The Fire I Found in Eugene

 

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These past 12 days have been amazing. I don’t think I can express how transformative it was to witness the greatest athletes compete to represent USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Pictured above are 2 of the highlights of my trip. On the left I was able to meet Alexa Efraimson  whom is someone that I have always enjoyed seeing race and looked at for inspiration. After taking a hard fall and fighting back to get into the top 6 of her heat and make it onto the next round she finishes 3rd in the semifinals. It takes more than just strength to do that, you need heart and determination. On the right is one of the most familiar faces in track and field / distance running, Bernard Lagat, who finished 1st at the Olympic trials to become the 5k champion at the age of 41. His love for the sport is unmatchable and I was honored to finally get to meet him and exchange a few words.

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Above is Brenda Martinez taking charge and leaving no doubt to the fact that she will be in the 1,500m final. After a horrible fall in the 800m final which was devastating even for the crowd that witnessed it she makes the team the hard way and doubles back to compete in 3 1,500m races. She ended up throwing herself over the line to take 3rd and the last spot on the 1,500m team. This is probably one of the most exciting races I saw and really gave me the urge to get my racing legs back under me. To say that seeing these 3 athletes compete was inspirational would be an understatement. What got me to actually start going to races and push myself was seeing how hard these class-A athletes would push themselves. I won’t be at a Class-A level but I can sure as hell take a cue from them and push myself to my limit.

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Last but not least I closed my trip to Eugene with a pilgrimage to Pre’s Rock. This place has a special air about it that cannot be explained. If you don’t know who Pre is you need to start Googling him and have your life changed. He was one of the most influential runners for Track and Field. He continues to have an impact on so many people’s lives and has had an influence on mine since I first found out who he was and how he raced. Just standing here and remembering him lit a fire in me to get back and always give my all.

While in Eugene I went over a few things with my coach and we decided that I should start setting up some smaller goals that will help me track my progress to becoming more consistent and getting back into my racing shape. This 12 day retreat was a perfect time to level set and take a deep hard look at where I was / am / want to go. I’m more fired up than ever to get some new PRs. Here are the short-term goals for all to see so I can be held accountable:

  • Always use a Garmin to keep better track of my runs
  • Have 3 straight weeks of running 4+ days
  • Be more consistent and stay true to my scheduled plan
  • Run a 20+ mile week
  • Run a 30+ mile week
  • Have a sub 9:30 pace run
  • Have a sub 9:00 pace run

Time to run!

These Shoes

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These shoes have witnessed more miles this year than any others in the past 2 years combined. That isn’t saying much as the past two years I never got out of the double digits for the whole year but it’s a start. Gad to finally be getting out the door and on my feet. Now I’m just hoping that I can keep it up. Yesterday’s run wasn’t a pretty one, in fact most of them haven’t been recently, but right now that isn’t the point. Just getting any kind of miles in is a win in my book.

Have my first track workout coming up and it should be a good one. 10 minute warmup followed by 2 mile of straights and curves. Lately my stamina has been non-existent but I’m not focusing on what I used to be.

(Side note) I also took the plunge and bought myself a pair of Women’s Lululemon tights (Inspire Tight ii (Mesh)). I was looking for Men’s but they didn’t have  any in the store. I don’t care what anyone thinks, tights are tights and these felt amazing so if it fits… It was a little weird at the store since I did get nervous and told them they were for someone else so I wasn’t able to try them on but I was glad they fit when I home (phew).

Back on the Lake

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Finally made my way back on the Town Lake trail in Austin after a LONG hiatus. This was the place where I first fell in love with running a few years ago. Today I was reminded why.

There is really nothing quite like retracing your footsteps down a trail that means so much to you after some time away. The Town Lake trail was a place that I used to visit religiously. I would spend hundreds of miles over thousands of days contemplating everything and nothing at all at the same time as I’d push myself further than I ever thought I could around a lake at the center of Austin Texas. It was here where I’d push myself during my first few runs ever to run 3 miles without stopping. From the very first time I stepped foot on the trail all I wanted to do was discover what it had in store for me as I discovered a few things about myself.

Over the past year I haven’t stepped foot on the trail and the year before that I can’t say I’ve spent more than 5 miles on it in total. Until yesterday. I was reminded of a lot of things about myself and why I started running. Some of it was therapeutic but most of it was trying to see how far I could push myself. When it started it was about completing the 3 mile loop, then the 10 mile loop, then trying to see how fast I can do both. I haven’t felt the desire to do this in quite some time and I’m glad to finally have this feeling back.

A lot of you probably haven’t followed me from the beginning of my running journey through my old blog but I used to be this running fiend always thinking of my next running fix. After a short while it all stopped and I am now trying to bring all the pieces together and continue to focus on the drive that I used to have. It is days like yesterday where I see glimpses of it. I stop focusing on what is going on at work or the fact that my miles are 3 minutes slower on average than usual. I even forget that I’ve put on quite a few pounds over the past months and just focus on my breathing and putting one foot in front of the other like the old day. Pushing forward (literally) and seeing how far these crazy legs can take me.

Q&A: Kate Grace

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pc: Jeff Cohen

I was able to catch up with Oiselle’s, Kate Grace, as her season heats up and she heads into the Olympic Trials. We touched on the journey from injury to becoming one of the top 800 / 1500 runners, workouts, advice, drum lessons and soup nights.

You’ve had an incredible comeback from injury in the past few months. What are some of the factors that led to you overcoming your injury and lighting the track on fire?

I was injured January – May 2015. So it was a long road back. I moved to Sacramento in July to train with NorCal Distance (NCD). I finally started feeling myself in workouts in late October/early November. As for factors that lead me to turn my situation around and comeback strong this year?

1. A great support team of coach, teammates, mentors. People who can give me straight advice, improve my strengths, and complement (not compliment) my weaknesses (so, limit the impact of the areas of my personality that always seem to impede on training). I’d also include the support of Oiselle in there. My sponsor that stuck with me through a hard time, when I wasn’t giving great results, or being a great representative.

2. Strong personal conviction and accountability. This was a big area of growth last year. At one point, I can whine all I want about people not believing in me, not giving me a chance, not pushing me hard enough, etc etc. Last year it finally clicked that no one will ever believe in me as much as I do, and it’s up to me to show them exactly what I see. That I have to hold myself accountable to the highest standards, because there is no one to blame but myself if I am falling short.

Currently dealing with low after an injury myself, what are some things that helped get you past the low points of dealing with injuries?

Oof. Anything that makes you feel happy! For me, that means getting a bit of distance from the runner culture. Seek out other friends, or activities that aren’t run-centric. Focus on a different hobby (I took drum lessons), and a different means of exercise (I think you’re in to Yoga. I took up Bikram because those poses didn’t aggravate my foot). Keep social to keep from getting depressed! We started a weekly soup night tradition at the house in Bend. It was a great way to always have something on the calendar. They’ve continued it this year!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the past year?

Hehe, see first question. Also, I guess realizing that it doesn’t get easier. Training, I mean. Normal runs do feel good if you’re in shape. But a hard workout or a fast run, that will always hurt. I used to think that at one point a switch would flip, and I’d feel smooth and great on everything. Feel how Dibaba looks… effortless. I learned that if I was feeling that way in workouts, it probably meant I wasn’t trying hard enough. Improvement comes when it hurts. I’ve learned to chase after that feeling. Even if it can be a bit scary in the moment.

What is your go-to tune-up workout before a big race?

Changes every time depending on the race. And it’s changed a lot over the years with different coaches. The pattern now is a workout 3 days out. Nothing super hard, it’s reps that simulate different places in the race. Then an easy 5-6 miles the next day, and travel and pre-race routine the day before the race. Kim (Conley) has a nice overview of a standard week lead-up on her blog (http://kimfconley.com/pre-race-routines/).

What has been your most memorable race this season so far?

I enjoy all my races! I guess the Hoka Distance Classic 1500. I got to see my high school coach and girls who are current athletes on his team. It was a PR for me, and fun to do it with old friends watching. Also, I was traveling alone for a lot of earlier races, so at that meet we had a lot of the NCD team together, and Drew, our coach.

If you had a day off from your everyday responsibilities, describe how you would spend it.

Wanna know a secret? I hate days off. Not that I hate off days, I actually really enjoy a break from running. We get one about every two weeks now. But, I tend to fill that time with errands and emails and to do list items. But I’m not great at unstructured hang time. It makes me anxious. I know, that being able to rest is necessary. I’m really good at naps. But I’d rather take a nap and then go do something. I guess if I was required to not do any projects or responsibilities, I’d want an adventure of some kind, or learning experience. Discover a new place, maybe learn about it’s history, take a tour, go to a museum, go to a play, eat good things, drink yummy cappuccinos, have some bit of nature in there. Either a city park, or something further afield. And all of this with my closest friends (not a ton of people, I would just want to be around people I love).

Dinner with three people?

Oof. I’ll just do living bc at least that narrows it down. And it’s always changing. Right now… Leana Wen, Podcast people… Stephen Dubner or Rad Abumrad, Questlove.

But lets be real I would have to do so much research before having a conversation with any of them!

Others that popped to mind: Michelle Obama, the Pope, Cara Delevegine, Paul Farmer, Jeff Bezos, Chelsea Clinton

If you could give one piece of advice to any runner, what would it be?

Have at least one run a week where you really enjoy it. Go slow, do not look at pace, stop as many times as you want, listen to music (or not). This could be a short double or something, I just think having that reset is necessary, for mind and body.
If you’re training for something, get a plan that you can stick to, either from a coach or a trusted source, and execute the workouts. And also be flexible as life happens. If you blow up more than a few times, don’t get discouraged, most likely something should be tweaked in the plan.

What is your current favorite mantra?

Fortune favors the bold

Current favorite song?

It’s hard to pick one, I’m always updating. Four favotires from my May playlist… Strive by A$AP Ferg, 24/7 by Kehlani, Living by VERITE, I Need a Forest Fire by James Blake. For albums to cook or clean to… Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

FBF: 2 Years Ago

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And boy have they flown by. I miss the me above. It’s been extremely hard lacing up and getting out the door lately. Has anyone else felt this way? Every since I was roughed up at the beginning of last year I just can’t see to get my legs under me. I haven’t been running much at all like my old self and that is a little bit of an understatement. It is not due to the lack of me not wanting to run but it is mentally and almost physically impossible to walk out the door and get a run in. I miss the way I felt when I was running, I missed the thoughts I had while on the trail but most of all I miss surprising myself.

I need draw a mental line in the sand and get out there. My racing flats deserve another chance to be out on the road. I owe it to myself to break my half marathon PR. But there is still hope. I have an amazing coach and an awesome team of supportive ladies. I need to remember how far I’ve come. I need to remember that I have a team behind ready to rally me on.

Give me speed
Give me strength
Let me fly

Q&A: James Dodds

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I was able to catch up with my first coach ever and possibly the most influential person in my running career and on a huge portion of my life, James Dodds. Some of my favorite runs are the long runs we’d have where we’d talk about anything and everything so I was definitely excited to get a few questions to him for this section of the blog. I can only wish that one day everyone gets to share at least 1 mile with him as I’m sure he wishes to share with all of y’all.

What got you into running?

A few things culminated at the age 24 that got me into running. First, I was gaining weight after college and I knew I needed to do something about that. Most runners are skinny so I thought I might as well try running. Next, I was engaged to be married and a number of people said we were a little young to got married. What made us think we would defy the odds, so to speak, and last a lifetime? So we ran a marathon as a symbol for long term commitment and pushing through hard times. Lastly, I stuck with the sport because it gave me a tangible sense of improvement. I think in our twenties we really aren’t sure what success should/does look like. In college we had grades that let us know where we stood against the pack. In adulthood it is more like – Hey, go live a good life. Well what does that mean? How do you know if you are improving? How do you know if you measure up against something/anything? Running provides relief from that head space. It gives you a distance and then you measure yourself against it by trying to improve upon your times and personal records. Running means something entirely different to me now but for the first five years I got into running because I wanted to lose weight, learn long term commitment, and to have a tangible sense of improvement in life.

Were you doing anything active wise before you got into running?

Yes. I have always been active but not exceptional at any one sport. I loved basketball and football as a kid but wasn’t even good enough to get playing time on my high school teams. So I played a ton of golf and become a decent golfer. I also got into powerlifting because I am from South Texas and that was our way of convincing ourselves we were tough men. RAH! POWER! In college, I was still trying to prove to myself I was a tough man so I joined the rugby team. Again, I wasn’t exceptional but I actually got starting time. I was the #9 scrum-half so lots of running was involved. You could say that was foreshadowing to me getting into marathons 3 years later.

If you could give one piece of advice about running to anyone, what would it be?

Consistency trumps intensity!! This is true for the amateur to the professional. You cannot maximize your potential in distance running without committing to consistent mileage for a long time. If you build the habit of running every morning, even if not all runs are fast or long, you will become a better runner. You will impress yourself in ways you didn’t think was possible.

What has been your favorite race?

Personal Race? That would be Cap 10K in 2012. When I first go into running I just wanted to break 1 hr in the 10K. At 5’10” and 180 lbs in March of 2012 I actually ran the 10K in 39:37. I was so proud. That course is hilly – so I have much pride knowing I broke that 40 minute barrier on a beast of a course. For the record, four years later I would puke if I had to run one mile at the average pace of that race. But I did it then and I am proud, thus, it is my favorite.

Professional? That has to go to Mr. David Rudisha setting the olympic and world record in the last olympic games. Gosh, it was the most graceful display of power and speed. He went out fast and got faster.

 

What was your hardest race?

The hardest race I have ever run is the Dallas Marathon in December of 2011. It was 44 degrees and raining. My personal record at the time was 3hrs & 48 minutes. My buddies Todd Jones & Trey Axe joined me that day and planned to pace me to a 3:30:00. I ran my heart out and bonked at mile 22. I ran 11 minute miles for #23 & #24 and then Todd got be back on race pace to finish with a 3hr 36 minute marathon. That was a 12 minute PR and is still my PR to this day. I think a PR in the marathon will always be the answer to this question. While a PR in 26.2 miles is always self assuring and mentally rewarding it will never feel good physically on that day. Pain and suffering are not potential obstacles in that race. They are the very essence of that damn race!

What is your philosophy on life?

Wow. I could write a book on this one. I would like to give you the long version but for your readers’ sake I will leave it as a one liner: “It is meant to be enjoyed” Now, I believe enjoyment involves hard work, humility, love, self improvement, acceptance of both yourself and others, and lots of other contradictory and complimentary concepts but for now let’s just leave it at: “It was meant to be enjoyed.”

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

That is a tough one. Mostly because fear isn’t really my biggest limiter. Lack of skill & talent are but not necessarily fear. For example, I will participate in most any challenge even if I know I will lose. I guess I could say I would quit my job and try to be a professional golfer if I knew I could not fail. Could you imagine how awesome it would be to be paid to play golf?

Your food always look so delicious and healthy. What is your favorite recent self prepared meal?

Can I give two answers? I can? Thanks!
#1: Breakfast: This is my favorite meal of the day. Honestly three eggs cooked in olive oil, avocado, coffee, and a small bowl of strawberries is the best. I want to do breakfast over and over again. I am a total morning guy.
I am giving two answers because most people will picture a dinner style meal when they read this question …
#2: Dinner: Salmon baked in the oven with salt & pepper, asparagus gilled in a skillet with coconut oil, salt & pepper, & mashed sweet potatoes with a little coconut milk & walnuts for crunchy texture. BOOM! Whole30 approved, super-colorful on the plate, and unbelievably tasty without any fattening or sugar-ridden sauces, etc.

Favorite quote?

“Only a sense of humor can help each of us face those great unanswerable questions: Why was I born? Why am I here? Why must I die? What must I do to make my life a triumph?” ― George Sheehan

Q&A: Julia Hanlon

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© Ian MacLellan

I was able to catch up with the one and only Julia Hanlon. She runs an amazing podcast that you HAVE to check out called Running On Om (ROO). All of her podcasts are unique, inspiring, informative, fun, raw, eye opening… the list can go on. She is also a sister through the Oiselle team. I had a chance to send over a few questions shortly after her 200th podcast where she allowed her listeners to switch roles with her and ask about her story.

Which podcast touched you the most spiritually you’ve made.

Every single podcast touches my spirit in a different way. Two women who have been interviewed on ROO and have had a significant impact on my spiritual path everyday are Nikki Myers and Julie Piatt.

What is the funniest podcast you’ve made.

Hands down, Brogan Graham, ROO Podcast #143.

In your latest podcast you mentioned that people have their own version of spirituality or their own philosophy on life. Can you go into what your’s is? 

My spiritual philosophy is rooted in the belief that God is love. Our journey is to reconnect back to this eternal love inside of us and see this love in all beings.

There are always low points when it comes to running or your yoga practice. Can you share a low moment that you’ve encountered and how you overcame it.

There have been numerous instances in my running journey where I have been sidelined from injury. Each one of these injuries has been a low point, but also a teacher and opportunity to celebrate what I can do. For example, this past winter I was unable to run and used this time as an opportunity to learn how to cross-country ski. Skiing was a joyful and exciting new challenge that allowed me to experience the trails in a new light!

What have you been day dreaming about the most lately?

Fresh Pond at sunrise in my hometown of Cambridge, MA

If you could only use 9 words to describe your life right now, what would they be?

  1. Grateful
  2. Sunshine
  3. Full
  4. Patience
  5. Independent
  6. Compassion
  7. Forgiveness
  8. Growth
  9. Intentional

What is your favorite trail in Bend so far?

Canal Trail

If you can give one piece of advice to someone that pertains to yoga what would it be?

If you want yoga to change your life, show up on your mat everyday, even if it is just for a 2-minute legs-up-the-wall pose.

If you can give one piece of advice to someone that pertains to running what would it be?

Running is hard. Most days it doesn’t feel easy, but when it does, savor them.