“I have this competition in me”

“I have this competition in me”
Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood

I have to run, a day without hitting the trails and gutting out some sort of mileage is essentially a day wasted. However, in many instances I dread the thought of running. After a monotonous day staring at a computer screen and listening to a lecture on the neurophysiologic effects of joint manipulations, the last thing I want to do is run the same old route, listening to the same old music, while trying to hit the same old mile splits.  However, once get into a rhythm, I feel very at home and comfortable. I begin to notice all of the beauty that surrounds me, whether it be looking at the Continental Divide from Moraine Park or even simply the continuous landscape of cedar, post oak and prickly pear.

Eventually, I realize that running is one of the few things that I enjoy doing all day. As much as I love running, I am not certain that I would be half as interested in it if there was not a race on the calendar. I began running in high school with the intent of lowering my times to compete. It is safe to say that my love of running stems mostly from my love of competing; all the peripheral reasons to run developed later in my life.

By no stretch of the imagination do I consider myself a competitor on a large stage. I still maintain that my ability to win races in high school was due to the fact that I was in Division III. I began running at a time when there were not many people interested in running cross country at Tiffin Calvert. The perfect storm of luck, training and coaching came together to boost my confidence enough to continue working harder.

I still maintain some lofty personal goals, goals that if I were smarter or more rational would not even be on my radar. However, without these goals, my life as well as my running loses a sense of direction and meaning. I believe Mick Jagger said it best, “lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.”  I have educational and career goals, and I am working diligently to reach them, but they will never come close to bringing the same satisfaction of pushing myself past limits that I thought were previously unattainable.

Top Ten Favorite Races

Honorable Mention:
2006 3200 MAL Fostoria, OH (3rd 10:34); My goal all season my sophomore year was to get honorable mention in the 3200 at the MAL meet. I was elated to finish out the season in third behind two state qualifying cross country runners.

2007 3200m MAL Fostoria, OH (1st 10:13); My goal all season my junior year was to win the MAL meet. My good luck continued and I was able to come out on top and once again accomplish one of my season goals.

2010 10000m All Ohio Delaware, OH (4th 32:22); This was my first break out race in the 10K. I ran the first 5K in 16:24 and the latter 5K in 15:58, and was ecstatic about the negative split. Ultimately I was outkicked by three other runners and ended up fourth.

2011 5000m Charlotte, NC (30th 15:43); Every spring after our annual track training in Orlando, FL we would drive back down south to Charlotte, NC to run another warm weather meet. Typically, I would aim for the OAC qualifying 10K standard in South Carolina week one and then the 5K week two in North Carolina. I would typically compete in the second heat which consisted the middle of the pack 5K runners. This race makes it on to the list mainly because I loved running under the lights and on the trails surrounding the campus… also because it is my fasted 5K all time.

2013 Leadville 100 (71st23:41:42); In my second go around things went more smoothly with the help of my high school friend Craig Genet, fiancé Apryle Craig and my father. I was able to finish strong and finish in under a day. I will be back again to lower that number more significantly.

2010 Sylvania Duathlon (1st 2:07:32); This is the only event in my list to also include some cycling. After jumping on the bike in first after a quick 5K, I dropped about 5 spots and had to catch myself up in the 10K. I ended up cruising to the finish with a 5:55 average pace for the 10K which I was happy with after a 25 mile bike at about 22 mph.

2010 Cleveland Fall Classic Half Marathon (2nd 1:13:05); This race was the culmination of my 2010 cross country season since I did not perform well at Regionals. I was happy with the pace I held and fought off people charging around mile 10 with a series of accelerations. Additionally, I nearly caught the leader while trying to protect my spot. I was outpaced to the line, but was pleased with my overall time.

  1. 2010 5000 OAC Indoor Marietta, OH (11th 15:59); First race to crack the top ten is an unusual choice. It is not a great time and it is not a great place, but how could I dismiss the first time I broke 16 minutes in the 5K? I can remember throwing my hands in the air as if I just won the race as opposed to finishing 11th.
  1. 2014 JFK 50 (10th 6:24:39); This race cracks the top ten mainly because it is the largest improvement I have seen in my running performance in nearly four years. Prior to this race I consider the 2011 Cleveland Marathon to be last race that I was truly happy with. I had a training plan, I had a race plan and I had a time goal and I executed on all three.
  1. 2011 Cleveland Marathon (8th 2:39:58); throughout high school and college I liked to think that the farther the distance the stronger I got. I was always looking to push the envelope and run a little farther than I should have given my age and training. In running my first marathon, I was very pleased to find that I could pace well and still finish strong.
  1. 2008 3200m Regionals, Tiffin, OH (2nd 10:00); This was a bitter sweet race for me. I knew that I needed top four to make it to the State meet and I knew I had the capabilities of winning the race. It was an emotional day, running for potentially the last time in my high school career in front of a home crowd on the very track that I played on as a child. If I recall correctly I was leading the race up until the last 300 meters or so and was kicked down. I ended up losing the race but earning my second ticket to the Columbus in my senior year.
  1. 2010 10000m OAC, Alliance, OH (4th 32:56); I had yet to make any major accomplishments during my collegiate running until the spring of 2010. I dropped over 18 kilos and was running the fastest splits of my life. I ran 32:22 at the All Ohio meet and had a good seed coming into the OAC championships. However, I never thought that I would be in contention for a win for as long as I was in this race. Undoubtedly, the race favorite that already had a national qualifying time, was taking it easy, but I like to think that I at least made some people work a little harder than they were expecting to in this race. As an added bonus I went on to get 7th in the 5000m the next day with a time of 15:46.
  1. 2010 8000m OAC (7th 25:57); This is my proudest achievement in collegiate cross country. I knew that winning the OAC meet was out of the question in my collegiate career. However, it was always a goal since my Freshman year to some day make first team All-OAC. All the time and training paid off and I ran at the top of my game when it counted, as I believe I finished a little higher than my seed going into the race.
  1. 2007 3200m Regionals, Fostoria, OH (5th 9:59);  In this race I missed a state bid by less than five seconds. However, with this time I set our school 3200m record and bettered my previous best time by 14 seconds. I feel like this race was the epitome of a great taper thanks to Coach Behm and a lot of adrenalin.  This race remains to be one of the best results of a taper in my training.
  1. 2007 5000 NWOCSA Sandusky, OH (1st 16:32); This race will always be ingrained in my memory. It was a Monday race after school in late August. It was the Catholic schools championship and one of my biggest rivals in high school was there. He won the race in 2005 and I took the title in 2006. It was a battle from the start and I was on his shoulder for the majority of the race, but with a quarter mile to go I pulled away and built up a 10 second margin of victory. This was one of the only races in my career where I won based on a finishing kick. As an added bonus, the time was also good enough for a school record.
  1. 2007 5000 MAL Bettsville, OH (1st 16:37); Coming out on top in this event was a goal of mine since lacing up my spikes for the first time back in 2005. The Midland Athletic League was the conference in which Tiffin Calvert competed and no Calvert runner had ever won the title. I was determined to change that before I graduated. In my first MAL championships I was 19th (17:54), in my second I was 3rd (17:11) and in my final race in Bettsville I finally accomplished the goal that was three years in the making.
  1. 2012 Leadville 100 (96th 26:05:47); Although this is probably my worst performance on this list and my 2013 Leadville was almost two hours quicker, this remains my favorite race of all time. I had the goal of running Leadville since the summer of 2006 when my boss asked me if I wanted to run this 100 mile race in the mountains. Finally when I finished collegiate running I knew it was time to tackle the challenge.

The reason that this race is number one, is not because I performed to the top of my ability or even because I accomplished a long standing goal. The reason this race is number one is the fact that after my body shut itself down in the form of passing out, I still managed to get back up and out on course.  This moment taught me that there is nothing too insurmountable with the right attitude and determination. I feel that this is a rare moment, a moment of clarity and an overwhelming since of accomplishment that I doubt I will ever feel again in a race or any other aspect of my life.

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