Running has been always a love hate relationship but mostly love as it has opened doors to me in life that I can never take for granted when I reflect back. It’s an important part of what make me, ME and continues to shape who I am today. Its provided me with a lifetime of memories and friendships along the way and that will continue to grow for as long as I walk this earth.
So how did this all start? Well I mistakenly ended up running in High School to be honest. You see it took a few failed attempts at trying to make the local High School Soccer team. You see I knew and thought I was skilled enough to play with the best in the school. I played with a lot of heart, and never backed down for defending the top offensive minded players. Unfortunately though we know how team sports can be political, and sometimes be more about who you know then how you play. It’s hard to not take that human element out of the process at times. It’s all based on how someone perceives you to be as a player in that given sport and not always what you’re made of. That’s what makes running so great to me, as you get what you put in no matter what your natural talent is. The beautiful thing about the sport is everyone can participate. Not everyone will win but the fact that you can measure self-improvement is everything, whether you run 12min miles or 8min miles or even quicker? I maybe faster than majority of my readers but if we are always pushing ourselves to be our best that’s what matters. Yeah running might not have been what I really had my heart in initially, but if you asked me now I was born to run.
Today I am part of a local club in my community that I run with every Tuesday night out of the local watering hole in town. We push each other, and sometimes you have it, and sometimes you don’t but you just need to show up sometimes. The biggest joy I take out of our weekly runs is the community of family that we have built. It nice to see the progression of others in the group as they all run to for their own. I know what I am capable of as a runner but seeing others harness the joy and accomplishment out of dedicating themselves really is amazing. Thru that it really pushes me along in my own journey.
I will share more about my early running years in future posts when I talk about running, but i guess I need to give you a little background on my story today. So how did I get where I am today? Well after high school I went on to run in college and the career of running that I dreamed I was capable of dreaming ended up being the of my running career all together. See I was fortunate to stay healthy long enough in high school that I was able to go on to college w/ a full ride but college wasn’t the wave of success that I had hoped for. To be honest glory of success that experienced was over before I knew what hit me, I was really that fast. I never really got a chance to enjoy the moment and I ended up becoming more of a student then a athlete which wasn’t really how I dreamed it up. I all I wanted to do was run. That was more important to me than any classes. So after college was over I tried a few times to try and run like I always believed I was capable of in my mind but my mind never found itself in agreement with my body as I made multiple attempts to regain my glory only to always find myself in pain a few weeks later, and gradually I could run less, and less.
Well fast forward 14 years of “semi-retirement” as I call it, I found myself having that itch again. Maybe… just maybe I could try a new strategy. So with that in mind I made it my mission in 2016 that I was going to commit to getting after my fitness. So I set the following New Year’s resolution for myself of (Run (x1), Bike (x1), Swim (x1), and Lift (x1) a week for the whole year). I figured the hardest part would be the running but I figured my body could handle the beating of running just once a week. I think i started out by running 1 mile a week for a few weeks and slowly one mile became 1.5 miles, which then began to be 2 miles at time. Eventually I made it up to 3 miles at a time and after a few weeks of that I dared my body to add a 2nd day to my weekly running routine. Well I rode that routine till the end of the year but not before attempting the 5th avenue mile, which I witnessed my brother run the year prior. I ran as hard as I could but I was a little disappointed for two reasons. I ran a track workout a week prior which was my first in years and it had the markings that I felt I could run a 5 minute mile. I actually ended up clocking a 5:15 which to me equated to a failure. Secondly my partner in crime brother was only 2 seconds slower when to be honest when i thought I should have a more of a gap over him because of running years prior. Don’t get me wrong I love the kid, but even he was surprised that he almost eclipsed me. Well that failure left me with a taste in my mouth that I didn’t like. I tried to run sub 5 one last time in the December but I strained my calf muscle getting off the starting line. So that officially brought my 2016 campaign to the end, and forced me to regroup, rest and focus toward 2017.
So began 2017 strong with the strained calf healed and now behind me. Just like running I kept putting one foot ahead of the other, and day by day I was feeling stronger and stronger. Then like anything in life you can never know when you might hit a bump in the road. In all my years I was fortunate to never have dealt with any issues regarding my IT band till late January of this year. It just flared up out of nowhere. It only affected my running surprisingly as there was no pain when I biked or went swimming. Anyway I won’t bore you with the details but shockingly it to me almost 2.5 months before I was back in business. Part of the key to my success was the acupuncture treatments which I never tried prior to this but I truly believe it played an integral part in my healing.
When I got back to running it was already late April and it was like going all the way back to step1 because let’s be honest even thought I was feeling good running the limited 6-8 miles a week that I was doing you prior to getting injured you really don’t develop a true “base” like I did back in the day running those 50-60mile weeks. I didn’t even enter my first race this year till father’s day weekend, and even then I didn’t decide till after a morning jog to do a “system check”. I felt loose enough after that I would in fact run and not be a spectator. Anyway that race wasn’t my fastest but I ran my race and ended up placing 6th which was a big positive and it would only propel me forward as my next goal was tackling the 2016 disappointments of the 5th Avenue mile which only was really two months away.
When I was 5 weeks out from what I hoped would be redemption. So I set out a plan to do what I could to make sure I would be a little more successful this time around, but also not killing my body because at the end of the day I am much more happy running then not. Step one was getting to the track which I did. I kicked my own ass on my first visit as I couldn’t do what was always so easy in my earlier years. I struggled mightily that first trip as I set out to run 12 400’s, and I ended up calling it a day after 6 when I couldn’t even crack 86 seconds. Well I would make it back there only one or two times having a little more success each time so I decided the best way to really test myself was just race my way into shape. So I found a local open mile road race, where i clocked 5:15, and to me that was a success based on the fact I couldn’t muster 6 400’s under 85 seconds a week or two prior.
After that success I looked around and noticed there were two other races that fit perfectly into my calendar, unfortunately the chips didn’t fall my way as one was sold-out by the time I found out about it, and the other one I had a conflict in the schedule. So since I didn’t get to race myself into shape like I hoped I would now just have to go out there for the 5th Avenue Mile and just see what I had and just try and suck up the pain and give it what I had. Because that is what I tell everyone is the key to running fast. It is a tolerance of pain in part to pushing yourself to the limits.
Well I went into the city on Sunday by myself bright and early and got myself situated. Unfortunately since I was on a solo mission I had nobody to watch any of my stuff while I warmed up so I had to lug everything on my back as i tried to warm-up before handing my items to the bag check folks at the starting line. I didn’t feel totally warmed up and stretched out when I got to the start line so I just prayed for a little help and waited for the start signal and ran the race plan through my head one last time…then Bang!! The gun went off and the herds of runners in my group were off and on their way. I made sure to get clear space, but find my rhythm as I didn’t want to go out to hard and pay for a early pace later. I hit the ¼ mile mark in 74’s right where I would like to be and feeling good. So as I neared the 600 mark I was surveying the field as was looking for someone who looked like they would run sub 5. I found my man and I told myself there is one guy in this race and I was able to “clear the mechanism” like Kevin Costner does in the movie For the Love of the Game. I just keyed in on this one guy in his white North Brooklyn running jersey with black trim. I just made it my mission to do everything I could to key on him and not let him open more than the 5 meter gap he already had. I crossed the ½ mile mark at 2:33 which meant I was off the pace, but I knew the course was downhill from there so I knew I was right there but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Again I refocused on the guy ahead and just kept the kept the spacing at that 5 meter distance. I couldn’t close the gap but he wasn’t opening it either as I am began searching around for the ¾ mark. It seemed like that mark was never going to come up cause I could feel the fatigue setting in I was trying to see where i was pace wise. Finally I see the marker coming up, but i didn’t catch the clock as I notice I am actually starting to catch this guy and close the gap and now the finish line was in sight and I just told myself …you feel good, and just dig down and find the legs from you previous running career and run as fast as you can and as my gate began to open up i passed the guy I had been following the whole way.
It was hard to judge how far the finish was but i saw the clock click 4:39, 4:40 as looked up and was like holy crap can I break 4:50? Move damn it I yelled to myself and I began just clipping guys off left and right as I felt like I was flying and wishing I went to the 5th gear a little sooner. Well as I got closed in on the line it turned out that it was a little further then I thought as i watched the clock click off 4:58, 4:59, 5:00 minutes in slow motion, as I simultaneously stopped my watch at 5:01 unofficially not knowing if i did it. But I will tell you that I did
So I paced around, caught my breath and went for a cooldown run in the central park and figured maybe by the time I got my bag, and my phone and it said the unofficial time was 5:00 so I’ll admit i was a little disappointed that it was that close knowing I had more left in the tank. Well when I got back to the to the car to find my way out of the city, I checked the results one last time at it said the official time was 4:59, I did it! I was pumped; I was like OMG I am finally back in the sub 5minute club AGAIN! It didn’t take long for me to start wondering and thinking about how fast could I really run in this second running career. What was I really capable of? I still don’t know to this day where running will take me but running till this day continues teach me lessons about life. If you never give up and you keep fighting good things can happen no matter what happens in life. I might not be as fast as i once was, but running that time brought more joy than ever thought a 4:59 mile would ever bring knowing where i have been.
The Janosick Project
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