Tag Archives: exercise

A Little epic

My run today stunk. I was tired when I started, and once my body warmed up and adjusted to the run… well, I was warmed up, adjusted and still tired. Sure, by the end, I was happy I’d run. But I was most happy to just be done with the run.

Sometimes a run is just going to suck. For me, that sometimes was today. I know that I wasn’t running a marathon. I wasn’t pushing myself to the brink like the Eliud Kipchoge, Lelia Desisa, and Zersenay Tadese of Breaking2 will.  The run today wasn’t even the run I wanted to do. It was just the run I could do. But believe me when I tell you that today’s effort seemed epic to me.

I could have cut the run short. I could have skipped it completely. But I didn’t. I did the run and I had to break through some barriers along the way. To me, that’s what makes a run epic. Every run is a barrier broken. That invisible starting line we cross with our first stride every day? It’s a barrier.  Somedays it’s a pretty easy one to run through. Other days, that first stride is the most difficult of the entire run.

We need to remember that not all barriers are sky high. The most difficult barriers don’t have to involve racetracks in Italy and EPIC moon shot attempts at crazy times over grueling distances. Some barriers are way…down…low. Right at the start. And if you don’t look out, it’s the little barriers that trip you up.

So maybe the run I got through today – a run that started and ended crappy – doesn’t deserve to be called EPIC in all caps. But that doesn’t really matter to me. Because all caps or not, EPIC means the same thing as epic. And that’s what brings us all together as runners.

You. Me. And yes, Eliud, Lelisa and Zerseney in Italy pushing themselves to make history by Breaking2.

We are all meant to be runners.

Epic ones.

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Worst Runs Ever

What was my worst run ever?
I get that question all the time.
And it’s funny because the sensible companion question – what was your best run ever – doesn’t get asked very often.
Which is probably a good thing because I don’t have a single answer.
But I also don’t have an answer for the worst run ever question either.
Don’t get me wrong.
I have more than enough answers…a whole collection of worst runs.
I just don’t have ONE worst run ever.
Which means I don’t have an answer.
I’ve had runs in the sun without water and runs in the snow that ended up with me on my butt.
I’ve had runs when my ego was fit as hell but I was out of shape – those never end well.
And I’ve had runs where I didn’t believe I could do what I was so obviously already doing.
I did runs by myself when I needed to be anything but alone.
And I had runs with the group when I needed those miles all to myself.
I’ve had runs started too close to an extraordinary meal.
And I had runs not started far enough away from a very suspect meal.
Cramps. Twisted ankles. Tired. Stressed. Wrong turns.
I’ve had the halfway out and halfway home bathroom emergency…without a bathroom run.
All Worst Runs Ever.
But, I also know that I learned about myself, life, running (and even what Poison Ivy can do to your bathing suit area if you are not careful) on those terrible runs.
And if I had not started those runs I wouldn’t have learned the most important lesson of all: that I can get through them.
Every run has a purpose.
Even all those worst ones.

The Most Elite Version of Yourself

 

Elite is not a time on a clock.

It’s what happens during that time on the clock.

Elite is not a medal.

It’s what you did to earn that medal.

Elite is not a distance.

It’s about running the distance.

Elite is not a finish line.

It’s a starting line.

Elite is not a pace.

It’s an effort.

Elite is not perfect form.

It’s keeping your form.

Elite is not a headline.

It’s the story.

Elite is not elitist.

It just means being the most elite version of yourself. 

Heath

 

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It matters.

That’s what I knew every day when I woke up.

It matters.

All of it.

Everything.

When I walked into the classroom and when I went to practice I knew it.

Mr. Heath made sure of that.

Because it mattered to him.

The challenge was if we could care as much about it as he did.

If we could do that, well, that is how one team wins 21 Meet of Champions titles.

 

He never treated Cross Country or Track & Field as peripheral sports.

To him they were the only sports.

That was super important to a 14 year old deciding what sport to commit to.

That mentality brought so many great runners into the program.

They didn’t even know they were runners!

But they wanted to be a part of something special.

 

Mr. Heath and I  didn’t coach the same way.

In fact, we were incredibly different when it came to coaching.

So, we argued.

But, we also laughed.

We laughed more than we argued.

We had fun working so hard.

The bar kept getting raised.

I’ll put those last 4 years we had together at CBA up against anyone’s best 4.

The greatest part was that it got harder and harder to get better and better.

And that made only made it more fun for us.

 

He didn’t need to do any more in the sport.

His place on the mountaintop was earned years ago.

You could add up the MOC titles of every other coach in NJ and put them in a corner and that pile would be smaller than his.

He kept coaching though.

Because it mattered.

And if something matters to you then dammit do it as best as you can.

That’s something I remember when I think about Mr. Heath.

 

Believing is Seeing

I’m sure some people will tell me that I’m too old to believe in magic. They will tell me that anything “extra” I felt when I first stepped onto the track at an empty Hayward Field was just the strong coffee I had just finished. Or maybe it was just the result of years of wanting and imagining and dreaming that this moment would be special. I’m sure that some people will tell me that I’m just seeing what I want to see and feeling what I want to feel.

There is no magic they’ll tell me.

But they didn’t run that first turn at Hayward and hear the echo of a starting gun that was not there drift behind me as I rolled forward. They will tell me it was just construction or a backfiring car or some University of Oregon student dropping a textbook.

They didn’t hear the sound of people clapping and stomping like I did as my heart beat increased and I picked up the pace along the epic backstretch.
They will tell me that’s just the sound of old wooden stands stretching and contracting as the sun and the wind do their dirty work on the structure.

They didn’t see and hear and feel the crowd rise to their feet as I came sprinting off Bowerman’s Turn like I did. They didn’t find that one extra gear like I did because Pre’s People demanded it.
They will tell me I imagined it all – I was awake and dreaming – I saw what I wanted to see.

Well, I was at Hayward Field and I ran a magical lap there.
Am I too old to believe in magic?
No.

Believing in magic is what keeps me from ever being old.

Between The Lines

(I originally posted this on Instagram before the 2014 NYC Marathon. I thought it might be a good idea to repost it now. Good luck to every runner racing this Spring. Enjoy the journey between the lines.)
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 It’s not going to be perfect. And it’s best to come to terms with that now.
You are going to go out too slow or too fast or fall asleep in the middle or come up short or have too much at the end. You may cramp because you drank too little and you may cramp because you drank too much. You may be sick and feel like crap. You may be healthy and feel like crap.
It’s not going to be perfect.
You have weaknesses. You screw up and make mistakes. You have doubts. You get scared.
Because you’re not perfect either.
But you’re not doing this because you thought you were perfect. You are doing this because you know you are getting Stronger. Because you are learning every day about yourself. And you Believe you can do this. And because being Scared is OK. Being scared reminds you that you are Alive. And sometimes you need to be reminded.
And you should celebrate that you are not perfect. That means you Always have something you can work on, Challenge yourself on. You know what you can be is Better.
You know what you can be is your Best.
You just can’t be perfect.
So this mile, this run, this marathon, this journey between these start and  finish lines can be Life Changing. It can be Inspiring. It can be a Triumph.
It can be so many amazing things.
It just can’t be perfect.
It doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be Extraordinary.
And neither do you.

Coming Up Millroses

When the Millrose Games decided to move the meet out of Madison Square Garden and into the New Balance Center/168th Street Armory for the 2012 meet I was disappointed. I fell in love with running during the 80’s. I remember watching Eamonn Coghlan and Marcus O’Sullivan win just about every Wanamaker Mile there was in front of sold out Madison Square Garden crowds. I remember the seemingly endless meet coverage on the MSG channel. More than anything else I remember imagining how exciting it would be to race at Madison Square Garden. (I was the first HS miler not invited to race in the Millrose HS Mile! Still stings.) Having a meet in the greatest arena there is seemed to legitimize the sport. Due to dwindling attendance at the meet which was due to boring races which was due to incredibly weak fields which was due to no one caring about Millrose anymore which was due to no one caring about Indoor Track anymore the meet finally left the increasingly barren MSG. I was pissed. I was frustrated. I was mostly sad. It seemed like yet another capitulation by our sport.

The meet organizers decided to move Millrose to the Armory. Even though the Armory has one of the fastest tracks in the world I kept saying it won’t be the same if it’s not at MSG. I was right. But not in the way I thought.

After attending Millrose each of the last 5 years (3 at MSG and 2 at the Armory)I have to admit that the quality of the meet has improved dramatically since the move. The fan experience has improved each year it has been at the Armory as well. Year two at the armory had the ushers being more polite, the athletes were treated better, the food offerings were improved, and Coogan’s is still nearby.

And the organizers have added some nice bells and whistles. There is a  great raffle that the organizers are having to benefit the Armory Prep College Fund. I was fully prepared to see some really weak offerings for the potential raffle winners. Instead, I saw 8 awesome prizes. You could win a burger and beer with Nick Symmonds at Coogan’s after the meet or a brunch with the Chairmen of the Boards Eamonn Coghlan or even an entire Millrose weekend with hotel and tickets included. It may seem silly that I am dedicating part of a post to a raffle. It’s not silly. The people at Millrose are trying to make their meet better on and off the track. That deserves recognition.

Let’s talk about the track part. Bernard Lagat, Nick Willis and Evan Jager in the (rarely run) 2000m, Nick Symmonds, Duane Soloman, Robby Andrews, and Eric Sowinski in the (rarely run) 1000m, young studettes Mary Cain and Ajee Wilson will battle in the 800m and the greatest athlete on Earth, Ashton Eaton, will be competing in two events, the 60m Hurdles and the pole vault. The Millrose Games will be a family affair for Ashton as his wife  just happens to be the World Championship Heptathlon Silver Medalist, Brianne Thiessen. Mrs. Eaton will  be competing in two events, the long jump and hurdles. Add to this already great meet the classic Wanamaker Mile and the HS relays and mile races. Really, what you have is what we have always asked for: a well run, compact, and exciting Track & Field meet…with beers.

What will we as Track & Field Fans do with this? If history is any indicator we will collectively yawn and then make sure we bitch about having to pay money to experience it. Any money at all to watch the meet online or in person is too much for us cheap bastards. Hell, $30 is too much for a raffle ticket, isn’t it? We want Track to be more slick and more exciting and more popular and less expensive – as if it could get any cheaper. We’ll pay $100 so we can run a 13.1 miles with other people on a road but we’ll protest $100 for ticket to one of the premier Indoor meets in the World. Hypocritical? Apathetic? Naive? Pessimistic? All of the above? Worse?

If the Millrose Games can turn around a dying meet maybe we can turnaround a dying fanbase. If you are from the tri-state area then try to attend. Buy some tickets. It’s worth it. If you can’t attend the meet then make sure you watch it on ESPN or online. Throw some cash at the raffle. Visit the sponsors at the bottom of the NYRR Millrose Games homepage. Make sure you READ and SHARE the articles you see about the meet. Talk about the Millrose Games. Do something because they are doing something. And that is what we wanted.

What happens when we get what we want?

See you at Millrose.