IT IS ONLY CRAZY UNTIL YOU DO IT
After Chicago 2017 I was looking forward to the year that lay ahead of me. I wrote down the following goals in my training log:
5km - 15:00
Half - 68:00
Unfortunately the year that followed wasn't the one I had imagined.
Jan 11th - Feb 5th
3 weeks off of running. Cross training
Feb 5th - March 4th
4 weeks of running
Chilly 5km - 15:13
Strained Achilles - My body wasn't strong enough to handle the impact of a hard 5km on the road
March 4th- March 18th
2 weeks - Reduced running lots of cross training
NYC 1/2 - 1:09:01
Full blown Achilles injury
March 18th - April 23rd
5 weeks cross-training
April 23rd - May 26th
4 weeks running
Ottawa 10km - 31:30
May 26- June 16
3 more weeks of consistent running
Waterfront 10km - 30:48
June 16th -July 8th
4 more weeks of consistent training
Boiler maker - 47:37
July 8th - SEPTEMBER 9TH
Toronto Island 10km - 30:42
Not a result that showed much progression from my last 10km back in June
September 9th- October 7th
Grind, grind, taper
Chicago Marathon: 2:19:03
I have struggled this year with being happy with the results that I turned out in races. I feel that I always raced as well as I could have with the preparation that I had. A few injuries early in the year kept me from getting consistent training. I felt that I kept on showing up to the start line under prepared and never felt that I was able to demonstrate what my actual potential was.
For my winter in spring races I only had a few weeks of consistent training leading into most of them. It took me until May to start stringing together consistent quality weeks of running. Most of my spring goal races turned into... racing for fitness vs racing off of a base of fitness. I always raced well for where I was at in my training but it was frustrating to know that I was better than the results I was putting out. It literally took me right up until the first week of my marathon build to be in a place where I had the fitness to actually do a marathon build.
It's fair to say I have felt like I have been behind the ball most of the year and had a lot of work to get done going into my marathon build.
Almost immediately after Chicago last year Kyle pointed out that our next obvious goal was getting an Olympic Trials Standard (The States hold an Olympic trials marathon and the qualifying time to compete in it is 2:19:00 *Kyle and I are both dual citizens). We couldn't imagine ever having the opportunity to race in a more competitive field. A field where the slowest marathon PB is a 2:19:00,a field full of dreamers, a field full of the best American distance runners.
In January we agreed that 'realistically' it would likely take us more than one attempt so we thought 2:20:00 for Chicago this year would be a good goal and then we would still have time to do a spring marathon and another fall marathon if necessary to get an OTQ within the qualifying time period.
As our Fall build approached I knew that Kyle had 7 months of consistent training behind him. He was killing workouts. I kew that he would be able to run 2:19:00. I was hesitant to commit to 2:19 because I didn't feel that I had the winter/spring foundation that I needed. There was a big gap between our fitness but I knew that if I could buy into the belief of 2:19:00 it would only strengthen his belief in his ability to run it. I was all in
Other than showing up healthy on day one of the build I didn't have much going for me at the start.
We are all runners. We all have goals. We all have dreams
We are all humans. We all have responsibilities. We all have stress.
I have always done a good job at balancing my life and running. This build however had more than a healthy amount of life stress present and it had a noticeable effect. It effect me both physically and mentally and wore me down pretty low.
I pulled the plug 45 minutes into my first workout. I really did not believe that the 12 weeks that laid ahead of me would be the 12 weeks that I needed to take aim at such a big goal.
I didn't have the focus or the mindset that is required to approach a task that requires a such unwavering belief and commitment. There were days where I questioned if running should even be a priority. To be honest, if it weren't for Kyle's dream of getting on OTQ I probably would've not done this build.
And here I will Thank Kyle. For taking the burden of focusing for the both of us. For keeping our vision alive when I couldn't. For believing that I was stronger than I believed I was.
Where last year every workout was 10/10 across the board this year workouts were...ok but not really anything special. Things didn't start to really click until towards the end of the build.
Over the course of 12 weeks the fitness gap between Kyle and I had closed and the odds of 2:19:00 were tilting more and more in our favour with every week that went by.
When all the training was done we both agreed that 2:19:00 was in the cards but that our success didn't depend on necessarily on running a 2:19:00. We have done enough marathons that we felt very confident that we could play any hand that we were dealt to the best of our abilities and we believed we had 2:19:00 in our legs ... Dealer shuffle the deck
At the start of the race it was this and that. Not ideal but not harsh enough to deter us from our goal.
My current half marathon PB is 1:09:01 and I had to run 2 back to back 1:09:30s. It's not advisable to run that close to your HM PB in a marathon... but I knew my PB was relatively soft since it was off of little training on a hard course. Kyle had raced a 67 low HM earlier in September... so ipso facto I knew I was capable of a 67 HM and splitting through in 1:09:30 was over 2 minutes slower that so piece of cake right!? These are the lies you must tell yourself and that you must believe.
Once the gun went off Kyle and I got off the line and tried to settle into our pace. A group of roughly 12 guys formed behind us. Having them on my heels made me run faster than what we planned. I looked around and I saw how big the group was and thought to my self there is NO WAY this many people are going to run 2:19:00. I told Kyle that we didn't need to lead this group. I was not here to be a sacrificial lamb for a bunch of strangers. That was not my story. I was not going to be the guy that had a glorious first half leading a pack and then fell off.
We relinquished the lead and settled into the group. We went through the 1/2 in 1:09:10. Kyle and I both agreed that we didn't need to stay with the pack and to let them go. As the distance grew between us and the pack I had to remind myself that the success of our goal did not lie with them.
Over the course of the second half everyone slowly come back to us. As we passed runner after runner that had gotten carried away with the group, I couldn't help but think - I told you I was not a lamb for slaughter. I told you that wasn't my story.
With 4 km to go we were still moving well but I was concerned that our time cushion was running out. I physically felt fine but my legs were not outputting the power that they were before. I felt I had a little bit of power reserve but I was afraid to dig into it because I didn't know how long it would last... I needed it to save it until I felt we were in the clear...
I knew Kyle was still holding up strong and I didn't want him to waste a second waiting to see if I could rally myself. I told him to get it. I told him to go make his dream come true.
A small gap opened between us. Just like it does in every workout every week. I worked to keep it small and fought to get an inch a foot a stride back. Just like I do every week in every workout.
A bike came up beside us and told us the lead women was coming up. Then it was the media truck and then it was the timing vehicle for the lead women.
The timing vehicle was both a good and a bad thing. It pulled in front of us with a predicted finish time of 2:18:55. WE HAD TO STAY WITH THE CLOCK! As the lead women passed us the truck pulled further and further away. In my head the further away that truck got the further away 2:18:55 got. The distance was to great for me to possible close * negative thought . The narrative that I had for myself changed
I didn't have the clear mind to realize that the timing truck was pulling away because the lead women was speeding up and thus the timing truck no longer represented 2:18:55... I was still on pace for sub 2:19:00 but I didn't have the clear mind to realize this. Mentally 2:18:55 was out of reach and I couldn't get it. I had lost my focus. 2:19:00 was slipping away not because I wasn’t capable of it but because I had faltered mentally.
It wasn't until I turned the final corner off the bridge that I realized. We still had time! Kyle still had a nice sized gap on me. HE WAS GOING TO GET IT!
Coming down that last final stretch. Seeing the clock. Seeing Kyle run under the clock. Seeing him make his dream become a reality and then realizing that I only had 5 seconds left to do the same... I felt every damn feeling I have ever felt. I closed my eyes. Maybe I was dreaming. Maybe these last 42.1km have been a dream... maybe the last 3 months have been a dream. This couldn't be how it ends.
I opened my eyes on the other side of the finish line and saw Kyle standing there in disbelief. I kept telling him over and over that HE DID IT! He punched his ticket to the Olympic trials he made his crazy dream come true. My parents appeared out of now where. I wanted to punch myself in the face but took a minute to cry into their shoulders instead. After my minute was up the realization of what we had done set in. We spent the day celebrating our achievements with doughnuts and champagne.
The next day on the drive home with my parents I was hard on myself and the day after that I actually reflected on my whole year of life and running.
I won't let three seconds takeaway from what I have accomplished this year. I exceeded the goal that I wrote down back in January. I opened my eyes even wider to my own potential.
This year was tough and it really tested me. I learned that injuries don't necessarily equal set backs. I learned that I don't need a smooth build in order to take aim at a target and execute a plan. I learned that I am not as well balanced, well rounded, grounded or strong as I thought I was. I leaned that when I am to tired to be strong I have people in my life that will prop me up and keep pushing me to move forward.
Running will always be a challenge and life will always be a balancing act and I will continue to get better at both. I am excited for whats next. So much growth and opportunity lies ahead of me.
I have enjoyed a slower pace of life the last 2 weeks.
Having the time to cook my eggs instead of microwaving them while I shower has been nice.
Reading during lunch instead of napping has been nice.
Sleeping in 60-90 minutes * almost every day has also been a real delight.
I have bigger dreams than 2:19:00 now. I bore witness to Kyle making his dream become a reality and I have no reason to believe that I can't do the same.
To my parents
And everyone that has ever encouraged me keep striving for my full potential.
I will not stop until I reach it. And even then I'll keep reaching.