I made the decision not to run the USA Half Marathon Championships down in Houston tomorrow morning in favor of racing Feb 5 at the USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego. I am satisfied with the decision, yet it seems that this little green alien (like on the Flintstones) has been sitting on my shoulder repeatedly reminding me how fun it would have been to be part of the festivities. Especially being able to preview the course for next January's Olympic Trials Marathon. But at the same time, it will be very rewarding if I am fortunate enough to make the USA Cross Country team for the World Championships on March 20th in Spain. Sacrifice.
That brings me to something I want to discuss. Sacrifice. I have made it known that I am a huge fan of the American distance runners of the 70s and 80s. For instance, I love it when I run in to Plaz at the U and get glimpses into this great era of USA distance running. Like last year I was struggling big time and Plaz pointed out that he didn't make his first Olympic team until he was 32. And he reminded me that this required years upon years of plugging away at the thing. Or when my coach Dennis Barker tells me how he used to go into the old Macalester Fieldhouse and run 16 laps to the mile x 5 at 5 min pace in the middle of winter and a 140 mile week. You can't take these stories away from these guys no matter what happens in life.
These stories get me excited, energized, and really just make me happy. And I feel like these guys trained and raced for the total love of the sport. And also trained to be able to enjoy some beers with the boys now and again. But they got up in the morning and just ran. And then did the same in the afternoon. And this happened day after day. The runners of this era didn't blink twice about sharing dumpy living space or eating beans and rice every night. Or having to drink Schlitz. It wasn't a sacrifice to be able to see how fast you could race.
I think that this is lost on a lot of the American runners today. They think it's a huge sacrifice to put off getting a real job or starting a family, or being fancy rich or whatever it may be in order to spend a few years training and racing. In my mind, the sacrifices to be able to do so are little to none. Doing whatever you have to possibly do in order to get the most out of yourself as a distance runner and doing this for 3, 5, even 10 or more years is one of the greatest rewards a human being can receive in life. It has never been a sacrifice over the last 10 years for me. While I have had days where I hated running and did not want to get out the door or seasons where races have just sucked and kept piling up as such, I have never viewed this as putting off anything or sacrificing real life stuff. And I wouldn't change the experience(s) for anything.
I feel like I have underachieved over the years for many reasons. But at the moment I am feeling very good and very confident heading into next weekend out in San Diego. It will be interesting to see how the actual race plays out, and we have prepared for a number of scenarios. Man it will for sure feel good to run in some warm temps., in shorts, possibly shirtless (and pasty white), and mo def having good footing will be huge. Looking forward to this next challenge.
My week since last Saturday:
Sat AM 5 miles easy on Tmill PM 3000m at the U in 8:12; negative split; had another gear at end but since I pussed out helping Lehm over the last 1500 meters I just ran it in for 2nd, 2 tenths behind the old marathoner.
Sun !8 miles first 12 outside on the snow, last 6 fairly steady around 6 min pace or something on the tmill.
Mon AM 1hr30m on the Theo Wirth single track. Probably slow, but feeling good. PM 5 on Tmill
Tues AM 5 on Rowland Rd in EP. This was a morning where I knew I am really coming along and feel I am ready because while it felt fast I was not pushing and looked at some splits and had been running some 5:20-5:30 miles. PM 8 miles of threshold on the Woodway at Plymouth LTF all full-bore at 4:48 pace
Wed AM 8 sloppy, slippery, hamstring killing miles on the paths from Schen-dels. That guy can scoot like nobody else on this stuff. PM 9 miles from my small yet very cozy SLP home.
Thurs AM 6 miles on Rowland Road/LRT in EP PM 10 miles on the Tmill
Fri AM 5 slippery miles PM 4 miles of track workout with AC and Cheever at the U. This was a good day and confirms yet again that things are going well. It was nice to lay down on the massage table afterwards. It was also hilarious that Andrew left a full body print on the Mondo.
Tomorrow will be a 13-14 mile slogfest in the morning and possibly a 4 mile jog later on, but that might get axed.