This weekend is a rather significant weekend in the history of the second coming of my athletic career. After college I swore off training and racing; feeling disappointed by the short-comings of my collegiate athletic campaign and burnt out after battling through injuries my junior and senior year, I deemed exercise as a way to stay in shape and fill up my free time after work versus a means to getting into peak physical form for competition. All that changed when I started medical school in the fall of 2011. I would struggle going from class to the library without a time to decompress and recharge in between. So I did what I had done my whole life and I ran after school. Sometimes by myself and other times with some of my classmates who were also runners. The most influential of them all was my friend Max, who had done Ironman Lake Placid the summer before we started first year. While it was in the back of my mind, he encouraged me to do a triathlon and to sign up for the Broad Street 10 miler.
I balked and missed the registration deadline for Broad Street, but then there was re-opening for additional lottery spots, and as fate would have it, I got in. Nothing about my “training” was focused, and I am fairly certain I did only a single run of 10 miles before the race. Most everything I did was aerobic training, a mix of swimming, biking, and running at least 30 minutes a day. I remember doing one fartlek with some of my classmates the week before Broad Street, this was the first “real” workout I had done since college and it definitely ignited a spark in me.
Sunday May 6, 2012 I awoke pre-dawn and did a little shakeout run before meeting my friends and packing onto the subway to the start line. Max and I had agreed to seed ourselves at around 70 minutes, I should have known better. The race started and I took off, running the first slightly downhill mile in at about 6 minute pace. Max was ready to kill me. I tried settling in, but I kept rolling. The feeling of racing again was so energizing and exhilarating. With people cheering the whole way and being surrounded by runners the adrenaline carried me to the finish line. The last 2 miles were rough and I had to dig deep down to a place I had not been in a while, but I made it to the finish with a bit of a kick in 63 minutes and change. Holy smoke.
When I finished the first thing that crossed my mind, besides “I still go it,” was “I can’t believe I waited this long to race!” The fire was burning again and it felt so right. I realized that this is what I had been missing from my life for the last 2 years.
The following year on Sunday May 5, 2013, after a season of training and racing triathlons I did my first and what at the time was the only race on my schedule for the year since I was taking boards and starting my third year rotations in June. I trained hard through the winter and early spring with this race as my singular focus. In contrast to the year before when I was running Broad Street, I showed up race morning well prepped and ready to race. With calm confidence, I dominated Devilman Halflite and earned my first overall win and also pulled a Rinny coming away with the second fasted run split of the day out of all the men and women.
This set the stage for the rest of the season and I knew I had to do more races, and I would somehow make it work with my board studying and clerkships. I did make it work, racing Syracuse 70.3 just 5 days after taking my board exam. The race was a disaster, but I still managed a roll-down spot in to the 70.3 World Championships, which I am glad I decided to take. I went on to (unexpectedly) win my age group in Vegas.
I have said before that sometimes you have to look back on what you have accomplished to be at peace moving forward. With my current struggles this is especially true, since I have no races to look forward to or concrete goals to work towards each day. It is imperative that I remind myself of what I have achieved in the past, and the odds I have overcome, so that I do not lose hope given the dimness of my current circumstances. I am thankful to have the memories of this weekend of years past to fondly reflect upon and carry me forward.