Olympic Trials Feels

I really don’t know how to begin to explain all that my Olympic Trials experience meant to me. An unforgettable experience, where I experienced the highest of highs & lowest of lows.

Let’s take it back to the week leading up to the Olympic Trials. I was feeling pretty confident heading into race week, but that Monday I woke up with a small cold. It didn’t bother me on my runs throughout the week, but as it got closer to race day, it kept getting worse. I kept convincing myself each day that it wouldn’t affect me come race day. I mean, it’s the damn Olympic Trials,  nothing was going to stop me…or at least that’s what I thought.

I arrived in Los Angeles early Friday morning after making the 2 hour drive from Barstow. Still feeling under the weather, I tried to maintain some positivity, as it’s the race I’ve dreamt about since I was a kid. The talk heading into the race was mainly on how hot it was going to be, but I knew everyone would have to run in it, so I tried to shrug it off. The support I had leading up to the race was unbelievable. I felt so supported by family, friends, and everyone who’s followed me on this journey, that I wasn’t going to let the sickness get to my head.

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Race morning I woke up feeling worse than I did before. Head and sinuses congested, an annoying cough. But I was trying to be positive and going to go out there and give it my all. I mean, I was fit either way. I knew I’ve done everything I could to prepare for this moment. As I did my warm up my legs and body felt great, but kept coughing throughout it. Oh well, I was about to toe the line in the biggest race of my life.

When the gun went off my main goal was to just relax and stay calm for as long as possible. I planned to maintain 5:10’s for as long as I could, and deal with the hurt of the marathon when it came. First few miles went by, and I was hitting my splits, feeling decent. After the first few miles everything was a blur. Being sick, and exerting myself in that heat was starting to get to me. I grabbed all my bottles, grabbed sponges to pat my head down, but nothing seemed to help.

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I was still running a decent pace at around 7 miles, and after that point I just began to feel light headed. I told myself that I was going to keep pushing through. 9,10,11 miles went by and things just kept feeling worse. I kept trying to fight through it, but my body couldn’t take it anymore. Between 13-14 miles I blacked out and collapsed. I don’t recall too much of that, all I remember is a spectator pouring water on me, and the medics asking if I was okay. Everything felt like a blur. Apparently it happened a block away from where my family and friends were cheering, so my brother ended up finding me and helped me walk slowly to where they were. I just remember seeing my family & friends and using everything I had to hold back my tears. Not just because it was the biggest race I’ve ever been in, but because I felt like I let everyone down who’s ever supported me. I felt like I wasted all of my family and friends time who drove to LA to watch me. Hearing “we’re so proud of you,” and “we got your back” from certain family members, and my 2 yr old niece running up to me and give me a kiss, made it especially hard to hold the tears back. Man, that was hard to swallow.

As I was being walked back to the start/finish area, fans/spectators kept saying “great job,” or “congrats on making it here.” That support was unreal. They were right though, it’s a blessing to even of had that opportunity to be at the Olympic Trials. It was just hard to realize it at that time, I was just so out of it and heartbroken.

Now, 2 weeks later, I can finally look back on my Olympic Trials experience and just be thankful for the opportunity. Not everyone can say they competed in the Olympic Trials, even if the race didn’t go how I wanted it to. There’s still plenty more chances and opportunities for me to show what I’m truly capable of. The last few months have been filled with support. I could never thank anyone enough for me being there for me throughout all of this. I couldn’t dream of doing what I do without the support of everyone around me. My mom, brother, sister, niece, family, close friends, all my other friends,coaches,  sponsor, supporters, co workers, fans…man this list could go on forever. I’m so grateful for everyone who supports me, and everyone who wants to see me fail. You all make me want to continue to chase this dream. Because of everyone around me I’m a happier and stronger person. I don’t think there’s a proper way for me to really tell you thank you, but if you’re reading this, thank you to you as well.

So here’s to another 4 years of chasing that Olympic Dream, and all of the journeys and obstacles in between. Let’s make this one count!

And So It Begins

I’ve stayed away from my blog for a while now. Mainly due to the fact that races haven’t been what I had hoped. The Rock N’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon was a disaster after 5 miles, and I had to pull out of the Rock N’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon the day before with a tight hamstring. Figured it was better to play it safe and not race rather than racing and making the matter much worse. Frustrating times, especially when I was in PR shape for both races. But shit happens, right? Learn from it, move on, and get ready for the next one.

After pulling out of the RnR LA Half, I found myself in a pretty bummed out mood. Maybe even a little depressed. I was definitely not any fun to talk to that day. I mean can you blame me? When you’re so used to doing something you love and then you randomly have to take a couple days off sucks to say the least. Being in great shape, and not being able to showcase that is even more of a bummer.

With that tight hamstring coming out of nowhere, coach and I came to the conclusion that I probably wasn’t drinking enough water. So I was given direct orders to make sure I drink plenty of water daily to avoid anything random like that popping up again.

A couple of days of easy running went by, and the hamstring was back to normal. Even though I was feeling back to normal, I was told to take the rest of the week easy, as Sunday November 1st the real “fun” begins. That “fun” just so happens to be marathon training. Yup. It’s that time to start my marathon buildup for the Olympic Trials on February 13th on the streets of Los Angeles.

It’s still so surreal to me that I’ll be competing in the Olympic Trials. The mother f*****g OLYMPIC TRIALS! Words can’t even describe what a blessing it is to just be able to qualify, and toe the line with all of the other best professional runners in the nation all vying for that elusive spot on the United States Olympic Team.

These next few months leading up to the trials I’ll be more focused and determined than ever. I want the trials to be a memorable day not only for myself, but for my family, friends, Coach Vigil and everyone who supports me. The weekend of the trials means more to me than just any other race. The day after the Olympic Trials will be a year to the day that my grandmother passed away. She never got to see me race in person, so i’ll be running with a heavy heart while trying to honor her, and make her proud as she watches from above.

I’m excited to log the miles, and do the workouts that are planned for me. Next up: Dana Point Turkey Trot 10k on Thanksgiving Day.

And so it begins, the pain train to LA is officially underway!

P.S. Here’s a new song, “I’ll Show You” by Justin Bieber. Yes, I’m a Belieber too.

Update: Boulder Trip

It’s been over a month since I last posted, and I’ve debated over and over if I actually wanted to keep posting again. Since I’m finally enjoying running again, I’m going to try and update this blog as frequently as I can for those who actually care to read. My posts will vary from races, trips, training, and will most likely have some sort of rap lyric, probably Kanye, thrown in the posts somewhere. But beware, I’ll probably ramble on about certain things, as my thoughts are always all over the place.

So where should I start? I guess I’ll go ahead and briefly get into my trip to Boulder, CO a couple of weeks ago. I ended up making a trip out to Boulder to check out what it’s like to train & live at altitude with Roots Running Project. Alia Gray (badass runner who’s also coached by Vigil) & Richey Hansen (coach of the group & much more) were gracious enough to have me out there and host me at their place for the few days I was there. From the time I first stepped in Boulder, I fell in love. Beautiful scenery everywhere. From a guy who’s used to seeing desert all around, or smog when traveling throughout So Cal, it was a great change to see the mountain scenery. I was able to get in a solid tempo on the roads/alter-G, get my ass kicked by a tough long run the following day at altitude and try new strength and core routines. They showed me great spots to eat, breweries, coffee shops(very important), amazing runs, scenic views and everything you could think of. Most importantly they welcomed me and made me feel like I was a part of the group from the time I got there. I would share everything I experienced while I was there, but that would take waaayyy too long. So just know it was an amazing trip, and that I fell in love with Boulder. I’m very thankful to Alia, Richey, Jasper(their great dane), Mara Olson(another badass runner in the group), for showing me what it would be like to be a part of Roots Running Project. Can’t wait to go back to Boulder.

Long run in Boulder, CO sat the Rez

Long run in Boulder, CO at the Rez

Everything has been changing for me these past few months. I probably never would have actually made a trip to check out a place in altitude at the start of the summer, but then I started working with Coach Vigil. I’m pretty sure all of the other athletes he coaches are at altitude, except for me. But talking to him, I realized how much of an impact it can be to live & train at altitude. Especially doing the training that we do. I also just recently became sponsor-less (tough choice I made), due to the fact the racing flats I were using were causing me foot issues. I am forever grateful for all Brooks did for me, but knew I needed to find a shoe that worked perfect for me as I prepared for the Olympic Trials Marathon in February. Life always throws some sort of obstacle at you, but I’ve learned you just have to embrace it and go with the flow. As my favorite artist would say “and the weather so breezy, man, why can’t life always be this easy?” I’ve dealt with SO many changes these past few years, but can’t be mad that I always choose to follow my heart, and try to do what I feel makes me happy. Because at the end of the day, if you’re happy, then there’s nothing to complain about.

People keep asking me if I’m going to be joining a group, or going after another sponsor now that I’m a “free agent” and in due time I’ll be announcing some exciting changes that I’ll be making. Enough of this rambling though. I’m 6 days out from the Rock N’ Roll San Jose Half-Marathon, which will be my first race in 5 months. 5 MONTHS! Man it’s been a long time. I’m excited to test my fitness against a tough field, and will do a race preview post on my way up to San Jose on Friday. So thanks to whomever is reading this ramble I went on, and hope you keep checking out the other ramblings I’m sure to post.

Until next time

ANT

P.s. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite performances of one of my favorite songs

Recharge

I’m half asleep typing this, so be easy on this post.

After I ran an Olympic Trials qualifying time in the half-marathon at the start of 2014, my training and racing have been like a roller coaster ride. Plenty of great workouts, followed by many upsetting races, and a couple of “decent” races. Felt the highest of highs, then experienced the lowest of lows. Confidence broken.

During that period I moved up north, got a new coach, then moved back home after 6 months after being completely unhappy with where my running was going. Rocky training periods, caused me to pull out of all of my fall races of 2014. Leading into the 2015 track season I was excited to get back to racing, but things still weren’t clicking. After all that, I decided to pull the plug on the rest of my spring season, and seek out a new coach to guide me back to where I needed to be.

Fast forward to the beginning of July, and I started working with the greatest coach in the world. Dr. Joe Vigil. If you don’t know who he is, look him up. He’s coached the best, and continues to coach athletes performing at the highest level. The past 5 weeks I’ve been challenged in so many new ways, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I haven’t been this happy with my running in so long, and I owe it all to Coach Vigil. The confidence he instills in me is what I needed. We’re working on all of my weaknesses,  while utilizing my strengths. Confidence is slowly, but surely coming back.

This is the recharge I needed.

I’m still adjusting to the new training, but am getting excited to get back to racing. With a new found swagger and confidence, I hope to notch a huge PR come September 27th at the Rock N’ Roll San Jose Half-Marathon. For now I’ll be grinding away in the heat of the desert before spending a few days in Boulder, CO in a couple of weeks.

Until next time.