Friday, October 27, 2017

Day 21: Building a Habit

Rarely in life do things go the way you you want them to go. Especially in the pursuit of distance running. Like most things you wish to accomplish, it all starts with the basic concept of needs and wants. Most of the time, we want things, cars, houses, jewelry, or any objects to fill us with the idea that we are happy or complete. These needs are usually easily obtainable, with some hard work and money, you can make it seem like your life is fulfilled. The things we want in life, sometimes can't be as easily reached. Most of us are programmed to want what we don't have. Fame, fortune, expensive things drive us to work harder, or become depressed due to the fact these objects or feelings will never come to life for us.

With running, there are few limitations from keeping us from reaching what we want. Except ourselves of course. Our minds are the biggest instigator, motivator, and sometimes our worst enemy. But, with few distractions and the right mindset, there is absolutely no excuse for not reaching our full potential.

Accomplishing a goal is a direct correlation between the degree of witch you are willing to work, and how long you can convince yourself that the daily grind will result in something beautiful. Some runners may enjoy the simplest aspect of the sport. Going out and getting in a 30 minute jog, 4-5 times a week is enough to continue the balance of a happy life. Then you have the weekend warriors, trying to go after that Boston qualifier. To them, they find the act of simply doing the run, or race, is enough for a pat on the back, and hanging up the shoes for good.

For me, I'm never satisfied. Never have been, and probably never will be. I think I haven't come close to my potential on the roads or the track. The desire to better myself everyday drives me sometimes to extreme measures, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate what I've accomplished in the past. It's easy to get caught up in one side or another, but it's with balance that one is  able to accomplish great things.

The drive for unfulfilled potential comes in waves that can easily vanish as quickly as it showed up. The older I get, the more these questions appear as to why I'm trying to run, what I wish to accomplish, or what this will get me in the long term sense of the sport. Sometimes these questions can get the best of me, and for a long time I was easy to answer without much care or passion.

After my half marathon in Dublin, I was riding a good wave of training, excited for the possibilities and new gained fitness; But quickly, I fell off that wave not caring for myself, or my fitness. Getting in a 30 minute run was miserable at times, and I only really enjoyed a quick dip in the trails, and be done with it. I quit working out, even though the marathon was arriving in 3 weeks, I just didn't seem to care.

It's easy to loose track of what's important in life. The chase for money, fame, or personal satisfaction can eat you alive. The drive to "make it" in society usually is a direct result in giving up a piece of yourself in the pursuit to the top. As runners, we accept that we might be poor, have few friends, much of a social life, or have a hard time explaining why we must press forward with everything we got. Sometimes living the lifestyle of a recluse is all we know. The sacrifice in of itself is one of the hardest things, and also one of the most important things you need to lay the path forward to achieving your dreams.

So, as most people would have guessed, the Columbus Marathon did not go the way I had imagined it would. Going into the race, I knew I didn't belong up at the top. I was no where close to the sub 2 hour 30 minute shape. All of the facts leading into the race pointed that I shouldn't of even ran it. But, I enjoyed a nice Sunday stroll for 10 miles of hard tempo running, and got to help people along the way. It was a short and inevitable death, but helped me quickly figure out that the balance of running and taking care of myself, while continuing to be an adult and work full-time was not happening.

For the past 21 days, I've been able to start getting back into a daily, healthy routine again. I have been living very much in tune with the present, and I couldn't be happier. Making running and training a priority again, finding the balance of working full-time at the hospital, and taking care of myself have become very important to me. This winter I want to become a secluded, well-balanced, strong distance runner. I intend to continue testing myself by giving up things irreverent to my success. The continued balance between what will help me achieve my dreams, and what will make me happy as a person.

I know what I want, and I know how to get it. Making the right decisions daily, and creating healthy habits will allow me to stay on the right track. I intend to mold myself into the best shape mentally, and physically that I have every been in, and it all starts with the decision to simply do it until it becomes a habit.

Here's to the enjoyment of the fall, and the beauty of a hard days work.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Emerald City Half Recap

 Going into unknown territory with nothing more than your bones, muscles and a desire to succeed can be extremely overwhelming at times. Not knowing what to expect around the corner, or what problem may be thrown your way send most people into their programmed state of fight or flight.

Having confidence in your ability to handle and approach situations like these is pretty much what racing is like. As distance runners we all know that at some point that fun and enjoyment we get out of hearing the crack of a starting pistil will subside. and the reality of the situation will soon begin to take weigh in on us. Quickly, we begin to make equations in our head calculating energy vs. distance hoping that we can get the most out of our $0.02. It is at that point where often times we are defined. We must come face to face with our demons, and go to war with lactate.

Being okay with being uncomfortable is pretty much exactly what you wish to accomplish in marathon training. Preparation. Did I eat right all those nights? How much do I weigh? I should’ve taken it easier this week. I should’ve ran more miles last month. All of these thoughts begin to race through your head, but knowing there is a choice early on and preparing for war can give you a tremendous opportunity to find out your true potential on race day.

The battle within turns into a head game with your biggest enemies, and the only thing you can do is hope you’ve built that Orb to handle these uncomfortable and often painful situations. With increased fitness and a strong mindset, by God you can take on the world! Or at least that's what you think.

Emerald city was a great way to find confidence in my ability to be uncomfortable. Luckily, I had two of my friends Breydon Gates and Jeremy Anderson there to help me along the way. From the gun, Jeremy ran side-by-side with me helping me quickly get into a good rhythm. Clicking off mid 5:30’s and enjoying the Dublin countryside I was surprised by how "enjoyable" this was. Breydon met us at mile 9, and helped me cut down the pace for the last 4 miles. By then the legs started to get heavier and heavier, but found that I could override this feeling simply by not thinking much about it.

The last two miles I had a mix of feelings. I couldn’t help but think about how in just 7 weeks, I will be expected to double the distance I’m racing today. But I also thought about how good it was to get back on the roads, and be able to win these small battles within myself. How breaking a tape and crossing the line in first is something I haven’t felt in a very long time, and how in the grand scheme of things, maybe I’m doing okay for myself.

I had a mix of emotions, but all in all it was a great experience put on by M3S Sports and Ohio Health Network. Dublin is a beautiful place to race, and I’m happy I was able to run a new PR and win the Emerald City Half Marathon. Here’s to a healthy and bountiful 7 weeks of training before taking on the great battle the Columbus Marathon.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Alone In The Woods


Solidarity and being alone are amenities one might find uncomfortable or hard to deal with, but for me these conditions are exactly what I need to create myself into the runner I most desperately needed. I have lived alone in a small one-bedroom home right outside the gorgeous Strouds Run State Park since May of this year, and it has brought such blissfulness and peace into my life.

I find that when put in a situation where you have no other option but to adapt to your surroundings, I become obsessed with the routine and free of all things that may have brought me down before. The ability and freedom to mold yourself into whomever you wish to become, and the realization that most of life's problems that are thrown at you is bull shit. It is a very rare opportunity to have, and I don't plan to waste it.

For me, I want to become a marathoner. I want to run under two hours and thirty minutes at the Columbus Marathon on October 15th, and I'll do anything to do so. I'm very new to the idea of racing more than 3 or 5 miles at a time, so being out there for 26.2 miles terrifies me. The only way I know how to not let that fear overcome me is out there on the roads. Focusing on The Task. Living by the clock, just like Quenton taught me to do. Trying to beat myself up, adapt, and become better than what I was yesterday. The cruel and rewarding lifestyle of the Trial of Miles. Within these realms of life, nothing can hurt you.

So here I am 74 days outside of making my marathon debut, wishing that the fitness and realization I have today would've arrived months ago; But, you deal with what you're dealt with. As I move forward I find that I'm at peace with where I am today, and excited for who I may become tomorrow.

Seems fitting to end with a passage from Rudyard Kipling's "If" heading into marathon season...

"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to nerve your turn after they are gone, 
and so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them: 'Hold on!'"


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Winter's Reality

It’s 5:24pm and the night has come already under an eerie quiet Athens evening.  Medical students are the few left in the now much smaller town. Its population has decreased by fifty percent this week, which for most of us called “townies”, is a very enjoyable time. No lines to get your local court street water holes, no trash thrown recklessly in your lawn, and of course no lines at Chipotle. Athens is a beautiful town this time of year, and I’m looking forward to spending my second winter in southeastern Ohio.

As the promise of a warm Carolina spring blazing down the track begins to once again creep it’s way into my head, the reality of a harsh winter ahead is becoming easier to accept.  In fact, winter is my favorite season of the year. There’s something beautiful about nature’s preparation for hard times. There’s no hiding or covering up. Nature rises to the occasion, gets strong, and prevails. I like to use this as an analogy for the type of person you have to become in order to be a successful distance runner. This mentality of acceptance of hard times, and the readiness of standing tall.

 Jeremy and myself raced at Kent State this past Friday, and though neither of us where happy about the outcome, I think it helped get our minds right leading into this next block. It was a harsh shock racing around an indoor track again, but competing is something I’ve always loved, and it was nice to get back in that shark tank.

I’ve reached out to my old teammate and now current Assistant men’s and women’s Cross Country and Track Coach at Bowling Green State University, Chuck Wentz, to help me with training and coaching. Chuck has been very successful at BGSU, and I’m excited to see where he can take me in my running. I’ve had some goals since 2012 I’ve wanted to achieve, and it seems like I’ve put myself in a good position to go after it this Spring. Athens has been a staple in my life now, and I’m anxious to continue to work hard everyday and grow as a runner, and in my career path with Morison Healthcare.

There’s no easy way to do it. Nowhere to hide or cover up from the harsh reality of hard work prospers. So grow strong, and continue to work hard towards unfulfilled potential.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sharing A Drink They Call Loneliness

I often think about how I've lost the opportunity to fall in love at a young age. Being single at 27, my world is filled with social media marriage proposal videos and baby announcements, yet here I am about to enter another year of failed relationships still living with my college roommate. I feel like everyday I am slowly inching my way to the dreaded 30 year mark alone, but free. Free to do what I want, how I want, when I want. That freedom to live your own life is something only a select few of us mid-twenty year old bachelors can appreciate. Yet I still feel a void in my life. A hole that no matter how many good times, fun trips, or days to myself I have, there is something missing.

In the movie, Into The Wild Christopher McCandles wrote, "Happiness is only real when shared", in his journal right before he laid down in that magical bus to die in the middle of the Alaskan wild. Perhaps after so many adventures and time spent alone, Christopher finally realized that you cannot simply get by in life without loving someone and sharing ones happiness together.

Part of me immediately spits back what I just said, with an aggressive "Fuck you, watch me do it" mentality, but part of me feels for Christopher and the hardship he endured alone in the wild. Another quote that is completely opposite from what McCandles says is from one of my favorite movies Fight Club, "We're a generation of men raised by women. I'm wondering if another women is really the answer we need". This takes on a whole different approach to the subject. Again, I have two views on this, but there is something inside of me that feeds into what is being said. Everything I need to accomplish what I want in this world is inside of me, and I dare a women to try and take that away.

After a certain age your chances of meeting "the one" will decrease dramatically. In High School and College it was easy meeting people. Students all have the same interest and agenda as you, and are usually looking to get swept of their feet, which unfortunately is never like what the movies make it out to be. The small amount of young professionals that make it out of college single are ultimately screwed. The working class will slowly get taken over by the fake un-meaningful existence that is a career - The other half will find happiness in binge watching Netflix with their newly adopted kitten in their parents spare bedroom or cool downtown loft apartment.

Your only hope in this world is thinking some of us slipped through the cracks and there is still a chance of true love. Sure, you have the single moms, divorced parents looking to try over, or the rare gem of the opposite sex that is in the exact seat you are in, but chances are you are in for a long lonely life. In the meantime, try to find inner happiness. A silver lining, that will promote good character, and meaningful moments in your life. Usually real relationships will happen out of no where. Who knows, one day you might just bump into Mrs. perfect reading a Barns And Noble top seller at Starbucks, or not.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Continued Balance

(Start of the 2016 News & Sentinel Half Marathon)
One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite cinemas,

"Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust, and when you're up it's never as good as it seems, and when you're down, you never think you'll be up again, but life goes on".

This quote from the movie Blow is when George Yung's dad, Fred was explaining to George why money isn't real. It rings true to a lot of things that may be thrown your way in life. The hard part that I think Fred was trying to explain was that you have to learn to appreciate the balance of the ups and downs. To not get stuck at the far ends of each spectrum, but to understand a lot of the time life is hard. It is often that in our toughest moments in life, is when we force ourselves to adapt and grow.

I don't want to turn this post into another sob story about how I've once again trained hard, got hurt, then somehow overcame to continue to push towards fitness. Repeat the cycle and add some other life struggles, and you pretty much have my past 8 year life story. No, I want this to help people understand how you find positive outcomes out of every situation regardless of what you may see it as. Learn from it, use that knowledge, and move on because you'll never be truly satisfied when you're stuck in a shallow narrow minded view.

Extensor tendinitis turned from bad to worse to can't run on it. Masked by too many ibuprofen than i'd like to admit, eventually caused my achilles to become inflamed. Eventually getting diagnosed with bursitis. I ignored it as usual and attempting running here and there in hopes of holding onto fitness for the News and Sentinel Half Marathon last Saturday in Parkersburg, West Virginia. As you might have already figured out, the race didn't go well.

As I take this week to finally give my foot the rest it needs, I have time to reflect on the closing summer, figure out what went wrong, learn, adapt, and prepare to once again gear up for the upcoming fall training. I've often struggled to find the balance of the training that works best for me. This past buildup I was focused more on miles, then strength, and in previous base phases I tend to get into the weight room 5 times a week while holding a good bit of mileage. I'm still playing with the balance of the two, but one thing I know for sure is that i'm not able to recover and bounce back as quick as I use to in college. I need to focus on recover, and less on being stubborn. Training can be like balancing on a teeter-totter with a cactus at each side. Too much of one thing can result in becoming an unbalanced athlete often leading to injury. But like George Jung's father said, life goes on.

With the familiar smell of a fall breeze slowly making its way into the foothills of south east Ohio, I'm eager to get on some soft grass and run pain free again. I have one hundred and eight days until Club Nationals, and I don't plan to waste a single one of them.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why Do We Fall?

Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.

This quote has always hit home for me, especially in these past couple weeks. I've been in the thick of my training, enjoying the process and trying not to let my beat-up body get the best of me. Every day has become a routine, and I'm learning to enjoy the healthy habits needed for success. In the meantime, I've found it enjoyable to break up the routine and try my hand in some summer road races with some former Shawnee State Bears.

WV 5K Championships
Freedom Fest 5K
The West Virginia 5K Championships on June 18th in Huntington, West Virginia (Results here), and this past Monday at the Freedom Fest 5K in Jackson, Ohio (Results here), have been both a learning experience, and a bit of a letdown for me. Leading into these races, I try to muster up any pop or freshness in my legs as I can, but they are always resistant and quick to remind me of how unfamiliar and unpleasant full-time training can do to your body. As you can see above, Eli Gerlach has shown me a familiar site at both races. Though it's fun competing, I find it more rewarding by putting "money in the bank" depositing miles after miles on your body in hopes of surpassing expected goals on that given day of withdraw.

The past eight weeks of training have been somewhat of a breeze so far, as I've just now been starting to get heavy in both volume and in workouts. My mileage has been slowly increasing (60, 59, 67, 70, 68, 75, 73), as I'm making sure to take things slowly and one step at a time. The plan is to continue increasing by 5 miles every two weeks, making the 100 mile benchmark by the first week of September, and holding that until Club Nationals December 10th. On top of more miles, my coach has begun incorporating an early week tempo/progression, as well as a later week fartlek/hill interval workout, and then topping it off with a up-tempo in the middle of my Sunday long run.

With the increase of volume, as well as continuing to get into the weight room twice a week for some strength and conditioning exercises, supplementary and core work, there is no doubt in my mind that I'm going to be in the best shape of my life this fall. But for now, I have to bit the bullet, enjoy the discomfort of a hard day's work, and not get caught up in meaningless summer road races.