Thursday, August 18, 2011

My journey into running.

I just read Tim's story of how he got into running and decided to write my own. Even if no one else is really interested, I wanted to do it for myself.

To begin, I played baseball and soccer for the longest time. I was a great baseball player for my age, but was a pretty terrible soccer player. I wasn't aggressive enough to play. I ran one season of cross country in 7th grade and I HATED it. By the end of the year I was skipping practices and wanted nothing to do with it.
Coming into highschool I tried out for the soccer team and made the freshman team. I had a decent season, nothing too impressive but when the season ended I had no idea what I was going to do. The soccer season had ended! Do I wait a year until next fall for soccer? No. My brother was running indoor and outdoor track. So, being the little brother, I followed him into it, and at first I still hated it. I was short (5'1") and chubby and had no confidence at all. I was the manager for the team in indoor because I didn't want to run. Pathetic. And come outdoor, I still didn't want to run. I ran a 5:54 mile. Again, pathetic.

Sophomore year I tried out for the soccer team and was cut, I was devestated. My dad essentially made me try out for cross country at Pinkerton, which is one of the most successful teams in the school. I did so reluctantly and didn't make the team. (There was a time trial and sophomores had to run a 5k in under 21 minutes. I ran 21:15) I had another slow indoor and outdoor season (Running the 600 and 800 in 1:45 and 2:20) And the year ended.

I then had to decide if I wanted to try out for the soccer or cross country team in my Junior year, I decided to try out for the cross country team on my own accord. Only problem, no training under my belt. I had run only a few miles that summer  with my brother (who was also trying out for the XC team). I ran the time trial again and missed the time (20 minutes for Juniors) by 11 seconds. My dad was pissed at me (He usually is.) I was embarrassed for not making the team AGAIN. And finally showed some interest and started actually training. During indoor, I showed that I had some talent, I ran 1:34 in the 600 and then 2:07 in the 800 in outdoor. And yet again, the year ended.

The summer before my senior year was tough, my Grandfather passed away from cancer, and I was crushed. I turned my focus to running, and although I didn't have great training, it was the best summer I ever had up to that point. I had more consistent mileage and felt more confident. I went to Camp Foss and had one of the best weeks of my life. I ran the first 9 miler of my life and was thrilled! I knew I would do well this time. I got to tryouts looking fit and ready to go. (I had a growth spurt during Junior year which helped.) Once the day came for the time trial, I was so nervous, I was shaking at breakfast that day. But there was no avoiding it, the gun went off and so did I. I remember coming through the first mile and thinking "I feel really good!" So I started to pick off people and move up in the pack. I caught up to my friend Doug and we paced off eachother for the last mile. I ended up running 18:03 that day and couldn't believe it. I finally made the team. We then had our alumni meet and I ran 16:55 and got 5th on the team.

Going from 20:11 to 16:55 in one year was incredible for me. I finally understood what I had to do to succeed, and I then fell in love with the sport. I had a pretty good year but our team had a lot of talent and I was pushed back to 1st alternate. I am still bitter about it because I had ONE bad race that year and it knocked me off of varsity. I had to run the JV state meet. I was told by my coach that if I ran 16:42 he would have to consider me for varsity. I ran 16:35 and won the race by 7 seconds. Yet I was still 1st alternate. It was so frustrating. We got 2nd at States, 4th at Meet of Champions and 6th at NE's. It was a great experience even though I only ran at MOC's. Indoor and outdoor went pretty well, I ran 1:29 in the 600 and 2:02 in the 800. And then, yup you guessed it, the year ended. I graduated and would be on my way to Keene State.

I remember going on a run with my brother the summer before freshman year and he asked me what my goals were for the year. I told him "Just run and get a feel for it." My goal for a time was to try and get close to 27 minutes, and I wanted to be close to varsity. I really didn't think I would do very well freshman year. The first meet I ran 26:42 and I finished up the year as the 7th man on a team that got 3rd at regionals and was nationals-bound. Talk about a surprise year! Naturally, I completely bombed at Nationals, but the whole experience was incredible. It was just the taste I needed. I want to get back there so bad. I hurt my knee after one meet in indoor (9:16 3k) and then decided to concentrate on my grades for the rest of the year.

I was kind of frustrated coming into sophomore year, I didn't have a great summer of training and considered myself a question mark for the year. I would either get back to my success or fall off. I had a pretty awful race at the alumni meet and was not feeling so great about everything. Pete decided to keep me in the varsity race at Umass Dartmouth and I kept telling myself while on the line "I belong here." I ran 25:31 that day and got 27th overall as 4th man on the team. I was back. After some great races (26:20 at Franklin Park, 27:11 at Purple Valley Invite) I had an achilles pull after the 3 mile time trial (14:58) and was really worried about the rest of my season. I was lucky enough that my injury came right when we had a break from meets. I got to regionals feeling healthy and confident. I had a great week of training and just felt really awesome overall. But when the gun went off in Williamstown, MA I was not all there. My legs felt tired and I was mentally drained. In other words, I bombed. I ran 27:21 and came in 72nd. It was the worst feeling I have ever had. I let down my teammates and myself. I turned my focus to indoor and ran some good times (8:50 3k, 1:59 800 and I had a HORRIBLE outdoor season.)

So that brings me to this point, the end of summer before my Junior year of college. After my best summer of training all there is left to do is show up. I have tasted success, I have known failure, so if humans are creatures of habit, which will I choose?...

...3 months until regionals.

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