Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fight until we make the top 7...or die!

For those of us who ran XC in HS, and found ourselves "on the bubble" as the 7th or 8th man, we know odd coupling of stress and motivation that was thrust into our training and racing.  Some rise to the challenge of the pressure to perform, others crack, crumble and shy away from it.  Some people just win, plain and simple their bodies developed into a natural state of readiness to run fast and win.  But this doesn't describe me.  I am not a born winner, I'm just a born fighter.  Maybe I've done so many things, simply because someone told me I shouldn't or couldn't or wouldn't believe I was good enough to beat them.  There is more valor is fighting than winning.  As winning is merely one half of the outcome, while the fight may be as masterful as it is tragically flawed.
My development as a runner has had plenty of valleys that followed some great peaks.  Maintaining the mindset of competing when you know, realistically, you aren't going to win against the best, can be daunting.  But that is a key aspect to sportsmanship, knowing that you should give it "the old college try" for yourself, your teammates, coaches, and your opponents.  Besides, pain doesn't hurt.  Sucking when you don't want to suck is what really hurts.
 So it's all kind of gone like this:
 Winter/Spring 1995'-weather kept all of my "training" indoors as a HS freshmen, and as the spring pushed on I realize I don't like getting my ass kicked by girls at dual meets in the mile.(Yes, they combined boys and girls together), so I learned to try hard at running, and I hit a 5:57 by season's end.
Winter 96'-I ran a 5:24mile, I got a Varsity letter for the first time, but I still get my ass whipped at most meets.
August 1997, After concluding that soccer wasn't working out, I was fighting for a Varsity Singlet on the Edison High School Cross Country team.(trust me, it was well worth the fight, the JV uni's were cheesy)  At the time this seemed tough, but I was in the mix, and after the first couple weeks of Captain's practices and then official team practices, I'd done it.  I'd pulled away from a couple of guys who have been with the team 3-4yrs.  I work my ass off, I travel with the team to all the invitationals and championships, and my spot was never safe.
August 1999-After a summer of rehab for a bad case of IT band syndrome(thanks crowned suburban roads!), I found myself fighting to regain enough fitness to be the #7 man on the Ramapo College XC team, the older guys on the team go easy for the first few miles of a run, but the back half always turned into a race(or so it seemed when you just can't hang with the pace).  I manage to slide into the 7 slot, and by late season I'm 6th and twice 5th.  But the whole season is a battle with the IT band and tenacious teammates ready to take my spot.  I make the trip to the Regional Championship and run my best race of the season, we place 25th(I seem to recall), better than Ramapo had done in a long time I'm told.
Fall 2000-04'-Each season is a battle for a Varsity spot, 00' was pretty good, 01' and 02' were a bit of a let down, I sat out 03' with stress fractures, I finish anywhere from 8th to 3rd in these yrs I'm on the team at Ramapo.  I allowed myself to be distracted by douchey fraternity "brothers", crazy girlfriends, and assorted shenanigans.  Got sick all too often from living in the dorms, and generally drank far too much.  I was mediocre at best, and at my worst, a bloated 170lbs of drunkenness.  As one of my coaches put it, in a season-end review, "Dedicated, but with limited Athletic ability".
Spring 05'/06'-I'm back home and the heavy drinking isn't so interesting anymore, running with some old teammates and competitor's, but nothing's too organized.  I also start running with Rartian Valley Road Runners, the only dedicated runners I know besides HS kids and my college teammates who are now too far away to run with regularly.  I join RVRR, and find some steady training partners there, as well as some decent competition on the NJ race circuit.  The battle has shifted more to an internal struggle of staying motivated and focused on good/consistent training.  I run my first marathon(lackluster, but still sub 3hrs), and I'm fighting the clock and a lack of self acceptance.
2007/08'-I run the Boston Marathon, I run the NYC Marathon, and the Philly Marathon along with some HM's and many other races, I kept getting PR's. I grew accutom to this.  Faster, Faster...aaand injured.
2009'-5months of not running from Dec 08' into the spring of 09'. I battle back, and ran some fast races late in the yr, much to my own surprise.
2010-Jan/Feb brang me some long overdue PR's in the 800m, 1mile, and 3k indoors.  I was truely surprised at my fitness in the short game, and I was thinking big things for the rest of the year.  The Boston marathon turns out to be an effort that I'm not sure I'll ever reproduce, getting a nice little PR and finishing inside the top 150, truly a great thrill.  In August-I hurt my lower back in a competitive trail HM, I finish the race 5th, but the damage is done, and now 2yrs later I'm still struggling with the aftermath of it.  But I still went to the Club National XC championship...and ran like crap, at least we had a good time in Charlotte, NC afterward!  The end of this yr brings about a sobering realization, no one is pushing me to be a better runner, and so, I switch to racing with GSTC.
2011-12-I run some good races in 11', no lifetime bests, but I'm in the hunt and racing with some very talented and dedicated teammates. In Sept I qualified for Boston and entered, but the 12' race wasn't blessed by the gods, to say the least. To end 11', I went to Club Nationals in Seattle, looking like the slowest of 6 men, but surprised some and ended up being the 5th!  So far this yr has been interesting, I've run a 20k pr that is faster than my HM best by a little bit, and so I've got a fighting chance for a spot on the Club National A Team, or so I like to think.

The law of diminishing returns has really been kicking me in the ass the past 4yrs, but I am in no way ready to lay down my arms.  New goals have gotten tougher to achieve, and thinking back, making the top 7 on the college and HS teams seemed hard, but it didn't take long at all.  I'm going full on Guerilla warfare on running!  And it just occurred to me, that I've always kept at it because I want to see if I can stay up there with the big dogs. So all these yrs later I've got the same goal as I did in 97' and 99', the pace and combatants are just way faster. The base building is under way, we'll see how I shape up this time around.  So, like Manowar, We'll to fight until we win or fight until we die! 


  1. You should have mentioned the expansion into a 50K too! But it was a great read about your history.

  2. yea i kinda forgot about that one. of course if anyone has been reading, or goes back, they'd know that. thanks for reading.

  3. This was a great post. I find running also builds our character in other aspects of your life as well. This post is a great dose of inspiration for anyone in need of a kick in the rear end (as I do right now). Thanks for sharing this!