Be inspirational

Jason my son ran the Mt SAC 4k youth boys race last month and improved on your SV Rebels record by 10 seconds. He will be attending Royal next year and looked toward your record as motivation! Thanks for the inspiration!

Just received this message via facebook. In my last post I wrote that I worked hard as a collegiate athlete to reach my goals. Every session I found countless ways to motivate myself to keep pushing. I remember during my final cross country season last year, I commonly said to myself, “All-American. All-American. All-American.” I would repeat it over and over and over again until the day’s work was done. It got me through mile repeats at Ft. Tuthill and long progression runs out at Bellemont.

But very rarely, if ever, did I use the power of my own performance over someone else’s for motivation. I set that “record” that this dad told me about probably 10 years ago. 10 years after giving it my all out on the hollowed grounds of the Mt. Sac cross country course, a kid comes along and uses my performance as motivation to be better — better than I was and better than himself. How cool is that?

There seems to be a theme developing here: hard work. I was recently watching a video of a training session with 3x Ironman World Champ Craig Alexander where he said, “The people that win don’t just have the most talent; they work the hardest.” I am coming to the sport of triathlon with very little swim or bike experience, but I am naive enough to think I have what it takes to be great regardless. I have an attitude and mindset in my favor. I will work hard and be inspired by others’ performances, in hopes that my hard work will someday inspire someone else. Try it yourself. It is incredibly powerful.

My legacy

While I was competing as a Lumberjack for the NAU Cross Country team I worked hard. I had big goals coming into college, and after a few years, it became clear that some of those goals were just too lofty for me. I kept my head down and plugged away, putting my heart and soul into every race, workout, and run out on the trails. Each year I got stronger, faster and ended up with what I consider a pretty successful career. With the help of Coach Heins, I felt like I did everything I could to reach my potential. And that was enough for me. I was always a team player, but deep down inside I did all this for me. I put in all the hard work so my future self could look back at it all with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. In the words of Quenton Cassidy’s, “I discovered early on that the truly great advantage of going all-out every time is that later you don???t have to waste a single instant second-guessing yourself.” It really is a great way to live.

Then my girlfriend Mo showed me this article, a Q&A with Tim Freriks in the Lumberjack newspaper:

LJ: From an athlete???s standpoint, there have been a lot of teammates, mentors and coaches that have influenced you as a player. Out of all of them in the past or present, who has influenced you the most in your career, or as a person?

TF: There are two big ones. One of which was my high school coach. He really influenced the mentality that I have now, working hard and grinding through it. And also Jason Pedersen; he???s a graduate assistant coach for us now. His mentality and work ethic is like second to none. He was running 110 miles a week, he ate right, slept well, [and was a] straight-A student in mechanical engineering, so it was a template I wanted to follow. He did it right and it paid off, so I want to do the same thing.

Suddenly I feel a new feeling. After reading those words from Tim, I no longer just feel satisfied of my running career at NAU. My efforts, my daily sacrifices, my commitment to myself meant something to someone else. And more than that, it has left an impression. If I had more accolades to my name I would call it a legacy, but my victories weren’t the kind that you could hang on the mantel. It means so much to me that someone else recognizes that.

Am I wrong?

In 2010, professional triathlete Jordan Rapp was on a bike ride in Oxnard when a car pulled out in front of him. Jordan didn’t have time to react to the car and ended up smashing into the windshield, cutting his throat, and nearly bleeding to death. The car fled the scene, and was later found to be owned by an illegal immigrant. Basically a cyclists worst nightmare.

Fast forward to last week. I’m riding some hill intervals on Santa Susana Pass. As I crest the top of the hill heading back toward Simi Valley, huffing and puffing from the effort, a jeep turns right in front of me. I wasn’t going too quick, maybe 15 mph or so, and I was able to brake/swerve out of the way. Unbelievable. Scary.

“Thanks Asshole!” I yell at the driver. I look back at the jeep in disgust, and astonishingly, it has stopped and began to make a u-turn. What could this jerk possibly have to say to me? He cut ME off!

The jeep catches up to me on the descent and rolls down the window. He looks to be in his mid 30s, blond and had a surfboard in the car. “Hey I just wanted to apologize for cutting you off back there.” Huh, I guess he just didn’t see me. Nice of him to apologize. But then he continued, “But could you apologize to my daughter for the profanity?” You have got to be kidding me! What a backhanded apology.

“Yeah. Sorry. Just watch out for bikers.”

I had some inner conflict. If I hadn’t said anything he probably never would have seen me. I guess a little girl doesn’t need to hear bad language, but is “asshole” really such a bad word? I was upset. My word choice could have been a lot worse.

Am I wrong here? Has anyone had a similar situation?

After thinking about who was right and who was wrong, I started to wonder what could have been done to avoid the situation. This little altercation was a bit eye opening for me — I was on a wide road with fairly light traffic and I was still almost hit. Drivers clearly do not look out for cyclists. So what can we do besides wearing a helmet and being aware of what is going on around us?

Jordan found himself in a similar predicament once his wounds had healed…

Before getting back on the road, I thought about what options I had to make myself more visible. Neon helmets, jerseys, etc. all crossed my mine. But ultimately, I wanted something that dramatically caught the eye, and the obvious thought was a flashing light. On cars, the presence of daytime running lights contributes to a greatly reduced risk of a head-on collision. Add in a flash, and I figured that drivers would pay even greater attention.

The above excerpt is from a series Jordan began writing for Slowtwitch called “Stay Safe. Be Seen.” He has reviewed several different lights intended for daytime use so that cyclists can be seen and stay safe. I intend to go through the reviews and purchase a set of lights so I can try to avoid an accident like Jordan had, or another awkward apology for my “profanity.” I will post which one I decide to go with, hopefully in the coming weeks.

Thanks for your help, Jordan.

Catching up with David McNeill and Bernard Lagat

David McNeill??? Bernard “The F’n G” Lagat??? Yep, right now they are training in the running meca of the world, Flagstaff, Arizona. And I have shared a few meals with them.

I envy myself.

EDIT: As I’m sitting here watching some recent “Workout Wednesday’s” that were filmed in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas (Sedona), I thought it would be fitting to share those here. Like I said, “running meca.”

Watch more video of Flotrack’s Workout Wednesday, Season 5 on

Yellow Aspens and Green Pines

Competitive running can be a tough pursuit. As I often highlight on this blog, racing and training can be brutal both physically and mentally. It is necessary to push yourself nearly everyday to reach your potential. However, there is a time and place for easy runs. It is on these days that you often have thoughts like, “wow, I am so lucky I get to do this everyday.” You remember the pure joy you can get from lacing up the shoes, heading out the door, and getting lost with your thoughts (or with great conversation with friends) as you meander through the trails — gently logging your trials of miles, miles of trials. Today was one of those days.

Andrew Belus, Eric Lynch, John Yatsko, Myles Kloer and I met up near the Nordic Center off Hwy 180 outside Flagstaff to enjoy the last of the fall colors near the mountain. I knew it would be a beautiful run, and here is a video I made of our adventure.

My one piece of advice

If I could give one piece of advice to any runner, it would be to always keep a training log.

(. . . although “always wear sunscreen” isn’t bad either)

For the last two years or so I have been diligent about writing in my own training log. I always include time, distance, heart rate if I have it (which I usually do) and how I felt. I often add more: something about the route, who I ran with. Sometimes I get really detailed and include conversations or thoughts that ran through my head (no pun intended).

Looking back on my training logs offers several practical benefits — it gives you the ability to compare your fitness to the past and to try to pinpoint what training sessions may have caused an injury or possibly led to a break-out race, to name a few. But it is the intangibles that keeps me perusing old workouts and training runs for hours. It’s those entries where I elaborate and go beyond the numbers that are golden.

My running career as I know it is dated. The end of my 2011 track season will mark the end of 9 years of competing for my school’s cross country and track teams (Royal HS and NAU) and 18 years of competition with some sort of team (Running Rebels youth track club). Almost sounds depressing, but it’s not. I have so many fond memories of training and racing with coaches and teammates, whom are now lifelong friends, that I will hold onto. Some of these memories I will be able to relive through my log entries whenever I want, and, unfortunately, some will likely be forgotten.

As I write this, I realize this is at the core of why I started writing a blog about training in the first place. For the most part, it is just a public way of remembering my races and workouts, and sometimes what lies in between.

So if you are a runner (which I would think is fairly likely if you are a reader of “”) grab a pen and paper after your next run (or log onto your online training log of choice) and write down something about it; don’t let it be another forgotten run.

You can thank me later.

Being an Optimist, Jack Daniels Way

The great collection of running videos that is Flotrack has a series called “Thirsty Thursdays with Jack Daniels.” Of course Jack Daniels isn’t their drink of choice on a lonely Thursday; Jack Daniels is one of the most famous American distance running coaches (Daniels’ Running Formula). Each Thursday, more or less, an interview with Daniels is posted with him commentating on various subjects. Yesterday’s subject was about being optimistic.

When coming out of an injury, being optimistic is easy. There is no doubt in my mind that tomorrow will be better than today, that next week I will be able to handle 5 more miles than last week, that I’ll be back racing in a matter of months. It is when the tough training begins and the biggest races loom that being optimistic is most important, but also difficult.

Daniels, and his infinite wisdom on all that is distance running, has a little more to share… (broadcasting from a common training location in Flagstaff, Buffalo Park. Notice the beautiful peaks in the background!)

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

You can view the rest of “Thirsty Thursday” videos here.

Recommended Read

Real quickly I want to direct your attention to Jordan Rapp’s most recent blog post, “Mementous.” I met Jordan at the Lasse Viren 20k in December and he seemed like a great guy. Unfortunately, he was injured while on a training ride about five weeks ago which left him full of screws and some plates in his face. Apparently he is doing much better now, even starting to exercise again, but is suffering from a bit of insomnia. If you read the post, you will see his lack of sleep is our gain. Brilliant writer with a great perspective of things. I highly recommend checking it out.