When my collegiate career ended with an injury and a whimper of a race, I was done. I still enjoyed the sport, but the prospect of more workouts, sore muscles, lactic acid, and shin splits didn’t sound as sweet to the ears as it had in the past. So, I packed up my car and traveled to San Francisco.
The six months I spent living in the Bay area was everything I wanted. I had a good job making video games, a dream of mine, plenty of fellow 20-somethings in skinny jeans to hang out with, and a lively city that always kept my weekends busy. I was happy.
My days started at 6:00 am with a morning run. My feet still met the pavement with over 80 miles-a-week. There was no reason for this before sunrise madness other than it felt wrong not to run.
Before I knew it, I found myself lacing up a pair of flats and running mile repeats with a group of San Francisco runners. All I needed was a taste of competition, and thoughts of professional running started to stir in my brain. I talked with my parents, old coaches, and friends on what I should do. I enjoyed my current life, but I didn’t want to pass on a limited opportunity.
I ended up talking to Pete Rea and arranging a visit up to Zap Fitness. In person, I talked to Pete with a stern face about my desire to not just run, but to compete. I told him I wanted to push my body beyond anything I had before. It was hard to tell if I was convincing him or trying to convince myself. I accepted the offer to run at Zap--even though I still had my doubts. I worried that the passion I told Pete about wasn’t there.
My first few weeks of training consisted of easy runs. I didn’t have to challenge myself. This part was simple, it was the workouts that frightened me, and the races even more so. Workouts went well. I had hit my paces, and pushed though the pain I had encountered, but I still was not convinced I had the passion to compete.
A little over three months since I had joined Zap, I found myself dawning the orange...um, cream cicle--let’s just call it the Zap jersey at the New York City Half Marathon. My goal was to grab the Olympic Trials qualifier for the Marathon. I started the race off slow. I felt absent for the first several miles. As the race went on, my pace started to quicken. I attacked the hills with the aggression of an athlete. As I closed the last several miles of the race, I found myself well off the target pace. I had ran too slow at the begging and even though my pace had quickened, it was too late. Closing the race, my legs were fatigued but my stride was together and my breathing felt relaxed. I finished the half-marathon with an official time of 1:05:08. I had no excuse not to get the qualifying time. I hadn’t pushed myself hard enough. I sat at a comfortable pace for far too long.
If I had crossed the finish line with a shrug of my shoulders, I would have called Pete and told him I needed to pack my bags and move back to San Francisco. Instead, I was mad. Friends that greeted me at the line, were met with a scowl and words of anger. I wanted to go again. I wanted to find the next half-marathon and run it. I didn’t want to give up.
Falling short of my goals at the NYC Half sucked, and I’m glad I felt this way, because it let me know that my passion hadn’t left me. I think I just needed a brake. While my guitar and skateboard continues to cover in dust in a garage, I know my running shoes won’t be in storage for years to come.