World Relays

‘You are patriots! Trying to serve your country in a way that a lot of people won’t understand until they finally see the U-S-A on your chest! Then…they will get it.’  

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It was one of the first days of practice in October, and we were huddled inside the shed at Rutgers University during a downpour at the track trying to get warm before our workout. This was the type of day when we needed a speech—something to get us excited and serve as a reminder as to why we are doing this. Nohilly has been known to provide some timely bone-chilling words on occasion. His voice vibrates with sincerity, and the motivation is seeping into us. My goal is simple: represent this country whenever I can, as best as I can. And that is earned on practices like today.

Since the indoor season I have been healthy and clicking off the usual 3.5 workouts a week and following it up with consistently long long-runs. I opened up at the Larry Ellis Invitational at Princeton two weeks ago with a personal best 800 of 1:47.2 and Gags was fired up about it. For where I was at in training, this was an exciting sign for the future. And when Coach Lananna called up the next day and asked what I thought of running a 1200, I spoke confidently about my abilities. But I think Gags had already convinced him.

Before I knew it, there was a suitcase filled with USA gear in my living room and I was celebrating like Christmas morning in April. And just a few days later I was flying to the Bahamas for a chance to compete on the biggest stage of my career. At this point, it is no secret that I am a pretty big track fan. My eyes light up in awe when Sanya Richards-Ross walks into the room. I have flashbacks to my 13-year old self, freaking out in front of the TV as Jeremy Wariner sprints home to gold in Athens. Now we are wearing the same uniform, except they are the ones getting stopped in the hotel to take pictures with fans.

We arrive on Wednesday for the Sunday race. In my head, this meant I had two and a half days to sit on the beach, and get a nice TV tan. Instead, it was nothing but rain and clouds, so we were forced to play the waiting game from underneath the hotel’s bed sheets. Ben, my roommate and our 1600 leg more or less slept for 3 days straight. It was fascinating seeing another athlete’s routine and peeking into his mindset approaching the race. The days leading in, Ben just talked about how he hoped he would at least break 4. So I had to remind him that he had just run 3:35 for 1500m indoors, and how we’d probably need something closer to that if we were going to win. The day before on the track we did a 200 because Ben wanted to find the pace. When we crossed the line in 30.5 and he said, ‘Perfect!’ I started to get a bit nervous. What do you mean perfect? That’s 4:04 pace!

A lot of the athletes who weren’t competing until Sunday opted to stay back and have a quiet night at the hotel. But on Saturday night, I went over to cheer on the squad and to get acquainted with the stadium’s atmosphere. By watching the action live it gives me the opportunity to visualize myself on the track better, and to get comfortable. So when the doors open and we first run out on the track, the crowd’s deafening roars aren’t a shock to the system. I sat in the stands alone, watching quietly. But when the men’s 4 x 800 won in dominating fashion, my heart was jumping. If I needed any extra inspiration, those guys provided plenty of it!

World Relays 3

By Sunday we had been there so long that the anticipation had reached all-time highs, and we were ready to race. We finally knew who our 400 would be and I was excited to have Brycen with us because he had just split 45.xx the night before. The 400 leg is easily the most underappreciated leg in the DMR. If run well, all the other 800 legs have to go out chasing. All it takes is an 800 runner going out 1 second too fast to blow up and change the dynamic of the race.

Vin wanted to meet with me to talk strategy, and I could tell he was a bit nervous. Putting the DMR together required a few more coaching decisions than the 4 x 800. He told me to just keep it close. Run conservatively and just make sure I finished hard the last 50 so Brycen could get moving and do work. Nothing fancy, just stay patient and be there. I could do that.

They were moving us into the call room early, so we warmed up almost 90 minutes prior to the race. That’s a bit more than I was used to, but the one thing I have learned in racing internationally the last couple years is that you have to be willing to adjust your routine. The more open to change the better.

We came out of the tunnel shadowboxing, and I felt good. This was exciting. My head was right where I wanted it. I was wearing my country’s colors and I had confidence in my teammates to get the job done after I got it started. This was the fun part. We train to race.

The race went out, and I couldn’t get over how nice the track was. It just felt fast. Every step generated so much power, and I felt smooth. When I saw us come through 200 in 29, I was shocked. With Kenya in the race, I expected the normally tactical 1200 leg to be more of a time trial. When we came through 600 in 1:30 I was sitting just off the lead on the outside of lane one, and I thought: if we want the record, I’d have to go now. I was fully aware of how fast we needed to run to get the American and World Records. I told Ben the days before that if he sees it’s going to be close that he better dive across the line. And just as I was considering taking the lead, something I don’t ever do, I remembered Vin’s instructions, so I just waited. After 800 in 2:00 the pace dropped a little bit, but nothing drastic. It wasn’t until 200 to go that Gregson of Australia, made a huge move and shot out of a cannon and opened things up. I reacted a split second too late, and got caught in 3rd, but closed well the last 100 to give it just a few steps back for a 2:53 in 2nd.

Brycen took off, and did what he does best—sprint. And after a phenomenal hand off with Brandon we had the lead. Brandon is a former 400 hurdler, and he’s got some wheels. He went out hard, but after 100 meters, Rotich of Kenya absolutely blew by him at a suicidal pace. But Brandon kept his composure like a professional, and despite Rotich’s 47-second first 400, he hung in there and ran smart. He closed hard for a 1:44 split and Ben would get the lead even with Kenya.

In perhaps the most clever and race savvy move I have ever seen, he jumped into lane 2 and hand motioned for Cheruiyot to take the lead. At which point he exploded forward in what would be a 51-second lap. Ben stayed poised, and hung back. He’d have to do this the hard way. I took a quick glance at the clock, and even with the quick first lap, I deemed the record-chase over. But less than 2 minutes later, that all changed. Ben was closing the gap, and doing it quickly. With just over 200 meters to go, he made a strong bid to the lead. After the race we joked that everyone watching was thinking that same thing; he went too early. With 100 to go, Kenya was on his tail and coming back. But in heroic fashion, Ben put his head down and stormed forward and pulled away. He ran through as the fireworks launched at the finish and crossed the line in 9:15.50—The World Record!

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I didn’t know what to do. I jumped. I yelled. I cried. I hugged. We did it. I have never had an influx of emotion in such a dramatic fashion. We huddled together. An unlikely team of four guys, strangers a week before, embraced and tried to make sense of what we had just accomplished. We were draped in flags and sent on a victory lap. If only the track had been a bit longer around so I could have held onto that feeling for another couple minutes.

We climbed onto the podium, and had gold medals placed around our necks as we turned to the right and watched our flag slowly rise as the National Anthem played in the background. I put my head back, with tear-filled eyes and a smile from cheek to cheek. The ups and downs. The workouts in the rain. The time in the weight room. Miles on empty trails. It was all worth it. And while up there, I paused for a moment to remind myself to never forget this feeling–This is why we do it.

(Photo 1&3-Getty Sport, Photo 2-Kirby Lee of Image of Sport via Letsrun)

A Labor of Love

Marx

My apologies in advance, but I want to talk philosophy. Not about the historically well-endowed Socrates, but instead of one bearded old German guy whose ramblings did justice to the feelings I share but have failed to articulate so profoundly. When I say his name, I expect the hypothetical room to go silent, ready? Karl Marx. I know. Unfortunately, as history would have it, most people think he just went on and on about communism and inspired everyone that America has ever hated [for some people, that’s our own President]. But I don’t want to turn this into a McCarthy-esque witch-hunt, and hope that I will not be misinterpreted as someone who thinks poor people deserve medical care too, because that’s just asinine! To the surprise of many, he had some good ideas and one in particular encapsulates everything I love about running, and that’s his theory of alienation.

“And this life activity [the worker] sells to another person in order to secure the necessary means of life. … He works that he may keep alive. He does not count the labor itself as a part of his life; it is rather a sacrifice of his life. It is a commodity that he has auctioned off to another.” -Karl Marx

Individuals used to be independent. Within the nuclei of our family, we would roam the land eating berries, stealing nuts from squirrels, and maybe even killing the occasional woolly mammoth. But at a certain point in time we discovered the benefits of not doing that, because that sounds hard. So we learned that if we settled within the comfort of a village, threw up some walls, and distributed the necessary tasks of survival, we’d have more time to play the newest video game consoles. This is specialization, and it was among the greatest achievements until sliced bread. But there is a nasty side effect of living in a socially stratified society [besides tax breaks for the rich], and that is because the estrangement of labor is real.

Inspired by the meatpacking district of Chicago in the mid-19th century, Henry Ford popularized the assembly line technique for the completion of the Model-T. Workers would stand next to the conveyor belt, focusing solely on one task, and upon its completion, would pass it along, and repeat the mind-numbing job. Between the first punch in and the last punch out, factory men remain unchallenged and replaceable while on the clock. There is a distance that exists between the worker and the product. His monotonous labor lacks any form of stimulation and he fails to see how his specific role contributes to the final result. An entire day is spent putting two pieces together, but never seeing the finished puzzle. That disconnect between the subject and the object is neglectful to the human spirit’s need to feel purposeful. This is why people are miserable.

For Marx, this problem could be solved by communism. But good luck enjoying your job when America hears you like sharing. Instead, I believe in an input-output model. When my passion for running began, it was addicting. Thinking back to the exhaustion from those first runs at the dawn of my career, it’s amazing I ever fell in love with the sport. I remember stopping to walk for a few minutes with a couple teammates when coach wasn’t looking. But as the miles passed by, I experienced small bouts of success daily. There was no more walking. A two-mile run felt about as hard as one-mile once was. And before long, I was running three and four daily. My paces were getting faster, and my personal bests were being lowered. I wanted more. And it was so simple; if I worked hard and smart, then I would run faster than before. For a confused kid wandering the labyrinth of a middle school’s hallways, I cherished the straightforwardness that came after the final bell. The correlation was direct, and the results were tangible. Motivation stemmed intrinsically, and I prided myself in what I was doing. And many miles and minutes of running later, the same phenomenon still exists. The more I put in, the more I get out.

In running, your labor is not replaceable. You cannot run a mile for a friend, or skip a day and make it up. But you can say that the times you run, and the races you win are all yours. That is because, in the end, your work is the final product.

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The past two weeks I have been on the road a bit as I spent a week working at 5 Star Cross-Country Camp, and then a week staying at a cabin in Maine. Déjà vu. I came home inspired, and hungry. Additionally, I had the chance to do a motivational talk of my own at Westwood XC Camp. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at a few different camps, and it is always a fun way to get some kids excited about running. Those weeks away were motivating and fortunately, I have returned a bit more fit than when I left.

I have written before [on this blog] about the ‘Juice Theory,’ which values the added benefits of the gradual build up, so I will stay true to that, as I believe it has done me a lot of good so far during this summer. Under the guidance of Gags, I have been made patient, and in my 10th week, hit 60 miles in 6 runs. I will continue to climb a bit higher the next month, and I will slowly integrate some [very] easy workouts into the routine.

Additionally, I have been experiencing what I call the ‘Balloon Theory,’ which in short states: Fitness is like a balloon. It is much harder to blow up the balloon as it expands to a point that it has never been before. But once the air is let out, and an attempt to blow up the balloon again is made, it is much easier to achieve levels of expansion previously reached.

Now that I am home I have to figure out my apartment situation, and finding a job that is content to let me come in late everyday and have the freedom of traveling regularly. Ideally it’s not on an assembly line.

The Summer Running Convention

Before the close of my sophomore year of high school, my coach approached me at practice with a brochure. On the printed cover there was an eclectic group of boys and girls, strategically picked to mirror the diversity of the United Nations, running down a trail. I was skeptical. He opened up the pamphlet and pointed at one of the pictures, “Look! This camp brings you to where this year’s state meet is going to be. Go.” I did not have the fortune to matriculate into a high school powerhouse. Instead I came into a program of sprinters, and under the guidance of a soccer coach. But despite having limited experience with distance running, he was smart and willing to learn. So together through my high school years we read books, talked to other coaches and athletes, and developed a program that would work. For what he lacked in knowledge of lactate thresholds he made up in wisdom. And sending me to cross-country camp was one of his best moves.

 

There was no way I was going to camp alone though. I was a social butterfly of prodigious standards, but I wasn’t going to show up without a backup plan. I convinced my teammate Leroy to tag along, who was more a wrestler than he was a runner, but he was always down to make new friends. We pulled up to the campgrounds, and we were baffled. Cross-country camp was nothing like we had imagined. Everyone was having a good time playing basketball, but the kids were a bit bigger than we imagined. I looked at Leroy who sat beside me in the back seat to see if he was equally confused. His initial concern about camp had been resolved, “It looks like I’m not going to be the only black kid.” We rolled up in our car and spoke to one of the counselors. It turned out that the cross-country camp was a bit further down the dirt road. We followed the path and crested the hill only to see dozens of shirtless kids tossing a Frisbee across the field. That’s more like it, I thought.

 

Coming from a high school without a real running tradition, I was regularly mocked for sporting short-shorts to practice. In the most stereotypical fashion, the football players would call out and whistle as I ran around their field. This was flattering. But at camp, I was no longer the lone soldier. Within a couple hours of being there, and before even heading out for a run, I had been accepted solely by the condition of being a fellow runner. In that one week of camp, I listened and absorbed the lessons from such runners as Dick Beardsley, John Gregorek, Henry Rono and others like my running group counselor who was a former Footlocker National champion. I left camp with a new sense of pride to be a runner. As an athlete who was participating in one of the less popular sports in school, it was comforting to see that I was not alone. Somewhere out there were running nerds, just like me. But I didn’t find them until I went to camp.

 

Eight years later and I am headed back to camp again, yet now I return in a different role. Now it’s my turn to motivate some kids, share some wisdom, and make them laugh on the longest runs of their lives. However, at the end of the week when I am exhausted from waking up for early morning runs, playing Frisbee, putting on skits, swimming in the lake, and teaching clinics, I will come away with a spark of inspiration myself. As I am doing my best to eclipse my personal bests, and make a splash on the elite scene in the upcoming year, it is easy to be consumed by the business-like side of racing. But spending a week with kids who enjoy running for its purity is a refreshing look back to where I started, and to appreciate where I have ended up, so far.

 

Since cross-country runners have more camp pride than a wizard and their Hogwarts house, I’ll plug and say next week I will be up in Rockhill, NY at 5 Star XC Camp (www.5starxc.com). There’s still time to sign up and drink the ambiguously flavored red drank.

Summer Running, So Much Fun

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The rain is pouring down, and I have one mile left. My friend is on the bike next to me, shouting words of encouragement and kicking up the puddles in his tracks. I am lifting my knees up, and my arms are chugging. It’s just a training run, and it’s just the summer. But right now, anything is possible.

“So what are you going to do?”

“I am going to run.”

“Yeah, but like, aside from that?”

“I don’t know. Read.”

It seems as if most adults lack any form of awareness that professional running is a viable option for athletes. Normally I will hear a follow up along the lines of, ‘Like, Olympics and stuff?’ In which turn, I affirm yes and add a subtle ‘hopefully.’ Returning home and being back in my natural habitat took a couple weeks of adjustment. At first, I was saddened by the disappearance of my childhood friends who have all moved into the city to tackle the world on a new level called, “real life.” Meanwhile, I am back having Mom make home cooked meals and enjoying the luxury of a fully stocked pantry. This is far from a permanent settlement, but I am currently in an awkward phase of limbo, and so this is a comforting place to be. Sometime soon I will move back into [most likely] the city when my self-proclaimed summer vacation is over.

When my season came to an abrupt end this past spring, I felt more relieved than I was upset. For months things hadn’t been going my way, and I was frustrated with my body. Mentally, I was burnt out. All fun had been zapped from the game, and I was at peace with having to take some time off to regroup. Upon finishing, I knew I had to get away. I weighed my options between traveling around Asia, or getting in my car and seeing the country and visiting friends. Financially, the latter won out, and I spent the next two weeks and 7.000 miles on the road, seeing incredible things, making memories, and most importantly, having time away from the sport. I ended up taking three much needed weeks off from running, to allow my body and mind to fully heal.

I have just begun my fourth week of training, and to say that I am being conservative would be an understatement. I get a phone call from Gags just about every other day checking in on me, and his only concern ever is if I am feeling healthy. As a close friend of mine always preaches, ‘the goal of an athlete should only ever be to be, stay or get healthy.” I started by running 20 minutes a day, and over 3 weeks later I am up to 35 minutes a day. My new stretching and strengthening routine (http://www.whartonhealth.com/flexibility-strength-dvd) has become a daily ritual. Each day is surrounded with infinite time to do everything I need to do to be successful, as I cautiously build my mileage back to normal levels. Luckily my mother works at a bookstore and can fulfill my voracious reading habits, because recovery has been key for me this summer and there’s a lot of sitting around.

My gleeful return to New York has reminded me of the importance in balancing sport and life. It’s been a relief to set myself in place with friends and family who share no concern for running. I have high school friends still making fun of my shorts and who are confused about why I shave my legs. And that’s nice to hear, because it puts things into perspective, which is essential when I am watching European escapades from afar. Now that I am back training in some capacity and seeing the recent success of US distance running, it has been a source of inspiration, and I am hungry again.

But motivation has come from other directions as well. Last week a few friends and I met up for a short jaunt around the local state park. I don’t know why I had never explored this place further when I was younger, but it is filled with trails. One of my buddies brought his little brother who was going to tag along. We got talking about his training, and what his plans were for the summer. The more and more we talked, or rather, that I asked, I realized—this kid has no clue what he’s doing. I asked him what he wanted to accomplish this fall, and what some of his long-term goals were. He was light on his feet, and a fluent stride. I thought surely he’d tell me about his plans for states, or to qualify for nationals. But he was just out running and trying to keep up with his big brother, having some fun and trying to get faster. And that’s exactly what I was doing out there. So as the summer miles pile up, I’m reminded to allow my mind to wander and dream, because right now, anything is possible.

My Time in Texas

“Areté implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life, and a consequent dislike of specialization. It implies a contempt for efficiency… or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an efficiency which exists not in one department of life but in life itself.”

-Robert M. Prisig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Have you ever heard of Michael T. Joyce? Neither had I. Until author, David Foster Wallace introduced him to me. He is an incredible talent, who has worked for years to tirelessly develop his craft.  At 22 years old, he had aspirations to improve, and to beat the best and to push back the walls that bound him. During the summer of 1996, Michael T. Joyce was ranked the 97th best tennis player in the world. If he played on a public court, he’d be a spectacle and amass a crowd of onlookers who’d watch in awe. He’s fast, he’s strong, and he can hit a tennis ball with pinpoint accuracy with a backspin that could bring the ball right back. But he’s not Pete Sampras, and he hasn’t earned his way to play against Andre Agassi. That’s when I realized; I am Michael T. Joyce.

I skipped my cool down. It never even crossed my mind to do it. I was done, and my collegiate career was over. I entered the showers more numb than upset. I stood there for a moment, with my eyes closed as the cool water rushed against my face, and then I sat. My back was against the wall as I was sitting in a puddle of my own filth. The thought popped into my head to where I was about a year ago. Finishing the season prior with a similar sense of disappointment, but with an optimistic outlook of what this year would bring. If I could go back to then and see where it is that I am now, would I do it all over again? Undoubtedly, yes.

When I committed to run for Texas following my junior year, I had missed the three previous seasons and had not produced a single result in over thirteen months. But in an act of faith, Coach Hayes and Coach Thornton decided to take a risk on me, for which I am forever grateful. Unfortunately, this year did not unfold as I had planned. There was so much more that I wanted to give to this team, but I did not PR and I did not hit my goals. I was perpetually injured and unable to compete at the level my teammates deserved. My performances were lacking, and I was a constant headache for our training staff. Following my final race, when Coach Hayes entered the locker room and saw me hanging up my burnt orange jersey for the final time, we shook hands and I thanked him for everything. But there was one thing I wanted to make sure he knew, as well as everyone who I had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with while spending the last year in Austin—I loved it.

I woke up this morning, and I still have a smile on my face, and isn’t that the ultimate purpose of running, to find happiness? It just so happens that in my hedonistic pursuit I stumbled upon the sport of running and acquired the desire for arbitrary feats of endurance. Athletics is one possible mean to the same end we are all chasing. And while it is easy to become absorbed by the tunnel vision required to be successful, now at the conclusion of my season, I can look back with the proper perspective that is no longer blinded by frustration. Although the list of things I hope to accomplish continues to grow, I try to remind myself that they are all part of the single greatest achievement worth pursuing, and that is satisfaction.

As articulated by Aristotle, the ultimate virtue is namely eudaimonia, translated literally as “good spirit,” but often intended to mean “well-being.” As people we are ceaselessly striving towards this ideal, but perhaps aiming towards it is what provides it most fully. And through the various stages of my career, I expect to have many bad days to accompany the good. But much like an aspiring tennis star, I will continue to look towards winning against the best. Yet whether I get there or not, I hope to conclude in much the same way Michael T. Joyce was personified: “He will say he is happy and mean it.”

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I was recently told that the biggest advantage a post-collegiate athlete could have is a strong support system. To be surrounded by people who believe in you and accept your decision to put aside some of the temptations of the real world (re: money), to pursue a dream you have been chasing since you first started competing at five years old. Throughout my years in college, I was given endless opportunities by so many people to play a sport I love, and I could never thank everyone along the way enough for what they’ve given me. To my parents, family, coaches, teammates, friends and fans, thanks for being a part of the journey, and I am excited to enter into the next stage of my career, and I trust you will join me. Right now, I need some time off to recover, get rested and healthy, but I am excited to make up for some lost time.

 

David Foster Wallace-The String Theory

 

The Juice Theory of Fitness

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Think of gaining fitness as a similar process as squeezing oranges to make a fresh glass of juice. Each orange you squeeze is a different stage of training in the building-up process of working towards a peak. Each orange you use, you want to squeeze out as much of the juice as possible, because you’re thirsty and you love orange juice. You are willing to squish and grind that orange to make sure every last drop falls into the glass. However, if you are impatient, and you know that you could get more juice quicker by throwing one orange out and moving on to the first squeeze of the next orange, you’re going to run out of oranges. But you’re thirsty, and you want to enjoy that juice now. Although you may be enjoying the sweet and savory taste of that orange juice sooner than you would have had you completed the squeeze of each orange properly, that glass could have been a little more full if you didn’t rush to enjoy the fruit juice of your labor. Instead, you’re done drinking your juice and you’re not satisfied.

Celebrating A Loss

Celebrating A Loss

2004 Athens

“EL GERROUJ! LAGAT! TO THE LINE! El GERROUJ GOT IT!” When I was thirteen years old, I remember watching the Olympic 1500 final in Athens and having my eyelids peeled back as I stared at the screen in awe. At this point in my running career, I did not fully understand the race’s place in track and field history, and I didn’t have any reason to care. I couldn’t spell El Gerrouj’s name or find Morocco on a map. But when my HS coach told me to watch the best runner’s run at the Olympics and to learn from them, I did as I was told. I have watched that race again and again and again. I know the moves, I know the splits, and I know the commentators description of how the event unfolds. But it wasn’t until I watched the race some four years later that I stopped focusing just on the race for gold, and started watching Rui Silva of Portugal.

This past weekend I flew to the golden coast to chase a regionals time for the 1500 at Mt Sac.  The goal was to run under 3:45, get a little bronzing, and see some pretty girls before heading back to Austin to continue putting the miles in. As you would expect with any California meet, the heat was stacked and it was a great opportunity to run against strong competition. Heading over to the line, I was light on my feet, and my shoes were perfectly taut, all good signs. The race goes off and I settle in on the rail near the front, which is exactly where I wanted to be. I just watched the backs in front of me and checked the clocks: 44-59-74-1:45-2:00-2:46-3:01. Feeling confident I’d achieve the primary goal, I jumped into lane 2 and made a surge. With 100m to go I had a final nitro boost, but would need to swing into lane 4 to use it. But as my luck would have it, a hole opened up on the inside and I shot it. I had been waiting to feel this way again for the last 11 months, and there I was, at the end of a race with fresh legs. I caught up with a pack of guys and just tried to get as many as possible. I crossed the line and knew I ran 3:41.

With 800m to go, Rui Silva is in last place. As El Gerrouj takes the lead and starts dropping the pace, the field follows to try and stay in contact. But Silva just waits. In the final half mile, he is slowly moving up, making a pass and tucking back in, over and over. He is patient and waits to eats up track as the rest of the field fades. On the final straight away, as Bernard and Hicham battle for inches, Silva has run away from the rest and takes a look over his shoulder and finishes with arms held high. As he runs across the line in celebration, he hugs a disappointed Lagat from behind and has the fullest of smiles covering his face. He closes in 146.3 [the fastest in the race] and proudly represents Portugal with the bronze medal.

As my momentum carried my legs past the finish, I began clapping. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and I could feel the adrenaline pumping. I ran up to race winner, Patrick Casey, gave him a love tap on the ass and continued back to my teammate, Trevor Van Ackeran, to celebrate together. I’d imagine that the average spectator was a bit confused as to why the guy who came in 5th place was running around so excited, but for me, it was a special moment. I was Rui Silva, enjoying the best loss of my career.

In the moments of frustration with running, we begin to over analyze and search for the reasons of our failures. ‘What am I doing wrong? Why do I do this to myself? How do I fix this?’ There exists the internal struggle of trying to answer those questions of doubt, while trying to ignore those reservations to focus on the future and to maintain optimism. While gaining fitness in the many miles of practice is a challenge of physicality, the ability to translate capabilities into performance is a contest of mind. But after just a few minutes of racing, all of the uncertainties disappear and become an issue of the past, and the only question that remains is, “What’s next?”

2004 Olympic 1500 (link)