Late Summer/Early Fall 1989
Junior year of high school, and surely I will make varsity soccer. Why not? It’s a given. In going through the motions of tryouts, alas I managed to make junior varsity. I was appalled, humbled, pissed off. After the gambit of emotions, I settled into a sobering mindset. You’re just mediocre when it comes to sports. Mediocre. JV.
Boston training has been going really well! It is absolutely eye-opening what the proper guidance and direction can do for one’s performance. We are heading into an easy training week with nine left until Boston. This week I am coming off a time trial week. The TT week simulates a race week. Coach Dai Roberts loads up the front of the week with some serious workouts and then gives the legs a rest to have them ready for the race. This week was just that.
Monday called for an easy six in the morning and then a 3×2 miles @5:50 pace in the afternoon. This workout weighed heavily on my mind for several reasons. For starters, my wife has physical therapy at 5 PM on Mondays. Instead of asking for a babysitter, we asked our 11 year-old son to watch the 5 yo. So there’s that worry… The temps were about 30*. Not ideal for training, but it’s manageable. Finally, could I do this workout? Sure I could nail the first two miles no problem. But to spit it out two more times…with two minutes of jog/rests? Believe me. This was in my head all day.
I warmed up two miles on the tready and then ran across the street to a condo-village that has about a 1+ mile loop around it. Perfect. No crossing traffic and it’s not on a track! Long story short: nailed it! First 2 miles = 11:39 @5:49 pace, second = 11:33 @5:46 pace, and final third lap, 11:40 @ 5:50 pace. Nailed it. Progress.
And my when I came home, the kids were getting along so well. My son had nailed it, too! What a relief!?
Today I ran the Virginia is for Lovers 14k. Not an “A” race. More of an afterthought. I registered as late as possible. And I paid heavily for it. Coach Dai worked it into the schedule. We talked about pacing and preliminary thoughts were optimistic at 5:55. At the start, a good friend of mine, Steve pointed out a competitor that was in the master’s age group. Steve and I had done a warm up together. As always, I took his advice and we chatted before the race. He was not running as he had just run a 100 mile race two weeks ago. He finished fourth and earned a spot in the prestigious Western States 100 mile Endurance Run.
Photo courtesy of Ally Speirs
I stuck to my original plan to go out at 5:50′s. And things felt ok. Almost too good. The “competition” went out way too quick. I couldn’t hang with that! I settled in and ran with local speedster Howie H. He has a great sense of humor and we chatted/laughed for a while. There were icy patches throughout the course and some spots were very cross country-like. I had settled into sixth place overall and was struggling to keep my breathing right at mile 3-4. By mile four there was an off-road patch that was soggy grass. That slowed me down a bit. It was hard to keep pace at that point. But coming out onto the road and finally feeling like the halfway point had been reached, I had to dig in.
Up ahead, I could see the “competition.” Could I reel him in?
I began to “gauge” him. When he was astride a post, I would count my left foot strikes until I hit the same post. 28. Fire hydrant…24. Street lamp…21. I started to wonder if I would run out of real estate. Up ahead, I was familiar with the territory that we hitting. I heard Steve and his wife Ally shouting my name. I honestly thought I was going to pass out at this point. I was dizzy. That’s when I heard Steve yell, “12 seconds, Andrew. You look stronger than him. You got it!” But imagine a smooth Welsh-sounding voice of encouragement. Ally was right there cheering. How do you not push it after that?
Photo courtesy of Ally Speirs
Going into the last 3/4 mile there was a slippery, muddy patch. For about 75-100 meters of a turn there was a mixture of mud, sand, hay, and ice. “Competitor” took it easy through there. It was my moment. I gained significant ground. I was now within 20 meters of him. The turn came out to a long straight away that was paved. I began to drop the pace. I wanted to win the masters. And here it was in front of me. I don’t/haven’t had many chances to shine. I am on the JV squad.
The race has a lot of turns at the end. There came the point when I knew I had to make a move. I told myself that if I was going to pass him, I needed to do it with authority. I didn’t race track or cross country in school, but I knew that if you go by someone in a race, you need to demoralize him. And that’s what I did. I gave it all I had. I even may have spewed a “Good job!” as I passed by to give the impression that I could still converse. Game. Set. Match.
Things came together nice today. I don’t want to say that I ran a perfect race. There is always room for improvement. I know I have things to work on. I am very happy that I finished top-5. I can’t say enough about what my coach has done for me. I leaned on the fast workouts that I had done in the last week. I could never have done that without Dai’s help.
Not so JV. Not so mediocre.