Reflections and Savages

This post in particular has been painful, fearful, relieving, challenging, and enlightening.  I have been thinking back over the last 2 years as I ready myself to start my outdoor track campaign to once again.  This year has been a long journey once again full of extreme highs and lows.  I have experienced triumph, brokenness, love, heartache, betrayal, new friends and tightened friendships.  All while fighting through my own personal demons and body to get it ready for the rigors of an outdoor track season.  It's easy to forget in these upcoming races why we spent all fall and winter logging miles on miles, often in hellish wind, rain, and snow.  No matter how tough you feel out there training, racing has a way of separating out the mentally tough.  It's such a shame that at times we don't get the best out of ourselves in races because we are mentally afraid to take a big risk for that often illusive big reward.
Most track runners spend all fall and winter long dreaming about outdoor track season.  It's how we get through the long cold winter months every single year. But now that outdoor is upon us, I have found myself in a whirlwind of emotions this week.  I shouldn't be and it's absolutely irrational to be.  I'm in better shape than I've ever been, mentally stronger than ever, yet my confidence is still a roller coaster. Some days I revival in the fight and I'm ready to take on the world.  Tuesday for example during my workout no matter how tough it got I kept squeezing and refusing to give up no matter how tired I got. Yet one race rejection email this week took the wind out of my sails and has made me question why I even try to compete at the elite level.  
Not having a big name coach (Snyder isn’t there yet but he will be) or agent, and having been on the shelf for over 2 years now, it makes it difficult to get into a lot of races.  For those of you that don’t understand the workings of track and field, I haven’t put up a credible time in over 2 years, so meet directors aren't willing to give me the benefit of the doubt anymore or take a chance on giving me a spot on the starting line.  Despite my story and stubbornness to win again, I can't find many willing to take a chance so I can finally earn my day.  This rejection brings out my savage mode (credit to my boy Kevin Schwab and more on this in a minute).  I completely understand the reasons behind my rejections.  Track and field is a small sport with super competitive fields at the elite level.  Often times sections of races are limited to 15 people or less.  So those spots are precious and have to be earned.  My day will come soon I know, but till then all my work this year seems futile till it all pays off and pop the big one.
Now to lessons on savage mode from my boy Kevin Schwab.  When Kevin moved up to Blowing Rock to join Zap Fitness this past fall, he and I immediately hit it off.  On one of the first runs I did with him at Watauga River Road I remember a discussion about how getting drunk and screwing around often brings out the savage mode in some of us.  Others may think that sounds absolutely ludicrous, but getting drunk and waking up hungover with a run standing in front of you can toughen you up!  Now this isn’t a key element to successful training or racing at all, but sometimes for some of us it’s an absolute necessity to unwind from the stress and strain of training.  I knew from that first run Schwab would be one of my wrecking crew boys (those of us who are willing to take big chances for, big rewards and throw caution to the wind all for the sake of nothing more than a good story sometimes).  This can mean getting absolutely outrageously drunk, like a uncaged savage animal released on the world with no limits.  This seems so contradictory to how you would assume runners blow off stem.  Often times people assume most of us runners get a lot of stress relief from running.  But I know for myself running is the exact opposite.
Running has not been an outlet for me since I was first diagnosed with my rare auto-immune disease Wegener’s Granulomatosis.  Track and field is my sport, so running is my training and that’s how I look at it.  It’s incredibly simple and pure.  All of my passion and energy goes into my sport.  So if I want to relax or relieve stress, running is not my outlet. Music, friends, and outrages nights (either by myself or with my wrecking crew) are how I blow off steam and unwind.  Training at our level (especially with a 40 hour a week job) takes a lot of emotional and physical energy to survive day-to-day.  This is when savage mode takes over.    He gets angry and refuses to let things wreck his training and goals!  That same savage also rears its head when I feel disrespected and counted against.  That’s why I can no longer be afraid and let the savage out every time I step on the track!  Since none of us never know when we might have to hang up the spikes, cheers to throwing caution to the wind and chasing big dreams!


“All Hope is Gone”