My Sophomore year in High School I got a tibial stress reaction, not a full stress fracture but basically an injury from repetitive stress on the tibia. If I continued to train on the injury a stress fracture was likely. The doctor told me to take 6 weeks off from running. Those were a rough six weeks, but I biked, swam, did 100’s of sit-ups, pull-ups and push-ups daily. I did just about everything I could imagine to get ready for the fall cross country season. When the fall came I was fit, but far from fast. Our first time trial of the season was a disaster. In an all out effort I came across the line clocking a 6 minute mile, slower than I was 5 years earlier as a 5th grader… saying I was discouraged would be an understatement.
Galen Rupp, The Central Catholic High School Alum and 2012 10,000 meter Olympic Silver Medalist, occasionally dropped clothes and shoes by practice. Usually it was USA gear, outgrown shoes, shorts, sweats, etc. At the end of practice we would dig through the box of treasure and take a few things. The next day at practice we would all proudly wear our new clothes. The day of the discouraging time trial a box of clothes was delivered to the track, as it was a particularly good box of gear, CCHS Coach Dave Frank had us guess numbers for who got to choose an item first. Whether Dave knew I could use some encouragement, or if I really guessed the right number I’ll never know, But I went home with a new USA track warm up jacket. It was dark blue with red piping, USA stitched in big white letters on the back, and the winged USA emblem on the chest. I don’t think I took it off for a month. I was so excited to have a USA jacket (earned or not) that I went home and started researching the USA cross country team. I came across an article about Dathan Ritzenhein, I read about his history of stress fractures and injuries, and his ability to come back, get healthy, train smart and run fast again. I figured if someone can come back from three stress fractures and many other injuries, I can comeback from a few more trials. This planted the idea in my head that someday I could make a world cross country team.
That decision was a realization for me, that distance running was going to be a roller coaster. There are major ups, and long, dark, drawn out downs. The ups will excite you, but coming back from the downs is what inspires others.
12 years later I’ve passed the USA jacket on to someone else who found inspiration from it, And I’ve earned my own USA team gear. I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to represent The United States of America.
For the last month I’ve been increasing my training load. Doing a lot more running in the mountains on steep, technical trails and preparing for the IAU World Trail Championship. On May 30th I’ll put on the Red, White and Blue and race 86 kilometers through some very rugged country. Not exactly cross country… but it will do.
Thanks to all those who have cheered me on over the mountains and through the valleys of long distance running.