On January 20, 2019, Tinman Elite athlete Reed Fischer ran his way to a 10th place finish at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. His time of 62:06 set a new Tinman Elite record and earned him top American honors at the race. During his time in Houston, Reed journaled his thoughts. Read on for an exclusive look at his mindset before, during and after the race:
“Almost nobody in the field is heading to the start line with as consistent health and training as me, and that makes me dangerous.”
Wheels up to Houston. This morning was an easy 40 minutes in a “wintry mix” in Boulder. Legs felt great, and weather was a good indicator of what it will feel like in Houston: chilly and a decent breeze. After the run, finished packing, made brunch, then headed to the bus station with Sam. He encouraged me to stay calm, confident, and present in the next couple of days ahead of the race. Sam reinforced that almost nobody in the field is heading to the start line with as consistent health and training as me, and that makes me dangerous. Mind is still feeling sharp and ready for a big day—weather is starting to cooperate. Feels like things are lining up for a big day on Sunday.
Touched down in Houston. Watched Good Will Hunting on the flight. All-time great movie, and credits rolled right as we landed. Legs feel okay off the flight, per usual. Gotta go see about a girl.
“Road racing allows you an opportunity to get to know your competitors, and work with them to your mutual advantage.”
Heading to bed here soon. Spent the night chatting with Stephen Scullion, my roommate and an Irish marathoner training out in Flag. Great guy with a good sense of humor. One of the things I’ve loved most about moving to the roads is the opportunity to get to know the guys on the circuit. Track racing feels so competitive, since you just show up and race these names on a list. Road racing allows you an opportunity to get to know your competitors, and work with them to your mutual advantage. Makes the successes of other guys feel almost shared. Looking to get at least 10 hours of sleep tonight, took some Good Day Chocolate to knock me out and this bed is nice and comfy.
Good shakeout this morning with Parker and the Roots crew. Legs felt okay, nothing special one way or another, which is how I like to feel ahead of a race. Crazy windy out though, my hat got blown off by a massive gust right after Parker said “this wind isn’t too bad, really! We could race in this fine.”
Yep, busy day alright. Bounced around between conversations with a few agents, the tech meeting, and the IAAF uniform check. Doing my best to stay grounded and focused on tomorrow, but there’s certainly a ton going on. This is my first big, highly-competitive, international road race so I’m soaking it all in and enjoying the experience. Less than 12 hours till race time, it’s really time to start dialing it in and getting in the right headspace. Still feeling excited for tomorrow, plus—Jurassic Park is on, love this movie. Watching with Noah and Willie.
Bedtime! Everything is packed and ready for the morning, alarm is set for 3:27am. Gross. Called Christine a few minutes ago to talk and keep things light, she’s great at finding random conversations and being there in moments like this. Going to focus on the race plan, then meditate for a few minutes and put my mind at ease to get some decent sleep before the early wake up.
“That gives me an edge that experience cannot: an unearned and unexpected level of confidence. I’m still the dark horse in this field.”
Race morning. Woke up and made some oatmeal with peanut butter, ate a Lara bar, drank a bunch of water. Still feeling good, but it’s these moments of solitude before the chaos of this morning that allow my mind to wander into corners, both positive and negative. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious. This is only my second half and I’ll be going up against some of the most experienced Americans on the roads right now. But that’s fine—they’ll lean on their experience to pull them through, I’ll lean on my lack of it. I’m excited to be here and excited to be doing this, and I know that’s more true for me than most of the field this morning. That gives me an edge that experience cannot: an unearned and unexpected level of confidence. I’m still the dark horse in this field.
“I’m at the front hammering out pace with Parker. We’ve already eaten up a group who went out too hard…”
We hit the 10k mat in 29:29. That’s a bit slower than we were hoping for, and I know the back half of the course is going to be the tougher half. But I also know I feel relaxed and our group is already starting to thin out. Parker, Noah, Willie, Jerrell and a handful of other guys are still attached, I’m at the front hammering out pace with Parker. We’ve already eaten up a group who went out too hard, and the only other American up the road is Futsum, who looks like he’s starting to fall off. I like this setup.
“We’re barely halfway through and we’re already working hard to stay on sub 62 pace.”
We’ve slowed up a bit. For the first time since the first mile, I’m letting someone else dictate the pace. It’s also the first time I’ve let myself have some doubts. We’re barely halfway through and we’re already working hard to stay on sub 62 pace. Noah notices this and urges me to get us back and track, so I surge back to the front of the group and get back on 4:40 pace. We’re about to catch Futsum, and the group ahead of him is really splintering. I feel controlled, maybe the only person who can keep this pace in the group is Parker. I don’t know if sub-62 is still in the cards, but top American is looking well within reach.
We hit the weird turny part of the course and are now running straight into the headwind until Mile 11. I’m out front of the group, nobody else is covering this move and if I can break them while we’re running into the headwind, that’s gonna be tough to come back from. Maybe about 100m up the road is Edwin Kibichy. He’s gone out hard but is coming back. We worked well together in Indianapolis, so I figure if I can bridge that gap he’ll give me some energy to feed off of and will help get through this last windy patch. After that it’s 2 miles to the line, I can survive that.
“I didn’t do all of this work to let myself get caught in the last mile. Head down, let’s go.”
Out of the wind, onto the last stretch. The other Americans are all behind me, and from the sounds of the cheers it’s only Parker who’s tried to come with. It’s starting to hurt now, I’m fatigued and my left hamstring is threatening a cramp. But I know Parker is the only American with a chance to catch me, and I’ve got a decent enough gap on him that I think I can hang on if I focus on being rhythmic and efficient. Faubs was at around 11.5 and was going nuts, telling me to make the most of the day. He’s right, I didn’t do all of this work to let myself get caught in the last mile. Head down, let’s go.
Fuck yeah. Made it home in 62:06 and as the top American. Was really digging deep the last half mile, Parker had me running scared and I think he closed the gap on me a bit, but that’s okay. Honestly don’t think the race could have gone much more according to plan. Sure, we were a bit slower than we wanted through 10k, and that might’ve cost me the 7 seconds I needed to dip under 62, but I hit every other goal I set for myself. I competed hard with some of the best runners in the USA and the world, and proved that I belong on this stage. These are the days that keep you coming back to the sport.
I’m on the flight back to Denver. Whirlwind of a day so far, jogged a bullshit one mile cooldown since I didn’t want to push my legs much further, then headed to the press conference. Was a pretty special feeling to be up there with Emily Sisson who just missed the AR, and the overall half marathon champions who are both world class. Sat down for one last meeting before packing up and heading to the lobby to catch the shuttle. It’s been awesome to hear from everyone and have their support. I’m appreciative of everyone who’s had a hand in my journey or reached out today. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people who show me unconditional love and support, and it feels damn good to get it done for all of them.
I won’t say it feels surreal, because I worked my ass off for this and felt sharp from the gun, but it’s still an adjustment to be crossing the line ahead of guys like Noah, Parker, Futsum, Aaron Braun, etc. These are all guys who I respect the hell out of, and have been inspirations to me as runners. I value their mentorship, and that level of competition brings out the best in all of us.
This weekend was a huge turning point in my career. I’ve shown some promise since graduating, but today proved to me that I belong here and that I can compete with the best. I’m really starting to feel comfortable with the longer distances and the roads. Wonder what 26.2 will feel like.