Friday, February 12, 2016

2016 Olympic Trials: A Relevance

With the Olympic Trials marathon approaching fast; heck the race is less than 24 hours away, it's very clear that I will not be there racing.  I miss that train last month.  In fact I missed that train what I was training and dealt with injuries for the last 2 year.  I feel a slight sense of a void for not being in Los Angeles with all my friends ready to compete.  No hype surrounded my life this go around, and with that, no expectations were ensued upon me either.  It's like I don't even exist, or have any relevance.  Now, I'm not trying to have a pity party over here, I'm just accepting the fact that I had a goal in early 2013 and watched that goal disappear over time.  Like many people always say, "It's about the journey, not the destination."  And I felt like I had a solid journey over the last 4 years.

To reflect back on my time and my attempt at chasing the standard, I learned a few things.  At the beginning, I thought it was a sure thing that I was going to qualify.  I felt that if I had one bad race, I could make that up in a few months and try again.  Injuries, age, and diet never crossed my mind.  So, when I look forward, I have to take a slower approach and think things through with more ease and preparation.

When looking back on my attempts, here are a few races that stood out in the last 4 years - since a runner's life can be measured in quadrants:

August 1st, 2013 - The USATF opens the Marathon Trials qualifying window. 2:18:00 for the full marathon and 1:05:00 for the half marathon are the "B" standards, and 2:15:00 for the full marathon is the "A" standard.

August 11th, 2013 - I finished the Rio Grande Half Marathon in altitude..... although I believe the course was short, and that would've been a remarkable performance at altitude.

September 8th, 2013 - I won the Skagit Flats Half Marathon in Burlington, Washington in a time of 1:06:47.  I ran solo for the entire race, so I had some good confidence going into the USA Marathon Championships, but still missed the 1:05:00 mark by a lot.

September 15th, 2013 - I won the Chips and Salsa half marathon in Albuquerque in 1:08:42.  And I was very pleased with that solo effort again.

October 6th, 2013 - Finished 20th at the USA Marathon Championships in 2:20:57.  Deep down I was really disappointed as I was attempting to not only qualify, but PR as well.  I felt strong and ran what I thought was one of my strongest marathon finishes ever.

January 19th, 2014 - Another fast, but not quite time at the USA Half Marathon Championships in 1:05:38.  That was actually the exact same time I ran 5 years earlier.  After that race, and disappointment, I finally looked at the positive and set my sights on the Boston Marathon, where I thought I was going to smash my pr since I was in incredible shape that early on...

March 1st, 2014 - The Phoenix Half Marathon, and where everything went south.  I probably ran this race with a stress fracture and ended up taking 8 weeks off once I realized I broke myself from this race.  I ran a respectable 1:07:52, but couldn't walk correctly afterwards.  THIS is where the downward spiral for 2 years started.

After Phoenix, I had to drop out of the Boston Marathon - a race that I have been yearning to compete in since my first marathon back in 2009.  From the 3 stress fracture that I had from that spring, to another bout of a stress fracture this past summer, I was only left to watch the Olympic Trials window slowly close shut.

So, at 10:06am PST tomorrow morning, the best men in the US will be competing against one another, the weather, and more importantly, themselves.  Each athlete tomorrow has an incredible story, but only a few will ever be showcased.  Each athlete tomorrow will be racing for a different reason, and only they truly know.  Each athlete tomorrow will also walk away from the race with a different perspective.  But I believe the true Olympic spirit will reside with them the rest of their lives, even though only 3 per gender will compete at the actual Olympics.  Just being able to say you were an Olympic Trials contender carries so much pride and accomplishment. I'm jealous (in a positive and satisfactory kind of way) that this year those athletes can participate and race with such passion that only comes once every 4 years.  It's going to be great!

Looking back, I can honestly say I had a good chase at the standard.  It's actually really fun chasing something like that.  Knowing that you shouldn't take anything for granted and having the opportunity to train your brains out.  Those are just a few of the benefits and commitment issues that an athlete must decide on.  On the down side; balancing social events, and staying out late and a few of the things on the other side of the spectrum that need to be prioritized and readjusted.  But, sooner or later, that opportunity won't be there anymore, as you can only run fast for so long.  I might as well take advantage of it while time may still be on my side.  Because later in life I will just have to be a supporter of the sport and cheer on those that will be doing the same thing - chasing the dream.

The Dukes Track Club - My teammates, friends, and biggest supporters.