TIN TALK EPISODE 1: DREW HUNTER & SAM PARSONS

Join Sam and Drew as they sit down to discuss hard-hitting conversation topics like: what they’ve learned from Tom ‘Tinman’ Schwartz, who has better style, and the Tinman Elite group chat.

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Tin Talks is aimed at providing light-hearted insight into the members of Tinman Elite. Follow along as they share their random hot takes, their thoughts on the sport of running, and what Tinman Elite is all about.

Narrated by friend and photographer of Tinman Elite: Benjamin Weingart.

Episode 1 Topics include:

3:05 Tinman Elite team culture

10:30 The team group chat

16:30 Current favorite shows and movies

20:30 Girls / Style

29:27 Hard-hitting topics

33:13 Lessons from Head Coach Tom Schwartz

39:00 Speed Rounds

56:00 Tinmob questions

THE LOGO


Videography by Kirk Warner

Tinman Elite started like most things do in the digital age: as a hashtag. Not a serious one by any means, but for Drew Hunter and Morgan Pearson, it meant something. They took pride in running under the guidance and title of our coach’s nickname Tom “Tinman” Schwartz. I had previously met and spent time with both Drew and Morgan and I followed them on Instagram. I remember seeing #tinmanelite but I had no idea who or what it was. I wasn’t sure if it was actually a training group or just some inside joke. What I did know was that I looked up to them both from afar because of their commitment to fearless racing. Little did I know that a year later I would join them in Boulder and be able to play a part in giving this hashtag life.

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“They took so much pride running under the guidance and title of our coach Tom “Tinman” Schwartz.”

I majored in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from NC State. I switched majors from supply chain after a sports marketing internship opportunity with adidas. Thanks to my time at NC State and adidas, I had a basic understanding and passion for branding, storytelling, and any sort of creative expression. After a conversation with Drew about potentially training together and talking on the phone a few times with the Tinman, I was sold. They believed in me, and I promised them I would give everything I had. I was excited and packed my bags to Colorado. Once I arrived, I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only one with the bright idea to train with these two Tinmen who had already seen great success under Tom’s coaching tutelage. I met Tyler Mueller and Reed Fischer in my first few days in Boulder and we all quickly formed strong friendships. We spent countless time just hanging out and training hard. We all were just so determined to prove ourselves as Tinmen and race competitively at the professional level. We trained hard and didn’t focus on any sort of outside distractions.

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“We all were just so determined to prove ourselves as Tinmen and race competitively at the professional level. We trained hard and didn’t focus on any sort of outside distractions.”

As our bonds strengthened, we formed a daily routine of sitting down after dinner to talk for hours about the people we were, the people we wanted to be, the sport, and what aspirations we had in it. We realized that we all wanted to do more than just run fast and hide away at altitude. We all wanted to be a part of something. We wanted to create a team that was more than just a bunch of individuals brought together by a sponsor, where everyone had more important individual agendas at the end of the day. We wanted to make a team that could potentially make a difference. Above all else, we wanted to form a team that was focused on making a positive impact in the sport for anyone and everyone that wanted to be a part of our journey.

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“Above all else, we wanted to form a team that was focused on making a positive impact in the sport for everyone and anyone that wanted to be a part of our journey.”

We look to push the sport of running forward on and off the track through hard work, belief, and love for one another.

We came up this sentence during one of our after dinner discussions, and since then it has become our mission statement, our guide, and the words that ground us with every decision we make as a team. This one sentence gave life and direction to a seemingly pieced-together, overlooked group of athletes.

This sentence would also shape the design process for the Tinman Elite logo. The logo had to be a symbol that stood for everything we wanted to represent as runners, people, and as a collective team. After weeks of brainstorming, we finally decided that an axe was a perfect embodiment of the do-it-yourself, hardworking mentality that we strive for as members of Tinman Elite. An axe is one of the most reliable working tools. It is an instrument that is used by hand and is only effective when full physical and precise mental focus are utilized. It is essential for us as professional athletes and as a team to collectively be reliable, hardworking, and precise when it comes to practice and racing in order to reach the highest levels in this sport. The axe was the perfect object to finally start the conceptual design process. After searching through Google Images and Reed playing around on Photoshop and illustration software, we came up with a few early designs—but none that felt quite right. We realized that it just wasn’t authentic, it wasn’t REAL and that is exactly the type of team we wanted to be.

Bobby Peavey changed all of that.

Bobby and I have a lot of mutual friends within the running world, and I had been a fan of his obscure and unique hand drawn artwork he frequently posts on his Instagram feed. I knew right away Bobby’s gritty, hard line work was exactly the type of aesthetic we were looking for and that no computer illustrator could produce.

Bobby lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado as a trail runner and has been a friend of ours since day one. He understood our mission, who we were as people, and what our aspirations were. He started to sketch some ideas for us, and the logo was starting to breathe life.

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“I knew right away Bobby’s gritty, hard line work was exactly the type of aesthetic we were looking for and that no computer illustrator could produce.”

At one point I remember getting frustrated with the designs Bobby was sending because they just didn’t evoke any real emotion I was hoping to elicit. Something was missing and after a good deal of reflection I realized it was missing the most important element of Tinman Elite. “We are not a group, social movement, or track club. We are a team that pushes and cares for each other.” Even though it evoked sharpness, reliability, and hard work—it didn’t have that “team” element incorporated in any way. So we decided to add another axe to symbolize that we have each other’s back through everything.

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“So we decided to add another axe to symbolize that we have each other’s back through everything.”

Bobby added the banner to bind axes together and inscribed the team name within it.

The logo was finished, and we were all excited to start building Tinman Elite around it.

We printed the logo on a few t-shirts and created an Instagram account that debuted the logo in March 2018. A few months later, we launched our own website. We were able to create freely and remain authentic to who we wanted to be, and now to see the support we have after only one year means everything to us. We all take so much pride in being Tinmen and what it represents. Not just because we created it together, but because we now have this foundation to actually push the sport of running forward by bridging the gaps within this sport, spreading positivity, organizing camps/races, raising awareness, and bringing the community together any opportunity we can. We hope that anyone who ever wears a shirt for a workout or a hoodie pre-race has the same pride, toughness, and love we bring into training, life, and the sport of running.

Keep the ball rolling.

Your friend,

Sam.

SUB4

On February 9th, 2019, Jeff Thies ran 3:59.89 for the Mile, becoming Tinman Elite’s
fifth Sub-4 miler. Read on to hear about Jeff’s journey to Sub-4:

THE START:

My journey to sub-4 began in February 2018, after failing to qualify for Indoor NCAAs in the Mile at the MPSF Championships. I ran a 4-second PR at the time, but was outkicked over the last 300m and finished in 4:03.3. I got scared. I was afraid I didn’t have the speed it took to make it through rounds in the 1,500m to qualify for Outdoor NCAAs. So I got the idea that the 10,000m was a safer bet and something I would pursue. It’s a dangerous thing to put so much stock into a less-than-stellar performance that it changes your goals completely. The quote “scared money can’t win” by Cormac McCarthy proves to be right once again.

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“Scared money can’t win...” proves to be right once again.

In a quest to build the base strength necessary for a 10,000m race in just a month, I progressed my weekly mileage from 70, to 102, and then 105. Yeah, yeah I get it, I’m an idiot. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when I felt a strange, almost empty, feeling in my left foot during a warmup for a workout. The weather that day was extremely windy and rainy. I was determined not to let foot pain or weather stop me from having a great workout three weeks before the Stanford Invitational 10,000m.

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I progressed my weekly mileage from 70, to 102, and then 105. Yeah, yeah I get it, I’m an idiot.

THE FRACTURE:

In the weeks that followed that rainy workout, I brushed off the pain in my foot as routine tendonitis ,and went on with my training as normal. The feeling in my foot continued to worsen and I did what I could to lie to myself about the reality of my injury. But after running some 200s as a pre-race workout on Monday, I couldn’t ignore the pain anymore. I remember getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and not being able to walk. I talked with my coach and athletic trainer, we decided I would try and race in order to hit a regional qualifier before taking to time off to let my body heal. That Thursday, I flew to Stanford with my left foot in a boot. As my teammates went for an easy run, I was left standing at the track in street clothes, pretending I had gone for my run before the flight. I had spent the whole week trying to convince myself something wasn’t terribly wrong. The day of the race, I attempted a shakeout in the four-foot deep hotel pool. I remember landing on an uneven part of the pool, and the shooting pain that followed had me gripping the side of the pool in excruciating pain. That night, I warmed up for the race by sneaking onto the football practice field at Stanford and only turning to the right in an effort to take pressure off of my fifth metatarsal. Things felt okay during the warmup, and in a last ditch effort to appear normal on the start line, I spiked up. I think we can all agree at this point that I am not full of great ideas. As the race got going, clipping of 70 second laps felt relatively comfortable, I was right on pace. However, I was visibly limping. After eight laps, I tried to convince myself to just make it to the 5,000m mark, and then I could decide if I was able to finish. These mental gymnastics didn’t help numb the sharp pain I felt every time I landed on my left foot. I quickly realized the race was a lost cause and dropped out 200 meters later. I sat on the track next to my coach and cheered on my teammates for the next 20 minutes. My coach reassured me that I had made the right decision, but I still felt as though I had failed. I looked over to my mom and sister, who had driven seven hours that morning to come and watch me. I felt ashamed that they did all that for me, and I had dropped out. When I got back into the boot, I sat in the hotel and worried over what my future would hold. This season was supposed to be the time I proved that I was worthy of a professional contract. Now, it was simply a matter of being able to run without pain again.

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This season was supposed to be the time that I proved I was worthy of a professional contract. Now, it was simply a matter of being able to run without pain again.

When I got back home to Portland, I went through the process of getting an X-ray and MRI. This verified that I had a fifth metatarsal stress fracture. Something you could painfully feel by just rubbing your thumb across the massive bump on my foot. So it was time for a new game plan. In my mind four to six weeks as the doctor would say meant closer to three and I would be able to run on the alter-G in 2 weeks. Two weeks after my MRI, I got on the alter-G and set it to 20%. That is only 30 pounds of pressure on my legs, and it hurt every single step. I went home and couldn’t help but cry. My future in running had never seemed more in jeopardy. Running in college for the most part is very safe, you almost always have “next year” to focus on to get through injury. But once you graduate nothing is guaranteed. So time went on, and I hobbled around in a boot. My new plan was simply to get back to 100%, no matter how long it took.

RESILIENT:

After seven weeks without running, I was finally able to run on the alter-G without pain. I worked up the percentage of my body weight that I could handle without pain, before moving to the turf. The number of loops I ran on the turf was mind numbing, but it was working. Throughout the comeback, the worries about my future never subsided. I would have regular anxiety attacks. Two to three times a week, I would get 5 minutes into a run and need to stop. I physically could not breathe. My chest would get tight and my mind would begin to race through every single thing that could possibly go wrong. Anxiety is something I have always battled. In 5th grade, I ended up in the ER because I was struggling to breathe. I didn’t realize what I experienced was an anxiety attack until recently. I learned more about myself, and the ways that I could best handle my anxiety through that injury. A lot of good can come from an injury if you approach it with a growth-oriented mindset.

REDISCOVERING TEAM:

After graduating, I stayed in Portland for a few months to continue working with the athletic trainers and Coach Conner to steadily progress back into running consistently at full health. I loved the opportunity to remain around my teammates as they prepped for Regionals and Nationals. I went to every practice, and spent as much time at workouts cheering them on as I could. It reminded me of everything I fell in love with during my time at UP. The team atmosphere where every guy is working towards a collective goal of maximizing each individual’s potential. It creates a culture of growth and positivity that I knew I needed to find in my next chapter of my running career. It was during this time that I met with Nick Roché, a former Gonzaga Bulldog. He is a great friend of Tinman Elite and put me in touch with the team. They embodied everything I was looking for in a team. Initially, I was hesitant to reach out, unsure if they would consider adding me to the team after my injury. Fortunately, this chip on my shoulder resonated with the members of the team. They had all at one point or another had chips on their shoulders and were counted out, just like I was. After talking to Coach Schwartz and the guys on team I immediately felt at home. As I prepared to move to Boulder, I had this soaring feeling that I knew my career was far from over. And this new journey in my life was just beginning.

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The team atmosphere… creates a culture of growth and positivity that I knew I needed to find in my next chapter of my running career.

In October I moved to Boulder, CO to start training with Tinman Elite. As Reed said in his Citius Podcast recently, “sometimes you have to bet on yourself.” He’s too right, and that was exactly what I was doing. I packed up my little Honda Civic and drove 17 hours to move into an Airbnb with no long term guarantees, except that I would get to train with the Tinmen. Betting on yourself isn’t always easy, but it is much easier when you have family, teammates, and coaches all willing to take a little gamble with you. I have learned that the best way for me to subdue my anxious feelings is through increased confidence. This confidence is something I can find through training and surrounding myself with people who are committed to their goals and actively working to achieve them. The energy that is brought to practice every day is with the Tinmen is undeniable, and I immediately latched onto that energy and found my confidence.

THE RACE:

That undeniable feeling is something I took with me to Ames this past weekend. I was heading into the race with a singular goal: break 4:00 in the Mile. As I left for the airport on Wednesday, Parsons left me with a parting quote, “run like a Tinman and you’ll do great.” When I toed the line, that quote was playing on repeat in my mind. The gun went off, and I went out with Pat Casey and the pacer, but after 400m I knew I was on too hot of a pace. I dropped back a few places, staying calm and coming through the 1,200m mark in about 3:01. Having that confidence from my teammates, I wasn’t scared by the fact that I would need to close hard to accomplish my goal. I closed in 58 seconds for my last 400m, just barely sneaking under 4:00, finishing in 3:59.89. It was a massive relief to have finally done it. Sub-4 was a goal I’d been working towards for years. I remember running 4:10 in 2015 and telling a teammate I was going to break 4:00 one day. He laughed at that goal I had, but I knew it was something I could, and would accomplish.

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I remember running 4:10 in 2015 and telling a teammate I was going to break 4:00. He laughed at the goal, but I knew it was something I could, and would accomplish one day.

February 9th, 2019 was that day.

Breaking 4:00 this past weekend is one of those performances that redefines and reassures who I am. It is an accomplishment that can never be taken away from you. From that day onward, I am a Sub-4 Miler, and that feels pretty damn good. Now the real fun begins. I no longer need to worry if I can do it, I can just focus on running faster and competing for the win. It’s the sort of confidence boost that I needed before heading to New York for USA Indoors at the end of this month. So while Sub-4 marks a huge milestone for me, my goals have now been reset for something greater.

And that’s what’s beautiful about this sport: no matter what level you’re at, there’s always something greater to pursue.

This is for you.

Sam shares the heartfelt story of his decision to represent Germany in the next chapter of his running career.

Videography: Asa Bloom Creative Direction: Sam Parsons Special Thanks: Kirk Warner


I’ll never forget the moment.

Everything changed.


I was fresh off of my worst race of the year…on paper at least. A 13:47 5k in Heusden, Belgium where I nearly finished in last place. I was racing with this blind ambition that I was ready to run sub 13:15. I was coming off of a huge 1500m PR (3:38.1), a steady progression of shedding six seconds off my 5,000m PR in every race, and was running some 200s in 24 seconds with some of my NJNY friends, (sorry coach). I think I came through the 3,000m mark right under 8 minutes, and man did I pay for that aggressive start. I’ll let you guys do the math on that last 2k, because I sure as hell am not gonna relive that shit.

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“I was racing with this blind ambition that I was ready to run sub 13:15.”

After the race, I was pretty deflated and my foot was throbbing in pain. I remember seeing Sean McGorty on my cool down and giving him a bro-hug after he’d just ran a huge PR of 13:18 (aka the &%$!* time I was supposed to run) and here I was...head down, walking, two minutes into my painful attempted cool down. I knew my season was over.

I decided the next day to get on a train to Germany. I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to see my Mom. I just wanted to get away from running. When I arrived home in Diez, Germany, I was greeted for dinner by so many members of my family and community. It was a huge traditional German dinner: made from scratch, filled with fresh meats, and all the carbs I could ever dream of consuming. Little did I know that this dinner would end up being such a pivotal moment in my life.

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“I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to see my Mom. I just wanted to get away from running.”

I was sitting there drinking my tall German beer (Licher) next to my Uncle when he asked me a question: “Sam, when will you run for Germany?” he asked, “When will we all get to see you race here with us?” I stared blankly into the distance as I felt everyone at the table slowly quieting all the different conversations that were ensuing as they dialed in with anticipation for my response. Anyone that knows me personally knows that I rarely have nothing to say, and here I was surrounded by my loved ones and I was completely lost for words. I said, “I don’t know.” I sat at the table perplexed, and a little ashamed, that I had never even considered representing Germany before. Time passed, and the dinner went on and on. One of my favorite aspects of European culture is how long the dinners are. Everyone is so present and no one is really there to eat the food—but to connect and interact (and drink, of course). These are the same reasons why I love running, now that I’m thinking about it.

Later on during the dinner, my Uncle leaned over and quietly asked:

“Glaubst du an dich.” (Do you believe in yourself?)

I said, “Yes.”

“Glaubst du, du kannst Deutscher Meister sein? (Do you believe you can be a German Champion?)

I said, “Yes.”

He went on to tell me that he believes in me too, and explained to me that for someone to achieve something special, all it takes is for you to believe in yourselfand at least one other person. He told me that he will be there to see me at the German National Championships and in Tokyo in 2020.

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“For someone to achieve something special all it takes is for you to believe in yourself and at least one other person.”

That struck my heart. I was born with dual citizenship—my Mom was born and raised in Germany, but I had never actually considered running or representing Germany. Why? Because everything I have ever done in my life is because I have listened to my heart. My heart was always set on running for the United States. I have a firm belief that you can only compete at your best if your heart is fully invested.

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“I have a firm belief that you can only compete at your best unless your heart is fully invested.”

For the rest of the month I was in Germany I was consumed by this idea. I didn’t really talk or console anyone in my family about it after the dinner. I knew it had to come from within. I knew a decision like this had to be 100% in my own heart to pursue and what I thought would ultimately bring me the most happiness.

One morning, after my daily walk to the local bakery to pick up breakfast, I looked at my Mom and said that I wanted to represent Germany for the rest of my running career, and that I wanted to represent her. My Mom burst into tears and was brought to the floor beside herself. My Mom is one of my best friends, and is the strongest women I know. She used to work for children with autism, and now works in a retirement home as a physical therapist. Her job requires her to be stable, patient, and in control. I have never seen my Mom be so emotionally vulnerable. I picked her up and gave her the biggest hug I could. I knew in that moment that I would never need any more validation that I had made the right decision.

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“I looked at my Mom and said that I wanted to represent Germany for the rest of my running career and that I wanted to represent her. My Mom burst into tears and was brought to the floor beside herself.”

We went on to talk about why my decision had brought out so much emotion within her. My Mom came to the USA when she was 23 years old. She never went back to Germany permanently. She met my Dad in school in the States, they got married, and had two kids. My sister Molly, then me. Aside from the occasional family trip to Germany growing up, I was an Americanized kid. Suremy mom spoke German to me growing up and I still speak it to this day, but she explained to me how she always felt ashamed of herself for not instilling enough German principles and “way of life” into us. I can’t image how hard that must have been at times for her. I look back on moments when I would refuse to speak German back to her when I was in middle school because I was to embarrassed to in front of my friends, and feel her pain. That moment with my mom in the kitchen in Diez is a moment I will never forget, and will forever cherish.


I write to you now in this moment, and I could not be more excited to begin this next chapter in my life. I never want to become complacent in whatever I am doing. I want to face new challenges that push me out of my comfort zone. In my experience, facing these challenges and working through them is the purest way of finding out who you really are. And that’s why I run. Running is the most fulfilling endeavor for me to push my emotional, physical, and mental being. 

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For anyone that has shared in this journey with me so far—to anyone that has supported me, showed me love, believed in me, and helped me pursue this dream...

This is for you.

It always will be.

Thank you.

Drew Hunter—The Return

“In really one of the best efforts ever on this course… The 2015 Footlocker National Champion… Andrew Hunter.”

These words echoed through Balboa Park on December 12th, 2015.

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Since that race, I’ve taken a four year hiatus from cross country to focus on the track.

All of that changes on February 2nd at the USA Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, Florida.  

The Intro

Summer ’15 was spent on the backroads of Purcellville, Virginia. Just west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Purcellville is a hidden gem for distance running. With miles of soft surface trails, two beautiful cross country courses to train on, and a higher likelihood of seeing a cow on your run than another human being, Purcellville provides solitude for emerging runners. This solitude allowed me to master my craft.

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This solitude allowed me to master my craft.

The Process

I ramped up my mileage to 70 miles per week and began working under the tutelage of Tom “Tinman” Schwartz for the first time. After three years of successful coaching from my parents, we decided to take the stress off of them and put it in Tom’s hands. This was a tough decision, but ultimately it came down to prioritizing everyone’s best interests. My parents could focus on developing the high school and club team at Loudoun Valley, instead of traveling across the country with me. This provided Tom with the singular task of developing me into one of the best runners in the world. The coaching transition went pretty seamlessly, and Tom and I quickly developed a strong coach-athlete relationship that blossomed through steady communication. I began to familiarize myself with his training system—the routine and nuance of what to expect every week. Under my parents, I had a very simple training system that was based off of consistency and health. Every week I would complete two workouts and a 90 minute long run. Both workouts would always start with some sort of stamina component and end with short and fast reps to work on speed development. Week after week, I became incredibly efficient and stable in my racing and training. This pattern did not change under Tom. What did change was the ability to push myself once every few weeks with some harder training. Overall, I still was tackling critical velocity repeats and tempo runs for the vast majority of my stamina training, but every once in a while Tom would have me get after something more aggressive. Looking back, the injury-free years I had under my parents set me up for a special senior season.

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This provided Tom with the singular task of developing me into one of the best runners in the world.

My senior cross country campaign went as smoothly as I had hoped. I won every race I entered, broke almost every course record in Virginia, and was headed in the perfect direction to peak at Footlocker. For the first time in my running career, running felt effortless and easy. I just ran hard. The success came through my consistency and a “warrior” mindset that I was the best high school runner in the country. Week after week, month after month, I became fixated on meeting one goal and moving onto the next. I didn’t let anything get in my way. I developed a steady training regime that was focused around peaking in December and rarely put on emphasis on anything other than that.

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Week after week, month after month, I became fixated on meeting one goal and moving onto the next. I didn’t let anything get in my way.

The Transformation-

After clocking a solid 14:26 5k for the win at the Footlocker South Regional race; I was still just running hard. A week out from Footlocker, I completed my final big session. A Tom Schwartz prescribed special: 3xMile cut downs, starting at 5k effort and getting down to 3k effort, with four minute rest between reps. I ran 4:42, 4:30, 4:13. I was ready.

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A Tom Schwartz prescribed special: 3xMile cut downs, starting at 5k effort and getting down to 3k effort, with four minute rest between reps. I ran 4:42, 4:30, 4:13. I was ready.

The Outcome-

The week leading up to the race I was confident about what I needed to do. As I’d talked about all year with Tom, the plan was simple: Run 800 meters with the group and if you feel good and it’s slow, take off. That’s what happened. After a 2:13 first half mile split I decided it was time to go. So once again, I just started running hard. My lead increased at the mile and two mile splits. All of the hill repeats that Tom had religiously assigned came to fruition on the brutal Balboa Park hills. I would be lying if it didn’t hurt, but I dove into the pain knowing that on the other end was eternal satisfaction. With a mile to go, I knew I was going to win. And really after months of near perfect preparation, I knew I was going to win and a dream became reality.


The Present-

Sitting here typing this, I am baffled with how long it has been since I have stepped on a cross country course. In the early stages of my running career, I definitely considered myself to be a strong, cross country type of runner. For the past four years, I’ve just been running 3 and ¾ laps for a living. Every miler’s dream. This coming weekend, I’ll get back on grass in an effort to qualify for the 2019 World Cross Country Championships. What makes this return even more unique is that the buildup to this cross country race is the polar opposite of what my Footlocker build up was. Going into Footlocker as a senior in high school, I had uninterrupted and consistent training. This fall was the first time I had experienced an injury that kept me in a constant unknown. After the long track season that included three round-trip flights to Europe, I had some nagging injuries that didn’t seem to dissipate. Like many runners, I pushed through and ran some mediocre races, took my two week break and expected the injury to just go away. I tried to come back to training too fast and ended up in a worse spot than where I started. I was discouraged by watching my teammates and competitors training hard and rising to a new level of fitness. But, I had an incredible support crew that got me out of the injury rut. My soft tissue therapist, Marcus Allen-Hille not only helped with my day-to-day aches and pains, but constantly reminded me to live in the present and not focus on a goal that may be weeks or months down the road. Marcus taught me how powerful it is to breath, sit with your feelings, and be present with those around you.

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Marcus taught me how powerful it is to breathe, sit with your feelings, and be present with those around you.

My strength coach, Chris Lee, helped me sort through all my weaknesses every week for hours on end. Mark Plaajtes, who is not only an incredible physical therapist, but also a positive presence every time I walked in to see him. John Ball, an undeniable guru who worked with me for six hours of the span of two days. My coach, Tom Schwartz, who listened to all of my frustrations about not being able to run. And finally, all my Tinman Elite teammates and my incredibly supportive family, who at the end of the day, love and care about me even if I suck at running.

The Revival-

After the tumultuous fall, I finally started to get the ball rolling again. This positive change didn’t start from being selfish and doing every little drill by myself, sleeping in, and focusing solely on what I thought I needed to do. It was about getting out the door with my teammates, helping them, sharing in their successes, and slowly but surely getting some momentum on my side. All it took was surrounding myself with likeminded individuals who were striving for greatness in the same ways I am. They reminded me that they cared about me, and that my presence was important for not only the team, but for my own running. My first workout back with the team was a short and simple one, but I remember it vividly. Not a hard workout by any measure, but it was a special one. For the first time in months, I felt the flow. I felt the energy and rhythm and excitement that was building in Boulder. For months, it was all about “what’s wrong with me” and not about “how can I help my teammates.” It was all I had been missing.

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For months, it was all about “what’s wrong with me” and not about “how can I help my teammates.” It was all I had been missing.

The Return-

The reason I am opening up my 2019 campaign with Cross Country is because quite frankly, it excites me. The last few years have been dedicated to the track. But, my roots are on the cross country course. The thought of being amongst a pack for a large chunk of a race, feeling the flow of the grass and dirt, and the excitement of something new gives me something to build towards. USA cross is the perfect place to start my 2019 campaign because cross country is the first place I felt like a runner.  

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Four years was the last time I wasn’t considered a “middle distance runner.” Four years too long. Time to return.


Four years ago was the last time I looked to my left and right and battled 100+ guys for a podium spot. Four years ago was the last time I felt that mid race chaos ensuing as a large hill or downhill approaches. Four years was the last time I wasn’t considered a “middle distance runner.” Four years too long. Time to return.