Half Marathon: 1:17:37
Half Marathon: 1:16:16
10 Miles: 54:16
Half Marathon: 1:12:57
1 Mile: 4:27
10 Miles: 52:54
Half Marathon: 1:08:39
20 Miles: 1:52
10 Miles: 51:44
10 Miles: 51:35
10 Miles: 50:57
Half Marathon: 1:07:29
10 Miles: 50:56
10 Miles: 50:32
Half Marathon: 1:06:50
1 Mile: 4:21
20 Miles: 1:48
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.