Writing 2015

‘If men cease to believe that they will one day become gods then they will surely become worms.’
-Henry Miller

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I believe that this is my year. Then again, I think every year is my year. There is no other way to enter a season than to trust that something special is imminent. As they stand today, I hate my personal bests. What once brought me the ultimate sense of satisfaction withers, and quickly fades into a yearning for more. It only takes moments before I start calculating and figuring what I could have done differently. And this year [once again] is going to be my year. I will keep trying again, perhaps foolishly, to make it happen. But I will stop trying long before I ever enter a new season without believing that a breakthrough is on the horizon.

There is a quality to be admired in the concept of the ‘starving artist’ that our culture has come to appreciate. The underdog story captivates audiences with his or her unrelenting denial to give in and to maintain the stubbornness to persevere despite all facts speaking otherwise. Maybe most commonly mentioned, as a model for those in similar pursuit, is Vincent van Gogh, who only sold one of his roughly 200 works in his own lifetime. It was only posthumously that his work would come to be appreciated [after taking his own life at 37, and dying penniless]. Van Gogh may make a great role model in some respects, but one could probably find a less-tragic hero to mimic.

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(Photo by Sami Aziz)

For me, I have spent the last few years slowly developing an obsession for the expatriate writers in Paris during the 1920’s and 30’s. Think ‘Midnight in Paris.’ I revel in the stories of Hemmingway and Joyce sitting in cafes working by day, and picking bar fights at night. The tales of Gertrude Stein taking in artists and authors alike for guidance and support as they strived for their masterpiece enamors me. And then there was F Scott Fitzgerald, whose novel, ‘The Great Gatsby’ was initially a flop until the many unsold copies became a handout for soldiers during World War II.

These were men and women who took a leap by crossing the ocean, with little money and previous success, to collaborate, and to create modern literature as we now recognize it. They formed a literary circle akin to the late 19th century impressionists who were routinely rejected from the Salon de Paris. Both groups opted to rise above the denials and persist by creating their own style and their own galleries, by which they could display their own work.

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I might be stretching on this analogy, but when I look at my teammates, and around the country at the various groups and individuals who are all scraping away to drop seconds, I see some similarities. It’s not the normal thing to do. Most people graduate college, and move on. Jobs are had, and life continues on. Your times remain eternally that, your times. But then I see the crazy day to day. The guys who find a way to make it work because they have decided that it’s worth it. It’s not a sacrifice, because everything that has been given up is done so gladly. There aren’t questions, and there aren’t doubts. There is just what comes next.

Everyone loves the rag to riches story–once completed. But there isn’t a lot of support along the way to help make it happen. Just the individual who is so foolishly passionate, they may not recognize how farfetched their goals may be [to others].

So when I read of Henry Miller stumbling around Paris in ‘Tropic of Cancer,’ begging for a meal, and scrounging up places to sleep, I become enthralled. Maybe it’s because I know in the end he succeeds. He does so by writing about his journey, and so retroactively I feel a part of it. But I wonder if I had been there in Paris with him, would I have lent a hand? Or would I have scoffed at his dream that would be realized only a few years later? I certainly hope not.

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(Photo by ARunnersEye)

And so today, I try and take a step back before forming opinions on what others are pursuing, perhaps recklessly, against the odds. It’s not required for one to be homeless or in need of a meal to be considered an underdog chasing the impossible. But you do need to be hungry. Though I know some of my own goals this year may solicit some level of doubt from even the most objective onlooker, I don’t think it’s crazy. I’d say it’s crazier to go all-in on a dream and not have full belief that it’s going to happen. You cannot make the leaps physically, if you cannot at first do so mentally. To leave that part out is senseless. I know I am not the ‘starving artist,’ but we have the same mindset. I will fight and claw everyday to make the time drop, and since this is my year—I will keep going.

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It was a fantastic fall of training for me and my teammates at NJ*NY TC. Gags challenged us in a lot of ways that we have never been before, with leaps in mileage and harder workouts. In college I ran 80-85 miles per week during the fall, and last year after an up and down fall I played it conservatively in the 70-75 mile range for the remainder of the year since we function on a 3 workout a week schedule (arguably 4).

But now, large in part due to my sponsor, Hoka One One, I have been healthy and pushing the boundaries of what my body can handle. I have been consistently running 85-90 mile weeks (mostly singles) with longer long runs, farther and faster tempos, and an increased volume during intervals.

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Next week I am heading out to Flagstaff with a small crew of teammates to test the body at altitude. I think the newly added variable will be a good test, and a potentially super beneficial stimulus. Though I am most excited to spend four weeks in a mini-training camp, away from the distractions and temptations of home. I’m looking forward to growing out the beard (Check out my nutrition sponsor, http://www.beardedbros.com), reading a bunch, playing board games and sleeping. The sedentary afternoons blend well with the active mornings.

All in all, things are going well, but the foundation is still being laid. I am opening up my season at the Armory January 31st for a DMR, where I will be running the 1600 leg for NJ*NY. And from there, we’ll see!