TSC New York City Marathon

Last Sunday, I toed the line for my third marathon and my first World Marathon Major. I was excited to be in New York City for the second time, but this time I was running the entire course. I arrived on Wednesday, and the first few days were spent hanging out in the hotel and fulfilling media duties. They were fairly laid back, as I knew I would need all my reserves of energy come Sunday.

Coming up First Ave with Patrick Smyth and Jon Grey. They fans were awesome at this point!

Coming up First Ave with Patrick Smyth and Jon Grey. They fans were awesome at this point! Photo Credit: Tim Meigs

From the gun, it seemed like the race was going to be fast. The first mile is up the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that spans the Narrows and connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn, so the initial 5:20 split is deceiving. Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Llano went to the front and kept the pace honest. They actually had a bit of a gap at one point in the first couple of miles, but by the time we left the Bridge the pack had reformed. It stayed that way for another three miles, until the leaders through in a quick mile and I found myself in the back of the pack with Jon Grey. We looked at each other and he said he did not want to follow them. Knowing that was the correct choice, we decided to run together.

Over the next ten miles, we clicked off a consistent 5 minute pace, and began to reel in people dropping from the lead pack. Eventually we crested the Queensboro Bridge and headed onto First Avenue. Which was an awesome experience. The amount of fans on First Ave was incredible. People were lining the course over 5 deep and it went on for miles. This was the point of the race that Pete had stressed keeping in control. I can see how it would be easy to get carried away with the energy and run too fast. I was able to ride the wave of support in to the Bronx, where things began to fall apart. Nearly every mile after entering the Bronx was slower than the previous.

Looking back, I understand why New York is a seen as a tough course. Excluding the first two, the first 15 miles are not terribly hard. Some slight ups and downs, and not many turns. Once you hit the Queensboro Bridge, everything changes. You are confronted with a big hill and no fan support. Then on First Ave, the fans will carry for a few miles, even though it is slightly uphill. But in the Bronx, there are lots of turns and ups and downs to throw off your rhythm. After the Bronx you cross the Harlem River back into Manhattan. But there is no relenting; the hills keep coming. If you go out too hard at New York, you will pay for it in the last few miles.

In the last four miles, every time I would try to pick it up, my hamstrings would begin to cramp and I would have to shorten my stride. Knowing that there had to be people falling off the main pack, I remained persistent in the hopes that I could catch someone. Unfortunately I was only able to catch one person in the last half of the race.

Thoughts

In Central Park. All I can say is "Pain Train." Photo Credit: Eric Wheeler

In Central Park. All I can say is “Pain Train.”
Photo Credit: Eric Wheeler

Every marathon, every race for that matter, is a learning experience. The biggest take away from this one is to keep the first half even more contained than I would think. It would have been easy to throw caution to the wind and at mile 5, surge with the leaders. There would have been good justifications in doing so. I would have had a solid pack to run with and block the headwind and I could have turned my brain off and just ran. But with Pete having preached patience for the last month, I knew that waiting was the best option. Fortunately I had someone who was thinking the same thing, so I would not have to run alone, which made the decision much easier.

Even though I made the better rational decision to slow down, as seen by how many people I passed, it was not nearly enough. Looking back at the race, I should have stuck with Tim Ritchie and gone through the half at 66:12. In doing so, I think I would have run faster and been more satisfied with my race. A good example of a solid, measured effort is Ben Payne. Coming through half way in 67:36, he closed well over the hills of Central Park to finish 9th in 2:15:36.

With all that said, it was a good experience going out around that 65 minute mark for half. The next step in my career is to run under 2:10, and the way to do that is be around 65 minutes half way. After I dropped back with Jon, we were able to find a good rhythm around 5 minute pace. Besides the 12th mile, where we started to catch guys falling off the lead pack, we ran a consistent effort. The slower miles would be more uphill and the faster ones downhill. Being comfortable early in the race is the key to running fast in the marathon. I just have to look at my first at Twin Cities. I went out in a slow 67:45 and came back in 65:45, which the last 10km was in 30:45 (2:09:45 pace!). It is no surprise that my PR is still from there.

From here I am taking a break, but will be putting on the spikes in a few weeks for Club Cross Country in a few weeks. While I have had a love hate relationship with cross country through my career, there is nothing like lining up along side your teammates in one of the few team competitions we get to run as post-collegiates. Then I will take a solid winter training block before gearing up for a spring track season. Since I missed last track season because of stress fracture, I feel like I still have more room to improve on the track. I know that I have not topped out my potential in both the 5000m and 10,000m. But before I step on the track, I think a few months of base training will help me get to that next level.

Thanks

In Central Park again. Just trying to keep it all together the last mile. Photo Credit: Tim Meigs

In Central Park again. Just trying to keep it all together the last mile.
Photo Credit: Tim Meigs

As I have done with all my big races, my final section is dedicated to show my gratitude to people and companies who have supported me. First I would like to thank the New York Road Runners. They clearly know how to put on an event, and it shows. The staff is willing to make the race the best experience possible for every runner, whether they finish first or last. And a big thanks to all the volunteers that took the time out of their weekend to make sure the event ran smoothly.

I mentioned the fans along First Ave earlier, but there was hardly a spot on the course that was with out any at all. Peter Ciaccia, the president of NYRR, says that the New York City Marathon is, “New York’s Biggest Block Party.” He is right about that. It seems like the city shuts down for the race, and everyone lines the course.

As it has been the last four years, Pete, Zika, and everyone at ZAP Fitness have given their uncompromising support. They have allowed me to focus mostly on getting the most out of my running, and in turn I want to perform the best that I can at every time I put on the ZAP singlet.

There are also my sponsors I have to thank. Reebok, Soleus Watches, Generation UCAN, and Flynn Sports all make this journey of mine much easier. Whether it is giving me awesome training gear to timing me to fueling me to getting me into races, they have made it much easier for me to just enjoy my time running.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my fantastic girlfriend, Nicole. She has encouraged me through out this build up. She understood if I needed to go to bed earlier, or even if I just needed some time alone to recharge. Now I get to be the support for her as she gets ready for her marathon in Houston.

Lastly I want to thank my parents. They have supported me since day one, even though I beat my dad. They both see my pursuit of running as a worthwhile endeavor. Plus they get to travel all over to see me race, so there is something they get to enjoy.

Splits

Mile Mile
1 5:20 14 5:06
2 4:35 15 5:10
3 4:58 16 5:17
4 5:02 17 5:05
5 4:52 18 5:05
6 5:00 19 5:09
7 5:01 20 5:18
8 5:01 21 5:25
9 4:56 22 5:22
10 4:57 23 5:29
11 5:02 24 5:37
12 4:50 25 5:41
13 5:09 26 5:36
Half 65:16 Total 2:15:09

Results

Overall
USA Men
Mile Splits (You might have to search for me)
All Results

Articles

Letsrun Preview
Letsrun Media Day
Letsrun Review (Including Video Interview)
Daily Relay “Pennel shows he might be next”

Videos

GenUCAN Prerace
GenUCAN Post Race
GenUCAN Chat

Pictures

Tim Meigs
Eric Wheeler

Twin Cities Part III

For the third year in a row I spent the early part of October in the Twin Cities, and once again it was a fantastic experience. Twin Cities in Motion and Medtronic are known to put on a great event, and they did not disappoint. The event staff is exceedingly professional and give it the best experience for all racers. They get so much community involvement as seen by the over 17,000 runners and many times the spectators. Fall is a great time to be in Minneapolis as the weather is nearly always great for racing, and the trees are just beginning to turn.

2016-oct-tc-10-mileRace morning was a chilly one, around 35º at the start, and not much warmer at the finish, but it made for great racing weather. After a warm up in the dark, we made our way to the start and before I knew it, the gun fired. The early pace was slow, 4:52 for the mile, and I heard rumors after the race that there was a 5:0X third mile. That made sure that the finish would be fast. Through four miles there was still a large pack, but I knew that would change as we headed up the hills to Summit Ave. Slowly over the next two mile the pack dwindled, but it was a move my Tim Riche around mile 6 that broke open the race. I instinctively went with the move, but after a few minutes I was falling off the back. The six in front of me eventually split into two groups of three, with me still trying to stick with the chase pack.

Eventually I fell off the train, but just before eight miles Andrew Bumbalough pulled up on my shoulder. I do not know if it was a bit of a wake up or that I finally started to fell better, but I received a second wind and began to run down the second group. Over the next mile I ate into the gap, but was unable to gain much more than a few seconds on them. Every time I would pick up the pace, I would be unable to hold it and drop back to the more comfortable rhythm of around 4:45’s. Passing the Basilica of St. Mary, I let gravity carry down the hill and through the finish.

Thoughts

Coming into this race, I knew that I was not as sharp as last year. Being in the midst of marathon training, my legs were not as fresh as I would have liked. When Tim made that big move, I was not able to respond with the same aggressiveness, but knew that I could make a slighter surge and maintain it to the finish. I even think that I could have run a couple of more miles at 4:45 pace, but anything faster seemed to put me over the edge. It is good to know that I am aerobically fit and that I still have four weeks of training to get my legs caught up.

Another positive is that around mile 8 my legs began to feel better. Around 30-35 min into my workouts I start to actually feel better, and I figured that it would be the same here. I just needed to remain contact with the group until then. Even though I was not able to do that, a marathon much more of a grind. Over the course of 26.2 miles, there will be patches where I do not feel great followed by ones where I do.

From here I have just under a month of critical training to get in before NYC. Unlike my other two marathon build ups, I feel that I have quite a bit more fitness to gain. I feel that in my last two build ups, I would have run a similar marathon both four weeks out and on marathon day. While there are not too many workouts left, this weekend I head up to NUC for a course preview with a workout on the hills of Central Park, and then I have one more marathon specific long run two weeks out. After that is taper mode!

Before signing off, I would like to have a few congrats. First is to Sam for winning his third national title, and second in the Twin Cities. I wanted to make it another exciting race this year, but it just was not in the cards. Another is to my two teammates who joined me on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Both Matt and Johnny ran great races. At 14th place, Johnny had his highest finish at a US Championship, and Matt had an amazing ZAP debut with a 5th place finish. Expect big things from both of these guys in the future.

Recap USATF
Overall Results
My Results and Finishing Video
Race Replay (You need a USATF Plus Subscrpition)

Top Ten Podcasts

If you have not noticed, I have not been blogging as much recently. Leading up to and after the Trials, I was a little burnt out with putting out a weekly update. I felt that the quality of each could only be mediocre. Even after an 8 week hiatus due to a stress fracture, I was still reluctant to blog every week. But as I have been deeper into training for NYC, I thought that there might be a few adoring fans who would want an update. And even if there was not any, it was good for me to have something to do. I also wanted to try to and put out something that I was proud of, or at least something a bit different than my usual training log. With all that said, here is something a bit different.

I often get asked if I listen to music while I run. My response is always, “No, but I listen to podcasts!” Inevitably from there they ask what podcasts I listen to. Having graduated from Western with degrees in History and Sociology and a minor in Political Science had a heavy influence on the podcasts I listen to. Basically there are three general categories of podcast that I listen to: history, true crime, and general interest. So without further ado, I give you my top ten podcasts!

  1. My list could not start off without podcaster Dan Carlin at the top. He initially started in radio and broadcasting in the 90’s and in the mid 2000’s began two podcasts, “Hardcore History” and “Common Sense.” “Common Sense” focuses on today’s political events. Dan tends to take a slightly different view and often tries to put into perspective all side of the issues, which is something that many in the media struggle to do. “Hardcore History” on the other hand might be one of the best podcasts out there, regardless of genre. In this podcast, he is known to create interesting and epic story lines of events in history. The recent podcasts often are not shorter than three hours and are spread along multiple episodes. He has covered topics from the Punic Wars of the Roman Republic, to Genghis Khan, to the Eastern Front of WWI. Recently, he just finished a series on the ancient Persian Empire (think of who the 300 Spartans fought at Thermopile). Unfortunately, such involved episodes take a long time to research, record, and produce, but the quality is nearly unmatched in the genre. If you have any interest in history, I would recommend checking “Hardcore History” out. Even if you do not, Dan is a fantastic storyteller who makes turns what is usually considered a boring subject and adds a bit of spice to it.
  2. My second favorite podcast, is just like number one, not actually a podcast, but a podcaster. Mike Duncan started podcasting around the same time as Dan Carlin, with his initial podcast “The History of Rome.” Spanning more than 70 hours of audio and over 1,000 years of history (509 BCE to 476CE), it is a daunting task to undertake, but each episode is usually between 20-25 minutes. This makes it much easier to digest. His current podcast, “Revolutions”, takes a look at famous revolutions throughout history. So far he has covered the English, American, French, and Haitian Revolutions, and is currently working on the Spanish American Revolutions. He is as polished and professional as Dan Carlin, but is not quite the storyteller. But do not let that fact get in the way of a fantastic podcaster.
  3. Third on this list is a relatively recent addition to my collection. “The History of English” podcast looks at how English became English. Starting with the Indo-European language and working his way through the Old English of the Anglo-Saxons, the Norman-French influence on Middle English, to modern English. He looks at how political and social changes altered the way English was spoken and spread throughout the world. Kevin Stroud, the podcaster, does a great job of explaining the connection between events and what impact that had on English. He often will recite both the original English followed by the modern translation, so you can hear where English has stayed similar and also see where it has transformed. Currently, he is halfway through Middle English (around 1200 CE, think Geoffrey Chaucer), and plans to finish with modern English.
  4. Fourth on my list is the classic NPR podcast “Radiolab”. In this podcast, they cover everything from Animal Minds to Cities, and really nothing is off limits as they cover the theories and nuances of each subject. And the best part is that all of their stuff is backed up by science! Most of the podcasts are either around an hour or twenty minutes. If you are looking to have a good entertaining and enlightening podcast, “Radiolab” is the choice out there.
  5. Fifth delves into a completely different topic, true crime. True crime seems to be in fad (and that is only on the fact that South Park has made fun of it), but I find it a fascinating subject. “Sword and Scale” is one of the better true crime podcasts, but I must be forewarning, it can be very gruesome. If that is not your cup of tea, you can head to either #7 or #9. What is so good about “Sword and Scale” is that the podcaster will have tons of audio from the cases. You will hear the case through the words of the perpetrator, victim, and legal authorities. Since all the cases he covers have been solved so there are no cliff hangers or muddled endings.
  6. Sixth on my list goes back to history (of course). “History on Fire” is a recent find for me, and I have grown to really enjoy it. The podcaster is Daniele Bolelli, a history professor and martial artist. He was born in Milan, Italy, so he speaks with a thick Italian accent, even though he admits he does not hear it. Bolelli started the podcast as an ode to Dan Carlin (see #1). He attempts to replicate his narrative style, and does a good job, but it is still hard to surpass the master. Like Dan Carlin covers subject from all eras of history. His podcasts tend to run on the longer side, near to two hours, but are well worth the listen.
  7. Seventh on my list is “Serial”. When “Serial” debuted two years ago, it took the world by storm by being the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads on iTunes. Sarah Koenig, the host and writer, does a great job of focusing on one subject for a season and telling a compelling story. The first season focuses on the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999. There are many questions revolving around the murder and the subsequent conviction of Adnan Syed. Diving into the controversy, Koenig uses her background as a journalist to answer as many questions as she can. For nearly 10 hours you are on the edge of your chair trying to solve the murder yourself. With so much praise, the second season, focusing on American soldier Bowe Bergdahl struggled to live up the magic of the first season, but the first season will keep you gripped.
  8. Eighth on my list is “10 American Presidents”. Writen by Roifield Brown, it focuses on the men and events behind the American Presidency. But the twist is that he gets an expert narrator to host the show. So far he has had the likes of Dan Carlin, Mike Duncan, and Kevin Stroud (See #1, 2, and 3) on as narrator. He goes into depth with each event or biography and hearing some of the best podcasters tell the tale is the icing on the cake.
  9. Ninth on my list is “Criminal”. Produced by Radiotopia, it has received numerous awards since its debut in 2014. It tends to emphasize the social aspect of crime, so it is not as grisly as “Sword and Scale”. Basically it is less about murder and more about other crime, including if the symptoms of PMS can be considered not mentally competent for their crimes.
  10. The tenth and final podcast on my list is another NPR podcast, “Invisabilia”. This podcast grew out of the success of “Radiolab” and an NPR classic, “This American Life”. “Invisbilia” takes the best of both, an importance on scientific studies with a knack for storytelling. The hosts explore the “invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions”. Often they question our traditional beliefs, like character is a static trait, and spin a new light on it.

One last quick note, I would be remiss if I did not tell people to be careful while running with headphones. Accidents happen, even if you are running on the correct side of the road. I will say one good thing about podcasts over music is that they are not as busy. Listening to just someone speak as opposed to music allows you to hear just a bit better, but that in itself is not an excuse for complacency.

I hope you enjoyed a little change of pace from my usual training log post. I hope to do something different more often, so maybe this is only a start. This weekend I head up the Twin Cities for the third year in a row to run the TC Medtronic 10 Mile/USATF Championship. Last year I came antagonizing close to winning my second US title on the streets of St. Paul, but this year the goal remains the same even though I am in different situation. The heart of marathon training is usually not ideal for running fast, but I know that I tend to run better when I do not taper much. There will be a live stream (but I think you have to sign up for USATF.tv+) at USATF.tv and live updates at RUNNERSPACE.com.

Mid NYC Marathon Update

Workout this morning with the young guns!

Workout this morning with the young guns!

Since it has been a while since my last update, I figured it was a good time to give one! There is just over six weeks until NYC on November 6th, so that means I am in the heart of marathon training. For this marathon, Pete thought it would be best to go with an 11 week marathon cycle, but still stick with the 10 day cycles. So the first week was just a typical 7 day week, with a long run on Sunday and a Fartlek with some climbing on Wednesday. The next 10 day cycle started with a long run, finishing the last few miles quickly. Wednesday was a workout with tempo pieces bookending 10 x km. The following Tuesday, I had my first marathon specific long run out at Todd Railroad Grade Road. It was a session that I had not done in my previous two marathon build ups: 2 miles, 1 mile float, 1 mile, 1 mile float, all repeated three times. This was a tough session, as it was nonstop with lots of pace changing. I ended up running each five mile segment faster: 26:40, 26:23, 26:10 (1:19:13 total for the 15 miles). I was happy with the session, as I did not feel great during, but was still able to run the prescribed pace.
I nearly finished off the week near 120 miles, but leading up to my workout on Saturday, my hip began to get sore. I was noticeably limping while running, so Pete and I decided to scrap the workout and not risk aggravating my hip more. I immediately took the next three days off and scheduled an MRI for the following week. I was able to get an MRI (which showed nothing out of the ordinary) and was able to start training again on the Alter G. After three days on the Alter G, We felt confident enough to try a run outside. Then this past Sunday, I did a longer run with some moderate surging. While my hip was not 100%, it was able to pass the test, so we are going to start back into marathon training.
When an injury initially rears its head, I tend (and feel like it is a pretty universal runner’s response) to first not accept there is any injury. It is so easy to just train through it. I have been guilty in the past. But one thing I have learned in over a decade of running is that it is often better to take a little break now, and not let a little niggle blow up into something much larger. Following that rule would have saved me combined years of injury. So swallowing my pride, I accepted that time off was the best course of action. In total I only ended up taking off only a few days with some shorter days on the Alter G. I missed going to Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half Marathon for a race simulation workout, but both are a small price to pay for getting to the starting line healthy in November.
Other hidden “benefits” from this injury is that I was forced to take some days off. Pete had planned a few down days for right after Philly, but the break was just pushed up a week. Another is that this break helped pull my fitness back. When you are healthy and getting fit, it is easy to get a little overzealous are run too hard in workouts. While this is a good way to find yourself really fit, it is also a good way to be fit too early. I am still over 6 weeks away from NYC and I may not be able to do a killer steady state at marathon pace right now, but I know that I will be toeing the line on race day oiled, greased, and ready to roll.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and with my injury in the review mirror, knock on wood, it is easy to look at the benefits. But taken in a whole, I have an 11 week build up to NYC, so that means I had 3 weeks of good training at the start, along with 7 weeks leading up to the race. By a strict percentage(10/11), that is over 90%, an A! Basically in a long winded way I am saying, shit happens, but that does not mean the far off goal lost. You just have to find a different way to get there. Fortunately I only had to take a little detour before getting back on track, and I hope to keep it that way! Until next time, which will hopefully be much sooner and hopefully be something a little different from most of anything I have done in the past.

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

What to I desire?

“And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much.”

– Alan Watts

For weeks I have sat down and tried to write my next blog, but I always allowed myself to get distracted. I could never really find the willingness to sit and focus. Due to my delaying, so much has happened, but the crucial change happened last week. On Wednesday, I started feeling some tightness and slight pain in my lower back and hip. I was able to complete 16 miles and core with little problem, only making a mental note of the discomfort. My run the next morning started with no pain and after 45 minutes, progressively worsened. I finished the 85 minutes, only because it was the shortest route back, but I knew that something was wrong, and not the ‘just a few days off and everything will be better’ kind of wrong. That night I limped around, knowing that it most likely would be a while until I was able to run again.

Over the next week, I was still limping around, but the pain had lessened. Since I could not walk pain free, I was not willing to even try running, especially with the risk that the injury could be a stress fracture. Less than a week after that last run, I found myself lying in an MRI machine, dosing off to the hums and pulsations. The following day, I received the call from the doctor. I had a stress fracture in my Sacrum. A week of hobbling around had helped me mentally prepare for this outcome, but it still was a hard pill to swallow. Mostly because it meant my chase for an Olympic spot is over for another four years.

So now, I am on the DL for the next 6 weeks, with orders to limit movement as much as possible. Which means I am catching up on some awesome TV shows. (True Detective might be the best drama besides Breaking Bad.) My racing schedule had included the BAA 5k this weekend, but I will still be there cheering on my teammates.

One of my favorite things to do is listen to different philosophical discourses on YouTube and before I sign off for another extended hiatus, I want to share one that I enjoy. It is by Alan Watts, who was an English philosopher that popularized the ideas of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Rather than comment on it, I would rather have you take it for what is worth to you.