“3 more medals” a runner yells to a volunteer, “a husband, a wife and one other”…
It’s 5pm, just about 10 hours since the start of the 32nd LA marathon and in that time I’ve cheered on racers and friends along the course, gone home to eat and take a nap, and am now out on a 45 minute run to finish off a quality 4 hour brick. Only the skeleton of metal barricades stand naked on Ocean Ave where hours earlier thousands of people congregated, cheering on runners. I notice a few bibs as I run past walkers, marching like ghosts, one asking me “is the finish line still there??” but it’s empty, quiet and desolate, except for the music and cheers of those celebrating at the Bungalow next door.
I’ve been doing some soul searching recently, in discussion with family and friends Friday who used words like “obsessed, crazy and intense” to describe my relationship with training. Then on Saturday, quite serendipitously while out on my long run I happened upon 3 total strangers who helped refresh my perspective. Heading up San Vicente for the start of my typical golf course loop, I came upon a runner in an Every Man Jack hat also named David. Keeping low 6 minute pace after a couple exchanges I asked him if he was doing Oceanside (yes) followed quickly by how old are you (36), excellent! We ran side by side for a few until a runner behind us, Christine, snuck up on the group offering “don’t be alarmed but you’re keeping good pace”. Asking about the marathon Sunday Christine explained she was an elite runner coming back from injury, which clarified her being unfazed by the strong pace.
David had 10k on the schedule, Christine 10 or so and me 80 minutes but we ran together from 26th down San Vicente and onto Ocean until California, the last 3 miles of the marathon together trading information. We were complete strangers to each other yet connected in that all 3 of us were ex-collegiate runners, all 3 overcoming similar recent injuries and all 3 exceptional athletes (if I may) excited to share where we are at with our training, looking forward to the season ahead. Turning around after we parted ways I spotted a familiar face, who was a real struggle to catch, clipping away sub 6min miles. Mike is another Every Man Jack athlete I share an age group with who I’ve met at previous 70.3’s and as it happens on this day shared a lane with in the morning for his first of 2 Tower26 sessions (8k swim workout). I could only keep up with him for a few minutes of his 2×30 at race pace efforts before breaking off to head home but wished him luck in his training for Oceanside.
I don’t know much about Mike and Dave other than that they both race for Every Man Jack and unsurprisingly so are a couple of bad ass Ironman 70.3 triathletes. Last year Dave was 2 minutes ahead of me at Vineman and Mike 15 minutes more, winning the AG. These two, along with countless other friends, teammates and FB acquaintances are the caliber of athlete I aspire to race against toward an Age Group podium in this sport of triathlon. When it was announced that 70.3 Worlds would be back in the US in 2017 I was excited but also knew it would be a very difficult objective to realize with so many skilled athletes racing toward the same goal. This in mind I wrote out a plan that I felt would make me competitive come Oceanside and St George, not knowing what the competition would bring but understanding it would likely require another low to sub 4:20’s (missing my chance at Vineman last July by 30 seconds with a 4:25). Since then I have stuck to that plan, held consistent day in and day out and as a result I am now feeling ready and in the best shape of my life to give it a go in the next 6 weeks.
Many people set goals without any clear understanding of what it will take to accomplish them, or start on a path but fall off once they realize how difficult it will be to achieve. Then there are those with the capacity to realize their goals through an understanding of hard work and dedication. I am reminded of a quote Meredith Kessler shared at a speech I attended last year that goes “obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated”. These people may grasp the concept of a goal but cannot connect the dots between action and outcome. They are the ones who might be quick to call someone who performs well talented vs driven. In their minds “obsessed, crazy and intense” are a foreign interpretation to what I would call “committed, goal oriented and consistent”. Goals can be outlandish or unreasonable but the path should always be true. Don’t question the path, question the goal.
Watching those participants march toward the finish of a 10 hour marathon I couldn’t help but be effected by the statement. A 3 hour marathon may be clearly more difficult than a 4 hour, but the line begins to blur after 6, 7, 8 hours+. It’s a long time to be on your feet! Did something go wrong, is there some ailment or handicap holding them back, or did they just not prepare adequately?? The takeaway I have today, and to draw some sort of connection to this piece, is there will always be competitors at each end of the spectrum and everywhere in-between, and it’s no one’s place to judge what they aim to achieve if it’s what makes them happy. When it comes to myself the words I would choose to describe my current state of mind are ‘happy, satisfied and most of all excited! I feel like I am in an all-around good place and look forward to what the future brings. I accept the outcome good or bad knowing I put in the work to position myself for the optimum outcome.
Good luck to everyone racing Oceanside. Looking forward to seeing everybody out on the course in one week!!