Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Roads Will Always Be Open, But The Track Never Lies

After a much needed break from 2 marathons in 41 days, I am back running again. I decided to take about 8 days off, and it was an abysmal attempt of laying low and doing nothing with myself, as I felt the need to get back into reality ASAP. Without running, and by choosing not to run, created a void that could only be filled by planning my next training cycle and reevaluating my goals in life. I'm now armed with a Master's degree and soon will have to chose to teach full time or become a running bum... what choice shall I make?

Well, after some metal debating, I feel that many runners surround themselves with other runners and work at running stores to fulfill they running potential. Not many runners at the Olympic Trials had full time jobs, or teaching full time either. For the most part, they work part-time, and train full time. Yet, I felt the strongest and the most determined when I had a class of students to educate and my mind focus on other things besides running. So, at my current point in life I've determined two things: (1) I may not have the opportunity or ability to race in the track trials ever again, which I will attempt to do this spring, and (2) I am going to substitute teach so that I may still train, and hopefully find a full time teaching position.

I still feel the desire and passion to compete on the track this spring as I prepare for another marathon or if I qualify for the 10000m on the track for the Eugene Trials. To me, the marathon is such a great race, as it parallels life. The amount of work and time put into it, just for one race, creates countless memories and truly expresses how the journey is just as fulfilling as the destination. Each marathon I've done, I've learned something new, and have embraced the pain and joy that came with crossing the finish line, as to put the final punctuation of a chapter.

The many races that lead up to a marathon create different emotions, but at the end of the marathon cycle awaits 26.2 miles of a seer testament to your physical ability. However, with track races, there are many to choose from, and hopefully you can achieve your goal of hitting a qualifying time. In this years 10000m Olympic Trials at Hayward Field the "A" standard is 28:15 and a "B" standard of 29:00. In my opinion, no one slower than 28:25 will be allowed to compete. To run that fast, I need to pr by over 35 seconds... So in life, nothing is certain, which is why I want to seek the opportunity to toe the line at Hayward Field and actually be in shape to compete amongst the best Americans in the 10000m distance.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Conclusion of the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon

Well, it's all over. A 2:22:25 finishing time, and a 69th place finish are all I can prolifically announce on paper, but I feel that I took a whole lot more from the carnage that took place on January 14th in Houston.

To start things off, I can always shine in on dinner conversations, and on ballroom floors that I ran in the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon. Once the looks of discuss flow away off peoples faces, I can then revert to only speaking to those who actually care about running, and know what actually occurred at the 2012 Marathon trials - Total Insanity! I could be classified as an "idiot" for only giving myself 5 weeks after CIM to get ready and run in the Trials, but of course my main goal was to just get there. I am a 2:17 guy competing mainly against myself. The sheer opportunity to toe the line amongst the greatest American marathoners is a blessing in it self. Then, having the opportunity to run in a race that is only held once every 4 years is something that may never happen again (although I plan on being at the trials in 2016). But for some, this was their last chance to run amongst the best.

From my perspective, I will give you 3 insights I had: once before the race, during the race, and of course after the race.

So, after qualifying and being on cloud-nine for the 5 weeks leading up to the trials, I had a Dick Beardsley attitude, that I could and will improve on my 2:17 time. By how much, I had no idea. But it was ingrained in my thought process that with the pervious training I've done, I could run faster in 5 weeks time. My workouts and mileage were going ok, and I was healthy as could be. Nothing was going to stop me from dreaming or believing that I could run another PR, possibly run under 2:16. So, this was my mentality going into the trials.

Once in Houston, I have to admit that I was overwhelmed with all the trials hype. All alone amongst the talented runners that would soon face each other come Saturday morning; this was a feeling that you didn't want to have. So, right away, alliances started to form with other runners that I've known throughout the past 1, 2, or even 3 years of competing against and with each other, brought a slight calmness. Friends started to ensue onto the scene, and since I had my own room, I had Loren and his girlfriend Laura stay with me to calm my nerves. Josh soon arrived, and I felt more relaxed as my Mom and Dad finally arrived as well. Things were starting to feel at ease, and I was getting anxiously ready to start. Other details could be listed, but to manifest them now wouldn't serve justice, as the main show was about to happen.

On Saturday morning I had a nice plain oatmeal breakfast at 5:15am after getting up at around 4:55am to slump through the halls of the Hilton towards the hospitality suite for some grub. I got ready and was out the hotel door towards the "Elite Staging Area" at around 6:45am. After a short 8 minute warm-up on the streets around the GRB convention center with Josh, I felt warm enough to start the race. A few more hoops to jump through; from getting all the athletes ready from inside the convention center, to countless nervous strides, to the National Anthem, and then finally walking up to the start of the race to hear the final commands, which were all I really was waiting for.

As soon as the gun goes off, I swiftly notice how fast the pace is, and how far behind I am. The short 2.2 mile loop through the immediate downtown area goes by in a flash, as fans are cow belling, and cheering their brains out! This excitement only adds to the ghastly pace, as the first mile; compared to the leaders was a tempered 5:17 mile, but the second mile was 5:03 for me, and I was still getting past by other runners. I managed to maintain pace in the neighborhood of 5:0? something and 5:13 for about 16 miles, but I didn't know I was going to be doing that, as I had no watch, and no one was around me.
I managed to run very stupid going into the wind, as I was a solus runner in between two small packs. This race strung out rather quickly, and only a pocket of runners were together, so I needed to either, slow down and allow myself to run with runners behind me, or pick it up towards the next pack. Well, the racer in me told me to battle the fear of being alone, and chase down the pack ahead. One by one, runners were falling off of the pack I was chasing, and a few runners were eating me up as they past me with ease. I attempted to go with these groups of guys passing me, but couldn't manage to stay with them. The original pack I was chasing finally dissolved and I was able to run with Allen Wagner for a bit at mile 14. I maintained my momentum towards the finish line, but once I came to mile 16, I really started to hurt.

From the beginning of the race, I never felt comfortable. I thought I could get into a groove, and maintain an even effort while running an even pace. What reality was telling me was a little different. I was able to maintain somewhat of an even pace (5:09 average for 16 miles), but my effort was suffering. The fatigue in my legs was a small remembrance from CIM, and it was going to stay until I stopped. Mile 17, 18 and 19 were: 5:23, 5:28 and 5:33. Of course I didn't know that, but I knew I was slowing down, and I wasn't in good shape. Some guys were coming back to me, but just as many were passing me. This would continue on as a buddy of mine came up on me with about 10k to go. So, with about 6 miles to go on our last 8 mile loop, Crossby Freeman says, "Hey Jesse.... this isn't how we pictured it to be, is it?". I quickly responded by saying, "nope, but stay positive.". He slowly inched away from me and kept me behind him until the last 200 meters of the race. But, that was an interesting point he made. This wasn't how I was picturing the Trials to be. This amount of pain felt pretty bad, but I knew I was going to finish, and by making some small calculations, I knew I'd at least be under 2:23 (which isn't good anymore). I'm not saying I'm completely happy with my time, but considering I raced a marathon 5 weeks ago, I can hold my head up high.

I was able to hold it together towards the end as I entered the downtown area. The roar of the crowds were getting louder, and I knew I was close. With about a mile to go, the only positive aspect I was thinking was that I would be finishing the Olympic Trials Marathon, as I knew many other runners had dropped out due to injury, or pride. But my pride would be to finish, and to come back in the following trials to improve on my place, and time. With 400 meters to go, I tried to pass as many guys as possible, and was able to get a few. To my right I could see the American flag draped around Meb, and I was pretty content to be finishing as strong as I could in the most loaded and competitive Olympic Trials in U.S. History.

Thank you everyone for all your love and support! This would mean nothing if I didn't have my friends and family to share this with! It has been a long road, and many sacrifices have been made, which is why I apologize for any trouble that may have occurred, but for the most part, it has been a great journey, and I will always cherish the moments we share together! Thank you all!!!


By Miles (5:17, 5:03, 5:06, 5:07, 5:04, 5:09 (6miles- 30:46), 5:13, 5:07, 5:11, 5:10, 5:09, 5:11, 5:13 (13miles - 1:07:00), 5:12, 5:08, 5:04, 5:23, 5:28, 5:33, 5:42 (20miles - 1:44:30), 5:44, 6:10, 6:18, 6:10, 6:22, 6:01, 70sec for .2)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pike Athletics Interview

An interview a friend did for me:

100% Optimism

Well, it's one week until the US Olympic Trials, and I am obviously very excited. As many interviews and youtube videos float around on the internet, I've decided to add to the flood of guys/gals talking about their experience towards reaching the trials.

I think I've commented plenty of my experience and what it's been like making the standard, so all I have left to do is wait and rest until the gun goes off in Houston. There wasn't much I could have done to improve my performance when 8:00am on January 14th comes around. I am expecting an emotional race, and the possibility to PR, while soaking in all the excitement that the Trials has been built up to be. The talk of amazing things has been in the minds of countless runners (actually just 122 men, and 197 women), so the odds are that not everyone is going to PR and run the race of their lives, which is why we all get to race to see what happens. And, that is what I am excited for! Everyone should be giving it everything they have and hopefully we can hobble away from it with high heads and pride. Pride that we got to compete in the most competitive Marathon of our lives.