The Hornet Invitational

For the last time in my collegiate career, outdoor season is back! It’s once again a momentous occasion marking the first outdoor completion with both a Men’s and Women’s team competing in San Jose State history!

This exciting day started like so many of my previous race days with a serenade from Bruce Springsteen. This was followed up with the classic three pieces of peanut butter toast and a last minute bag check to make sure I had all of my gear. The race this week was in Sacramento, so we had a 2 hour drive to get to the stadium. As we got onto the bus, my teammate, Adi, asked me how I was feeling about today. I told her that my goal was just to make it onto the track. I’ve been fighting the same achilles injure from the winter and had taken most of this week off to cross train. So as long as I could get through the warmup pain-free and get on the track, I’d be happy. And as always, I made sure to bring the bread.

I was placed in Heat 1 (the fast heat) of 6. Coming off a week of little training, I was nervous about this, but I had to do it. The warmup, drills, and strides all felt good so I decided that I would run the race. With my new cornrows on display for the rest of the world, I took off from the gun and was in the lead. That lasted about 150 meters before the rest of the field realized what pace I was running for myself. We rolled through the first lap in 61 seconds and I was spit out the back of the pack and started running in last. But before that, another runner moved inside too soon and I ended up with another nasty gash on my right leg. I really can’t run a race without getting spiked. The next lap was somewhere around 63-64 seconds, and Coach Wick was worried my achilles was hurting and that’s why I was in the back. In reality, I just didn’t have the right training to run a quick 1500 this early in the season, and I was putting in everything I had. I rolled through that lap, making up some ground on the pack that had pulled away early on. My third lap is where I make up all of my ground because I know it’s the time to grind. With one full lap left in the race, I saw one guy ahead of me and made it my goal to catch him by the finish. My form went to crap, my hamstrings started to tighten up, and I was hurting. But with under 100 meters to go, I passed the guy and finished the race not in last place! Instead I was second to last with a time of 3:57, which is a 2 second PR for me!

The time wasn’t too important for me in this race, but a PR is always nice. I was just happy that I walked out onto the track today without pain, and I know what exercises I can do to work on it and keep my achilles from flaring up again. The season is just getting started, and I should be racing a steeple in about two weeks at San Francisco Distance Carnival or at Stanford. I can’t wait to see what this season has in store, and hopefully I can achieve the goal of setting a new school record in the steeplechase of faster than 8:43!

📸: Huruy Zeratsion
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Mountain West Indoor Championships

It’s been a solid season this winter. I’m thrilled to finally be a part of the team representing San Jose State Men’s Track & Field at the Mountain West Indoor Championships for the very first time, and at our first championship meet in over 30 years. I wasn’t sure that this week was going to go the way I wanted though. After my last race at the Bronco Challenge, I came back to San Jose and started having Achilles pains. I spent an entire week in the pool and on the elliptical keeping my fitness up with the hope I would be better before the conference meet. Earlier this week I was able to start running again and on Wednesday, I tested it with a short two mile tempo at race effort. I never planned on missing conference once I started running this week, I just wasn’t sure how it was going to end up.

We left on Thursday for Albuquerque after a brief stopover in Los Angeles. After we arrived, I got in a short treadmill run to acclimate myself and see how my Achilles was holding up. Like in Boise, I was running the 3000m race. The race was scheduled for Saturday at 1:40pm, so I got a shakeout in on Friday morning, and spent the day supporting the rest of the Spartans competing.

This morning, I woke up to get my little shakeout run in, and then went to get breakfast. The hotel had run out of bread by the time that I had gotten there, but that was okay because I always bring the bread. I made my usual three pieces of peanut butter toast, ate with the team, and then went to my room to get my bag ready for the race. We left the hotel around 11am and headed over to the track. On the way over, I listened to Bruce remind me that no matter how many obstacles I have to go through, I was born to run. We did the usual 20 minute warmup, I did some drills, put on my headband, and was ready to race.

There were about 20 people in my heat, which again is a lot of people to fit on an indoor track. I got lucky this time and wasn’t up on the curve and also wasn’t boxed in at the start. I didn’t have the best start, but I still got out considerably well. I didn’t have to deal with the people coming off the turn at the merge, so that was nice. I held onto the front pack while I let the race settle a bit, but got out a little bit quicker than I had planned. Edgar was up in the very front pacing through the mile at 4:35 pace, and he did a perfect job. He pulled enough people up there with him that would die off later in the race, but put me through the mile right where I needed to be. I never fell too far off of the lead pack, and always had two or three guys around me to work with. I got spiked a few times on the turns when guys would swing a little wide, and I got close to taking them down. I rolled through the mile around 4:32/4:33 and was sitting in the top 10, and I knew I was running exactly the type of race I needed to be running. I just worked on moving up and working with the people around me as the race went on. With four laps, 800m, I knew it was time to start working. I started making my moves around the people that were dying off, and continued to move up. Going into the last two laps, I knew it was really time to work. My last two laps were 32 and 30 seconds respectively. I was running in fourth place going into the last lap and was a second away from first place at the end of the race.

I finished fourth in my heat, and twelfth overall in the two heat finals, with a time of 8:31. And since we were running at five thousand feet of elevation, there is a 13 second time conversation. That means my time today equates to a 3000m race at sea level with a time of 8:18. And if you recall the race in Boise of 8:28, that’s a 10 second PR, and an even faster school record! I can say that it’s truly been such a humbling experience getting to represent the history that SJSU’s Track program carries with it, and I can’t wait to see what I can do in the steeplechase and 5000m races this spring. I’ll close this indoor season with a Springsteen quote that’s been playing in my head all season.

“If you think it’s your time, then step to the line, and bring on your wrecking ball”

See you on the line

-Craig

The Bronco Challenge

It seems like it’s been much longer than three weeks since my last rase. Since then, schools started, I’ve been sick twice, and I’ve had some crazy good long runs in between. But everything was looking good for my first shot at the 3000m and I was ready for business. This week we traveled to Boise, Idaho for The Bronco Challenge. Most of the distance squad was also running the 3000m with me, so it was very similar to the setup we had in Albuquerque, but without the altitude.

The morning started out with a 8:30 shakeout in the snow and slush, followed by the classic 3 pieces of peanut butter toast and Bruce telling me where dreams are found and lost. The race wasn’t scheduled until 4:10pm today, so we had most of the day to watch the other races and freak out a little bit.

My plan for the race was to roll through the first mile at 4:30 and then shoot for a sub 8:30 finishing time. Having never run the 3k indoors, I really didn’t know if this was a good plan, but I was going to stick to it.

There were 26 people in the race. There’s only 6 lanes on and indoor track, and 26 is hard enough to fit on a 9 lane outdoor track. So it was tight on the waterfall start. I got out well and settled into about 4th and all of us came on the outside waterfall, so it was a smooth merge for us upfront. Two guys took off early on in the race, and there was a pacer running right with me going 4:30 through the mile. He hopped off after a few laps, which left me leading the chase pack and Jose right behind me. The guy in first had pulled away and I was closing in on the Utah athlete he dropped. I rolled through the mile right around 4:30-31. Jose passed me after the turn and started to separate from me a little bit and passed the Utah athlete as well. As I got to the Utah athlete he surged and intentionally moved into my lane to prevent me from passing him. He did this for another two laps until I just surged ahead of him. With about 800 meters to go, I had caught back up to Jose and started to make my move with 3 laps to go. I passed Jose just after the turn and just kept working the last 500 meters. I knew it would be tight to get under 8:30, but as long as I keep pushing I knew I could get it.

I finished in second place, first collegiate, with a time of 8:28 and new San Jose State school record in the 3000m. It’s been a long 5 years to get to run an indoor season, but the hard work and good training has finally started to pay off. It’s clear to see that I brought the bread today!

It’s been a short season but the last race of indoor is in about a week and a half back in Albuquerque for the Mountain West Conference Championships. I’ll either be running the mile of the 3k, with hopes of a new PR in either event. I’ll be back soon!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate Invitational

This is a very exciting blog post for me. After five cross country season and four outdoor track season at San Jose State, the Men’s Track & Field team has been reinstated! This is the first time since 1988 that San Jose State has an official men’s team competing in track and field. It also marks the first time that I’ve had to opportunity to race an indoor track season. It’s a shorter break from the end of cross country season to the start of the outdoor track season, but I’ve always liked a bit of a challenge and today’s race was definitely that.

Indoor track is a bit different from outdoor track and not just in location. The track is a 200 meter track with banked turns (similar to those found on a cycling track) in comparison to a 400 meter flat outdoor track. It presents a new set of technique and running style that I haven’t experienced before, but I enjoyed my season opener if it was nothing else but practicing my technique.

This meet all the distance runners, except Evaristo, were entered to run the 1 mile race. In my race was Jose, Edgar, Charlie, two UCLA runners, and a few runners from New Mexico. My plan was to take the race out running somewhere between 63-64 seconds per lap. The race went out exactly how I needed it to go, with the first 400m at 63 seconds. There was a nice string of about 5 of us in the lead pack, with a rabbit about 10 meters ahead of us. The rabbit would pull us through 800 meters before he stepped off the track. I passed through 800 at 2:07, again exactly where I needed to be. The turns took me a few laps to get the hang of and I was hovering more towards the outside of lane one so I didn’t clip anyone that was on the inside of me. After I got more comfortable with the pack, I ran the turns tighter and had a better feel for the track. My ankles got clipped a few times by a runner behind me and I was lucky not to have fallen earlier in the race. That luck didn’t hold on forever though. Just after we passed through the 1200 meter mark, a runner behind me kicked me a few times before deciding to jump to the outside lane and try to pass me on the curve. He got in front of me and moved back inside, I got tangled up with him in the process, and I went down. I learned that indoor tracks are not as soft as their outdoor counterparts can be and they also make a much louder noise when you fall on them because they’re wood underneath. Because it was on the curve, I ended up rolling down the track into the sand pit before I could get back up. I was down for maybe 2 seconds, but in that time the lead pack had put pulled away too much and I couldn’t get back with them. I got up and gave it all I had left, and didn’t have much of a kick because I spent so much energy after the fall. I ended up finishing in 8th place with a time of 4:20.9 (Which converts to a 4:14 mile at sea level).

Overall I’m pleased with the effort I gave, happy that the fall didn’t hurt me anymore than a few scrapes and bruises, and I’ll take it as a learning experience to do better in my next indoor competition. The combination of it being an early season race, the altitude in Albuquerque, and falling mid-race made this a very difficult race, but I think that as the season progresses, I’ll only have better races to come. More than anything I’m so excited that Men’s Track and Field is back at San Jose State and it’s so exciting to be a part of this fantastic team! The men’s team will be traveling to Idaho for the Bronco Challenge on February 9th.

NCAA West Regional Championships

58 pieces of peanut butter toast. 24 Races. 5 years. One Dream: The NCAA XC National Championships. As I went into this week I knew that it would take another race at peak performance for me to be an All-Region runner in the top 25 and qualify as an individual for nationals. The race was setup to be a perfect day with some fast times. On Thursday, during our warmups, the smoke from the nearby fires was strong and it was a very windy day. The forecast for the race said both the wind and smoke would die down, and it really did. It was sunny, but not too warm at the noon race start, with nearly no wind. The course in Sacramento was the same as two years ago; Three big two mile loops, no hills, barely any dirt, and wide turns and straightaways. Much better than the San Diego course from two weeks ago, and an even faster course than the Wisconsin course from Pre-Nationals. 

From the gun, I got out in a really good position. I was up with the lead 20-30 people, which was exactly where I needed to be. I felt like I was cruising, not working too hard, and putting myself in a good position for when the pack started to pull away. The pack rolled through the first mile around 4:42, and Jose was right there with me. Around the 2k mark there was a little bit of a jumble on a turn and Washington State runner went down right in front of me. My legs did not make it out of this race unscathed. I’ve got spike marks on the front of both of my legs and my right knee. I was right in the middle of the pack and instead of using energy to put my hands up to tell people I was there, I would just let my legs do the talking as I ran into them. As we rounded the turn to start the loop for the second time, I was in a very good position. I was sitting somewhere around 15th-20th place and still didn’t feel like I was working too hard to be there. About 4k into the race I passed Jose, and took the lead for the Spartans. Just a little over 2k later there was a nasty fall on the inside of one of the turns and it took out a lot of the pack. I managed to avoid the runner as he went down right in front of me, but it was still a mess. I was getting shoved from all sides as I collided with other runners around me. I found myself near the top 10 on the outside-left part of the course trying avoid a similar occurrence on the next right turn that was rapidly approaching. This is where the race really took off. The lead pack started to make a surge to separate themselves going into the third loop, and I was not able to cover it. In the span of about 800 meters, I fell from around 10th all the way to 50th. The lead pack dropped me, Jose passed me, and I felt like I had hit a wall. Physically I felt gassed, and wasn’t sure how much I had left in me. I hit the 8k mark and told myself that it doesn’t matter what happens, but I’m not letting this race kill me here. I haven’t trained this hard, put in hundreds of miles this season, and devoted my life to this sport to give up because it’s two kilometers longer than I’m used to. There was UCLA runner directly in front of me, and a St. Mary’s runner in front of him and I set my sights on them. It turned into just picking off one runner after another, and not letting anyone else get passed me. I found something left in the last 2k of the race and just focused on relaxing my arms and having good form. When we got the last kilometer, I just went to the arms. If someone was going to try and pass me, they were going to have to work for it harder than I was. 

I finished 42nd overall and 1st for the Spartans with a time of 30:27.4. It’s the highest finish I’ve had in the West Region Meet by 15 places and the fastest time I’ve run for a 10k by 20 seconds. I’m content with the finish, but I wanted to make it to Nationals. It’s the race that I’ve been dreaming of running for 5 years, and it’s unfortunate that I couldn’t make that happen in my last year. Things don’t always go as we plan them, but I’ve been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to run for the Spartans and have everything go as well as it has. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I can’t believe that this is the end of my collegiate cross country career. I’ve grown so much as a runner and a person and this has been a truly life changing experience for me. I want to thank everyone who reads the blog for following my journey these past five years, for supporting me, for reaching out to me after the races, and for being the best audience that I could ask for. It’s been so great, and I can’t wait to be back for the first official season of the reinstated Men’s Track Program. I’ll close with a quote by Bruce that I feel applies to my dream of nationals, the effort I put into trying to hit that goal, and where it’ll live on forever.

“Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost, I’ll be there on time and I’ll pay the cost, For wanting things that can only be found In the darkness on the edge of town.”

See you in the Darkness on the Edge of Town.

-Craig 

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Photo Credit: Savanna Perez

Mountain West Conference Championships

The conference championships have always been one of my favorite races of the season, although historically it hasn’t gone great for me. My best conference race was my freshman year, followed with the mess that was the Reno race, and my last effort in 2016 with poor racing tactics at Boise. I’ve been looking forward to this race for two weeks to really see how my training not only this year, but also all of last year has helped me become a better runner. This year was a special year because the race was back at sea level in San Diego. So I wanted to make sure my last conference race was my best one yet. 

We left San Jose Thursday morning at 9am, landed in San Diego, and went straight to the course for our pre-race warmup. The course was not very flat with an even mix of uphill and downhill, a fair amount of curves, and a lot of dirt. We still laced up the spikes, but had some smaller pyramids in them than we raced with at Wisconsin. The race was designed to be two bigger loops, followed by two smaller loops. It was nice to start with the big loops and then finish with a smaller loop. Friday morning began with a 5:45am wakeup and a 5:55am shakeout run. After that, I had the classic three pieces of peanut butter toast with the bread I make sure I always bring. We left to go to the course and Bruce reminded me that I was Born to Run. My parents said a brief hello before the race, we went for the usual 20 minute warmup, and then it was time to rock and roll. 

The starter of the race gave the “On your mark” command and fired the gun very quickly which I think threw off some of the racers. It allowed me to get out well in the pack and situate myself right up in the front. Because of the narrow course and mixed terrain at the start, there was a lot of jostling, pushing, and running into other people on the turns. The course was not equipped well to handle the pack of people that we started out with. Around 1.5K I got clipped from behind on one of the turns and would have gone down if I hadn’t grabbed the back of a nearby Air Force runner. Shortly after, a Boise runner clipped the back of my spikes and went down, so it was really tight conditions. The entire first loop was pretty packed up with the leaders pulling slightly ahead of the rest of the pack around the 2K mark. By the time we hit the downhill of the second loop, it pack was still at least 20-25 people strong and barely starting to accordion. I worked on maintaining the pack I was in for the second lap, and once I passed the 4K mark, I knew it was time to pick it up. On the downhill at the start of the third lap I had caught up to Jose and was sitting around 14th place. I worked the downhill to get the next pack and just maintain going up the hill. There were a couple Air Force, Wyoming, and Boise runners ahead of me so I worked to make sure I either passed them or kept moving with them in the pack. The third lap was shorter than the first two, so in no time we were back to the start for the fourth and final lap. I was somewhere around 10th place at 7K with an Air Force guy right on my tail, a Boise runner in front of me, and a Wyoming runner just past him. The last three minutes of the race, my form went to absolute garbage. My arms were flailing, I was going really wide on the turns, and I was hurting. I passed the Boise guy early on into the final 1K, and moved in front of the Wyoming guy with just enough to go that he couldn’t catch me at the finish. When I got to the top of the hill with about 150 meters left in the race, I didn’t have much left. I was leaning forward so much people though I was going to fall, and with about 20 meters left into the race I was gone.

 I don’t remember finishing the race or the athletic trainer that was there to catch me from passing out or being rushed to the medical tent. I struggled to control my breathing, my heart rate was very high, I was overheated, dizzy, and on the verge of passing out. They gave me water and gatorade, and then tried to cool me down as fast as possible. I had a bag of ice under my head, two on my upper body, and one on my stomach. I was so hot that the ice was steaming as it melted so quickly. I was in the athletic tent for about 40 minutes with the athletic trainers before I tried to get up and walk. I felt like a baby giraffe trying to walk out of there and make my way over to the team. My parents were there waiting for me and they walked me over to the tent.

I literally gave it all I had in the race. There was nothing more that I could have done, and I’m so, so happy with the results. I finished with a time of 24:58 and placed 8th overall, which gave me the distinction of All-Conference Second Team. I can’t say that that place was worth the state of exhaustion I was put in afterwards, but it definitely made me feel better knowing that I left everything I had out there. Coach Sarver and Coach Wick both agreed this time that I had executed the race perfectly, and had brought the bread better than ever before. 

Our next race is the NCAA West Regionals on November 9th in Sacramento, where I and the rest of the Spartans try to qualify for the NCAA nationals meet back in Wisconsin. Two weeks is going to go by faster than I can think, and I can’t wait to be back with another post about how it goes. See ya real soon. 

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All-Conference 2nd Team
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The Spartans! 

Pre-Nationals

It’s been quite the weekend out in Madison. Lots of flights, running, and some great accents from the locals. We started early Friday morning leaving San Jose for Madison at 6:30 with a short layover in Denver. We went straight to the course after the flight and did our pre race day run, some drills, and learned the course. This is different from most courses in the West because it’s designed to be a cross country course! It’s not a golf course we’re using for the weekend, it’s a cross country course year round, and boy was it nice. It’s got some inclines, wide straights and turns, downhills, and a great straightaway for the finish. The race is two medium loops, a small inner loop, and a big loop that drops you at a long straightaway to finish. I was really excited to have a chance to be out here. The past 5 years I’ve been on this team, we’ve been working for a chance to get to a big meet like this and it only makes the program stronger for the future.

Race day started out with a fairly late wake up call of 8:00 followed by a short 10 minute shakeout run and breakfast. I had the usual peanut butter toast and added a hot cup of chamomile tea to calm the nerves a little bit. We left the hotel at 10:30am with a 12:30pm start time for our race. At 11:40am we hit the course to warmup, stripped off some of our layers, and laced up the spikes.

At race time it was about 47°F with a slight breeze, but nothing too bad. We brought out the gold half tights paired with the light blue Spartans singlets. Most of the field was wearing gloves, and I’m happy I had those during the race today. We started off quick from the gun. I got out well, got jostled a little bit, took a spike to the knee and left leg, but got into a good position with Huruy. I kept contact with a pack and settled into the race and was in for a surprise just before 2K with a hill we weren’t able to run the day before. The second loop was a little slower and looking back at the race, this is where I needed to push a little harder. I slowed down a little bit and dropped back in the pack as we rounded 4K, and turned into the shortest loop of the course. I passed Huruy right at this point and started moving my way down the course. There was a small pack of guy that I kept in my sights and used them to keep moving up. I used the uphill around 6.5K to move past the guys struggling up it and closed the ground on another pack in front of me. After 7K, I made it my goal to make sure no one passed me to the finish. And to the best of my knowledge, I did just that. I finished in 62nd place with a time of 24:48, and second for the Spartans.

I’m very happy with my time and my placement and I brought the bread all the way to Wisconsin! This was around where Coach Wick and I predicted I would finish. We changed the recipe of the bread for this week, adding a harder start and grinding harder at 4K and it still needs to be perfected. I know a bit more places I can work harder, and with more training in the upcoming weeks, I’ll only be getting stronger. The next race is the Mountain West Conference Championships in San Diego on October 26th. It’ll be nice have a race in some warmer conditions! See you in two weeks.

Stanford Invitational

It’s been a month since our last meet, but the time has been full of hard workouts, higher mileage weeks, and a lot of time in the training room. But with these four weeks of training under my belt, my fitness is in a really good spot with even more room for improvement.

Today started with a 6am wake up call from Bruce Springsteen and the usual three pieces of peanut butter toast. I watched an episode of ‘The Office’, and then Charlie and I walked up to meet Coach Wick at 7:30.

My race was scheduled for 10:30 and the weather was a little warm, but not as bad as it’s been in past years. The course also changed this year. They had us running on a lot more dirt, longer grass, and made sharper turns. Overall, it was a slower course. We did the usual 20 minute warmup, drills, and spiked up for the first time this season.

The start was actually smoother than it’s been in years past, with no one going down on the sharp left turn 200 meters from the start. I got out with good speed, but was jostling around the pack trying to find some space to run and not get boxed in on the turns. The footing this year was worse than years previous and it really showed in the times. There were lots of times where my shoes couldn’t grip through the hay and dirt and it was frustrating to lose a few steps every time we ran through these patches. Since the course also changed, I got really confused on where we were going in the first lap, so it took me the first loop to get used to that and then I understood where I could move past people on the course. Charlie was with me through the first 2k loop, and then I put my sights on Huruy, passing him around the 5k mark. He and I worked well the rest of the race with me leading him through 6k, Huruy pulling ahead of me around 7k, and then working together up the hill to the finish. I finished 24th overall as 2nd man for the Spartans with a time of 24:47.7. Coach Wick agreed with me that I brought the bread today, but the recipe can be even better by the time we get to the West Region meet.

Jose had a great day and moved well with the front pack placing 10th with a time of 24:21, Huruy was 3rd man in 29th place with a time of 25:03, our freshman Luis was in 39th place running 25:18, and Edgar and Charlie finished right next to each other in 59th and 60th with times of 25:37.0 and 25:37.7 respectively. And rounding out the Spartans competing today was Evarsito in 110th place with a time of 26:52.

As a team we placed 5th on the day with a score that I think the team is happy with. Our next meet is in two weeks in Madison, Wisconsin for the Pre-nationals race. It’ll be the biggest test for the Spartans in recent history and provide a good place to see how we can perform at the West Region meet in November. It’s the exciting part of season now where we’ll have races every two weeks, so I hope you’re excited, because I am. See ya soon!

San Francisco Invitational

This is it. The final cross country season of my spartan career. I can still remember the first race here 5 season ago, where did the time go? It feels good to be back running at the start of a season after redshirting last fall and my injury stricken spring. I’m not as far into my training as I should be due to an IT band injury at the start of August, so I’m just getting back into the swing of things. Today’s race was more of a workout/tempo than an all out race.

It started like most race days, waking up just before Bruce could remind me I was Born to Run. I followed this up by bringing the bread and making the classic three pieces of peanut butter toast. We left campus at 7:15 and made the hour long trek up to Golden Gate Park for the race. The women were first with their 6k at 10:00 and we followed them with a 10:45 start time. The weather was cool and overcast, and nice weather for a race. We did the 20 minute warmup, drills, strides and headed to the start line.

When the gun when off, I had no traction and slipped on the grass. I regained my footing and got into a good position at the start and stayed towards the outside of the group to keep from getting boxed in. I stayed in the middle of the pack through the first mile and then they started to move away. Because I was treating this more as a workout and less as a race I just focused on keeping an even pace. And for the first three loops, I did just that. I didn’t try to move with any of the packs in front of me or pick anyone off, I just kept cruising. For the entire race I was averaging a 5:17 mile, so a little faster than I would have gone had I run a tempo workout instead of the race. I picked it just a little bit on the last loop and finished 6th for the Spartans in 41st with a time of 26:17.

At this race 2 years ago I ran 26:03. So for this being just a workout, I’m pleased with the overall time. It was necessary to get me into the racing mindset and to provide a good base for me to build from. Now we’ve got a solid 4 week training block until our next race in Sacramento on September 29th. See ya in a month!

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NCAA West Region Outdoor Championships

It’s been one hell of a season and only two races long. Unfortunately this is the end of the road for my season, but I couldn’t be more happy that I was given the opportunity to run at the NCAA outdoor championships. Four days after the race at the Mt. Sac relays, I developed an Achilles injury and was back to cross training for another two weeks. At this point in just the spring season I’ve had 7 weeks of running and 12 weeks of with zero miles logged and just cross training. The injury wasn’t the end of my season, but it ultimately killed most of my training momentum I had gained in the weeks previous. Nonetheless I charged forward and made the best that I could make out of it. I had a good week and a half of training before this race and I doing everything that I could to set myself up for a good race.

The race was set for 8:30pm, as I was in the second of three heats. I woke up without Bruce because it was a late race, but rocked out to him on the van ride over to the stadium. For breakfast, naturally I had my classic peanut butter toast. And for the rest of the day I read a good Clive Cussler book and walked around and tried to keep the blood flowing throughout the day. We left the hotel at 6:20pm and headed over to the track and I did my warmup an hour before my race.

The warmup for this race was good. For once in a seemingly long time, I actually felt good and didn’t have and pain in my Achilles, back, or IT band. I did clean practice hurdles, my first since my last race, and was focused on the race. I was so focused, I completely forgot to race with my headband. I didn’t realize until I had finished my race that I didn’t wear it. I didn’t know what to expect in this race, I knew it would be fast, but I knew what I had to do.

The plan was to get in a good position early on and then run right around 70 seconds per lap. And I did a good job of that. I was boxed early on because I started as hip #1 and was on the rail, but still set myself up for good positioning and clean barriers. The first water jump wasn’t bad, but not great either. I had too much time in this race to focus too much on my technique and towards the middle and end of the race, it really because apparent I was favoring my right leg so I wouldn’t put strain on my left Achilles. I was still in the mix for the second and third laps of the race, and that’s when the leaders started to make their moves to string the race out. I think that if I had better and more consistent training this season I could have moved with them. But I felt weak and undertrained, and I tried to hold on the best that I could. I had some more bad jumps and clipped my heal on knee on two barriers. The last lap I picked it up a little bit and didn’t quit my fight. I finished in 12 in my heat and 36th overall in the event with a time of 9:03.88. No bread being brought today.

I’m very proud that I had the opportunity to represent San Jose State for the first time in over 30 years at the national championships, and I know exactly what I need to work on to get back here next year and go even further into the season. I’m using today as a a learning experience for the type of race, the strategy I need to work on for next season, and how I can work on my all around strength.

Today was also my last time racing against Noah McDermott. He was in the third heat, but we’ve been battling back and forth for the last four years on the track and in the fall during cross country season. He’s a great competitor and a great runner and I wish him all the best as he continues his post collegiate running career. Hard to believe that four years ago him and I were out in Eugene racing at US Junior Nationals and that our times were in the 9:30’s! It’s really been quite a journey.

I’m excited to see what I can do this upcoming fall with a solid summer of training, working on preventing injuries, and just an even greater desire to race faster and better. Bruce says it best,

“Baby we were born to Run”

See you in the fall

-Craig

My last collegiate race with Noah McDermott