Thursday, May 19, 2011

Just blow it out.

Thursday, May 19th 2011. D-day. D for declaration day. Some interesting questions were answered today and the fields are set for the first round of the NCAA Championships. Nobody had a stronger desire to be there than Nick Maedel, evidenced by his behemoth display of willpower in collapsing across the painted point B in 14minutes and 13 seconds, having covered a distance not shorter than five kilometres. His itch to compete next week was satiated by numerous scratches on the list today and he will take his place on Delta Flight who knows what to Indy on Tuesday. Most likely in seat 22B, the second-to-worst seat for those looking to piss in-flight. The worst is naturally reserved for yours truly.

I looked at the 1500 after the conference meet and decided the notion of competing in the metric mile in the post-season sounded simply splendid. Coach Braman, utterly perturbed by my enthusiasm, instructed me with a blank stare to find an oval 60metres in circumference, because I was running no less than 25 laps come work day. He then sent me off on a 9-ingredient concoction of miles with no specific formula outlined besides the final desired flavour of "hurt". I gave the recipe a B-. My effort, perhaps a notch higher.

And so it is set. I do however have the added bonus of a 3.1 mile jaunt around Bloomington's track to compliment the slog. I'll keep my ACC experiences in mind and opt NOT to polish off a "Cobblestone Sweet Roll" (America Fail-again) from Panera one hour before. That I was left unable to savor the sweet serenade of Ambler the Scrambler's "HEYYY-HEY-EH-EH-EH-EH" due to p*ssy stomach still rankles me, yet the joy of team victory that day ensured the physical pain was, thankfully, 'over easy'.

The competition in Indiana will be about as stiff as Jimbo Fisher's stance on our new indoor track/football facility. I'd better preface this by noting that this is NOT a knock on the intelligence of NCAA distance runners, though it may be too soon to speak on levels of co-operation just yet. I am respectful of the fields though and excited to get out and compete.

I had planned to take my love for the colour teal and expand it past my V-neck and New Era 5950 collections to the tartan UNC speedway by shooting for the questionable glory of a sub 3:40 1500. However, a taut tendon of the mythic kind stopped me in my tracks and forced me back into the hands of Coach Braman's tempo trolls. Last Saturday I battled them for seven before taking my food-disposal talents to Ted's Montana Grill where I ditched pumping iron in favour of the consumption of that very mineral. Yes, consumption, that classic American pastime. Oh how assimilated it appears I've become.

Besides that one little hitch, things have been moving along quite smoothly and I am rather happy with the current state of affairs. The trip to Carolina lacked another personal best but angst at that outcome was buffered, if only slightly by the banter on the road created by the 'Garmin-Queller', the 'Tom-Tom-Tyrant' Kenny Jesensky and David "Freaked" Forrester. One cannot forget the presence of Nick "WTF did I just do?!" Maedel and his quirky yet admittedly fair opinions on the true state of team morale.

It was the kind of trip one would surely miss once removed from that unified team atmosphere that is collegiate track/xc. I choose not to accept the fast-approaching reality that said removal is nearly upon me, and instead wish to make the very most of these last few weeks in the FSU uniform. What tangible results will emerge, nobody can predict. Yet, regardless of the outcome, I'm determined to enjoy the experience and give the very most I can to the Seminole cause.

'Til next time,


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The State of Affairs

How quickly things can change. Before this year, most people probably viewed Florida State as a sprints/jumps program with a few flashes of distance brilliance exhibited every once in awhile. The distance squad and cross country teams have constantly searched for the kind of depth that allow consistent performance through the post-season, whilst our sprint coaches have simply looked for distance to compliment at least a little the terrific efforts of our dash-runners and field event specialists. There have been some amazing individual athletes come under Coach Braman's tutelage in the past couple of years, and those runners have a place in FSU history that simply cannot be ignored. They are mentioned quite often still, by Coach ("that's a Joep or Lemon session right there!) or by current athletes who still recognize the tremendous leadership qualities of Gunny and Bucky.

Yet when one takes a look at the distance outfit currently donning the FSU singlet, one cannot help but marvel not at the individual performances at the top-end which have been the mantra of our program traditionally but at the depth throughout that group that has led to some amazing performances by some unheralded athletes in the past few weeks.

No meet illustrated this depth better than Saturday's UNC Last Chance meet, which saw two walk-ons, Seth Proctor and Nick Maedel (coming off a Thursday 30:30 10k) earn marks of 14:07 and 14:13 respectively. Before this year these times would have solidified the two as the best American 5k runners Coach Braman has had during his tenure at Florida State. However, these times have come off the back of outstanding runs from Mike Fout (13:47/28:34) and Wes Rickman (13:59 and a conference bronze) as well as some decent outings for David and myself at the conference too. Coming to practice and taking a look around, it may be difficult to tell that this program has taken a step forward. The demeanor remains the same. Yet the credentials have changed and that's a testament to the work of our coaches and those of the support staff and of course the athletes themselves. In particular one can look at a guy like Nick, outside 16mins for 5k in high school and a guy with numerous injury issues in his time here as someone who truly illustrates the characteristics of an Unconquered Seminole, one who has taken adversity in his stride (pardon the pun) and embraced those odds that have been so stacked against him in a way that has led to such an amazing breakthrough.

As I look at the two years I have spent in Tallahassee, I won't be so thrilled with my individual performances in the uniform as I will be of the state of my team in general. One in which any guy, regardless of background can emerge and validate themselves as a top-class runner. The success of our group on the top end has made it that in order to be in that top-5, one must look at a being a 14minute-type guy. That realization and expectation I believe is something that will take this team to a new level. In many ways it already has. 2nd place at NCAA XC was viewed by many as a surprise and a fluke. For us, it served as the starting point. Step one. I am done with XC eligibility but I am as eager as anybody to see our group atop this program. The expectation mentioned earlier is the adds to the hunger. One place higher should satiate it for our guys, and I have no doubt that it is attainable.

That you have three separate groups of 14:10 or under guys working out together on a trail suggests not division but unity in strength. The individualization of our training and specificity of workouts conveys the truth that FSU no longer has 13:40 guys but different kinds of 13:40 guys. Groups that feed off pure aerobic basework, and others that do the same off speed work. The journey may take us separate ways, but the final destination remains constant. Distance is ready to step up in this post season, and it's a fantastic thing to be a part of.

Til next time, GO NOLES


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


You hear the phrase "You're a hero!" quite often these days. More so back home probably but the compliment shows it's face every so often here too, particularly when numptys like @D_Forr insist on heaping praises on washed-up strikers like Fernando Torres. I'll save the footy talk for another entry but it may be pertinent to add that Park Ji-Sung has turned into a "Zidane-like God" according to one expert punter back in Cork. I always thought the lad had a Ferrari engine hidden behind an exterior akin to that of a Fiat Punto but he's coming into his own and fair play to him.

Anyways, back to the hero chatter. I have never had the phrase directed towards me, perhaps understandably so. I tend to draw ire from people as opposed to praise and that's fine, but everyone wants to feel like a hero every so often. I was then extremely excited to finish my workout with such a feeling today. Well, to be truthful, excited and concerned are interchangeable in this case as my superfluous notions of heroic quality embedded deep within my character were attributed not to any on-track endeavor but rather to the realization that my Achilles heel may well be my heel. There you have it. On the emotional side, I'll take being a hero. On the physical side, I have to take care of this thing. One can't be too careful with a tight achilles so my cuppa got some company tonight in the form of an ice cup for a quick little massage.

I want to use this entry to give a shout out to one of my closest friends here in Tallahassee. He has garnered many a nickname since I first met him a year and a half ago, most of those coming from Chilean middle-distance enigma Pablo Navarrete. Choice examples include 'The Mayor' and 'Party Chrees', yet he could be more aptly described as the unheralded king of Georgia Hills and has kept me company on many a morning run and given me a lot of support in my time at FSU.

When you're running well and life's good, you are usually never short of friends. Yet Christian Minor has been there on and off the track through some of my toughest periods here in Tallahassee. Never short of an opinion and never shy to express it, his off-the-cuff commentary may be misinterpreted as utter viotrol by most (Protologist and myself aside) observers, yet those who dwell within the confines of Mystic Woods (and this includes the squirrels "OI-MAMI!!") can attest to his qualities as a friend. The word 'hero' may be thrown around now and may well appear distant and removed from it's historical contexts, yet to a guy that has been an integral part of my recent history, I can think of no better a compliment to pay.

The NCAA Championships will most likely dictate where my story will continue. I may well stay in Tally. I may also leave and become a part of the exodus every college campus (and track team as a microcosm) experiences annually. Sure, a connection with a teammate extents beyond the track and I will be forever grateful to be a part of the Seminole family and that of our track/xc program in particular. Yet as one takes the next step, one cannot help but acknowledge that it will be the true friends that stay with you regardless of where that step takes you. I'm grateful to have a few of those here, and Christian Minor is certainly one.

'Til next time, GO NOLES!


Monday, May 09, 2011

Tins at Penn

We should have known that combining a Liverpool fan with a baton would be a terrible idea. The notion that a Scouser would forget his phobia and grasp with purpose the very instrument of authority that limited his thuggish antics throughout many a poor-quality Liverpudlian derby appears laughable but one could only have hoped a crowd of 50,000 at Philadelphia's Franklin field would aid in the process.

Alas, the shiny blue stick may well have been a large cup of Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha as Dave probably could have downed three in the time it took for the thing to arrive in his hands. He give it a good college try and delivered it to me within striking distance....of the 4th place runner. I was about as up for it as I would be for a 16er at Munson St.Cloud and the result showed. A split of 4.03 sent waves of bleh reverberating around the arena. And that was that.

The following day turned out to be an arduous affair to get through for reasons I shan't get into, however having made it back to Tallahassee in one piece, I took some time to marvel at the heroics of finger-wag Farrell and co. out wesht. The NCAA is outrageous right now. It was just the stimulant required to cure the rectal-cranial inversion induced by a weekend in that great historic city. The diagnosis can be credited to my old college coach and thankfully the recovery process was swift. The week's training was super, and we're back in business.

Some forsaken soul convinced me to join in watching the Doha Diamond league 3k over the weekend and I can only say that the streaming feed quality was shocking. I watched a 60second lap by an East African cladden in black and the damn site replayed it 7 times. Things finally got fixed in time for me to see a tasty 200 by another East African, also cladden in black. The excitement of the whole event prompted me to fall into a 2hour coma, after which, suitably inspired , I took to the track in an attempt to replicate the heroics I had earlier seen. The rubber caught fire on rep four and the thoughts on our cooler of Powerade turned from skeptical to GRAB! The session was as salty as my chips at El Jalisco and we took from the endeavor in inkling that maybe we won't be so bad after all.

School's out for summer and I can't even begin to describe the joy I have in moving nap time from classroom to couch. Myself and @D_Forr have spent the majority of our team plotting ways to apply specific orders from Braman ('beat the heat' and 'take a suck break' being two in particular) to various parts of our now spacious daily schedule. Results have so far been mixed. Just over two weeks til the regional now. As far as I'm aware there will be a couple of Lennys, a Sammy and a score of other talented individuals all aspiring to earn a trip to the promised land of Des Moines, Iowa. A motley crew of giblets, riblets and gremlins no doubt but I'm sure we'll arrive at some decent representation at the National Finals. East Reg for life.

Follow it here and at @Mad Len on Twitter. You know the score. Til then, TITERUB.