Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Review of 2018...coming soon

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Year 2017

10K: 34:16
Half Marathon: 1:17:37

10K: 33:29
Half Marathon: 1:16:16
Marathon: 2:43

10K: 32:51
10 Miles: 54:16
Half Marathon: 1:12:57

1 Mile: 4:27
5K: 15:13
10K: 31:26
10 Miles: 52:54
Half Marathon: 1:08:39
20 Miles: 1:52
Marathon: 2:37

Mile: 4:26
5,000m: 14:58
10K: 30:56
10 Miles: 51:44
Marathon: 2:35

Mile: 4:26
5,000m: 14:53
10K: 30:43
10 Miles: 51:35

10K: 30:43
10 Miles: 50:57
Half Marathon: 1:07:29

Mile: 4:21
5,000m: 14:49
12K: 37:37
10 Miles: 50:56

10 Miles: 50:32
Half Marathon: 1:06:50

1 Mile: 4:21
5,000m: 14:39
20 Miles: 1:48
Marathon: 2:32

Above are PR's I have set each year over the last 10 years.  I actually didn't realize that every year I have PR'd in something.  Looking back, I have been at this for a while-and I have come a long way.  See, I'm really not that talented-I'm good, but I'm not born with the perfect body to run like some other runners I meet at these championship races I run.  Some of these guys I meet at these big races humble the shit out of me....they are really good....there are guys who I meet at other races who run their first half marathon in 1:08 or something, then they jump to like 1:04.  For me?  My first was 1:17....I've worked down to 1:06 now with a lot of hard work and grit.  Yeah...that is good, but when I go to championship races I know I have had to work twice as hard as some of these other guys just to run as fast as them if they have a really bad day.  I beat Andrew Bumbalough in the US 10K Championships this past summer-which was pretty cool.  That guy is one of the U.S.'s top distance runners, and was one of the pacers at the Nike Sub 2 Marathon Project.  He was sick the day I was able to barely out kick him.  But I pride myself on the fact that I didn't start out as a top talented guy in high school or college....I started out as a 16:40 5K guy out of High School(now the pace I can race for 20 or more miles), and have chiseled down everything to as good as I can get with a lot of hard work over the years.  I've kept at it-consistency is one of the most important things I coach.  Looking at the careers of Flanagan, Meb, etc....gives me hope that I can truly master myself as I train in my 30's and my own god given ability to the fullest.  I think if I stopped running today, (or retired, so to speak), I would be mostly satisfied with everything, except the marathon I have some unfinished business with-which on paper appears to be the hardest event for me...but yet...I feel like at the very same time it is equally the event that I can be most strongest in and utilize all of my strengths and mental focus.  I continue to pursue this quest to find out my true potential in the world of running competitively.  Who am I as a runner?  I am a very good half marathoner.  Will I always be better as a half marathoner and just not quite as good at the marathon?  Or will I one day create just one painting in the marathon over several "ok" or "failed" ones....that stands out from the rest-like an artist does such as Wright when he did Falling Water, or a runner like Billy Mills when he surprised everyone winning the 1964 Olympic 10K, or Shalane winning NYC this year.  Whatever the outcome, I am not finished yet, and have something in me whether it is more strong races or one single race that stands apart from the rest.  Maybe both.
I have self coached for most of my running career post college.  Then, for 2 1/2 years, from 2014-2016, I trained very hard under my coach, Roland, which pushed my limits.  Under Roland, I ran some personal bests, the biggest breakthrough was a 1:06 half marathon in 2016.  That was the peak of the training at the time, and I put that race up there as one of my best pieces.  But I also trained really hard during those years and pushed my body to the highest mileage it could handle-and it eventually broke down a bit.  After my spring of 2016, things went in a rough direction.  After doing 10 consecutive weeks at 120/week, the fall of 2016 my body got injured for the first time in over a decade.  I wasn't able to finish a marathon, and my left foot was in pain, and I couldn't run, or run very minimally.  I had plantar fascitis.  My body had begun to feel the toll of what I had been doing to it.
I had to re-strengthen my foot, with lots of help from Tom Stott(sports performance institute) and Terrel Hale(georgetown sports massage), and REST.  Tom helped me understand where the problem was and what strengthening I needed to do for the weaker foot.  Terrel was a vital role in helping me heal the most efficiently I could and getting my body to the balance.  He is a master at his A.R.T. therapy-check out www.georgetownsportsmassage.com.  I also got back into my cross training-cycling and pool running which I had done before and getting back to that was what I needed to do.  As I built back from my injury over last winter, Tom actually thought it was actually a necessary and perhaps even good thing that I had pushed my body to the very edge, because I basically hit the ceiling-realizing where that tilting point was, and once I got back to it, I could dial back in and find the right balance.  You have to go through rough periods in order to progress at times.  That's how training works.  You push the body, and it will respond.  After a few months, I began running more again, and got stronger.  Roland and I respectfully decided to take a break(I still talk to him time and time again).  I started to look at a 2017 race plan-I then started working briefly with a new coach, George Buckheit, but we had our disagreements and that didn't work out.  So I went back to self coaching.  It felt like home.  I think Jerry Alexander(the GRC coach) said something to me that really hit home about me and my friend Jerry Greenlaw(who runs for GRC): "Chris, you and Jerry- you guys are unique runners-certain things obviously work for you guys that don't for others." 

My first race back in 2017 was the Saint Patty's Day 10K in March.  Actually, it was Jerry and I(pictured below) that ran this together.  It was a great first race back.  I was back-and not injured!  It was just great getting out there competing again!  Jerry and I took the lead with no one else in sight and ran neck and neck for the win.  We ran until we had absolutely nothing left-it was a great battle and he took the win in a sprint finish.

Then, in April, I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  I ran a solid 51:06(my course best is 50:56), so clearly things were going in the right direction.  Jerry ran that race too and tried to run me down at the end, but I put enough distance on him to finish ahead.

A few weeks after Cherry Blossom, I ran in the US Half Marathon Championships in Columbus, Ohio, in a very slow time- it was pretty rough-the humidity was crazy high and the dew point was ridiculous.  But honestly I really didn't care- there was something else I was working towards at the time.  My interval training was going really well-and I really got back into my self coaching again of designing my own interval workouts-something I am very good at.  I did a very strong workout of 16 x 400m with 100m jogs between-and it told me I was ready to run a very fast 5K.

Swarthmore College, PA
5,000m: 14:39, 10th place

2 weeks after the half marathon championships, in May, I ran a new PR of 14:39 in the 5,000m at the Swarthmore College Invite.  This was a 10 second personal best, and a big breakthrough.  It was awesome to PR after being injured the previous year!  This was a very emotional race for me, because all the work and frustration I had gone through was justified.  I ran the best track race of my career to date.  Video of the race below.

I fell in love with the sport all over again.  I enjoyed self coaching again like it was yesterday.  I think I needed it.  I began racing more again.  5 days after the 5K, I jumped in the Germantown 5 Miler and won in 25 minutes.

At the end of May, on Memorial Day, I ran the Loudoun Street Mile, placing 4th in a new PR of 4:21.0.  Pictured below I am out kicking Moise Joseph, who has run for Haiti in the Olympics.


At the Lawyers Have Heart 10K in June, I developed a rivalry with Desta Morkama, who out dueled me for the win.  I was pissed to lose.

As a tune up for the US 10K Championships, in late June I ran the MCRRC Suds and Soles 5K, which I won.

33rd place, 31:59
Atlanta, GA

The US 10K Championships was held by the Peachtree Road race.  Besides the US championships, there are 60,000 runners who participate in this race.  It is massive.  My friend Exavier (who I also coach) and I made the trip down together.  It was hot and humid, and the conditions could not be tougher.  The course is also difficult-the second half is all uphill.  I ended up battling Andrew Bumbalough at the very end and outkicked him.  While he obviously had an off day, it was still pretty cool to beat a pro-sponsored Nike guy who was one of the pacers during the 
Nike: Breaking 2 Hour Project.  A story to tell my grand-kids one day?  I plan to return for 2018.

To top the weekend off, I met Bernard Lagat (who placed 5th in the race).

Crystal City Twilighter 5K
1st place, 15:11

After Peachtree, I returned to DC very fit and used to the heat.  My rival Desta and I, and a few GRC guys dueled at the Crystal City Twilighter 5K in mid to late July(death conditions in DC).  By now I was used to the humidity, and I had the speed, so after Desta kicked by me with 400m to go, I had another kick stored up for him, and passed him during the last 100m to take the win!


In August, I took a trip out to Blacksburg, and I began to train for the longer distances again.  I did my first 20 miler of the year, on the new river trail.

My friend Conrad and I did plenty of running, biking, hiking, and sight seeing.

...taking an ice bath...


At the end of August, I raced the Annapolis 10 Miler, where I battled Desta again for the win.  He was able to out kick me this time to win by 4 or 5 seconds.  We both ran tough on the challenging, hilly course.

In September, we dueled again at the Parks Half Marathon.  Desta(#3), once again took the win in a sprint finish and he finished in 1:09:07, and I finished in 1:09:10.  He was just a bit better at finishing than I was.  We had a pack of 4 together until mile 10 I took the lead to break up the race.

Parks Half Marathon top finishers: Pictured left to right: Desta(1st place), Girma(6th place), Me(2nd place), Wilson(7th place), Conrad(3rd place)

Meanwhile...it was exciting to watch the end of the womens race.  Silvia, who I coach, took the win in 1:24, and a new personal best.

Army Ten Miler: 14th place

Despite absolutely the worst conditions possible, the World Class Army Ten Miler was a really great placing for me.  I took 14th, and handled the conditions as best as I could.  I fought off Lucas Meyer of the GRC for 14th, my highest placing ever in this race.  My time was slow(everyone's was), but this was one of the best races I competed in for place.

battling the humidity

Then, a few weeks later, I drove up to Baltimore, to watch Silvia compete in the Baltimore Marathon for the win.  Silvia won the womens marathon in a new PR of 2:58!  Watching this happen live before my eyes as a coach was something special.

15th place, 1:07:58
In November, my fitness really came around, and I ran my third best all time half marathon at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon.  It was a good tune up for the California International Marathon the next month.  I wanted to run close to 5:10 pace, and averaged 5:11.  I really enjoyed this race, and would like to come back again.  I took 15th overall in a very competitive elite field.

10K: 33:23 (5:22 pace/2:20 pace)
13.1: 1:10:28 (5:22 pace/2:20 pace)
20 Miles: 1:48:15 (5:24 pace/2:21 pace)
FINISH: 2:32:21 (5:48 pace)

The California International Marathon/US Marathon Championship was my last race for 2017.  I was of mixed emotions from this race....it was both equally amazing and equally getting my ass kicked.  This was a 3 minute PR for me, but it was so close to a, like, 13-15 min PR.  I really felt like a 2:20-2:22 was doable, and I just couldn't quite put that last piece together....I almost had it.  It was the most amazing marathon I have had because I have never been able to do what I did during this race.  Running 5:20's for that long was new to me.  I hit the wall bad at mile 21 or so.  This race is so unpredictable, because you can feel fine at like mile 19, and then all of a sudden your legs have no more.  This is how hitting the wall feels like.  I was able to run the rest, but could not race the last 5 miles.  It sucks when this happens, but it also sure is humbling.

This cycle I was a bit more conservative because I wanted to get to the finish line.  In 2015, when I ran the Chicago Marathon, I dropped out because I was a bit over trained going into the race.  I did a 26 mile run in training during that cycle, and I did it too fast(I think I did that in 2:33 or something).  It did me in.  So this time, I did not go longer than 22 miles(22.5 was my longest) in training.  I also didn't run as hard.  I feel I trained very intelligently this go around, and I am proud of myself for not only getting me to this finish line, but for what I have achieved this year and staying injury free.

As I have reflected on things over the past month, I have come to understand that for me, when everything clicks, it really clicks.  If it doesn't, I might run a solid race, or fall short of my goal, but it gets me somewhere.  After this race my body has begun to adapt to running 5:20 pace for a longer period of time.  Maybe I can hold that pace for the entire length next time.  The great thing is that I didn't really feel bad running this pace until my legs hit the wall around mile 20-21.  So that tells me my body is adapting to a different level off handling the pace.  The trick is getting things together the last 10K.  I do think a big part of crashing the last 5-6 miles, however, is because I was glycogen depleted.  And to make it worse my nutrition was disastrous during the race.  I took gels WAY TOO LATE(and as I coach I know this!).  Even though I practiced this in training, I should have taken them earlier....I ended up taking all of them, but I should have spread it out more instead of waiting too late into the race. When I did my 22 milers, I practiced taking fluids and gels during the middle of the runs-so I know how to do this.  I think that I did that well....but the problem was I don't think I physiologically trained to avoid glycogen depletion.  In other words preparing myself to physically prevent my body from being depleted at mile 21-so I would have more at the end.  What I think I was missing in my training was actually doing the full distance in training, but instead of running it too fast(like I did in 2015)-going mostly easy for the majority of the run(maybe first 20 easy, last 6 hard to simulate this) to practice that glycogen depletion.  I think going back to 2015 I had the right idea-but the run was done too fast overall.  If I did a 26 miler in training mostly easy, and maybe the last 6 miles faster or something like that, that might just work.  Practice that so my body does not crash with 5-6 miles to go.  I know a few friends of mine who ran 2:17-2:18, and they said they did 26-28 mile training runs to practice that.  I think as long as I am smart about it and don't run it hard, it might be just what I need to do.  I think I was very smart this go around to make sure I got to the line though, and I really wanted to finish this race and not run too much to be dead going into it.  It feels like each time I have gone at this marathon I have taken small chunks off of the elephant, before I can eat the entire thing.  After my experiences with this race, I don't know if I can get the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials standard of 2:19, but I do know I have at least a 2:20-2:21 in me-that I feel in me.  But maybe... if everything comes together one day, and I am ready, at the right moment to strike, with 5-6 miles to go, if I am in striking distance, maybe then, I will go for it.

After the marathon in Sacramento, I traveled to stay with my friend Benson, and his wife, Nancy in San Francisco.  I enjoyed exploring the city-it was very cathartic after the entire year.

I want to thank Terrel Hale, my massage therapist, for continuing to work with me.  He has been a vital part to me staying injury free this entire year.  Check out his website www.georgetownsportsmassage.com.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Silvia's win in Baltimore

Silvia winning the 2017 Baltimore Marathon in 2:58:36. 

I started coaching several years ago when I began to work with pure beginners or first time marathoners(and I still do).  In addition to first time marathoners, over time I have worked with more advanced runners, and sub-elite runners as well.  This year, I was fortunate that an awesome client of mine, Exavier Watson, introduced me to an incredible woman named Silvia Baage.  Silvia has always been a good runner, and she has come a long way.  She ran her first marathon in Baltimore 10 years ago, in 3:41.  Her previous PR was a 3:04, and she had run a bunch of 3:05s, so she was a bit stuck there.  She had placed 2nd and 3rd in the Baltimore Marathon in past years, and she really wanted to win it.  The winner of 2016 ran 2:59, so I think we both knew that she probably needed to be in sub 3:00 shape to win the race.  She needed to get comfortable running 6:40 pace.  But it's not always about the times.  I needed to see that she wanted to do this race-because that part is crucial.  One of the things I am really focused on implementing better in my coaching is to make sure my athletes actually want to do the races they signed up for- and that they aren't doing races just to try to run fast times.  What kind of race is it?  What can you get out of the race(or bring to it)?  There is a big difference.  Don't get me wrong, I think it's great to sign up for a fast race with fantastic weather and competition and do it because you will be pushed and have a chance at running a PR-what runner does not want to PR or qualify for Boston or the Trials or whatever...and PR's and times push the science aspect of running.   But at the very same time, from an artistic standpoint, there is so much more to running than just times.  I view running as an experience and, quoting Prefontaine, a work of art.  If you let it be that way, I think you'll find that your races will come to you, instead of you forcing things that may not fit.

Silvia wanted to break 3 hours in the marathon, but I also think she wanted to do it on the Baltimore course.  Silvia was made for this race.  She wanted to win it and give the city of Baltimore something special.  But I called her up the night before the race, and said to her to not put pressure on the time....that she may run like a 3:00+ time, BUT win the race, and she needed to be OK with that.  I wanted her to let the time come to her if it was meant to happen.

The race Silvia ran on Saturday, October 21, was a brilliantly executed race.  She never panicked.  She let the first woman go ahead of her in the beginning.  The race starts uphill, so it was really important she did not go out too hard in this race(it's important anyway in a marathon as it is!).  I told her around 7:00 pace for the first 3 miles or so give or take is "safe."  Around mile 9 I saw her during the race for the first time, and she was just catching the lead woman.  While she looked great, I told her she still had plenty of time, and to not get impatient out there.  She very very gradually started distancing herself from second place, and by mile 13, she had a very significant lead.  I gave her a check to make sure things were good and ran alongside as the crowds in the inner harbor cheered.  It was then a game of catching the men, and this could help her chase the time.  I told her to just look ahead and use the men to help her race.  I think she went through halfway right around 1:29:00.  Women cheered so loud it was deafening.  I then stopped, just took a look around in the crowds, and said to myself, "Wow.  These women are inspired."  This was the power of running.  

When I started with Silvia, she knew how to run 7:00 pace for the marathon.  Naturally, she isn't a track runner, so working on some intervals and shorter segments really was what I felt she needed, alongside some good long runs of course.  She had a great foundation of endurance.  Over the summer, she did a few 5Ks as speed workouts really.  Just to get familiar with 19 min 5Ks.  I think once we began doing 6:20 pace stuff, that really helped her feel like 6:40 pace wasn't so bad.  We then used Riley's Rumble half as a training run and I helped pace her a bit(and actually during that race I helped pace the early miles with my other awesome client, 3:10 marathoner Ansley who was just a few min behind) and she placed 3rd, in 1:28 on the extremely difficult course.  From there, a month after we decided to do the Annapolis 10 Miler, where she ran 64 min for 3rd place-again these races were used to boost her fitness.  Her strength is that she can adapt well to running just a bit slower than a 10K pace she will race, but maintain that pace for a much longer duration.  She is a really strong half marathon and marathon racer-I think those 2 distances are perfect for her.

Later, in September, I felt she could run a fast half in her, even during this training cycle, because her paces were getting quicker and she was adapting.  In September, at the Parks Half Marathon, she blazed a new PR of 1:24:06(averaging a 6:24 pace) and a 1 minute win over previous year's winner Megan DiGregorio.  The weather was nice too so that helped.  I think she took 4 minutes off her previous best half.  That definitely told me she was probably in 2:55 shape(if run on a flat course, good weather).  We looked at the race as not a peak race at all-it was merely to get her fitter and the goal was to use it as such.  But what was cool was even though it wasn't the focus of the race, she won anyway!

The parks race awarded her $500 for the win.  
She donated the money to hurricane relief.

We did some hill repeats, but also those hard courses helped prepare her for the hills of Baltimore.  We also worked on starting a bit more conservatively on her long runs, so she could run faster as her run progressed instead of running the same pace the whole way.  We didn't do any on/off stuff during long runs(for example we didn't do anything like 4 miles at mp, 1 mile moderate, 3 miles at mp, 1 mile moderate, etc...)....not saying those aren't good workouts though!  I just didn't think it was necessary for her at this time.  But during the week we did fartleks in an earlier phase of her training (5:00 on/off stuff) and I think that was enough of the on/off work and no more was needed after that phase(besides interval work on the track or mile repeats later).  I think more consistency was better for her long runs so there was no break in the pace once she got down to it.  The trick was to get started right.  We worked on mostly starting a bit more conservatively so she could build into it(not jogging, but just easy), and progressing the pace later faster and finding the pace that felt right.  While she averaged like 6:59-7:00 pace for some of her faster long runs, during those long runs she was able to progress her runs so she was running anywhere from 6:30-6:40 pace during a certain portion of those runs.  She reminds me a bit of my friend Lucy, who I did some training with back in 2011 to help her prepare for the 2012 Olympic Trials and owned a 2:43 PR.  Lucy would very very gradually slowly pick up her pace for her entire long run and could get down to low 6's.  She was a machine.

I got to mile 23 and waited.  Ah, that anticipation only coaches and spectators know.  I hadn't seen her between miles 15-23, so I really was not sure where she was.  I somehow knew she was killing it though-she just looked so strong halfway and I could tell by her cadence and form that she had plenty in the tank.  The tracking on my phone wasn't working(of course).  I had a feeling she was doing awesome, but in the marathon, even if the training goes perfectly, you're not guaranteed to have things go your way.  I saw my friend Dave Berdan who I was pulling for the win.  He was just a bit behind the leader.  Then came Michael Wardian-I am sure he was tired after doing some crazy ultra race recently.  Some more men passed-not that many though.  Then, I saw a woman-she was not Silvia.  But then I quickly realized she was part of the relay they have during the race as well.  Shit, I hope she told Silvia that.  

Then I saw the lead motorcycle....and the shadow of the runner next to the bike.  It was her.  I recognized her strong form immediately.  She looked the same-which was great-nothing in her form had broken down.  I got ready to run the last 3 miles alongside of her.  Like a lunatic, I kept grabbing water cups from the aid stations for her.  It was probably hilarious watching me out there-I zigzagged across the road and if I provided any entertainment to help get her through those last few miles then I certainly succeeded.  As we passed through mile 25, I could not help but look at my watch and it said 2:51 since the gun went off.  I knew then she was not only going to win- she was going to break 3 hours.   

As we got into the final weeks of training, Silvia jumped in a low key 20 miler on the towpath, which actually Exavier ended up winning in a pretty good time on a hot day.  For the women though, Sarah Bishop(who won MCM in 2:45:06 in a near Olympic Trials qualifying time by 6 seconds) went on to take the win over Silvia.  Silvia was upset about not being able to run faster, but I was actually happy she didn't go too hard on that 20 miler.  It was important she didn't blast out a mega fast 20 miler and I actually had her do 22 miles total that day to get in more volume instead of racing the 20.  It was for the purpose of getting in something strong, but not over the line.  

Then later on a few weeks before the marathon her speed really came through.  She did a workout of 8 x 800m all in the 2:50's-your famous Yasso 800s so to speak-which I take with a grain of salt.  There is a lot more to marathon prediction than those darn 800s people use.  I also think it is not good to do them all the time.  Variation is something I constantly do.  She also did 5 x 1200m at sub 6:00 pace the week after that.  Then she was ready.  She didn't do any workouts the week of the marathon, just short runs.  She had a nice short long run a week out(11 miles), and that was enough to me.  During the cycle, I think her highest mileage weeks were 75-80.

2 minutes after passing through Mile 25, I told Silvia all she had was 5 minutes left of running.  I wanted to break that down for her-not sure if it made any impact but psychologically I felt it was good to break things down by time-almost like one last track interval.  As she made a left turn to go straight towards the finish line, I jumped off the road onto the side, and watched her sprint down the home straightaway alongside the roars of crowds and all the women cheering for her.  After placing 3rd and 2nd a few times, she finally won the race.  She deserved every bit of it.  It was awesome to see.  It was one of my best moments as a coach.  

Silvia was interviewed after the race (video below).  I think she was in a bit of shock after she finished.  She had won the race, and also ran an outstanding 2:58:36 personal best, 6 minutes faster than her previous best time on a really hard course!  She averaged 6:48 per mile.  Like I said earlier, this course is rough-it makes Boston look easy.  She explains as well in the interview.

In the spring of 2018, she will run the Boston Marathon.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


"And Cassidy stood tall there in the dark,while a cool breeze ruffled the ragged lock of hair on his forehead, knowing that for one instant there would be a kind of calm in the midst of all that pounding, roaring furor, a moment of serene calm before an unholy storm.There would be a single instant of near disbelief that it would finally be happening in a fraction of a second; finally happening after the months, the miles, the misty mornings;finally happening after the eight or ninth now forgotten interval along the way somewhere that broke your heart once again.He would be leaning over tensely with the rest of them while the white lights burned down on them and for an awful split-second he would feel as if his legs had no strength at all.But then his heart would nearly explode when the pistol cracked"

-John L. Parker, Once a Runner


In a previous post, I mentioned I have gone back to self coaching, and in that process with an open mind to bouncing ideas off of others such as Roland(who coached me to 4 PR's between 2014-2016)...or my friends Wilson Komen, Jerry Greenlaw, Brian Flynn, Conrad, Jake Klim....to name a few.  I self coached myself between 2007-2014, and I was very successful at it and it feels rejuvenating to go back to that.  I have talked to Wilson about bouncing ideas off of him for the marathon, which is the next breakthrough area I have been searching for and not gotten quite right yet and needs some adjustments-but I think I found some missing pieces that I picked up last fall.  Getting injured last fall, by pushing to the extreme told me a lot about my body.  And as a result I know myself even more now.  I think learning to go back to trusting myself is helping me tremendously right now.  I pretty much have been self coaching since coming back from injury last fall.  It was unfair to my last coach, but things just didn't fit, and that's ok, and that's why it was better for both of us for me to go on my own.  I had to trust my instincts, and I felt the training I was doing was going to lead to something very positive this spring.

And, this week, a window of opportunity came.  I entered myself in the Swarthmore 5,000m, in the fastest heat.  I felt like I could run somewhere in the 14:30's if everything went perfectly, so I set that as my A goal.  My B goal was to run faster than my PR of 14:49, and my C goal was to break 15:00 if it was a rough day.  Though there was some worry it might be a bit windy, the winds thankfully calmed down in time for the race, and the weather turned out to be ideal racing conditions.  It was awesome.  I think it was 59 degrees when the gun went off at 10:05 pm.  It was a late start, which is always a bit awkward.  I had to pay attention to my body and to make sure it kept its caloric intake up all day, but also not eating anything heavy at the same time.  I ate a big lunch, and then snacked for the rest of the day on nuts, bagels, clif bars, fruit, etc.  10:00 was late-nearly my bedtime!  But conditions were awesome, and there is something magical about racing at night, with the stadium lights on.  For a 5K, I feel like ideal conditions to be anywhere in the 55-65 degree range, where as for the longer distances 45-55 is more ideal.  Anything above 70 isn't as comfortable, though you can still grind through a 5K in a fast time in that temperature.  Once it is 80 degrees, everything sucks, unless it is a 1 mile race-even then it is certainly not pleasant.  But again, it is doable because it is such a short distance.  



The air became still- as if it was waiting for the stampede of runners to scream through the night on the track.  I looked up at the sky.  It was a beautiful night, clear.  I looked around-there were some fast guys in this heat.  We were the fastest of 3 heats.  Each heat had about 30 runners.  We lined up like soldiers ready to go to battle.  #1...#2....#3........#12.  I was #12, and lined up along the precise curve, as close to the line as possible without going over, my Saucony Endorphin spikes on my feet.  I couldn't help but worry if my feet could handle this.  Although I ran one workout with my spikes, I hadn't done a single race in them in over a year.  I had to dust them off.




32 warriors fired off into the night....the battle was on...and it was fast.  I started practically last.  I do much better by taking just the first lap a bit easier, then settling into my rhythm.  But I also got boxed in and really couldn't go anywhere.  Dammit.  Stay calm, I told myself, you'll get them later.  I settled into the turn and just wanted to make sure I didn't get shoved or spiked or tripped.  I went through the first 200m in 36.  Good start, but needed to make sure I continued to press on.  I didn't want to settle into 72's.  I came out here to run 70's.  Gradually, I worked into my rhythm.  Frustratingly I had to go into lane 2 to go around some guys that already were starting to slow, but this was about competing!  Catching as many guys as I could was the game.  Laps 1 and 2 I was 28th place.  Lap 3, 27th.  After lap 3 I began to move up.  I went through the first 1000m in 2:56, which was dead on 14:40 pace.  On the 4th lap, I began to catch more runners, snatching 5 more guys and moving up to 22nd.  By the 5th lap, I had moved into 20th, and split a few 69's in there.  After the first 36 second 200m, I had run the following mile in 4:38.  I was moving!  Flynn yelled out my splits each lap...."69....70!"

That's it, just keep picking off people....

Halfway into the race, I moved into 16th position and stayed tough.  Halfway into the 5K, you start to feel the pain.  The aerobic capacity is working at its maximum, and your heart feels like it's going to burst through your chest.  But I was used to the pain.  I smiled.  I thought, "Those 16 x 400's you did!  The grind through the half marathon champs in heat and humidity.  All those pool runs, the injury you went through last fall...all for over 14 and 1/2 minutes of pain and glory!"  I thought back to the Theodore Roosevelt quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

9:20, 9:21!!!!   Coaches shouted at their athletes as we passed through 2 miles.

By now I was moving back and forth between 12th and 13th position.  Each runner I had passed I gave a surge in lane 2 to go by them.  Surge, then settle, then press on!  
Flynn yelled out to me with 3 laps to go: "You run 3:30 the last 3/4 mile and you'll run 14:37!!!"

My next lap was a 71.  Dammit.  Stay focused.  You gotta WANT IT.  

I saw the clock read 12:20 with 2 laps to go.  Shit, I had to run my last 800m in under 2:20.  Could I do this?

2 laps to go.  Just 2 damn laps.  I had to run my last 800m in under 2:20 in order to break 14:40.  While I was already going to run a PR for sure at this point, I couldn't settle.


People were yelling and screaming all over the place at this point.  The end of the battle neared....

Then I saw right ahead of me Stewart Reich, a 29 min 10K guy and 14:30 5K, so that was surprising to me to see him in sight.  He had led the race for the first 2 miles and then faded.  I then caught him nearing one lap to go.  I found myself in 10th place at this point.

CHRIS!!!!!!!! Flynn cheered.

13:31.  1 LAP TO GO.  I needed a 68.

Dammit, I did not come all the way out here to run 14:40.

You must give everything you have, absolutely everything, Chris.  If you don't, you'll regret it.  If you run 14:40 and give everything you have, that's all you can do.

"who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat....”

The last lap is a blur.  This is the art of racing.  There is something magical about digging so deep within yourself.  It feels completely numbing yet at the same time you never feel so alive.  It is a rare humble moment of feeling pure raw emotion and pain.  It is a painful but incredibly powerful moment. 


I finished in 14:39 for 10th place.  I collapsed on the ground with exhaustion.  What a feeling.  I ended up 10th overall out of all 90 runners in all 3 heats.

I ran a near perfect 68 second last lap to get the 14:39.  This is my best track race of my career thus far.  I achieved this because I trusted myself, and my training.  I also could not have gotten here without Terrel Hale's support and Georgetown Sports Massage.  We have continued to work on getting me more efficient and as an artist myself I view Terrel's work as true artwork.  But trusting my own training is how I got here.  I went into the Swarthmore 5,000m invite with the goal of beating my previous PR of 14:49 and I knew I could do it.  I knew this was possible based on certain workouts I'd done, but also just how I felt going into the race.  I think the best workout I'd done that prepared me for this race was 5 x 1K in 2:58, 2:53, 2:53, 2:52, 2:52, all with 400m jog between each.  That told me that going into the race 2:55/K was possible, which would put me at 14:35.  I felt that was doable.  I also did a workout in April of 16 x 400m, with 100m jog rest, and averaged about 69-70 for those.  Each time I have PR'd in the 5K my cycle has been different.  There are workouts I have done in the past that I did not repeat this time, and new workouts this time that I have never done before.  The 5 x 1K I have done before, and I love that workout and it is a staple for performing in the 5K...for me.  But I also give myself a lot of credit for the 16 x 400m-I actually think that is one of the most well thought out workouts I have ever done-particularly because of the 100m jog rest.  I've done 400's before, but never with that short of rest.  

I looked back at the race video, and I definitely had to do some running in lane 2 in order to pass people.  I suppose if things were perfect and I was in lane 1 the whole time I might have run a few seconds faster.  But the goal was to get into the 14:30's, and I did it!

Race Video:(I'm in the bright green singlet, starting out in the back of the pack)

Lap 1 & 2: 28th
Lap 3: 27th
Lap 4: 22nd
Lap 5: 20th
Lap 6: 16th
Lap 7-9: 13th
Lap 10: 12th
Lap 11-13: 10th

400m splits: 36 (200m), 71, 69, 69, 69, 70, 71, 71, 71, 71, 71, 71, 68

1K splits: 2:56, 2:54, 2:56, 2:57, 2:56

1600m splits: 36 (200m), 4:38, 4:43, 4:41

On to what's next...

The Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials.

-Chris Sloane

1.Mahalsky, Ryan District Track Club14:06.01-1(1) 
2.Crowley, Daniel Unattached14:21.17-1(2) 
3.Saddler, NeilJR-3NYU14:21.95-1(3) 
4.Woods, HenryJR-3Haverford14:26.36-1(4) 
5.Seelaus, Jeffrey Bryn Mawr Running Co.14:27.01-1(5) 
6.Kramer, AlexSR-4SUNY Geneseo14:27.65-1(6)
7.DuBois, Eric Breakneck Track Club14:34.99-1(7) 
8.Bucci, Anthony Unattached14:35.16-1(8) 
9.Norris, Max Unattached14:36.03-1(9) 
10.Sloane, Christopher Unattached14:39.28-1(10) 
11.Reich, Stewart Georgetown Running Company14:41.72-1(11) 
12.Gearinger, DylanSO-2Haverford14:42.85-1(12) 
13.Reid, GraysonSO-2Christopher Newport14:42.96-1(13) 
14.Fitch, AlexanderSO-2Misericordia14:44.23-1(14)
15.Trama, Zach Bryn Mawr Running Company14:45.41-1(15) 
16.Dell, GrantJR-3York (Pa.)14:46.02-1(16) 
17.Hiegel, RobertSO-2Bridgewater (Va.)14:46.44-1(17)
18.Lapsnsky, Kevin Unattached14:47.29-1(18) 
19.Gorman, JimmySR-4Haverford14:51.53-1(19) 
20.Murch, SamuelJR-3Christopher Newport14:53.60-1(20) 
21.Livolsi, FranklinFR-1Widener14:54.85-1(21)
22.Meyer, JohnSR-4Rowan14:54.99-1(22)
23.Quilty, Brian Breakneck Track Club14:56.05-1(23) 
24.Price, Kyle adidas Garden State Track Club14:56.40-2(1) 
25.Hale, CharlieSR-4Haverford14:56.73-1(24) 
26.Herlihy, RyanSO-2Haverford14:57.18-1(25) 
27.Doran, AlexSO-2Johns Hopkins14:57.25-1(26)
28.Duckworth, JakeSR-4Fordham14:58.12-2(2) 
29.Dover, JeffreySO-2Christopher Newport14:59.05-3(1) 
30.Tate, JacksonFR-1SUNY Geneseo15:01.02-2(3)
31.Archer, Alex Unattached15:03.57-2(4) 
32.Gagnon, JohnSR-4Swarthmore15:03.57-1(27)
33.Artz, PeytonSO-2Christopher Newport15:05.10-2(5) 
34.Gerstenbacher, SamuelFR-1Elizabethtown15:05.61-2(6) 
35.Shirazi, BrandonSO-2NYU15:06.22-2(7)
36.LaPointe, JohnSR-4Christopher Newport15:07.50-1(28) 
37.Lesko, AndrewSR-4Elizabethtown15:08.21-2(8) 
38.Mears, Donovan Unattached15:08.52-1(29) 
39.Evans, Ben Unattached15:09.57-2(9) 
40.Weidman, MaxFR-1Bridgewater (Va.)15:11.42-2(10)
41.Hete, Sam Delaware TC15:11.47-3(2) 
42.sharkey, luke Unattached15:11.73-1(30) 
43.Putnam, JasonFR-1Christopher Newport15:14.70-2(11) 
44.Santis, GarrettFR-1Lebanon Valley15:15.45-3(3)
45.Dengler, BrianFR-1Bucknell15:16.22-2(12) 
46.Sussman, ChadSO-2Bucknell15:16.56-2(13) 
47.Schroeder, John Pacers//New Balance15:18.81-2(14) 
48.Matuszak, Paul Phila Runner TC15:20.80-3(4) 
49.Maguder, ConnorSR-4Bridgewater (Va.)15:21.88-2(15)
50.Read, DanielJR-3Christopher Newport15:22.09-3(5) 
51.Bruner, WillSR-4Christopher Newport15:22.44-3(6) 
52.Lucy-Speidel, TristanSO-2Lynchburg15:22.54-2(16)
53.Fontal, Ken Unattached15:22.71-3(7) 
54.Hamilton, EvanSR-4Haverford15:23.38-2(17) 
55.Kinne, AustinFR-1Washington and Lee15:25.90-3(8)
56.Patel , PanthJR-3Johns Hopkins15:25.99-1(31) 
57.Donohue, Sean adidas Garden State Track Club15:27.28-2(18) 
58.Erickson, AndrewJR-3York (Pa.)15:27.66-3(9) 
59.Dimond, ConorJR-3Juniata15:28.22-3(10) 
60.Holveck, Brandon Delaware TC15:28.49-3(11) 
61.Ulrich, EvanFR-1Juniata15:28.67-3(12) 
62.VanDerWilt, ErikJR-3Ramapo15:30.58-3(13) 
63.Morelli, Anthony Unattached15:30.80-1(32) 
64.Reed, TreverSR-4Misericordia15:31.33-3(14) 
65.Tuohy, MattSO-2Ramapo15:31.59-2(19) 
66.Hesselbirg, ConnorSR-4Salisbury15:34.22-3(15) 
67.Gibson, TreySR-4Bridgewater (Va.)15:34.56-2(20)
68.LoBianco, Stephen Unattached15:37.61-3(16) 
69.Pruitt, CharlesSR-4Christopher Newport15:38.46-3(17) 
70.Parts, VaughnFR-1Swarthmore15:39.62-3(18) 
71.Budinski, NickSR-4Marywood15:40.00-3(19) 
72.Thornton, Mitchell Unattached15:44.73-2(21) 
73.Delaney, LandinSO-2Bucknell15:45.61-2(22) 
74.Stortz, Sam Unattached15:50.95-3(20) 
75.Rozinski, ThomasSO-2Widener15:52.79-3(21) 
76.Beit, RobertSR-4NYU15:54.37-3(22) 
77.Gourley, Steve Unattached15:55.66-3(23) 
78.Marrufo, JulianSO-2NYU15:56.78-3(24) 
79.Burns, Tim Unattached15:57.37-3(25) 
80.Mummert, KirkFR-1Messiah15:57.86-3(26) 
81.Duncan, Jeffrey Unattached16:09.30-2(23) 
82.Catalano, JakeFR-1Stevens Institute16:13.20-3(27) 
83.Bomgardner, ChadJR-3Lebanon Valley16:15.90-3(28) 
84.Sullivan, WillSR-4Swarthmore16:25.38-3(29) 
85.Codianni, Jim adidas Garden State Track Club16:30.04-3(30) 
86.Ronayne, TylerSO-2Elizabethtown16:37.80-3(31)