Sunday, July 28, 2013

European Adventures part deux


After my race in Heusden, I played the waiting game.  I took bets, changing my plans, and prepared myself mentally in the event that I was allowed to race in Monaco.  And two days before the event, I received the good news that I would be flying to the Riviera and competing in one of the most prestigious 5ks of the year.  Flying into Nice, France I was able to get my first glimpse of what awaited me.  Lined up on the tarmac were rows upon rows of private jets.  No big deal right?  On the short drive from Nice to Monaco, one could visually see the increase of wealth.  Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, Ferraris, and Bentleys litter the sides of the roads.  Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Chanel occupy the small shops.  An espresso cost 10 Euro, and when asked where one could get lunch for under 20 Euro, the hotel concierge laughed and muttered, “you couldn’t even dine at the McDonalds for that.”  Sidewalks were (literally) paved in marble, a “jogging” sidewalk was made out of the same material as a running track, and Pellegrino flowed from the hotel’s shower head.  Okay, okay, that last one was made up, but still, the excess and wealth were dizzying.

The race itself proved to be fast.  Very fast.  I hung on in the first few laps, with the first 1k, 2k, and 3k being reached in faster times than I have ever spilt.  Unfortunately, things went downhill from there.  While the early pace was a bit quick for my liking, I made a few tactical errors that cost me dearly.  The leaders ended up running a world leading time, and multiple guys broke 13 minutes.  I finished alone in 8th.  While the time was not bad (13:13), I was disappointed I didn’t take the risk to hang on a bit longer.  I need to make the leap and not be afraid of failing.  Putting myself in uncharted territory is the only way to continue to learn and improve.

After Monaco I came down with a nasty cold and had to withdraw from my last European race.  I decided to return to New Hampshire early to be able to rest and recover.  Over the next few weeks I will plan out the rest of the summer and fall racing, and look forward to getting back on the track.  With my early summer European adventure behind me, I look forward to see what the rest of the summer will bring.

Until next time,

Ben
The famous curve on the Monte Carlo F1 course

Monte Carlo Casino

Port Hercule 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

European Tour, part 1

Groggy and with heavy legs, I arrived in Hasselt, Belgium for the start of my European tour.  A 5k in the neighboring town of Heusden was on the docket, and after three rather sleepless nights attempting to adjust to the time change, I toed the line.  After about 600 meters, my body was not responding well and I knew it would be a long night.  Finding myself in the front of a train of runners, I desperately tried to keep the pace honest, hoping that I would start feeling better and blow the cobwebs out of the system.  "Relax the shoulders, find a rhythm, relax the shoulders, find a rhythm" chanted throughout my head.  But the body was anything but relaxed.  The rest of the race did not fair any better,  but somehow, the body kept moving.  With a lap to go, I was able to muster enough strength to close hard and finish third in a new personal best of 13:11.  Shocked that I was able to run that time based on how I felt, I know that there is a lot more to take off this year.  I just hope to be able to find the right race to run it in.  Looks like I have only one possible race before the break for World Championships- a 5k in Monaco- that promises to be fast enough, but getting my name on the starting list is proving to be a difficult task.  If no Monaco, my European tour will take a hiatus and I will return to New Hampshire for a few weeks before a second trek across the pond to race a few more late summer meets.  So for the moment, I am in another waiting period, waiting for the green light to race the race I want.  So here is to the future of waiting, and hopefully getting another chance at running the times I know I can.


Until next time,

Ben

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Taking it easy


Last week things did not quite go to plan.  The plan was to qualify for the Track and Field World Championships this summer in Moscow, and to do that, I needed to run the world “A” standard and to finish in the top three at US Nationals.  I was able to run both the 10k and 5k “A” standard earlier this spring, so when I arrived at US Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, the end all goal was to finish within the top three.  Unfortunately, this was a task that I was not able to do, coming up short- twice, with two fourth place finishes.  While the two races played out differently, with one loss easier to swallow than the other, the fact remained that I fell short of my goal.  So, I have decided to return to New Hampshire to rest and refocus for a few weeks before heading over to Europe for the summer racing circuit, eager to prove that not all is lost.

And there is where today comes in.  Resting, recovering and refocusing in style.  After a short sixteen mile morning long run, I spent the afternoon hacking, slicing, and duffing my way around the Quechee golf course.  Playing on one of the nicest golf courses in New England is always a treat, and playing on an empty back-9 is nothing short of bliss.  And after golf?  Nothing refuels the body like a Worthy Burger.  A train-depot-turned-burger-joint where kilt clad men grill local grass-fed beef on wood-fired grills to utter perfection.  Not a bad way to refresh the mind.

Now time to sleep, wake up, and start a new week and new month with new eyes.  Back to the grind, slowly chipping away one day at a time, with eyes ahead onto the next race, the next meet, the next goal.

Until next time,

Ben

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Weekend


Saturday:
This past weekend was my five-year* reunion from Dartmouth College.  The asterisk is there because due to taking a year off from school, I technically graduated only four years ago (that and the fact that Dartmouth officially didn’t recognize this as my five-year reunion for some reason... I swear I graduated).  However, despite the technicalities, it was a time when my roommates, teammates and classmates of old returned to Hanover to relish in what used to be.  It was great to be able to see everyone and to catch up with those in “the real world.”  I had a few of my old roommates out to the house for some grilling and backyard shooting, which is always a blast.  I will look forward to seeing them all again soon, when another roommate of ours gets married this fall.
My "graduating" class of Dartmouth '08 with our coach, Barry Harwick
Sunday:
Today marked the end of my middle school running program for the spring.  To celebrate we raced our last race, a four miler, around Lebanon, NH.  It was a great community event with a live band and catered BBQ.  The new Saucony uniforms looked great on the kids as they sped around the course, knowing full well that the faster they ran, the more BBQ there would be to eat.  This spring has flown by.  It seems like just yesterday I was driving back from Florida to start coaching the twenty young runners of Indian River.  I look forward to being able to work with the group again this fall!

Elizabeth leading the charge in today's race
Thank you all for a great weekend.

Until next time,

Ben

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A middle school “Track Meet”


With the absence of a nearby track facility, my after school spring running program has been strictly that, running.  But throughout this spring, I decided to teach various track and field events to the runner’s of Indian River, to expose them to all aspects of the sport.  The kids have loved learning the different events, and it was great to watch as the runners realized that there is a lot more to track and field than just distance running. 

The beauty of track and field is that there is an event for everyone.  Watching the kids gravitate to either the throws or jumps, or become excited by aspects of hurdling and sprinting, only shows the power of track and field as all encompassing.  And so while there wasn’t a track or official implements for the kids to use, for the last practice of the year, I devised our very own mini track meet.

The meet consisted of five events, a modified track pentathlon.  First, the kids raced the 50 meter low-hurdles in a head-to-head, single elimination bracket.  After this, we moved to the 60 meter sprint, in similar format.  Following the running events, we transitioned to the shot put, tossing a weighted bocce ball.  From the throws, we headed to the sandpits for long jump and triple jump.

While practices are now over, two more road races are left on the schedule, giving the runners a few final chances to race before summer break.  And with the kids beginning their summer vacations, my sights switch from coach to athlete, and I look to make my final preparations for the races ahead.

Until next time,

Ben

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Uniforms!


In the famous words of Deion Sanders, “if you look good, you feel good.  And if you feel good, you play good.”  And thanks to the extreme generosity of Saucony, the runners of Indian River School will be the best looking team out there.

The new threads
With my return to New Hampshire, I have been able to get back to coaching middle school runners in Canaan.  This spring I have twenty-two energetic youngsters clamoring to run.  But in season’s past, when we showed up to races, clad in whatever athletic gear the kids had on hand, we were a rag-tag group of misfits.  No longer.  The new Saucony uniforms provide a sense of pride to all the runners, establishing them as a bona fide team.  When one runner first pulled on his singlet, he proudly exclaimed: “these are better than the baseball team’s!”  And after a brief pause, “I’m going to wear mine to school to show it off to all the other teams and make them jealous.”

Two runners excited to first pull on their singlets!
With the new uniforms in place, I look forward to a great rest of the season.  And who knows, maybe these uniforms will make all the other kids jealous, and I’ll have an even bigger team come August.  Thank you Saucony for dressing my team, and giving the runners uniforms to be proud about!

Until next time,

Ben

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Saying goodbye to Hometown, Maine


This past weekend I drove up to North Yarmouth, Maine to say goodbye to the town that I grew up in.  Since I was only a few months old, my family has always lived in the same house.  Even after living in New Hampshire for a few years when I was five, we returned to the house they built on Colonial Drive.  Now, at the end of the month, my parent’s will move on to new adventures.

While I, personally, have moved out of my parent’s house years earlier, it is strange to say goodbye to the town that raised me.  Today, I ran my last long run on the same roads where I ran my first mile so many years ago.  Boxes fill the house stuffed with reminders of the past.  Piles of old clothes, running shoes, and memories litter the garage awaiting trips to goodwill and yard sales.

I am grateful for all that North Yarmouth has given me in my life.  I always believe that it takes an entire town to raise a person, as you are so heavily influenced by those people around you.  Volunteering at a local road race this morning, I was surrounded by those very people.  The coaches, teachers, neighbors and friends.  So while I will no longer have geographic ties to North Yarmouth, the town will continue to be apart of me, as it has helped shaped the person I am today.  And for that, I am truly grateful.

Until next time,

Ben