It has been suggested that I begin blogging on a weekly basis. Therefore, I’m making it my New Year’s resolution to post a blog on the site 52 times this year. Much like journaling, these blog entries will probably be more therapeutic for myself than any unfortunate soul who might stumble upon them. I would really love it if after reading this blog you would post a comment, as it will help guide my future blog entries. Topics I could see myself approaching would include, but are not limited to: running, physical therapy, injuries, injury prevention, racing, and nutrition.

In regards to my own running, I find myself stuck in a midwinter demotivated funk. A month ago, I ran the California international Marathon (CIM) and dropped out at the 20 mile mark. My training leading up to the race had been some of the best I had done in recent years. For over a year, I have been chasing my goal of qualifying for my fifth Olympic trials marathon. If growing older wasn’t challenge enough, USATF has made the trials standard significantly more difficult. This time, I need to run under 2:18 minutes for a marathon to achieve the B standard. To add interest, they also award a B standard to a sub 1:05 half marathon.

This goal of qualifying for my fifth trials has begun to consume me. Once I turn 40 this May, I will have some new goals on my list; however, for now, a fifth trials is it. It has been roughly 6 years since I’ve run under 2:18 for a marathon. Five years ago, I underwent hip surgery. Four years ago, I had a microfracture knee surgery. Recently, I’ve had reasons to feel optimistic about my chances of running sub 2:18 again. In December 2011, I ran 2:18:56 at CIM. This past spring, I ran 14:47 on the outdoor track for 5000M. At the Gary Bjorkland half marathon in Duluth, Minnesota this past summer, I ran 1:05:55.

Not that any of these are stellar performances, but they are enough evidence that I am within striking distance of qualifying for the trials again. If I can pull this off, I will join four other men: Ed Eyestone, Darrell General, Doug Curtis, and Ric Sayre, whom have also qualified for 5 marathon trials.

With a lifetime personal best of 2:14:12 from nearly 9 years ago, I have zero margin for error. My build-up to the race needs to be perfect, race day conditions need to be almost perfect, and execution on race day needs to be perfect. Prior to my last try in December, I came down with a stomach virus 10 days prior to the race. The following day, I attempted a track workout which was much too aggressive and required me to spend the last 10 days frantically trying to recover. Race day conditions were very good, however, I made the mistake of being slightly too fast at the halfway point. At 18 miles, I could feel the fatigue in my quads starting to accumulate; by 20, I was off the pace and heading the wrong direction.

At that point, I made the decision to pull the plug on the race. I thought that by dropping out with 6 miles to go that my recovery would go smoothly. I even considered entering another marathon within a month or so and giving it another go. All it took was one cruise interval workout to display front and center that my recovery was not what I had hoped it to be. Back to the drawing board.

Which leads me to where I am now. Winter has finally arrived here in Michigan. The roads and trails I do my training on are now covered in ice and the windchill factor the last few days has been in the negative territory. Since my last marathon attempt, I’ve had a tweaky right Achilles tendon, as well as a grumpy left hamstring. With my next attempt months away, it is admittedly difficult to get myself out the door to get my training in. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has not done me any favors. A silver lining might be running less in the near-term to help me heal up these little aches and pains, and hopefully rebuild the motivational fire.

Running has a way of continually reminding us how human we are. We can all be fragile and weak. Time and gravity are relentless and unforgiving. The joy of the finish line prize fades quickly. As runners, we need to cherish the process. The ups and downs of running are metaphors for life.