The rise, the peak, and the fall. A year in review.
Winning is everything. Second, ninth, one hundredth, they're all the same. Outside of your close knit friends and yourself, you can have mini milestones, personal records, breakthrough performances, disappointments and failures that your ride or dies will take notice. But toe the line as the winner, everything changes.
(Part 1 - linked here)
A week after the US track championships, I dove straight into Tinman training. No gimmicks, nothing hard, nothing easy, just a well-balanced and scientific approach to training. In previous training plans, I'd make an emphasis on establishing a build, base, and peak phase. Where each phase had specific training components that would help me peak for a race down the road. Tinman's training was more of a hybrid training plan where we implemented all components of a build/base/peak training philosophy at the same time, which allowed me to feel sharp and mechanically efficient all year round. This was a completely new experience for me and for the first time in my life I didn't feet burnt out I felt ready to race on any given day. An idea that would have seemed mystical to me back in the day. Every week I'd see a gradual improvement, while remaining fresh. Everything was feeling easy and I was getting fast but I didn't really know how fast.
My first test was at the US 10 mile championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To say I was excited to test out my new fitness was an understatement. When the gun finally went off, I didn't hold back and took the field out in 9:05 through two miles (Strava). Heck, my high school PR in the two mile was 9:14. I was feeling fast… Super-fast. Never in my life had I felt so effortless. Ever since I had graduated college, I made the big hairy audacious goal to place top ten at a US championship event. Today was going to be my day!
With about a mile and a half left to go, my body began to form its own opinion on how the day was going to go. Side cramps started taking over and I had to unfortunately slow down to salvage my race. I've had a long history with cramps and they always seem to come at the most unfortunate time. Today was no different. I had to watch as my top ten place slipped away and waltzed in at 13th overall. I was disappointed but also energized with my performance as I had set a personal record by over a minute and knew there was a lot left in the tank if my body held up.
Back to the grinding stone I went.
A month after the US 10 mile championships, I got a second chance to test my limits at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. I had just completed the best week of training in my life and workouts were finally clicking after 14 weeks of grinding. I knew I was due for a breakout day.
My goal going into the race was to run sub 63:20 which would put me under the Olympic Marathon trials standard of 64:00 and beat my personal record of 64:08. I was also fortunate enough to be racing with my former college teammate Reed Fischer who was gunning for 63:00 in his debut half marathon. I figured I would try to hang onto him as long as I could to accomplish my mission.
To save you all the boredom, it wasn't until mile 10 of the half marathon when my swag was born. I was hanging onto Edwin Kibichy and Reed Fischer as we crossed the 10 mile marker about 10 seconds off of 63:00 half marathon pace (4:48 per mile) after being on pace all race. A stroke of adrenaline hit me to get us back on pace so I took off and started clicking off 4:44 miles to get us back under. The faster I progressed, the better I felt. Never in my life had I felt so strong. Mile 11 4:44, Mile 12, 4:37, mile 13 4:35 (Strava) before breaking the tape in a new course record of 62:39. I was bigger and badder than I had ever imagined. I was back.
Shortly after the race, my agent called to congratulate me on my performance and gauge what this performance meant for my goals at the US marathon championships taking place a month later. I couldn't contain my newly discovered ego and confidently said I'd be going for the win. I even called a victory in a rabbit press release the week before the race. The big headed brogan was back.
Never has running not been a part of my life or my identity. As soon as I was able, my dad mapped out a mile route for me to run and thus began the creation of my identity. Even while I was a baseball player, student, wrestler, coworker, or friend I was always identified as that guy who runs by my peers. An identity that I can't escape and an identity that I whole heartedly embrace.
I built my whole life around one characteristic only to find out that characteristic can fade away. I struggled and fought to bring that identity back for years only to dig a deeper grave through over-training. I was a nobody. My identity had vanished.
Seven years of a relentless pursuit to bring that identity back. I faced the struggle day in and day out. I failed for over 2,555 days. Over time, I found new outlets to define who I was through work, hobbies, friends and family but deep down I had a vendetta to prove what I was capable of. I knew I was better than my results and I was going to damn well prove it. You can talk about being a great runner all day but you better damn well prove it (Bare your fruit!)!
I was finally able validate all those years of hard work at the US marathon national championships.
Welcome to the greatest 6 minutes of my life: https://youtu.be/1atLTMga7gE?t=7429 (start at 2:03:51)
This race was something much bigger than a national title. This was a pursuit of finding me again. If I had given up on my pursuit, I never would have experienced the greatest moment of my life.
"if you give up on your dream, you'll never know when your next big breakthrough is about to happen."
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