just ran stupidly fast and it was stupidly easy, frankly it was really fun, if this was the end of my season and I just got to have fun making light of hard workouts with my new found fitness then I would take it all at that and be happy.

However I pressed on to test my luck, things looked all right for the following week right up until race day. This is where that emotional limit I mentioned came into play, I had just spent my season running in international caliber races and achieved such unexpected things that I just couldn’t find a reason to get excited about some lack luster local meet. I didn’t want to admit this but I was struggling to search for that spark, everything was just so…meh… I just didn’t feel too jazzed up about the whole deal for whatever reason, maybe I was tiered and my subconscious knew it. My thoughts were that I could try leading wire to wire, but that didn’t spark me. I could try sitting and kicking, but that didn’t inspire me. Or I could try just doing whatever and crush a huge last lap, but while that seemed slightly more appealing I still felt nothing special. I moped around the most of the week pondering and came to the conclusions that #1 I had teammates in the race whom I felt earned and deserved an honest opportunity to run a PB and #2 I spent all week playing around with my fitness and having fun seeing what I can do in workouts so I’ll approach the race the same and attempt to be playful with it. So I went out and tried to help them, unfortunately it didn’t quite work out, plus I ran slow, felt drained, and the funny thing is I didn’t even break 2 minutes in the 800, which is partially because I sucked and partially because I stopped to help my friend up when he hilariously face planted a few meters before the line. So yah…. That happened…

Was I done? I would have thought so… apparently not. Turns out there was this road mile race my coach got me in to and it was a legit chance at a sub 4. I was on the fence about it, I should want this but after the weekend I didn’t know anymore. I told my coach my feelings and in his response he said this :

“You’ll need some time to recalibrate how you view yourself as an athlete after your breakthroughs, and likely have not caught up to that yet. Are you going to run faster than 3:41? Yes. Is it always going to be easy? No. If you’re really and truly over-trained and flat/burnt out, you should not race next week. It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. BUT….you want to think about whether you’re the kind of guy who can get the lunch-bucket out, go to work, and get the job done.”

To him he was apparently saying something like its ok you’re done for now, but to me, well it got me fired up! Holy crap I have a coach who thinks I can do something special, that’s unreal! And he always seems to know what to say to me. Fuck yah I want to run faster than 3:41 and I want it to be hard, what would be the point if it came easy? And damn straight I want to be the kind of guy who can get the job done even on a bad day, I’ve secretly strived towards that in my own mind every day of the past three years. In the end I decided I was going to 100% give this mile a shot, not to break four, but instead, after all I’ve been through this past year and all my recent good days I wanted to see how I would handle a less than ideal situation where nothing was guaranteed and the momentum wasn’t in my favor and face it head on full heartedly in order to see what kind of man I am.

So it was set I was in the race, I was committed to the race, and somehow I had ignited a new spark of fire out of the embers of my fading season. Well now that I got your attention and your dying to know what happened I should inform you….. that it didn’t. I never made it to the race. Travel plans were crazy and after putting in days of hard work trying to piece together a way to the race and when all seemed like it work out at the last minute it all fell through. I don’t even know what to say about it but that’s what happened to me in the final weeks of my season.

So the triple PB week happened, then all of that I just mentioned, and then I took two weeks off, and now here we are, starting anew. I meant for this post to cover more about what my ambitions are for the coming year and the exciting new additions I am making to my training regiment and life but I guess that will have to wait until next time. For now I’ll leave the story here and let it digest and the next time you hear from me I will only be looking forward, the view ahead looks pretty good, I’ll tell you about it soon!

In the mean time you can always check out more posts here…

Posted on Wednesday, August 21st 2013

but fuck it! What’s the point if good times aren’t part of the process?

The events of the past week have been so wild and indescribable that I am at a lost of words to explain what has gone on in my life. So I’ll try an be objective and simply tell the story as is of what transpired during this seemingly random week in July.

Coming off a solid yet emotional weekend at Nationals I headed home to get back to the grind and prepare for what I believed to be my one last shot at a PB in the 1500. My season was coming to a close for a guy like me as there wasn’t any more chances to run faster than 345/150 range in my area. This was cool in my book and I understood my position and was excited to make the most of it, one last shot… or so I thought. On the Wednesday of the week after nationals and 10 days out from my intended race I received an email from my Coaches asking me if I wanted to go out to the west coast for a 3 race series and be a part of some incredible fields, if I said yes, they would get me in. This sudden turn of events caught me off guard, I mean I knew these races existed but I was under the impression they were still out of my league. To add to the confusion of the moment I had no money and I needed to come up with the funds to get myself out there, plus I worked 5 of the intended 7 days of the trip and needed to get out of that. They allowed me 24 hours to get my life in order and decide and somehow in an incredible turn of events of which I owe to so many awesome people I found myself on a last minute flight out to the west coast! Turning 1 last opportunity into 3 was a pretty lucky turn of fate, having people believe in me enough to give me this opportunity was pretty unbelievable, and how this all ended up turning out is something else entirely.

The adventure was to consisted of 3 races in 5 days, Monday a 1500, Wednesday an 800 and Friday another 1500. I had a rough plan outline, as in I knew when and where my races were, but all the other details such as food, transportation and shelter were all up to me to sort out on the fly. Luckily the West coast is filled with awesome people and a great public transit system so things just seemed to work out.

The main goal for the week wasn’t so much to PB as it was to run in the 345 range again in order to prove to myself that I was not a one hit wonder. The first race was more than just an opportunity to do this, I was a little frazzled leading up to it with all the craziness of organizing my way out there but I was able to center myself and get into the zone on the start line. I got right into the mix off the line and ran with enthusiasm. However, an unfortunate turn of events in the days leading up to this race my Achilles was really bothering me, therefore while I did run with intent, in hindsight I realize there is a chance I may have held back in the sense that I was running like a man who still had two races to go in the week. Regardless I still actually ran 3:44! Another PB! This left me in a weird place post race… I had actually already accomplished my goal and then some for the week, and with two races still on the docket I needed to come up with some new goals and fast!

Before I get into race #2 I feel its worth mentioning my Tuesday. I accidentally ran into an old friend from high school on Monday who was now living out on the west coast, he had the day off on Tuesday and offered to run with me and show me around town. I was supposed to only run an easy 5 or 6 miles, however the conversation, company and sights were so good we cruised around for 9 miles and it was probably the best part of my entire week as hard as that may be to believe after you hear how the rest of it goes. If someone where to tell me that my longer run on Tuesday cost me a second or two off another PB I would absolutely do it again, that’s how great it was to run around seeing great sights and laughing endlessly about old times, seriously I had a blast and we even explored the city and had beers at a pub by the water (also probably not conducive to PBs) but fuck it! What’s the point if good times aren’t part of the process?

The race was probably the least exciting part of my Wednesday, I ran another PB (#2 of the week) of 1:50 for 800m and if I had to describe the race I would say… it was frustrating. What’s frustrating about a PB? Well it was my Achilles again, I was worried about it before the race, wondering if I could even finish without causing serious damage. I knew I probably couldn’t switch into kick mode so I would need to maintain an aggressive pace for as long as I could in order to give myself a chance. I did this going through with splits of 25, 52, 119 and then… my achilles locked up and I had to hobble in watching a completely within grasp 1:48 slip out of my grasp. It was both exciting to see that potential within myself yes rattling to be physically unable to act upon it when it was right in front of me. Yet that is not even the story of the day.

Before the PB, first I needed to get to the race, unlucky for me everyone who I initially knew going out there backed out at the last minute, so I figured out how the public busses and trains worked and made my own way.  As I purchased my ticket for the train out there I was made aware of a service advisory indicating this would be a one way trip, for whatever reason on this day there was no trains coming back, meaning that I would be stranded. But I came out here to race and there was people back home who believed in me enough to send me out here so I said fuck it and hopped on a one way train to the middle of no where. After my race I still had no way back to my base camp city about an hour and a half-ish away. As I stood there clueless of what to do next on the infield I noticed that a guy currently running in the 1500m was wearing a singlet from a track club in the area I was staying, so after the race I creepily waited around for him to finish his cool down before I walked over and had a really awkward conversation. “Hey I noticed your singlet and I was wondering if there was any chance you are headed back into the city tonight? I swear I’m not a serial killer or crazy or anything, I’m just stranded without a hope…” Turns out this guy is the coolest dude on the west coast, not only was he super nice and not creped out about the whole thing but he graciously gave me a ride back into the city and taught me how to use the public transit system in order to get back to where I needed to be. I owe him big time for saving me when I was stranded and I couldn’t be happier having met such an awesome dude.

So all of this craziness leads me to the end of my week. I had to take a bus, train, and fairy to get to my final destination but in the end it seemed to work out for the best. Before we get to “the point” I feel its worth mentioning my gratitude to yet another amazing person i met on the west coast, she is an Olympian in her own right, member of my club and all around one of the most inspiring and awesome people I’ve ever met. She offered to shelter me, she cooked me an awesome dinner the night before my race and made me a smoothie the morning of and drove me to the race itself. I don’t know how I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people but at the very least I’m forever grateful.

Initially I was in the slower heat of the 1500 but it turned out that one of my coaches, who was in Russia of all places dealing with a whole other world of his problems, was busy sending emails and putting his own name out on the line in an attempt to get me into the fast heat. I don’t know why he did such a crazy thing for someone like me but it’s hard to describe the feeling of gratitude you experience when someone risks their own credibility just for you to have one last shot at running a something special. I was in a heat of guys trying to run between 3:36-3:42, it was insane to ponder so I just didn’t. I was really worried if I would even be able to finish the race with my Achilles throbbing so again I intended to hang on as long as possible and try not to rely on a kick to get me to my goal of maybe trying to run 3:42… I actually didn’t fully believe I could do it but it was my last chance of the season so why not try and do something ridiculous right?

This is how it went… First lap was quick but I felt good (59) , second lap was another 59, I could feel myself slipping so I relentlessly attacked the third lap telling myself “not yet, not yet” trying to keep from falling off too soon. When we hit the bell I looked over to the clock and it read 2:41. I just had to run a 61 to run 3:42, I can do that! So I went after it, I had to pass a pack of 3:40 guys on my way, which was super weird, but I was on a mission. I tried to kick but the Achilles said no so I just kept pushing the best I could. The clock was not running as I crossed the line and the only thing I could see was one of my teammates standing in the finish area with her eyes wide and her hands over her mouth in a shocked stance, I didn’t know what I ran, I thought it was probably a PB and I assumed her reaction was a good sign so I keeled over exhausted from a week of 3 races in 5 days and simply was happy to be in a moment where good or bad I gave it all I could, not so much for myself but to honor the believe all the people who got me this far for some reason seemed to have in me.

Maybe something like ten minutes later I strolled over to the results posting and looked up my time. It was a strange sight and I found myself laughing at the absurdity of the number I saw. 3:41.69. Who would thunk it right? Who would have thunked it indeed…

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Posted on Monday, July 29th 2013

he just laughed at the absurdity of the moments past

Now that we are caught up on the life and running times of Juice, here is the story of how nationals went for me….

This is actually my first ever track nationals, I’ve been wanting to qualify for one for years now, you can even look back to my May of 2012 posts to read about some foolish failed attempts at trying to qualify. Back in the start of spring our club manager sent out an email recommending we purchase our tickets at the time, as they were cheap. However even after how great my training had been going and despite how inevitable it seemed that I would qualify, I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger to book the tickets because I’ve been saying I’d qualify for years and never did it so I reserved the right to be a skeptical until I did it. Once I managed to secure my spot on the line at nationals came the task of finding the funds to get myself there now that the tickets had doubled in price. Without getting into the flattering details I actually don’t have much money, most of what I earn at work goes to food, so what I ended up doing was re-budgeting my grocery list in order to scrape together enough together to finance a ticket to the big show! So for a few weeks there bare necessities was the name of the game, funny fact of the day is that my mom gets really mad at me when I jokingly tell her about these moments in my life in hindsight, but this life was my choice and I take pride in that life isn’t easy all the time but I work hard to earn the right to do the things I love on my own terms.

While you would think this struggle would make me stronger and hungrier to make something of the moment since I am fit and sacrificed to get here, it kind of almost backfired on me. What happened to me was a near meltdown on the warm up track before my 1500 heat. My thought was “What the fuck am I even doing here? Why should I even bother? I’m the second to last guy to even qualify for this, that means there are over a dozen guys way better than me and only 12 spots in the final, none of which I deserve. Plus this is bound to be a slow tactical race, so I not only wont make the final but I just spent weeks starving myself just to get here and run slow. I just felt like I had no control of my situation, I couldn’t control the world around me, I couldn’t control my fitness, and I couldn’t even control my own head.”

As I freaked out standing by the fence of the warm up track, my coach came up to me and asked “are you ok?” He caught me off guard and I remember that the first thing I tried to say came out as mumbling gibberish, I slightly regrouped for take 2 and told him how I felt I had no control over anything. One unique trait my coach has is that he has an inability to lie, he will never bother to say anything to you if he doesn’t whole heartedly believe it to be true, I think he is this way because he is such a busy man that he just doesn’t have any spare time to keep track of any bullshit so he instead just sticks to the basics. What he said next snapped me out of my self-sabotaging daze.

He told me he gets it, that he understood the math I was doing in my head, there are better guys, tactical situations, all of that and he acknowledged there were plenty of logical reasons to think that they are better than I. He let me acknowledge the legitimacy of my thoughts one last time and then that was that, it was time for the reasons I deserved to move on. He reminded me of the monumental task of spending the past 8 months on the grind and all of the post workout drills I did while exhausted or how I was able to keep up with Olympians during long days on the trails and how I ran a 50 second 400 at the end of one of the hardest workouts he has ever assigned the group and it was because I can do something like that that I am dangerous even among a field of my betters. In his own way he reminded me I am in control of how I choose to compose myself when the gun goes off.

So… The race went well, I spent the warm up repeating to myself I am in control and I am dangerous and as silly as that sounds at the very least it prevented any negativity to slip back in. I ran as good of a tactical race as I could ask for and with a few well timed moves I was into the final. One casualty of the moment was a training partner of mine who was racing in his home town in front of his family, as we came across the line and I looked back I could tell by the look on his face that he had failed to make it on. I felt bad, really bad, I know how special running in the final would have been for him, and in a way I feel that I robbed him of a well deserved spot, I actually haven’t spoken to him since, I feel compelled to apologize next time I do.

After the race when I was heading back to the warm up area to pick up my bag my coach was wandering past, saw me, and proceeded to yell “Are you fucking with me man?!?” I laughed, shrugged and said I didn’t think so and he just laughed at the absurdity of the moments past. I thought I was past such mental obstacles but it seems not, I guess they never really go away and if anything they just get worse, however while the fear and insecurities may never cease I can take comfort in the fact that I am also growing stronger in overcoming them and on the days that I’m not I’m at least surrounded by people who remind me that I can be. Three cheers for that!

The final moment of the weekend was the 1500 final, I was much more confident going into this race, I was even optimistic that the race might even yield a PB opportunity since I was the slowest guy in a field of Olympians and sub 4 milers. My hopes were dashed early as I somehow found myself in the lead 200m in and leading all the way to the bell. It was a less than desirable situation but I feel I handled it well, I covered moves, warded off intruders, kept positioning, and held off anyone from messing with me. I would say I made 9 out of 10 tactical decisions correctly but in the end I was unable to detour a move from all sides and as a result the entire pack swallowed me up. I may have still closed well in 56ish? But still got rolled up by a bunch of guys, oh well, I still have lots of room to improve and its motivating knowing that much.

In the end, after it was all was said and done my one lingering thought is… fuck that was an unnecessary emotionally taxing experience. I basically only ran as fast as I did in high school two times in a row and physically I feel fine, but holy geez that is too much emotional stress packed into one short roller coaster ride of a weekend, it was a worth experience but I am glad its over.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 10th 2013

the ballsiest next 1100 meters I’ve ever witnessed

After rekindling my self belief in the remainder of my season I set my sights on what’s next. Due to my desire to run a fast 800 in hopes of snagging a new PB I actually made the controversial decision to forgo a great opportunity to run in a loaded sub 345 race, this choice probably didn’t seem logical but it felt right.

What happened was that I ran 150.9ish for 800 but due to the timing system mucking up they had to re watch the video for the times and had to add .24 to my time making it 151.1 which was a mild bummer, but whatever, it was a PB and actually a big confidence booster because it seemed so easy. However this was not the highlight of my night… Earlier in the evening a friend of mine raced a 1500, I once mentioned him before in a post about how he cheered me to a 3k pb so I did my best to try and return the favor, he was trying for his first sub 4. So what happened was that after the pace was too slow over the first lap he muscled out the ballsiest next 1100 meters I’ve ever witnessed, he poured his heart and soul and guts out on the track in front of everyone, it was almost indescribable to see someone run like that. He unfortunately actually fell short of his goal, and maybe wasn’t even in that sort of shape at the time but he certainly ran like it… Fuck it was awesome. This was the 2nd time I’ve witnessed a friend of mine run like that in the past year and it just reminds me that if I could just find it within myself just once to run like that, my entire running careers would be worth it.

The 800 PB was not the end of my week, on Friday I also did something unexpected, we ran this unreal workout of 600, 200, 500, 150, 400, 100 at 95% effort, aka fucking not comfortable, and sure enough got my shit kicked in for the first two thirds of it. Even thought I was rolling through the first 400s of the 600 & 500 reps in 54 & 52 I was still getting dropped by my group. After the second set I realized that the only logical way I could properly progress in the workout was to set a new PB in the 400… game on. I felt terrible in every way but I’ve been secretly wanting to try and PB in a 400 all season and so told myself the opportunity to do so was right here and now, like it or not, so put up or shut up. I set off the line with authority and crushed it! 50.64! hot damn! It’s a unique feeling to PB in a workout, and it was my second PB of the week coming off that shitty week just before. With nationals just around the corner it was almost as if everything was coming together.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 10th 2013

I may have been thinking that I had accidentally fucked up

My last update was a happy one, I had finally achieved a goal I’ve been working towards for years, a big PB and lots of excitement of knowing there is more yet to come. Well after this high came a rather unpleasant low, three big races in 7 days had left my body destroyed during a week I had initially planned to be a big week of training. In hindsight I should have realized this didn’t make sense but I’m still learning, luckily this padawan learner has a wise master whom to seek wisdom from during these dark times.

I went in to chat with him one morning with a handful of questions, which included:
-How to best manage myself for the rest of the season?
-How to go about aiming to make the 15 final at nationals?
-I want to run a fast 800, does that make sense right now?
-How to snag those last few seconds off my 15 PB he believes I can still claim?
-How to sharpen myself into the necessary form for the rest of the season?
-How to get the most out of what’s left of my training time for the season?

When I sat down with him I started about telling him how awful I’ve been feeling since my PB run, to be honest I may have been thinking that I had accidentally fucked up my season by peaking early and be screwed with weeks left, its happened before and I was having a melodramatic moment. I think that my coach may have sensed the worry in my voice because he was quick to dispel any such sentiment. The weird thing is that he admitted that something was wrong, but it was his fault, he told me that we may have overreached slightly in my training but it was him who asked those things of me. I just want to take a second to mention to anyone reading this how rare of a quality this is in a coach, I don’t think it’s a fault in the slightest and is probably the one thing that separates good coaches from great coaches. With that said it probably was more my fault than his, if you read back in my posts about the week before my PB when I had 3 monster workouts it would make sense that is was more my pushing beyond my limits when I should not have rather than my coach being at fault for assigning good workouts. Either way he told me what the problem was and then prescribed a solution, that solution was to simply forget any numbers I had in my head for my running this week and simply run however I felt like. So simple yet so effective, I couldn’t tell you my mileage of splits for the next few days but I can tell you I had some pretty fun runs and felt like the old me by the end of the week. He also preemptively answered all my other questions without me having to ask anything and gave me some pretty inspired advice but I’m going to keep some of that to myself for now… sorry!

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Posted on Wednesday, July 10th 2013

being allowed to wear a cotton t-shirt and not being clinically insane

This is a post that has been years in the making. Way back in grade 11 after I ran a big breakthrough race with an 8:38 3km while I was sitting in the infield catching my breath my coach came up to me with a rare big smile pasted on his face. Yes he was shocked I made such a breakthrough from a previous PB of something like 8:55 but he seemed to of known something I didn’t about myself. This highlight of this conversation came when he told me he thought I could one day run 3:46 for the 1500m, not right then, but eventually. That was huge for me, to have someone believe in me like that, he was so proud of me that day that he gave me this navy blue meet t-shirt he was holding, this seemingly meaningless piece of cotton became the most meaningful material “thing” I’ve ever owned. Ever since that shirt has hung in my closet collecting dust awaiting the day that I could live up to his expectations.

Well it took me one more year than anticipated, but I did it! Last Saturday night on a cold random night I ran a big new PB of 3:45 for 1500m! In my defense I feel I could have done it last year but due to circumstances of never earning myself the opportunity to do so I just didn’t get it done. But yeah the real prize of the moment is having some small confirmation that I’m not as delusional as I was starting to believe I was which was nice. I understand runners need to be a bit delusional in their self believe in order to get anything done but after a few years of saying I would do something and falling wayyyyy short, I was rather fearful that I was off my rocker and worried that since I was so off in analyzing my abilities I may have been wrong about many more things. It’s just a nice feeling to wake up in the morning and realize you are not crazy. The race itself was a wild and fun ride, splits were: 56,159,300,345. The random thoughts that go through my head during my races would make you think my mind is a circus, which isn’t untrue. I was having a little too much fun out there and these crazy thoughts were probably aided by the fact that I was listening to Muhammad Ali before hand.So aside from being allowed to wear a cotton t-shirt and not being clinically insane, I also qualified for my first Senior Nationals!

I’ve also been talking about breaking out of the timid and insecure shell of my former self for some time now and I guess it finally happened. So what pushed me to take a leap of faith? Obviously it’s a collection of things but in particular I recently heard this idea that didn’t mean much to me the first time I heard it but after having it rattle around my head for a week something just clicked and made sense to me. “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you… and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” I tend to be a timid and polite person, or at least try to be, when I think about it I guess I often inconvenience myself to avoid bothering others. I always thought that was a good path to take in order to make the lives of those around me better.

The other week I was watching two of my teammates run a 5k and saw a good example of this theory in action. Both are also fairly timid people, both are also uber talented in ability and strength of character. One is a Junior the other a frosh and during this 5k the Junior faced her own fears and made big move after big move, doing everything right to give herself a chance to succeed while the Frosh just clung on for dear life. The Junior ran out of gas in the last lap but I feel like her valiant effort inspired the frosh to try and emulate the effort as she kicked in a big finish to run a huge PB! “and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” It was almost as if they raced to prove a point to me haha. Good on both of them, they earned something well deserved for themselves, all the while actually inspiring me to try and emulate their fearless spirit in my own race which resulted in a big breakthrough PB for me.

P.S. if you haven’t yet check out my snazzy new site

Posted on Monday, May 27th 2013

something else, something more

These days I train with a pretty surreal group of people, they are good, really good but I have run with good runners before, and these people are something else, something more. It’s almost impossible to explain their level of capability to you in words so all I can really do is share with you some examples of my interactions with them. Fortunately my last week of training was probably one of my best and each of my three workouts I had a different experience with a different runner but in each case I left the track wondering what I had just witnessed.

Monday was a tempo/fartlek sort of day, the workout assigned to us was 10minutes of progression tempo followed by 5x3mins and then three 400m hill sprints. Minimal rest. Our group is large but at this time of year with everyone scattered across the globe racing the group on any given day is a different mixture. On this day while we had a group of many capable runners the man in the lead was a 1500m Olympian, he set the tone, the thing is though that his ‘playful’ tone may mean hang on for dear life for the rest of us, and that’s sort of what happened. I was feeling good so I actually was rotating the lead with him for about a 50-50 share of pace setting, this was all good and great but I was working my butt off and I figured he was too. On about the 3rd 3minute rep he took the lead and his demeanor baffled me. He was breathing hard but it was almost as if he had a smile on his face and his mind was off thinking about funny jokes, and then he surged, not because he was a dick, not because he deliberately wanted to run faster but it seems almost like he had this reserve or well of energy swelling up from inside of him just trying to get loose. If you could watch this guy run day after day like I can you would see this in him as well. He is undoubtedly good because he works hard, but then there is something else inside of him that makes him great, he can run at a higher level with a smile on his face not by forcing himself to but simply letting his instincts take over.

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Posted on Monday, May 20th 2013