Beat the Heat and NYC!

Hudge pushing the pace with me and Donnie in tow!

Hudge pushing the pace with me and Donnie in tow!

This last weekend I headed down the mountain to Winston-Salem to run the Beat the Heat 5k. Every year it is the USATF NC 5km Championships, so many of the best runners in the state show up. Among the competitors this year were Donnie Cowart, 8th in the steeplechase at the Trials, and Brandon Hudgins, Semifinalist in the 1500m at the Trials. With these two in the field I knew that it was going to be a good race.

As the name of the race suggests, this year was all about how one handled the heat. At the time of the race (8 pm) the temperature was around 90 degrees and 60% humidity. It was hot to say the least, and it affected the race. Coming in to the race I had not run anything faster than 5:10 for longer than a stride, so I knew the race would be a shock to the system, but that was the purpose of the race. The first mile was around 4:45 and the second 4:50. Just after the second mile, we headed up a long half mile hill and where Donnie and Hudge began to pull away. I quickly realized that my lack of training had caught up to me, and I just wanted to hold my pace. I slowed the last mile and finished in 15:09.

Even though I did not win, the race was a step in the right direction. After eight weeks off, it will always be a long road back. Overall I am content with my effort on Saturday. It was about what I expected given my training. Now I am back to the daily grind of training in the mountains before another race in a few weeks. I do not know what that will be, but I will keep updating every few weeks or so.

Before I change the subject, I would like to thank all the people at Beat the Heat 5k. Er Ralston, the race director, put on a fantastic event. There was so much support for the race! The fans were excited to see a high level race take place and extremely enthusiastic. The volunteers did a great job making sure the race ran smoothly. I know that all of us elite runners are appetitive of the time and effort that goes into putting on a race.

– – – – –

With one race under my belt, I figured it would be a good time to announce my fall marathon. I am excited to say that I will be running the TCS New York City Marathon! This will be my first World Marathon Major, and first time running a marathon against some of the top competition outside the US! But that does not mean there will not be some great American talent there. Dathan Ritzenhein is the headliner for the Americans, having run 2:07, which is the third fastest for an American ever. Also Matt Llano (6th at the Trials), Ryan Vail (2:10), and Christo Landry (Road ace extraordinaire) will be racing. Running against such a strong field makes me excited for my upcoming marathon build up. I know that in the 14 weeks to New York, I can get into just as good shape, if not better, than I was at the Trials. If I can do that I can be competitive against anyone in the field, not just the Americans.

2016 July TCSNYCM16

Track Trials 2016

Four years ago I bought a plane ticket from DIA to PDX with the hope that I would make it into the Trials. Every time I looked at the list, I found myself two spots out (and there was not a Nike athlete behind me for them to let me in). Whether I ran the race or not, I wanted to be there to experience the spectacle of the Trials are, especially at the revered Hayward Field. I ended up watching the 10,000m in the stands, in a pouring rain. At the time I was upset. I knew that I had the ability to be in that race, but did not run the time to qualify. I was a mere 3 seconds away. Instead of wallowing, I went out with friends, schmoozed among other athletes, and ate too many free samples of Chobani. I knew then that I could be there four years later, even though I had no idea what I was doing with my running.

About a month later I visited ZAP, a few weeks after I accepted an offered spot on the team, and another few weeks I was headed east from Colorado. Looking back, I was completely wide eyed. While the world of collegiate track and cross country was so familiar to me, most aspects of earning a living while running were completely foreign. It only took a few races that first fall to realize that the level of competition and the stakes increased significantly, but I knew that I was in a place that could get me there.

During one of my first few weeks at ZAP, Pete and I were doing some outdoor work, and he looks at me and asks, “I want an honest answer. Do you think you can compete with the top guys in four years?” After a few seconds of thought, I responded, “Yes.” While I did not know that would most likely be in the marathon (probably neither did Pete), I knew in four years I could be a different runner. Four years later I was on the starting line of my first Olympic Trials, with the belief that I could make the team. I had accomplished so much, from winning a national title to breaking four minutes in the mile. But mostly I had gone from being a good collegiate runner with potential to realizing how to fulfill that potential.

Finishing 5th was tough, but I knew that in few months was another opportunity to make the team. It was not in what I viewed to be my best event, but I always would think about that conversation I had with Pete nearly four years ago. I believed it could be done then and nothing had happened to shake that conviction. Unfortunately after over five years of being healthy, I was injured at the worst time. There are probably a myriad of reasons that I was hurt, ranging from the lack of sunlight and Vitamin D I got in the winter months to just the simple act of training, but the confidence that I can run with the best in the US is still there. I know that it is a long road back, but it is a road I traveled numerous (too many) times in college. Along examples like Meb and Ritz, who have had many injuries and still managed fantastic and long careers, I can bounce back to be Faster, Higher, Stronger.

Olympic Creed

Since my last blog was so long ago, there has been quite a bit going on in my running. I used the last three months to hit the reset button, both mentally and physically. I took 4 weeks off, with the instructions from Pete to “limit movement as much as possible.” Which ended up me being prone for much of the day. I would watch TV, read, and peruse the Internet. After four weeks, I was able to start a regime of walking nearly everyday, eventually working up to 90 minutes. I had four more weeks of walking before doing my first run, a whole 6 minutes on the Alter G Treadmill at 75% of my body weight! From there I slowly increased the time and reduced the weight until I was able to run a full run outside.

In the eight weeks since I started running, I have built up to over 80 miles this last week and am on my way back to racing again. I will start my season with the Beat the Heat 5k this Saturday in Winston Salem. It is the USATF NC 5k Championships, so there is always good competition. This year is no exception. There are two Olympic qualifiers, Donnie Cowart (finalist in the 3000m Steeple) and Brandon Hudgins (1500m), who are currently in fine form. But mostly I am viewing this as a chance to race again after over 5 months since my last effort.

Beat the Heat will be my start of a series building up to a fall marathon, and so far my schedule looks very TBD. After Beat the Heat, I am looking for another race in mid to late August and one more in September before toeing the line in the Twin Cities for the third year in a row. Once again I will be running the USA 10 Mile Championships as part of the Medtronic 10 Mile. After that will be the marathon, but that is to be announced!

Since I am sure everyone is so interested in what I did to get back from injury, here is a short week by week summary:

May 1-7 Walking ~60 min a day
May 8-14 Walking 70-90 min a day
May 15-21 Walking 70-90 min a day with pool kick or elliptical in PM
May 22-28 Walking 70-90 min a day with pool kick or elliptical in PM, started with two 6 min runs at 72%
May 29 – June 4 10-20 min runs at 75-80%
June 5-11 27-37 min runs at 83-87%
June 12-18 40-50 min runs at 86-90%, two runs with the first 15 min outside
June 19-25 40-70 min runs outside
June 26 – July 2 64 miles, light Fartlek on Wed
July 3-9 78 miles, Fartlek on Wed
July 10-16 85 miles, Workout on Wed

Racing Schedule:
July 22 – Beat the Heat 5k
Mid August – TBD
Mid Septemter – TBD
October 9 – TC Medtronic 10 Mile
Fall marathon – TBA