A Reflection

By Colin SyBing

Dear UMD Club Running,

As I write this, it’s almost midnight on Sunday November 11th (though it’ll probably be much longer before I finish). More specifically, I’ve just emerged from a post-Nationals car ride coma, checked the grade I received on the midterm I took right before leaving last week (eh), commented on a couple of Andrew Lent’s meme-y photos from the meet, and already begun experiencing NIRCA withdrawal. But, as I reflect on yet another wonderful weekend full of running, inside jokes, and absurdly cold weather, I can’t help but feel a bit emotional and look back at the past half year. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to look back on the past six months and share my experiences with the team and take a moment to think about the future. That’s right; kick back and choose your favorite assignment to procrastinate on, because it’s gonna be a long blog post. Let’s reminisce.

Anti-Climax

As I rounded out the final, ~90-meter straightaway at UMD’s very own Kehoe Track, I glanced at the clock to confirm the suspicion in the back of my mind. For the umpteenth time in my career as a 1500m/mile runner, I had led the race only to been outkicked in the last 200m by some guy with better leg speed and a smarter racing strategy. Despite what Prefontaine might tell you, running boldly doesn’t always pay off when you can’t kick. But that wasn’t what stung the most. What stung, deep within my throbbing chest as a slight drizzle began to fall down on the track that Friday night in May, was that ever since a thrilling 4:01 PR a month prior, I had failed to reach my season goal of breaking 4 minutes in the 1500m, a goal I held ever since entering college.

I puked up the 251 dinner I had 3 hours prior into a nearby trashcan as my father came on to the field to congratulate me on my fantastic 5k race (my father, to this day, doesn’t know how long a track is). Regretfully, I looked up at the varsity athletes setting up to run the fast heat of the 1500m, the cut for which I unfortunately did not make. I couldn’t help but feel another pang of disappointment as I realized that my season had just ended, and ended in such an unceremonious fashion. No more interval workouts, no more lacing up spikes, no more laughing at kids with horrible form with Jacob from the stands. Yet another year of running completed, and yet I was still left without that sense of climactic achievement: the bursting sensation of finally smashing that goal that you’ve been working towards for months. Nothing. Zip. No ceremony, no inner satisfaction, no victorious spirit left for some club kid that got outkicked in the slow heat at a varsity meet.

I shuffled through a short, rainy cooldown jog as I prepared to cheer on my teammates for the 5k. As I awaited the starting gun for the final event of the night, I began mentally mapping out the next couple months. “Build up your mileage, stay consistent, get the strength training in, hit the midsummer tempos, and then you guys will have your shot at a great nationals finish.” It was all so simple. Nothing could possibly go wrong. My planning was cut short as I was tasked with shrieking at my teammates in the rain for 12.5 laps around our stupidly proportioned track, but I knew that, despite my disappointment today, my teammates and I had a shot at working on something great, and that alone was enough to lift my spirits: a belief in a better tomorrow.

The Long Summer Months

After a week of finals preparation, summer goodbyes, and, most notably, no running, it was time for a very special part of the year: summer training. Everything’s hot, everything’s long, and everything’s possible. This year, unlike past years, we had clear goals and an ambitious training plan from everyone’s personal life coach, Jack Wavering. Hit the miles, do the workouts, make the podium at Nats. Simple. Elegant. Genius. Not only did we have an A-1 training plan, but we had some bomb-ass plans to follow it. With a large portion of the boys team still in and around College Park and the move in date for an infamous non-club-associated house just on the horizon, we didn’t just have a training plan, we had a training team, a luxury not many college teams possess.

And boy was it a blast. Through three and a half summer months of torturous summer class, a music festival, World Cup matches, trips to the beach, a shitty half-internship that I still haven’t been paid for, counseling at a summer running camp, and a trip to Canada, through heat warnings, 100% humidity, thunderstorms, early mornings and late nights, over concrete, dirt paths, but mostly concrete, I powered (and sometimes trudged) my way through summer miles alongside my teammates, my roommates, and my best friends. New routes were constructed, running playlists were carefully designed, and friendships were strengthened. My team was with me every step of the way as we all strove towards that Nationals podium, with tens of salty core sessions, hundreds of rounds of Contact, and most likely thousands of popsicles.

And from what I saw on the greatest running log site known to man, the 8809 group was not the only one putting in great efforts. At the end of long days in a classroom, I would pull up running2win to read tales of heroes, tales of Katrina waking up before sunrise to run before work, of Elliot pumping up his mileage and quickening his pace during his first year of summer training, of Sarah and Julia driving across Maryland to find a place to run together, of Christina fighting to return from a nasty injury in the spring, of Ryun running multiple times each day at blindingly quick paces, and of Shannon running even faster than Ryun because why the hell not? Each of these teammates, and all the others that unfortunately use Strava like hobby joggers, were all working for the success of the team and for themselves, embodying what I believe to be truly beautiful about our sport. It was these people, the people who were forced into bad situations but fought to reach their goals anyway, who faced great adversity and simply didn’t care, who inspired me when my training was at its toughest, and for that I thank everyone (and running2win).

Each day, I got faster, leaner, and more confident as I logged the hardest miles I think I’ve ever run in my life. Capping it all off in August with two consecutive 70-mile weeks (my highest mileage weeks ever), I strode into the school year with the utmost confidence in myself and my team, with just shy of 800 summer miles on my legs and legs of my teammates to back it all up. This was it. This was our year. After two years of not living up to the potential of our training due to nagging injuries and generally unfocused goals, we were waltzing into Fall of 2018 with a goddamn squad.

New Beginnings and New Successes

The semester started off quick and chaotic like normal. Classes are hard, finding time to run is difficult, apparently you have to start applying for jobs in September, and there’s a whole new crop of names and majors to memorize. Nevertheless, it was clear, at least to me, that this year had a different vibe to it. I felt more focused, more motivated, and generally in higher spirits. My morale was further bolstered by the arrival of a fantastic class of new club members, some with stories that’ll make you laugh hours after you hear them, some with impressive running accolades, and all of them with positive, cheerful, motivated attitudes that I certainly wish I had as a freshman entering a new environment. Everything was lining up perfectly, and everyone around me seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, something I think we can take for granted when semesters get busy.

From September to mid-October, I felt invincible. It just seemed like everything was going right; my classes were interesting but not too tough, I had a couple internship interviews lined up, and my EWB project was getting off the ground, but to be honest, any joy I took from those paled in comparison to how I felt when I ran with this team. To paraphrase Mitch, “Literally nothing else matters as long as you’re fit.” And he was right. No matter how long a day I had or how sleep-deprived I became, I had trump card for happiness; I was fit and I had a great group of people to run with. Some personal highlights of my semester include (but are not limited to):

  • A 6:30AM 20 x 400m with Mitch followed by a 7AM Lumberjack with Mitch two weeks after
  • Running at 9PM on a Monday with Jack only to be outrun by a guy in jeans who was late for his shift at Blaze
  • Running a mile with Elliot and MT while finishing a freezy-pop on the first day of practice
  • Nearly losing a time trial to some random freshman
  • The Toga Party
  • Finally running a decent race at Paul Short at my 4th time at that stupid course
    • Hearing about Andrew and Mitchell’s race after that and subsequently crying of laughter
  • Styling on the IM soccer field during our most successful season yet (long live Yeet City)
  • Following MT on a run of 20+ guys to PG Plaza that somehow turned into Riverdale, because all routes are actually just Riverdale

A Glorious Day: Princeton

With two races under our belts by mid-October, it seemed as though our third would be spoiled by some unforeseen circumstances. The Princeton Invitational, the historically fastest meet of the year and fastest course on the east coast (unless you’re a girl), had its existence come into question due to “construction” on the course. How you perform construction on a cornfield literally two days after the varsity meet at the same course remains a mystery to me, but I’ll give the meet coordinators the benefit of the doubt on this one. There was talk of rescheduling and cancelling, talk of moving the meet, and talk of going to the *shudders* Georgetown Invite instead. The uncertainty was absolutely maddening.

Fortunately, Princeton’s Running Club, led by a really fast leprechaun, that girl that doesn’t know how to read results, a sentient didgeridoo, and Jacob’s boyfriend, found an alternate course at a park in New Jersey. With bright eyes and high hopes, we set off for New Jersey on an early Sunday morning, and were rewarded with perfect weather, great competition, and, most importantly, the actual fastest course on the east coast. My Lord this park was like cross country heaven, mainly because it was nothing like a cross country course; not a single hill could be seen and 80% of the race was run on a crushed gravel path.

The girls raced first, and the results could not have been more encouraging. People were PR’ing left and right, shaving multiple minutes off their fastest times. People were so excited that it seemed as if the air itself was electric. I could hardly contain myself as the girl’s race wrapped up and I began warming up. Today was going to be great, I could feel it. My chest swelled with excitement as I was rudely photographed doing my leg extensions on the start line once again. As always, Ryun graced us with a wonderful pump up speech about turtles and defense and whatnot and we strode back to the line.

As soon as the gun went off, I flew out to the front to dodge traffic at the first bottleneck. Despite some later chastising from Ryun, I thought I was off to a dream start. As the first mile wore on, I allowed a group of 10-11 leaders to move up ahead. For someone who usually chases the leaders, an odd calm had settled over me. Maybe it was the hyperventilating guy in sneakers and a T-shirt that sprinted ahead of me to chase the leaders that told me that some of the guys in front of me were likely to drop back eventually. I rolled through the first mile with the leaders still in my sights, not bothering to check a watch or listen for anyone yelling out a split; I knew it was fast. Calmly, I decided to maintain my following distance until the third mile before making any bold moves, and as I made that decision something miraculous happened. Mitch came up on my shoulder, barely breathing. I was already determined to race well, but there’s something about racing next to a teammate that you’ve known for years, matching strides, knowing that you both feel good that makes you think “Let’s. Fucking. Go.”

Mitch and I ran stride for stride for the next 3 miles, watching utter carnage unfold in front of us. The leaders were dropping like flies. One by one, overly ambitious athletes faded from the front pack, only to be surrounded and passed by Mitch and me on either side, never to be seen again. Soon, we hit the grass by the start for the final time, meaning that we had just a bit less than a mile to go. I focused my eyes 30m forward on my next victim: the dubious individual known solely as “Princeton Guy.” At this moment, a sliver of doubt crawled into my mind for the first time. This guy was older and more talented than I was. I watched this guy lead the Mid-Atlantic Regional race one year ago from 50th or so place. If I even got close to catching him, he’d most likely just outkick me. Maybe this was it. Maybe my luck had run out. Maybe it was time to settle and cruise to the finish. But as Princeton Guy rounded a turn about 30m ahead of me, he did something that melted any fear out of me.

He looked over his shoulder, straight at me. He was scared.

In an instant, I became a different runner. My hips were no longer dropped. My stride lengthened ever so slightly but my feet were leaving the ground faster than before. My arms were pumping harder and my eyes were glued squarely on the shoulders of my newest competitor. I was bounding closer, closer, and closer still with every stride. This runner who I had previously classified as completely out of my range, totally above my paygrade, was moving back to me in slow motion. Ten seconds later, he was a thing of the past. I blew by him with a kilometer to go, and soon I put another runner behind me as well right before making a hard right onto the final straightaway.

Eyes focused straight ahead, I saw Ryun’s back in the distance. Ryun, who consistently ran workouts twice as long as I did (and way faster too). Ryun, whose running logs made my eyes pop out of my head. Ryun, the guy who I watched score a bronze medal at track nationals six months prior. That guy was in my sights. Maybe it’s rude to say this about a teammate, but I can tell you honestly that I’ve rarely felt a stronger urge to accelerate than I did in that moment. 600m or so later, and it was all over. I had closed my following distance to a meager 10 meters, and as I leaned over the line, I craned my neck to the left to see the clock.

Holy shit. 25:30 and change. I didn’t even have time to calculate that as a 70 second PR before my teammates started streaming across the finish line behind me. Mitch flew in right behind me, and then Brian blazed into the chute, followed soon after by a hard-kicking Rylan and Jack, and in that moment I let out what could only be described as a primal scream. This was it. Not only did we have this meet in the bag for the second year in a row, but we did it in triumphant fashion. Scorching fast times aside, we had run together perfectly, and dominated a rival team that had blown us out of the water at Regionals and Nationals last year.

The rest of the day was a blur of congratulations, granola bar fueled sprints (courtesy of the long-missed Matt Patsy), and victorious devouring of free food. The crowd of parents and athletes gathered around a picnic table to read out results, and for the first time in 3 years, I stepped up to receive an award on a cross country podium. More importantly, the girls’ team earned a podium finish and the boys’ team was announced as the returning champs. For me though, more important than any time or place or celebratory rubber duck, was the return of a feeling long-lost. For the first time in a very long while, that bursting swell of accomplishment, that pride, that primal joy of knowing that on this day, I laid everything out on the course and performed at my best, that I truly became the best version of myself, that feeling returned. What I was missing at the Kehoe Invite last May, what I fell short of during cross season last Fall, and what I spent long summer months fighting to reclaim, was finally mine again. And with Regionals a week away, I wanted more.

Obstacles

Regionals. Oh boy. I had a personal history of completely blowing it on this course. Team-wise, for the past two years, we’ve strode up to Lehigh with the intent of walking away with the trophy. In both my years on this team, we’ve managed to find a brand-new source of swagger right before this weekend, whether it’s a post-Lumberjack pump up speech from Ceruzzi or a strong team performance at Princeton. This year was no different, and the background audio on a certain video on NIRCA’s Instagram from that week will confirm the presence of some cockiness. In past years though, it never worked out. We, specifically the boys’ team, always ended up blowing up or underperforming (aside from some unofficial race results stemming from a course mishap last year).

For anyone who can read results, it’s no secret that that trend continued this year. Some things happened out on those Lehigh hills that happened yet this season. People burnt out early, fatigue showed on the legs of many, and the killer instinct necessary to succeed in an 8k was nowhere to be found. The boys and girls each finished 4th, and while I would later chalk up this less than stellar performance to the fact that we trained through the meet (as opposed to other teams who may have designed a small peak into their training plan at the expense of a sharper peak at nationals), I couldn’t help but walk away from Lehigh with a sour taste in my mouth, though I suppose it’s hard not to get frustrated with the dystopian echoes of “We Are Penn State” still distantly ringing in your ears.

Despite a disappointing weekend of racing, I shook it off and turned my focus to the future once again: three weeks until Nats. Three weeks of speed refining workouts that would take months of training and transform it into raw speed (or speed raw enough for an 8k). With the culmination of my training so close, even the second Lumberjack lingering on the horizon didn’t scare me. I was raring to go get some great workouts in, but at the same time my poor performance at regionals left me somewhat cautious. After consulting with a past coach, I decided it would be best to forego this week’s interval workout and the race at UVA for a couple longer tempos and a relaxing weekend at home back in Rockville. My reasons for returning home for a weekend extended beyond running. In the preceding two weeks, somewhat due to losing my weekends to meets, schoolwork had begun piling up, alongside a mountain of bureaucratic BS for my EWB project and a fat stack of labs waiting to be graded. I could barely stay awake in class anymore and I could feel my motivation to succeed slipping away. I was going home as a bit of a mental vacation to destress, catch up on some homework, meet up with some old friends at a high school county championship meet, grab some home cooked food, and see my parents for the first time in a while.

But as I mentally checked out from my responsibilities that Wednesday, some worrying signs started appearing. The temperature took a quick drop, and as it did people around me began getting sick. I mean really sick. Quarantine kind of sick. Some classmates of mine got hit hard with the flu, but I had gotten vaccinated so I wasn’t particularly worried. Academically, I continued limping through until the end of the week, putting off assignments and meetings until the upcoming week. If I could just make it to the weekend without getting chewed out for missing a deadline, I’d be just fine. That’s what I told myself, and by some miracle it happened. Then, as I returned from my final run in College Park for the week that Friday evening, as I stepped back into my house right behind Mitch and prepared to do a short hip workout in the living room, something peculiar happened.

My head began pounding, breathing started to become a bit more difficult, and within 5 minutes I was on the floor of the living room shivering uncontrollably. While I stabilized a bit after a half hour and a warm shower, it was clear that I was coming down with something. While obnoxiously timed, it wasn’t too surprising; Hiro had been sick for the past couple weeks, Christina had come down with an illness a day before, and Jack actually passed out sick on his bed shortly after I returned from my run. Nobody’s safe when it comes to biological warfare. With my head fuzzy and my legs unsteady, I sloppily packed my duffel bag for a short weekend home and awaited the arrival of my parents. When they finally arrived on the way back from my brother’s white coat ceremony in Baltimore, I dropped my bag in the trunk and slumped into the backseat of my mother’s Honda Accord. Through what was likely a rude mumble, I told my parents I was feeling sick, and after catching up for about 10 minutes, I lost any strength I had left to socialize and proceeded to pass out as we slogged through beltway traffic.

Back in Rockville, feeling a bit stronger, I stumbled into my old house, parked myself on the living room couch, watched a recording of a recent Celtics game with my dad, geeked out over the new Smash Bros announcement with my brother, and went to bed early in the guest room that used to be mine. Consciousness sliding away, I pulled up my phone to let Ryun know that I most likely wouldn’t be up for the tempo we planned for Saturday morning, but that I would probably still see him at the county championship as a spectator. Missing one workout wouldn’t derail my training significantly and attempting a tempo in this state would simply be unproductive. Might as well soak up some recovery over the weekend right?

I soon found out that no recovery would be occurring this weekend. I woke up at 3AM, somehow simultaneously shivering and drowning in sweat. I tried to throw my covers off, but I soon realized that the strength I needed to get out of bed simply wasn’t in my body. With significant struggle, I crawled onto the floor, stood up, and snatched my water bottle from my nightstand and drank greedily. By the time I had emptied the bottle, my head had started spinning from standing up too quickly, and I realized that I needed to get to the bathroom. Quick. I barely made it through the pitch-black hallway in time before I had to vomit. A less than ideal Friday night, but there have certainly been worse ones.

My night did not improve after that, as I quickly became trapped in two-hour cycles of falling asleep shivering, waking up sweating, going back to the bathroom to splash water on my face, and then returning to bed only to dream/hallucinate about being dissected by aliens that all looked vaguely like past cross-country coaches. I slept well past 11AM but did not feel rested at all. My throat pulsed with agony whenever I spoke or coughed, my head spun when I stood up, and somehow the entire world was simultaneously too damn hot and too damn cold. After a warm breakfast and some tall glasses of OJ though, it all seemed to subside. I could walk fine and my fever even dropped a bit. My mom shot me a concerned look when I told her that I still planned to go to counties (which had been delayed due to rain), but I assured her that I wouldn’t be there long and that I’d come right back as soon as I started feeling sick. Within 10 minutes, I was on the road to Briggs’s alma mater to fulfill some promises to some old friends.

After a day of watching my high school team get wrecked and avoiding handshakes for fear of infecting the rest of the general population, I returned to my house a bit fatigued, but not feeling any severe symptoms. I concluded that the worst was over, that I had sweat out most of the fever already and that I’d be right as rain come Monday morning. I even managed to catch up on some grading that night before my tiredness got the best of me and I passed out on the couch. About an hour later I returned to my guest bed with a full bottle of water and an extra heavy blanket, ready to finish off this sickness with a hefty ten hours of sleep so I could get back to business on Monday. I had a training schedule to keep, after all

No such thing occurred. Friday night was a warmup, and Saturday night was the main event. I could barely scrape two consecutive hours of sleep before I had to switch blankets to get rid of the one that was slick with sweat. Nightmares occurred and re-occurred, water bottles were emptied and refilled, clothes were changed, and I soon began to wonder whether there was an end in sight. When my dad opened my door at 9AM to check on me, my room was a swirling mass of discarded blankets and clothes with a writhing, shuddering, broken animal at the center. I croaked at my dad that I needed to see a doctor, and he obliged.

It turns out that strep throat can be pretty nasty when crossed with a vicious strain of the common cold. My dual illness would continue to trap me in my bed for the rest of the week. Unfortunately, life in the outside world continued, and the world had decided to kick me while I was down, Scott Sterling style. While indisposed, I received two internship rejection emails that essentially wiped out the last of my current prospects, missed two midterms, got screeched at over email for being behind on EWB work, and, perhaps worst of all, found out that Shannon, Mitch, Dan, Anna, Dolf, Lent, and Jacob had all begun experiencing similar symptoms. After a week in bed, two doctor’s visits, a round of antibiotics, a couple half portions of chicken noodle soup, a thoughtful visit from a recovered Christina, and a full season of Attack on Titan, my body had finally recovered, but the universe in which I previously existed had shifted completely while I was gone, and I was not prepared to go back to it.

But I could’ve forgiven all the knocks I received in that week if it wasn’t for a discovery I made on Sunday afternoon. For the first time in eight days, with nationals a mere six days in my future, I laced up my running shoes and took a jog around my neighborhood. The leaves in my neighborhood that were green when I had last looked at them had morphed into brilliant colors. At first, I was stunned at how Fall had come instantaneously, but I remember I hadn’t stepped outside in seven days for anything other than a short drive to the doctor’s office. Glad to be outside again, I allowed myself a small bit of optimism. However, once I began jogging up my street, the truth settled in. Like it usually did, my running2win entry encapsulated my feelings perfectly: “2.8 Miles in 20:49 [7:26 per mile]. oh dear god I forgot how running works. 8 days of sickness. fuck.”

The Deepest Valley

After some last-minute packing, I piled my things into my father’s RAV4, an old stick-shift that always smelled faintly of cigarette ash. Daylight savings time had kicked in a day before, so it was already pitch-black out at 7PM. As we pulled onto I-270 with The Eagles playing out of the Bluetooth radio, my father cheerfully asked me how it felt to finally return to school. In hindsight, it was funny how disconnected our mindsets were. We had probably spent more time together in the past week than we had in months, but I suppose we hadn’t communicated a lot beyond me asking for a glass of water or for help walking to the shower.

How did I feel about returning to school? About facing up to a mountain of responsibilities I had ignored for a week? About starting a long and demeaning internship search over again? About begging professors to let me retake midterms that I wasn’t prepared for in the first place? About running a race, a championship race that I spent six months preparing for, as a shadow of the athlete I was just two weeks ago? I told my father exactly how I felt. I told him I was frustrated. Furious. Miserable. Scared. I asked him how I could be expected to do any of this. How could I can continue to devote my time and effort to these pursuits that mean so much to me if all that progress could be deleted in a week by a couple of microbes? I told him that I was at the lowest point that I had been in a very long time, and the worst part was I had no idea how I was going to claw my way out. Everything I had spent the last six months building was crumbling, and it seemed like I wasn’t going to be far behind.

My father listened as he piloted us past beltway exits. A generally easygoing man for a first-generation immigrant, my father responded to me in the way only someone whose life experience infinitely eclipses your own could. Without skipping a beat, he told me that he was surprised that I was even having these thoughts. He thought that, after all the adversity I’d faced as an athlete, after all the work I’d done as a student from an overly competitive high school, after all the stories I’ve heard about how difficult his life was in the Philippines, that I would’ve grown up and accepted some things about the world. “The world doesn’t owe you anything. Any work that you do might earn you a chance at what you want, but you’re not guaranteed jack shit. And it sucks. It’s hard. But that’s the world you live in son.”

As you can expect, I had absolutely nothing to respond with. I didn’t know what I wanted or needed during that car ride, whether it was empathy or sympathy, or some acknowledgement of how unfair my situation was, but I was sure as hell that it wasn’t a lecture about how I was being entitled. We spent the remaining 15 minutes of the trip in complete silence, aside from my “Parents” playlist cycling through the Rolling Stones and the two Tom Petty songs that my dad knows. Soon, we pulled into my driveway and my dad helped me move some groceries and fresh laundry back into my house, again without any conversation (and even more oddly without seeing any of my eight roommates). With my possessions all squared-away, I walked out the garage door to thank my dad for driving me back. I began to mouth the first word of some half-assed goodbye when the conversation was taken away from me. The wind had picked up a bit, but I could make out every syllable as my dad hugged me in the middle of the driveway and breathed two sentences in my ear:

“I believe in you son. Not because you’re my son, but because you can do it.”

Something in my chest broke. In 30 seconds, my father was gone and I was back in my bedroom, sitting in the middle of my floor, sobbing. For a while, I couldn’t pin down a specific reason for it. There was a lot in it at once: fear, mental fatigue, loss, disappointment, but at the same time, there was relief in there as well. I don’t think of myself as overly emotional, and I also like to think I’m pretty independent, that I don’t rely a lot on other people. But this felt different. Maybe it was just the sincerity in the words, or that they came from my dad, but when I think back on it hard enough, I think the reason was that, for a while before he said that he believed in me, it didn’t feel like anyone did.

Belief

Brian, who I now suspect is an omniscient being from another dimension, once told me that, no matter how the weather at your high school regional meet, whether it was 70 or 40 degrees, it would always be sub-freezing at your state championship a week later, which is probably the most accurate thing I’ve ever heard. Nationals in Kentucky, which I found out is not actually in the deep south like I thought, was no exception to the trend. After some eccentric upperclassmen races and a long bathroom wait that forced me to run a solo warmup to the woods and back (truly dark times), I stood on the start line, moments before the gun with one thought; “Mittens or no mittens?”

Ryun’s final pre-race speech wasn’t met with overzealous screaming today like it usually was. The jokes about turtles or other teams weren’t there today, and Ryun kept his voice level and steady as he delivered his 2 minutes of inspiration. He talked about being a senior, about how much work we had put in together, and about the obstacles we had hit. It was true; four of the seven guys on that line had spent at least half a week with the plague in the past two weeks. We we’re about to fight quite an uphill battle. But Ryun passionately disregarded all of it. “Today isn’t about the physical stuff. That was done weeks ago. Today is about that logo on your jersey. Today is about how much that logo on your chest means to you, and whether or not it means more to you than some other guy’s logo means to him.”

Despite the speech, I had no illusions about my capabilities. I spent the week prior struggling to complete five-mile easy runs. It had been almost three weeks since I had run a mile in under six minutes. Beyond that, I was 90% sure I was still sick. But just because I didn’t believe that I would PR, or earn an All-American certificate, or even score for my team, didn’t mean that I didn’t believe in anything. I believed in Ryun’s message. I believed that no matter the race results, that the white ‘M’ emblazoned on my chest meant more than another letter of the damn alphabet on anyone else’s crusty ass singlet. I didn’t need a trophy or a medal to know that I ran for the best team on that starting line, and that was enough.

Five minutes later, we were all out there together amidst a toiling sea of athletes, jostling each other around as they struggled to fight through the frozen mud. Already straining to breathe, I rounded a curve to watch the leaders hit the mile mark about 30 seconds ahead of me. Feelings of indignance crept into my mind; a couple twists of fate in the opposite direction and I would’ve been chasing them, not stuck in the back with a dude racing in sunglasses and another guy in a T-shirt. But I silenced those thoughts. I didn’t live in that world anymore, and I was going to focus on what I could control. With each progressive mile I fought new competitors as the race ebbed and flowed. I lost some battles and I won some, worked a couple uphills just right and botched some others. My body my have faltered many times in those five miles, five miles that I had run around a thousand to train for, but one thing never changed out on that course. At every turn I made and every hill I crested, through the thunderous tunnel of sound that surrounds runners on a crowded course, I heard my teammates cheers piercing through the noise. They were out there with me, when they could’ve been preparing for their own races or relaxing in a heated car. If there was any doubt about it before, it was completely gone now; my dad wasn’t the only one who believed in me.

My finish, once again, was unceremonious and lacking in terms of personal achievement. Just like Kehoe six months before, I finished another season not with a bang, but with a pop scarcely louder than the faulty starting pistol at Nationals. But this time that blow didn’t have the same sting to it. Sure, I hadn’t reached the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the season, and it would be a long time until I had another shot. A younger me would’ve been worried about ever being able to make a real run at those goals ever again, worried about what my short future as a college athlete held, but as I staggered back to the tent shivering for warmth under a sheet of aluminum foil, I was enveloped by a symphony of hopeful sounds. Jokes and heartfelt congratulations were exchanged. Those who raced shared advice with those who hadn’t, and successful runners modestly deflected praise. Plans for cheering on the remaining runners were concocted and wishes of good luck were sent towards the girls’ team as they departed for a warmup.

A younger me would’ve been worried, but after all I had gone through with this community, after the endless workouts we dragged each other through and the brutal obstacles we helped each other overcome and the failures we rebounded from together, I knew I had nothing to worry about. I was not alone. I was no longer cold. Thanks to every single person on this club, our tomorrow looks bright, and I truly believe in that.

Tomorrow

I may not have achieved exactly what I set out to do this semester. In May, my goals fit into the framework of any generic, computer-generated cross-country runner: An All-American finish, a podium finish for the team, and a shiny low 25-minute PR. Good place, good team finish, good time. More generic than a cornfield in Ohio. What I’ve found instead, is that I achieved a lot of what I didn’t set out to do this semester. I’ve connected with so many new people, and found some friendships with people who have been around for a while who I’ve just never clicked with until now. I’ve failed, and recovered from those failures, and in the process become a more resilient person and learned more than a fast time could have ever taught me.

This is what I believe is so special about our club. We attract so many people with such diverse backgrounds and goals, and when these people all start to interact, they start to resonate and react to each other and, in many scenarios, people end up getting way more out of the community than they expected when they first approached it. We are all constantly changing and being shaped by the people around us, and I am grateful that I get to surround myself with people who are constantly trying to better themselves, both as athletes and people.

As the semester winds down and we look to the future, I’m certain that I’m going to look at this season as a special one, and I plan to enter next semester with a newfound determination. Not only determination to exact my revenge on Penn State for permanently damaging my hearing with their dumb chant, but determination to be the best version of myself. The best part of this team is that I know that I am not alone in that. I hope you all took as much from this season as I did and are looking forward to sticking around for the Spring and beyond, because I believe we’ve got a special group of people here, and it’s truly the people, all the people, that make UMD Club Running the wonderful phenomenon it is.

The Odyssey of a Homemade Singlet

In loving memory of five dead pigeons

              To truly understand the journey our beloved homemade singlet undertook during its glorious existence we must start from the beginning.

Chapter I – The Canvas

The date was February 16, 2018. The location was Thousand Oaks, California. I entered a running store with my aunt and mother called Roadrunner Sports. My aunt lives in California and she decided to celebrate my first time visiting her out there with a trip to this store. She told me that she would buy me a pair of shoes and a clothing item of my choice. First, I scoured the shoe display searching for something with decent support and cushioning for longer mileage. Eventually, I settled on the Brooks Levitates. (I used these shoes through out indoor and outdoor track that year. They were ok, but I hear the Brooks Levitate 2s aren’t the same.) Next, I began to rummage through the clothing isles waiting for something to catch my eye. I thought perhaps a new pair of split shorts or tights would be in order. After a few minutes of searching I saw something that interested me – a simple navy-blue singlet. My high school singlet was the only one I owned at that point, so I decided picking up another one wouldn’t be a bad idea. I ended up using it in one road race, but it was quickly replaced by a different singlet and collected dust in my closet until I brought it to Maryland with me.

Chapter 2 – The Paint

The date was September 1, 2018. The location was College Park, Maryland. I entered a convenience store with my roommate called North Convenience. I had recently moved into my dorm and my roommate and I decided to buy some masking tape to hang things up in our room with. We quickly found the isle containing all the tape and settled on a roll of white masking tape. Despite my protests, he ended up paying the entire cost. However, the tape was ineffective at sticking to the wall and the roll ended up at the bottom of some drawer.

Chapter 3 – Rendition One… The Birth of a Meme

              Shortly after joining the running club, we ordered apparel that included an official club running singlet. However, the apparel was not expected to arrive until a couple of weeks before nationals. There was the option to rent a singlet from the club, but for an unknown reason this did not appeal to me. As the first meet of the season approached, I decided to use my original navy-blue singlet. Quickly, I realized that it had absolutely no Maryland spirit, so I bought a pair of Maryland flag shorts from Amazon. The day before Paul Short while I was packing my bag, I decided that the flag shorts were not enough, and I had a Eureka moment. I searched through a drawer until I found that reject roll of tape that failed to stick to the walls, and I applied a simple masking tape “M” to the front of the singlet. After stepping back and admiring my creation from afar I decided to add a line under the M. Once I finished the line, rendition one of the homemade singlet was complete.

The reveal of the first home-made singlet at the start line of Paul Short went well. Overall people seemed to like it. However, Mitch informed me that It looked like a Michigan singlet. This observation was valid as Michigan also has navy blue singlets with an M on the front. The realization that I had unwittingly represented the wrong team weighed heavily on my soul throughout the race and the weeks that followed. I was determined to return to the next race with an improved version.

Chapter 4 – Rendition Two… The Sting of Failure

              Throughout the two weeks leading up to the second meet of the season I reflected on the lessons I had learned at Paul Short. I thought long and hard on what I could do to improve the singlet every day. Many ideas crossed my mind such as printing out a picture of the Maryland flag and taping it to the jersey. However, this idea, and all the others, were tacky and stupid. Before I knew it, the night before Princeton had arrived and I had no ideas. I decided to scroll through pictures of college team singlets for inspiration and saw multiple designs with words going down the back. This was quite aesthetically pleasing so I decided to implement it into rendition two. I started the creation process with the same “M” with a line underneath on the front. Next, I made a “MARYLAND” running along the back of the singlet vertically by cutting strips of tape in half. It took a few tries to get the placement and sizing right, but the result was beautiful.

I wore the second home-made singlet to the meet and revealed it right before the warm up. The reveal was a huge success as everyone was a big fan of the MARYLAND addition. Pride and happiness carried me through a great warm up. However, when we returned to our area after the warm up I was informed that all the letters on the back were falling off. I looked down at my chest and noticed the M was failing as well. Shock and despair filled my mind and heart instantly. I had no choice but to remove the MARYLAND. Elliot helped my repair the M with some safety pins and more tape. Unfortunately, we had to sacrifice good looks for structural integrity. While we were standing at the start line Briggs looked at what had become of the singlet. I cannot recall his exact words, but the general idea was that I was a disgrace to the University of Maryland and the team. Each kilometer of that 8k race was dedicated to one of the letters that fell off my back.

The night after that race was hard. I wondered if I was cut out for making singlets. I questioned what I was working towards. Was this a dream that I was chasing, or just time that I was wasting?

Chapter 5 – Rendition Three… The Singlet Stronger than its Creator

              During the week between Princeton and NIRCA Regionals tragedy struck. I felt a pain in my left shin and would find out a few weeks later that it was a stress fracture, but at the time all I knew was that it hurt way too much to run on. Despite not being able to run I accompanied the team to regionals for moral support.  The day before regionals I decided to create a singlet and bring it just in case. However, the pain from my recent failure was still fresh and I only put the M with the line on it.

While I was talking to Brian at the meet, he told me that he did not have a singlet. I happily gave him rendition three of the homemade singlet to use. Although I had succumbed to injury, my creation was going to continue to cross the finish line. Brian did not warm up in the singlet, and the tape ended up staying on fine. Through this meet I learned why I had failed at Princeton. The sweat from warming up in the singlet weakened the tape before the race even started.

 Chapter 6 – Rendition Four… The Game Changer

              A few days before the UVA meet I was discussing the homemade singlet with Mike (DiDonato). He told me that he wanted to wear it, and I happily agreed to create another one. I was eager to apply what I had learned at regionals to rendition four of the singlet. The night before the meet I once again meticulously created a MARYLAND down the back.

The morning of the race I made sure that Mike did not warm up with the singlet. This day was the most fun I have ever had while spectating a cross country meet since nearly everyone was making a meme of it. I ended up giving a hype up speech, handing a slice of bread to Dan, Brian, and Elliot mid-race and handing a whole loaf of bread to MT. However, deep down beneath all the memes I was slightly nervous about the performance of the singlet. Heading to the start line, it was in perfect condition. The gun went off and I scrambled to my bread hand off positions throughout the course. About two miles into the race I saw Mike run by and was happy to see the MARYLAND was still intact. Next, I stood at about 500 meters to go and continued to hand out bread. Shortly, Mike came into view with someone in a unicorn costume in pursuit. As they passed I caught a glimpse of the MARYLAND still fully intact. I was nothing short of overjoyed. After a failure at Princeton that made me question everything, this victory was huge. Also, Mike out kicked the unicorn so we all won that day.

CHAPTER 7 – Rendition Five… The Finale

              As nationals approached, the club apparel arrived, including the singlets (they are amazing). Shortly after they arrived I decided that nationals would be the homemade singlet’s last race. It had served its purpose as a place holder and was beginning to show signs of wear and tear from its journey. There was a small hole forming in the back and there were permanent stains from the clay and mud of the UVA course. I wanted the final rendition to be the best one and considered many elaborate editions. However, I eventually settled on adding color to the tape for the first time. The night before we left for nationals, I spent a concerning amount of time drawing the Maryland flag design on the line of tape beneath the M with red, yellow, and black sharpies.

The night before nationals I was discussing the singlet with some guys and both Briggs and Craig offered to wear it. As it worked out during race day, Craig would be the one to take it across the finish line for the final time. I enjoyed watching all the races take place throughout the day, and unlike UVA I was not nervous about the performance of the singlet. I knew deep down that it would perform well on the national stage. After all it had been through, I had no doubt it would hold up.

The gun went off for the Freshman/Sophomore race and Craig set off carrying the singlet through its final 8k. It was admittedly hard to spot the singlet in the sea of runners, but we managed to pick it out in the crowd a few times. Each time we saw it everything was still intact, and this would remain true as Craig crossed the line. The singlet’s odyssey was complete. It had crossed the finish line of every race that season

Chapter 8 – The Conclusion

I find it quite poetic that a useless roll of tape and an unused singlet combined to make something so memorable and meaningful. Something that I will laugh at every time I see a roll of masking tape. Something that helped me bond with my teammates. I’ll miss spending an hour cutting and coloring tape, but this meme has run its course. Here’s to the next one.

Acknowledgements

 I would like to thank the people that made this possible. Thank you to Mitch and Briggs for encouraging me to improve my singlet when it did not live up to its full potential. Thank you to Brian, Mike, and Craig for taking it across the line when I couldn’t. Thank you to Lent and Hiro for documenting the singlet’s journey through photography. Finally, thank you to the club as a whole for the funnest (I firmly believe funnest should be a word) XC season of my life.

Why Club Running is the Best Thing Ever

As we close in on nationals, I decided I would finally share a post I wrote a while ago. Enjoy!

If you ask anyone close to me what they think my favorite part of college is, I guarantee you they won’t tell you all the homework, or exams, or even the ~crazy~ parties. They will tell you my favorite part of college is being a part of club running. And this answer is 100% right. Let me tell you why…

I think we need to back up a bit. Ever since I was young I have been a part of some sort of sport. For a long time it was soccer (which I still miss!) before I transitioned over to only focusing on running in high school. High school track and cross country was great. I met great friends (even my current boyfriend) and had loads of fun at meets. Because of this great experience, I was determined to keep running (especially doing so on some sort of a team) in my life on college. Enter Maryland club running!

Freshman year is a confusing time, despite what some people’s Instagram might show. If you go out of state like me, you most likely know close to no one at your new school, and you’re just trying to find ways to pass the time until class starts. Like I said, I was eager to keep a running team in my life, so through my summer research I had already found and contacted the running club at university of Maryland. From the day I arrived on campus, I was counting down the days until the first practice. Before we go any further, let’s get something straight. I am NOT an outgoing person when I first meet someone. So something I’ve loved about sports my whole life is that it’s basically a bunch of instant friends! You spend hours together each day until you feel comfortable with each other without even realizing it happened. When I went to practice that first day, I was hoping I found “my people”. At first I stuck around because everyone was nice, I liked running, and I liked the structure it added to my day. I didn’t talk much, but was content just being there and listening to the chatter on group runs. Practice provides a guaranteed 2ish hours of stress relief each day. I can’t quite pinpoint when it happened, but eventually there’s was a different reason why I kept sticking around. Don’t get me wrong, the people are still nice, I still like running, and I still like the structure it adds to my day, but there’s more now. I truly understand club running now. This wonderful sport manages to combine the best aspects of running with the best aspects of club sports to produce (in my opinion) the best activity you can participate in, and here are my top 5 reasons why:

  1. It’s FUN: A few weekends ago we ran a race, and it was one of the freshman’s first cross country races ever. I saw her cross the line with a big smile on her face and she later told me how fun the entire meet was. Despite the pain racing inevitably causes, it really is fun to push yourself to your limits and see progress throughout the season.
  2. Nobody takes themselves too seriously: Club running meets are never short on shenanigans. Will people be running in costumes? Yep (I once witnessed two girls run an entire race in the RAIN in dinosaur costumes, that’s some serious dedication). Will one of your races be started by a didgeridoo? You bet. Will your team get a pumpkin full of candy for placing in the top few teams? Only if you’re lucky! (and yes we’ve been lucky enough for that). And finally, yes. You might just catch someone cheering with a loaf of bread in one hand and an ear of corn in the other.
  3. The competition is there if you want it: Even with all of the fun, NIRCA (the National Intercollegiate club running association) is still extremely competitive if that’s your thing. If not, no worries! You’re more than welcome to hobby jog in the back of the pack. But for those looking to see how much faster they can go, club running has the competition to push you to a new personal best.
  4. Fun trips with your friends: Sometimes to find the competition you have to travel a little bit, which means… overnight meets! Yes, basically a big sleepover with your friends with some running on the side! Okay, maybe the running is the main event but sometimes the stay in hotel is just as fun. Where do we travel you might ask? Last year we traveled by van all the way out to East Lansing Michigan to compete in the NIRCA cross country national championships. Oh man was it cold, (or hot who for those who caught on fire… ask Shannon for details) but it was SO worth it. We got to compete against clubs from all over the country, cheer on our teammates, run some fast races, and have a fun weekend not worrying about school.
  5. The people: My 5th and most important reason is the wonderful people. First, the people from other teams. They’re supposed to be the competition, right?? You might be racing each other, but we all still encourage each other during races and congratulate each other on a race well run. I will never forget when I lapped a girl from another team in a track race and she cheered me on BY NAME as I ran by. If that isn’t true sportsmanship, then I don’t know what is. Now about my own teammates. My teammates have become my best friends (some even my roommates). They’ve taken me on my first backpacking trip, introduced me to the world that is bubble tea, and showed me how to be genuinely excited for each other’s triumphs and be supportive them when they fall.

I hope you get the point because I think I’ve gone on for long enough. In short, CLUB RUNNING IS THE BEST THING EVER.

Briggs Briggs Briggs Briggs(and some puns) brought to you by your favorite Virginian

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Hullo!!! For those of you that don’t know me I am Rylan as in maRYLANd, one of the current co-treasures, runner extraordinaire, the cream of the corn of Virginian type on this here team, fan of all things Nascar, occasional bike enthusiast(but most certainly not a traitor) and most recently the proud owner of liquid entertainment to aid in the vital construction of this eloquent blog post(If anyone guesses the correct brand they win a high 5 next time they hand me 5 dollars). I’ve decided to dedicate today’s blog post to everyone’s favorite Briggs…… Briggs! While I may be a bit biased(As he may or may not have sponsored this post) he certainly is my choice as number 1 webmaster. When I was but a lowly freshman I will tell you like let me be 89% honest I had no clue what the difference between a Clewley and a Briggs was. Over time however, as I discovered Barefoot Briggs(and honestly what the heck where’s the Oscar?) and began to know the real Briggs better I began to realize wow what a cool guy. Btw freshman Rylan I finally figured out what Brigg’s real name was(Who could have guessed he would’ve been named after that :0) Ok(or is it okay?) Okey so the “liquid entertainment” has really started to kick in I’ve if I could nominate Briggs for an award surely it would be for the what a great guy award because tbh what a guy. But also I might nominate him for the wow what a great guy award because what a great guy. Anybody that can successfully be as dedicated and cool as Briggs should be well commended(Sorry this got out of hand my mind keeps wandering off to Joey Logano the greatest Nascar driver of all time). Anyways I promised puns and that is what I shall dedicate the second half of this beautiful baby of a blog post to. Welllllll as I am fast realizing puns are hard to think of of a random Tuesday. It’s not like they’re just running through my mind. Honestly they’re hard to keep track of. I guess if you were a table you’d understand. But for all of those people reading this blog post I do apologize for you see I have continued to write well into a corner. And while I don’t mean to be sharp we must all look at this from the right angle and think am I really that acute? Ok or okay or okey? or k(I was told only to use this while I’m mad but for as crazy as I sound I might as well be) congrats y’all for making it to the end of Sophomore Rylan’s blog post ttfn!!!!!!! I’ll see y’all on Wednesday please ask how my night went!

Ps: I just watched the Vox video on ok vs. okay highly recommended still think Victorian people are dumb tbh goddamn get a real bike and child free workspaces for heavens sake

Hot New Routes

It’s about that time of the year when I have to bring the blog back to life, so here are some new routes! As always, I highly recommend looking at the maps of the routes and/or bringing your phone so that you don’t get lost!

Cherry Chill Loop (4.9 miles): Fun fact: Cherry Chill can be looped by running through Hollywood! Once you get past the second bridge on cherry chill, take a right and cross Route 1 and head up Hollywood road. Once you reach Rhode Island Ave, take a right and head towards Greenbelt road and back to campus.

https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2289717640

Greenbelt Metro (7.1 miles): This route starts the same as the cherry chill loop, except you go through Hollywood to the Greenbelt Metro station, and back through the new neighborhoods. Just be cautious when running through the metro station, as you will literally be running right by the turnstiles people use to get to the platform. Wouldn’t recommend this one with a large group of people.

https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2289720103

Semi-Historic Berwyn (4.75 miles): Have you ever wanted to run around all the historic sites in Berwyn? Me neither! But here’s a route in case you had the sudden urge to do so. There are a couple gates on this run, but they have pedestrian entrances on the sides of them, so be on the look out for those. Disclaimer: There aren’t THAT many historic spots on this run.

https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2289721822

Cemetery Loop / Hills for days (9.9 / 6.2 miles): This one just sounds like torture, and to some degree it is, but it is also home to some of the best places to run (in my opinion). There is a shortcut to get to this route behind courtyards, which I have shown on the map. This route can be an out and back, and it’s 6.2 miles if you turn around right at the cemetery. If you decide to run through the cemetery, you can reach the northwest branch trail, and take that back to campus. There are lots of hills, so don’t blame me if this route kills you.

https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2289727930

Greenbelt Lake Loop (9.5 miles): Take a trip down memory lane back to the time trial at the beginning of the season and run to Greenbelt Lake! This route is pretty nice for a long run, and incorporates some trail running which is always nice. The map is pretty easy to follow.

https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2289731311

Sligo Creek (10+ miles): I’m 90% sure I’m the only one who has done this run, but I 100% recommend it for a long run. Take University Blvd to the power lines, and then take those to the Sligo Creek trail. From here, head north for however long your heart desires. It’s about 3 miles to the trail, but once you get there it’s beautiful.

https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2289733390

Stupid Neighborhoods (6.35 miles): This route was completely improvised because PG Plaza couldn’t be done, and it ended up being a big mash up of routes, but I kinda liked it so I decided to add it to this post. Look at the map before you run this one, or I guarantee you will get lost!!

https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2289735244

That’s all for this post, let me know if you guys have any routes / distances you want me to add to the next one! Thanks for reading and happy running!

 

 

 

Anatomy of a Season

By Dylan Hernandez

Preface

As of Friday, May 4th, at 9:20:55.13 PM, my 2018 track season has come to an end. It has ended, thankfully, by choice and not by any other externality I am habituated to, namely injury. My dual Achilles rupture* in April 2015 (Spring, junior year) at the end of the Lumberjack workout not only shaped my running years to come, but was also serendipitously documented by Dan Russo’s GoPro operated by Abby on a bike, and can be found within the depths of YouTube given enough sifting. There is no one moment where I could tell my Achilles were going down the can, but as I tried to cooldown, it was unmistakable. The following seasons, years were wrought with running injuries of various identities and anatomical locations stemming from those ruptures. I can only blame myself, as I still tried to run Hopkins-Loyola, Widener, and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in the following weeks after the injury because I refused to believe I was finally injured after 6 years of avoiding it, and while in the shape of my life, to boot. I have re-ruptured each Achilles one other time since, both times in early 2017.

*Although Achilles ruptures are usually thought of as complete tears, mine were a collection of simultaneously occurring minor tears in the main tendons combined with larger tears in the sheaths of the tendons, causing the interstitial tendon fluid to leak and cause major swelling.

Dues Ex Machina

Fast forward through the on-off cyclical hell that was recurring injury and we arrive somewhere along the Madison County Transit Nature Trail in Edwardsville, Illinois the day after Christmas, 2017 (record scratch, freeze frame – “yup, that’s me”). It’s 20 something degrees and a light flurry is dusting the Great Plains a soft white this quiet, still winter afternoon. I am home for winter break at my parent’s home on a low-effort morning-after-christmas-dinner burnoff run, hobbling along because my left Achilles had not loosened up since NIRCA nats, where it became not just stiff, but painful and inflamed due to the race. I had struggled with my Achilles all season, so I can’t say I was surprised, but I wanted to help out the GRC team as much as I could while I was there. The inflammation waded over time, but the stiffness was something I was slowly trying to work through via combination of days off and days on jogging 2-3 miles as well as biking. As I ran along, there came a slight hill in the path. I usually tried to keep my heel on the ground for uphills to avoid stressing my Achilles, but, for some reason, I decided to go up on my toes this time around. Halfway up the hill, my left Achilles gave out. It felt as if it were a strand of cooked spaghetti that was pulled apart via tensile force, snapping in half. I stopped immediately. I hopped off that foot and was terrified of putting it back down. “That’s it. I’m a goner,” I thought, while saying completely different words out loud, “my running career is over” … but I then noticed there was no pain. I realized, while it felt like it snapped, there was somehow, just somehow, no pain. I put my foot down gingerly, stood, walked, and then started to run again. Faster. And Faster. The pain and stiffness had gone and stiff scar tissue had likely torn, thus marking the rebirth of my Achilles and my running career, albeit with cautious optimism. I was confused what caused this, but knew for sure it felt like I had new feet. A week passed of running with no pain or stiffness and I made the decision: it was time to begin The Process.

Hoya Saxa and Other Arbitrary Mantras

“Roger Bannister usually could only train during his 30 minute lunch break, so why can’t I? I won’t go sub four, but maybe sub something…”

– Me, to myself, looking at my Spring class schedule in January.

I had goals. I was healthy. I was motivated. To reach those goals, training could not be an afterthought. If there was no time to run, I made time. I didn’t know how long I would be healthy, so I made it a priority to make the most out of it, to make my athletics an ironic principle component of my final semester in academia. I had never been particularly fast, but this was my chance to try to be through all the barriers from years past that had once prevented me from doing so. What rocks those were. Hoya Saxa1.


I once remarked on my Running2Win log that classes were something I snuck in between runs and not the contrary. Regardless of that dismissive-of-academics comment, I was still a full on tryhard with school. I had achieved a lifetime high GPA the previous semester and was determined to build on it. This meant long hours studying and working on projects where, despite being paired with other Georgetown graduate level students, I was still the only one who could be bothered to do any of the work (and I, sadly and very literally, mean any). This added up and detracted from sleep time, if anything else. I skipped a handsome handful of after class happy hours to speed walk home, change, and get out the door as soon as possible so I could get back home, shower, eat, and study. Running was a priority, but academics also had to be a priority, much to my chagrin.

Oh, sorry, I’m going to go run, first” became a common response. So common, in fact, that my classmates began referring to my only answer for leaving group study sessions of running then eating as “Dylan Things.” The many students from India were particularly perplexed by it, as I gleaned that recreational exercise, much less distance running, was not popular back home.

We’re getting lunch before our six hour lab, want to come with?

Nope, sorry, going to squeeze in a run. Thanks, though.

 “Oh, I see… classic Dylan Things, then?

Yup, classic.

Alright, see you in lab at noon, then.

I looked at my watch. 10:15AM. I planned the sequence as I headed towards the door to the lecture hall: 15 minutes to walk home, change, quick stretch, and get out the door. A hair and a half under 60 minutes for my 10.2 mile medium steady route. 15 minutes to shower and not forget my lab coat. 3 minutes to make the PB&J I’ll eat on the walk to lab. 8 minute walk to my building. 2 minutes to get to the lab, put up my backpack, and throw on my lab coat. At the bench 1 minute before noon. Roger Bannister usually could only train during his lunch break, so why can’t I?

Crossing the T’s and Dotting the Lower Case J’s
Spring 2018 training plan as written for myself. Each black triangle in the upper right corner of a cell is a note (times, distance, brief comment)

The training plan I followed was an adaptation of my spring 2016 UMD Club Running 5k training plan adjusted for my own goals and abilities. Since I knew I would have to give this my all if I wanted decent results, I spent significant amounts of time tinkering this plan, such as adding one rep here and adding 15s there to the rep rests and taking 5x1000m and changing it to hills and a 1k cut down. As the season progressed, I modified the plan based on how I felt and what I thought I was increasingly (or sometimes, decreasingly) capable of. This lead to a hyper-specific training schedule with the t’s crossed and the lower case j’s dotted on every line2.

There are likely some familiar blocks – such as medium steadies on Wednesdays and Tuesday/Friday workouts – and some new elements such as a more refined taper (4/15 onward). This being a personal plan meant that I could track my actual weekly mileage on the side as well as average my weekly mileage before tapering, giving myself an easy at-a-glance analysis of my season as I progressed. The overarching technical goal of this training plan was simple: stay relaxed. I am proud to say I stuck to this goal for the majority of the season with exception of the latter half of April due to outside stressors. From a developmental standpoint, I believe staying relaxed on runs and workouts was the primary underlining achievement of this season. GRC had workouts Monday/Thursday with long runs on Saturday and my class and internship schedule was just such that I could only make some Fridays (I had class Sat/Sun much of Spring semester), so I decided to stick to my own training plan yet compete with the club. Regardless, dropping in on practices here and there with them was always a highlight and I am grateful for those times, especially after being able to consistently train with them last semester.

The Up and Ups

There were several key workouts that served as significant, not only due to the quality of the run, but because of the confidence they gave me.

  • 1/26 – 5 mile tempo that served as my unofficial new 8k PR (from 26:54 at NIRCA regionals at Princeton, Fall 2015 to 26:44 en route on the Mt. Vernon trail). From my R2W log: “26:53 for 5 miles, 26:44 ish at 8k. 5:29, :28, :26, :18, :16. I don’t know, man, I just felt good.” Nothing serves up some fresh confidence like negative splitting like that after only 3 weeks of training.
  • 2/14 – 10.08 mile medium steady in 57:18 (5:41/mi). From R2W: “don’t get me wrong, I fucked up this med-stead. Maybe it’s no workouts for the past 6 days, but I hit 5:35 uphill with a 5:5x effort.” The day after a 17.7 mile double I drop the hottest “medium steady” of 2018. Beat my 2017 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler time by a minute and a half on this run which I took excessively hard for way too little reason aside from feeling good.
  • 2/20 – 14.3mi OTD easy/hill repeat double. This showed me how much effort in a day my legs could take and still go on to feel comfortable in a medium steady the next day.
  • 3/4 – 16.1mi weekly long run in 1:37:02 (5:57/mi). From R2W: “Lots on the mind today. Just let the legs do what they wanted.” And what they wanted was to split 1:17:30 for the last half marathon portion of the run, finishing with four mid/low 5:4x’s. No long run has ever felt that good. I felt like butter sliding across the hot pan that was the C&O Canal Towpath. Most other long runs averaged 6:10/mi or slightly faster for the month of Feb, but not sub 6:05 until that day.
  • 3/6 – 10×2/2 farlek on treadmill with 1.0 incline. “on” sections @ 5min pace. The incline is what got me here and it was a struggle at Yates Fieldhouse with this one, but the tired yet satisfied feeling I ended the workout with told me it was good work.
  • 3/30 – The Lumberjack. It was hard work. No Achilles ruptures to be found, just a good old fashioned hard effort with a 62 second last 400.
  • 4/16 – 11x320m relays with GRC. Hit 47s/48s 300m splits en route to each 320m rep. After some disappointing workouts due to lack of sleep, it felt good to stride out again.
The Down but Not Outs

If one were to make a graph over time of the maintenance of my quality of life outside of training during the season, it would look like the silhouetted profile of a rusted serrated knife. I was only in a one year program, though, and this was just one season, so although I am complaining thoroughly in this post, I usually just had a grin-and-bear-it attitude as the season actually progressed. My advice to anyone reading this fine bit of 2AM intro and retrospection is to not do that. Take rest days both mental and physical if you feel as though you need it and remember to drink water.

Anyway, I ensured to make note of the nadirs in addition to the zeniths as they came along, both minor and major:

  • Week of 1/14: Some R&R at a cabin in Virginia meant sleeping in past the time I would run before a hike, reducing mileage for the week. Who am I kidding, though, I wasn’t going to run before that hike anyway.
  • Week of 1/28: No Thursday run. From my R2W log: “no run yesterday. woke up and achilles was slightly stiff and didn’t care to mess with that despite my training grind lately.” While I considered my Achilles healed to some extent, there still occurred ephemeral moments of vulnerability that encouraged caution. Typically, my solution to these moments was to just…. Stop. And stop I did, even if just for a day.

Per my former boss’ 102 year old grandmother, when asked how she manage to live so long: “When I felt good, I did whatever the hell I wanted. When I felt bad, I didn’t do a damn thing.”

  • Week of 2/4: Registration for Happy Valley Invitational 3k unfortunately botched by race coordinator, an equal parts frustrating but thankful event as my Achilles was again showing timid yet noticeable signs of restlessness. From R2W: “Registration botched for Happy Valley. Couldn’t run. Took today as an achilles health day as it has become a bit sore in the mornings.” I think, season wise, this was a fortunate coincidence.
  • Week of 2/18: Visited my girlfriend at the time in Philadelphia on Saturday. To do that, I had to drive 4 hours through traffic to Philly after doing my 10% weekly mileage med-stead Friday workout. Going immediately from a workout to sitting for so long was not a good look for my Achilles. It would have been my only Sunday-Saturday 80 mile week of the season (there were three 80+ mile 7-day totals, though), but the rest of the week was of exceptional quality, especially that Tuesday where I doubled with an easy run/1min hill repeat workout that set me at 14.3mi OTD. That day, workout was a mental bolster for me, as I started to understand just how much effort my legs can take in a day.
  • Weeks of 3/4/18 and 3/11: 4 state challenge. Didn’t regret doing it with Charlie and Ramiz. Did regret doing it mid-season. Apart from voluntarily disrupting my sleep schedule, it left the bottoms of my feet on/off sore for the remainder of the season. Some runs I would even say they were painful, likely due to hiking in six year old worn out hiking boots. From R2W: “extreme lack of sleep due to 4 state/school and internships projects affected recent runs. took off to catch up on sleep” Go to class between runs all wanted, but I couldn’t ignore class, lack of sleep, or a recent break up which all contributed to record stress levels affecting my training. Motivational running posters may tell you otherwise, but sometimes it’s near impossible completely separate the stressors of real life from the freedom of running. Regardless, adhering to The Process was a key factor in maintaining a level head during that time, no matter how much The Process itself was affected.

Finally, there was my asthma. My asthma strays from reacting to the likes of peanuts in favor of twitterpation with mile repeats and similar workouts. I was unable to do even one of three miler workout attempts without my asthma being a dominant or terminal factor in the quality of the workout. Of the 27 workouts I attempted this season (not including long runs and med-steads), I completed 21 entirely on the first try, where 23 were completed including next-day restarts. Of the 4 I did not complete, asthma was the terminating factor in 2 of them. Lack of sleep affected the quality of 4 workouts and was cause for not finishing 1 workout included in that 4. Both lack of sleep and asthma combined affected the quality of 6 out of 23 completed workouts. So, over a fourth of the workouts for this season were adversely affected by factors unrelated to my training itself. All workouts affected by lack of sleep were in April, the month where most of my exams and all of my projects and presentations were due. Not good, man, but it’s still the best season I’ve ever put forth with that considered.

The One (and Two) and Done
Quasi-chronological bib wall in my room with UMD graduation tassel in top right. Early on in my running career I threw out my bibs like some chump, so there are many high school bibs missing.
The One: Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

This was the primary focus of my season. My long con was to run a fast enough time to submit for elite entry into the San Francisco marathon, which I planned to use to qualify for Boston 2019. Elite entry meant free entry. Avoiding paying $280 to run a Boston qualifier? Yeah, I could go for that. After emailing the SF marathon organizers they told me they would consider a 10 mile time equivalent if it were fast enough, though they did not tell me just how fast it had to be. My mental bet was sub 55 or 54 given the 2:40 marathon elite standard on their website, but I did not know for sure. I had not put forth a race effort since November, so I figured I could go barely sub 54, though, on paper, I could probably hit low 53. I have always struggled to translate my training into races, so I knew I all I could do was leave it all on the cherry pink tinted streets of DC and hope for the mercy of the race organizers.

Most asthma and sleep deprivation related season complications had yet to hit by the time Charlie, Cerruzi, and I took an Uber drove downtown peering through frosted windshield to the race staging grounds, so I was fresh and ready to race. The 30 degree temps with 15mph winds were put to the back of my mind as I headed to the front of the Yellow corral, jogging in place as I watched the elites (Centro, Derrick, Jablonski, Puskedra, to name a few) stride out just ahead of me. I took a deep breath as the horn went off and I was effortlessly floating along with the chase pack in about the same breath. I was already behind my goal pace of 5:20 after I slipped by the first mile in 5:26. I tried to make a small adjustment for this and hit mile 2 in 5:15, then mile 3 in 5:10. I don’t think that hurt me in terms of the whole race too much, but it was absolutely much faster than I wanted. Adjustments after that had me floating around the low 5:20s for the next 5k or so, and the next 5 miles were sprinkled with a couple 5:1x’s. A nice surge in motivation also came at mile 5 (26:57) when a wild Patrick Hanley suddenly appeared to cheer me on: “Yes, Dylan! Let’s go! Go get him! Come on!” Thanks, Pat.

I focused on sticking with a small pack of 5-6 I was with nearly the entire race before we strung out the last two miles, including someone with a blue and yellow singlet and someone with a GRC singlet and a white cap whom I was neck and neck with since mile 3. The last two miles were pretty dang windy and I had nobody around me to hide behind (a good and a bad thing as I was in the general front of the race). I think I could have cut 5 seconds off mile 10 if I realized I was slouching over and losing form sooner rather than just near the end, but that’s likely my biggest gripe about the race, which is good. 1200m from the finish I surged to gain a definitive lead on the white cap guy I’d been with all race, losing audio track of his breathing behind me for the first time in the race. 800m out I could only see two far out in front of me and a third about 20m ahead of me – the guy in the blue and yellow. I glued my eyes to his back, trying to accelerate to catch him, when about 400m from the finish he simply stopped in his tracks and puked. I couldn’t make out what it was he ate the night before, but an educated guess was pasta. Poor dude. The two who were chasing me were left in the dust over the last half mile due to what I could only imagine was my track speed, and, upon seeing 53:50 on the timer as I rounded the curve, I sprinted with all I had left on home.

Pictured: gun time, the aerobic and beard peak of my season

I quickly decelerated and put my hands to my knees after crossing the finish line somewhat dramatically with a bit of a yell. I panted for a moment then began to walk forward with my head down, exhausted. I see three pairs of feet ahead of me, so I stick out my hand without looking up much and said, “good race.” I received a firm handshake in return and I looked up as Matt Centrowitz told me, “You too, man.” I was too tired to react to that, so I shook Luke Puskedra and Chris Kwiatkowski’s (Centro’s training partner) hands and joked to Centro that I would knock him on PUBG someday. He laughed and said, “We’ll see about that” as I walked away aimlessly, still catching my breath. I’d later learn I finished right with Michael Wardian, the many time national 50 km champion, otherwise known as the white cap GRC guy I ran with all race. He actually gave a talk at the packet pickup expo the day before, so clearly someone must agree he’s a big deal (no sarcasm). I beat him by almost 10 seconds in the finish cam video; however, the results say his gun and net time were 1 second faster than me. Not sure how that makes sense, but I’m still blown away to know that me, some grad student running between exams, was able to race alongside such an accomplished runner at any distance. I’m happy with how I performed that day and I’m especially happy to say that the San Francisco Marathon race organizers accepted my time of 53:55 as elite entry worthy, punching my free ticket to a chance at a Boston qualifying performance in late July.

Splits:

1 mile: 5:26
2 mile – 10:42
5k – 16:42 ish
5 mile – 26:57
10k – 33:29
9 mile – 48:31

Finish – 53:55

Overall pace: 5:23/mi

A big thanks to Pat for running to the race from CP and being there to cheer me on at miles 5 and 9.8 ish, and Luanne, Dolf, and Danny for all making the trek out to support all of us running. Additionally, a big shout out to Chris, Erin, Esther, Eric, Charlie, Andrew, and the GRC folks who came out for all showing their grit in running this race as well3.

And Two: Kehoe Twilight Invitational 5k

“Adding enough 5-fluorouracil master mix solution to obtain a 500µM concentration in the wells of the bottom row of a 96-well round-bottom plate filled with fibrosarcoma spheroids has what effect on the spheroid’s cytotoxic activity? Additionally, calculate how much 5-fluorouracil is needed to obtain this concentration in the wells.”

“I don’t care,” I remember thinking to myself during this question on my first final of finals week: 3D Cell Culture and Drug Discovery.

“I don’t know and I don’t care.”

I looked at the clock at the front of the room – it was 3:45pm. I was halfway through an exam I was taking for a class I registered for long ago, before I decided I didn’t want to be a lab scientist after all which was after the add/drop period had already passed. That day, particularly, my lack of enthusiasm for the class was not helped by the fact I had to start warming up for my race at the Kehoe Twilight Invitational in a bit over four hours. By question 27 I was more concerned about not forgetting to pack my spikes than I was about concentrations of a metalloprotease inhibitor. Alas, I cleared my thoughts, admitted to myself I did, in fact, know how to answer the question, and re-focused on the task at hand:

It takes 1µL 5-fluorouracil to reach a well concentration of 500µM which all but completely halts cytotoxic activity of fibrosarcoma spheroids.”

Another 13 questions about a tediously complex yet admittedly interesting subject and I yote out the classroom without even double checking if my bubbles on the Scan Tron sheet were neat and tidy4. It was time to grab a quick bite then hop in my car to drive to College Park.


A storm was brewing in the distance and half of me desperately wanted it to hold off until after the race whereas the other half would not have minded too much if it canceled the race. The weeks following Cherry Blossom and leading up to Kehoe served as the antithesis to my nearly flawless taper (in my opinion, of course) for Cherry blossom, as my legs always seemed to be heavy and my feet always seemed to be sore. I believe the foot soreness I adopted from the 4 state challenge was exacerbated by the race. The intermittent pain was not enough to halt running, but it was enough to make it unpleasant from time to time. I tried to do 16x400m the Tuesday following Cherry Blossom, a rookie mistake. I felt great the day after the race and did a normal 7.5 mile easy run at 6:25/mi because I hardly felt sore from the race, so I decided to continue with a workout on Tuesday. After 4x400m and a 200 in 27 seconds for prosperity, I called the workout and opted to restart the next day.  The next day, Wednesday, I finished 14x400m, but was not happy with it. I felt physically incapable of going faster than 66 or 67 seconds per rep, with my final rep being a fairly strained 64. My legs did not cooperate ever since, and my running of the Crystal City “5k” a week and a half later was marred by heavy legs and a heavier asthma hit, so much so that I opted to leave the ordeal out of my definition of “races” I ran this season5.


I felt eerily alright during the mid-downpour warmup around the mall. We had a good crew for this race and in our deliberations on pacing, it was evident a chunk of us would be pacing off each other. First mile expectations ranged from 4:50 to 5 flat, but we all planned to not get too excited off the gun.

I finished my strides as I noticed some Pacers/Georgetown Running Company lads reading the “GRC” on my chest, possibly wondering if I was just a teammate they hadn’t met yet. My spikes felt firm on my feet and I felt ready to go. After a two command start and the gun, we were off.

The pack cruised through some thicc puddles to a 73 second first lap and almost immediately I could tell the pack was beginning to string out slightly. Second lap in 74 and it was me with a group of UMD Club Running chaps and a squad of GRC runners just ahead of us. We worked together through the first mile as a unit: 4:58. I remember telling everyone my goal was 4:50-4:55, but, knowing how I had felt for the past month, 4:58 sounded like a pretty good start to me. I felt labored but relaxed. My breathing was deep and I knew I had to accelerate to keep pace. I surged at about 1800m to catch the group of 3 GRC runners, passing two of them. From then until the 4800, my position was held, passing the 3200m en route in 10:04. I knew a GRC guy was right behind me the whole race, but I knew that I would lose to him in the final lap as my legs were refusing to accelerate any further. I was feeling what I had felt for the past month. My legs and going any faster were like kids kicking and screaming because they didn’t want to go to soccer practice. I was fading despite keeping a tempo. My goal went from 15:30 to just sub 16 real fast as I bent my head down to surge with 300m to go. I felt as if I went no faster than I had the previous three laps, and my kick down the final 100m must have looked like I thought it was lap 5 and not 12.5, but crossing that line was a gargantuan relief nonetheless; a refuge from the exhaustion, the pains, and the toil of a hard-fought season.

I looked behind me to see Danny finish as I caught my breath, and I glanced to the scoreboard to see “Dylan Hernandez- 15:55.13” just as it came up. I put my arms up in both relief and happiness, but only for what I did that day. In terms of the season, I did not do what I was capable of. In terms of May 4th at 9:05pm, though, I did my best, and that is the best I could ask for. It may not be by much, but I am a member of the 15 club now and it feels good to be there after years of being shackled to the 16s by injury.

AYF

As of Friday, May 4th, at 9:20:55.13 PM, my 2018 track season has come to an end. It has ended, thankfully, by choice. Not only by a choice to race no further and rest, but also by a choice to not regret anything about it. I knew this was my last collegiate season, my unexpected second and final shot to represent a university. I knew there were thus risks to take with training, such as making it so ambitious that remaining uninjured would be a stroll along a knife’s edge and that it would be a possible detriment to the very thing I was so thankful to represent. These risks, however, were risks worth taking. Training as if it were for a half marathon for 4 months and then as if it were for a 1500 for 1 month was the about-face I chose to perform in order to run both a 10 miler and 5k I was proud of, nodding to Lydiard along the way. I didn’t run the 5k I thought I was ultimately capable of, but I still met my goals. I met the goals I thought so carefully to set realistically. I met my goals I would have scoffed at myself reaching at any one point in the past four years.

The Process paid off. All it asked for was trust and that was all I had to give.

Goals sheet on tab 2 of my training plan. If there were an opportunity to run a 1500 (PR 4:20, Widener 2015 on injured Achilles) or a mile I would have taken it as it’s a race I never run, but that will have to wait for another season

The national mall, the C&O Canal Towpath, the Capital Crescent trail, the Mt. Vernon Trail, the Custis trail, Rock Creek Park, Ohio Drive, Arlington National Cemetary, Foxhall, Glover Park, MacArthur Blvd, and so many more to choose from every single day for my routes. I have never before lived in such an aerobic haven. I am incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to explore Georgetown, NOVA, and D.C. via running and I realize my classmates did not have the same vantage point of our area that I had because of it. I feel as if running made my experience here at Georgetown more visceral and I’m glad I was healthy enough to do it. Up next is Livermore, CA for the summer, and it’s got some big route-shoes to fill.

I always wrote “AYF” – as you feel — on areas of my training plans where I wanted the athlete to do whatever they were comfortable with that day instead of subscribing to, say, an easy day or medium steady. It conveyed that, sometimes, it is important to follow your gut in the process of moving forward. I receive my M.S. in Biotechnology in three days and after that, I am truly an unattached runner. After that, it will be time to continue my running career as I feel.

I feel ready for more.





1 Hoya Saxa: “οἵα saxa,” translated from Greek as “what rocks,” referring to the stone wall surrounding Georgetown’s campus and the stalwart defense of its athletics teams at the time the phrase was adopted

2 Wayne’s World reference

3 There were many GRC runners who came out to race, but, unfortunately, I only had chances to talk with Zachary Gallin and Aneesh Rahangdale about their races that day and on subsequent trots through Foxhall – 1:12 and 1:11, respectively, if I recall correctly – some speedy lads

4 I got a 72% on this final. Fortunately, so did everybody else. Curves are a wonderful thing, especially for a class that ended up being minimally relevant to my career goals

5 The “5k” was more like 3.27 miles by multiple watches and two online mapping tools – 16:27 over the distances translated roughly into a 15:48, but I don’t think I trust the final distance or that conversion (splits: 4:58, 4:56, 5:26 aka hello asthma). Credits to Andrew Lent and Rylan Flint for not only serendipitously racing this with me, but for doing significantly better than me

Conspiracy Theories??

For my first official blog post, I couldn’t come up with enough of my own original worthy content so I decided to dive deep into the culture of this team and explore some of the rumors that have been circulating over time. Are they real? Are they wonky? Will we ever know the truth?

Disclaimer: All conspiracy theories were submitted by active members of Maryland Club Running and have been deemed possibly true. They are posted anonymously to avoid any direct tension between members of the team. You can only fantasize about who claims such facts.

And with that being said, enjoy these conspiracy theories!

“Freshmen who don’t go to nationals get cut.”

“All the club officers are out to get the 4807 boiz.”

“Club Run is our real name.”

“Shannon is blood doping.”

“Our guys and girls teams will train really well and race super well at Nationals in the fall without other NIRCA teams thinking we could be particularly good.”

“There may or may not be someone getting iced at the beer mile….”

“Katrina’s hair is a wig.”

“It was actually hiro that broke and stole the hurdles.”

“Hiro and Luanne teamed up to change the 2017 election votes so that they would win and fulfill their goal.”

“Kehoe gets extra windy when the club team is doing a workout.”

“Mitch’s favorite band is Nickelback.”

“What do you mean? Kareem is going to take over the club by meming everyone.”

“Briggs and Ellen are the same person I mean have you even ever seen them in the same room together??”

“All the guys who ran in MoCo think they are super cool, but really they all just peaked in high school and are holding on to that forever.”

“Racing a 10k on the track is like cancer.”

“MICHAEL, AM I GAY?!?!?!”

“Ryun Anderson is not actually a single person, but rather a group of Kenyan undercover agents who have infiltrated the American distance running community. Every day we see a new Ryun Anderson, who is actually a different Kenyan runner who painted his body white in the morning. Why does Ryun not live on campus? Because you can’t fit 20 Kenyans in a dorm. Why can Ryun do 3+ workouts a day? A different runner is running them each time. Why does Ryun never need to stretch? Because after running one workout the Kenyan that is currently posing as Ryun knows that he has 19 workouts until he actually has to run another one. Why did Ryun run a 90 second leg of the 4×4 at American? Because the Kenyan had never seen ice before and was mystified by the ice on the curve.”

“Terp Runners used to haze hard until the event with Iain.”

“Mandatory easy run everyday(—that’s not a secret, I just want it to happen).”

“The team is just a front for 4807 boys to host parties.”

“Jack Wavering is secretly The Wolverine.”

“Luanne actually isn’t a busy person-she averages 12 hours of sleep per night.”

“Dan and Jacob Grant are two halves of the same person.”

“Briggs is actually a nice, normal, not idiotic person but just acts the way he does to keep us all entertained and save others from being the butt of the joke.”

“Adolfo was fired from his job at Looney’s a long time ago but doesn’t want us to know so he just goes there for 20+ hours a week and sits at the bar and drinks.”

“Terp Runners was an underground society founded in the 90’s with the primary purpose making money as a bookie for PG underground foot races but CRS started catching on to our undocumented income so we had to pull strings with the University to get CRS disbanded and replaced with Recwell. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen until after CRS submitted a claim to the IRS regarding our illegal income and promotion of illegal activity. To avoid getting in trouble with the IRS. We decided to change our name to Maryland Club Running under a new tax ID and dissolve Terp Runners so they wouldn’t be be able to trace us. This name change was only to avoid legal repercussions from the government. Once the last of the Cahalan Administration graduates from this University, the money illegally obtained through this underground gambling ring will be anonymously donated to Maryland Club Running.”

X-Post from a Terp Runner

To Whom It May Concern:

It has come to my attention that a grievous error has been present in at least the past four (4) Maryland Club Running Weekly Emails. It can be seen in the most recent email I am replying to under the heading 8. Fun Stuff, sub-heading SPRING FORMAL. If you direct your attention to the first sentence in that section, you can read the following: “For the first time in Club Running history, we will have a SPRING FORMAL!”

That statement is simply not true.

I know first hand that a Club Running Spring Formal was held in May of 2013 at the (now defunct) Clarion Inn on Route 1. If need be, I can supply photographs of this event that will positively identify myself attending the formal as well as a timestamp that places the formal in the spring season of the year 2013.

To read this administration so confidently assert that they are, in fact, the first to schedule a Spring Formal has, to say the least, disgusted me. I expect more from a club that prides itself in respecting its history and those that came before them.

If this error is not corrected, I will be forced to take more aggressive action against this administration. I am looking forward to your response.

Regards,
Chris Steenkamer
UMD Club Running ’12-’16

The Life of an Aquajogger

Short post here about the life of an Aquajogger.

The Aquajogger wakes up around 9:30am and immediately realizes that because today is a new day…the aquajogger has yet to get an aquajogging session in. After meandering around for a few hours, the aquajogger realizes that it is already 1:30pm and he has done nothing substantial yet except justify the necessity of eating 2000 calories before noon just to keep his body functioning. After some brief internet searches on anything a human can possibly do that is comparable (cardiovascularally) to the benefits of aquajogging (and coming up with none) the aquajogger then proceeds to look online for the aquatic center deep section time schedule. As with the day before, the aquajogger is alarmed to find that he/she only has 1.5 hours until the deep section is closed for “cleaning” (whatever that means). Rushing to get on a bathing suit and get the necessary equipment, the aquajogger makes it to the pool with exactly one hour to workout. After 10 minutes of warming up (or, more truthfully, 10 minutes of frantically thinking of a hard workout), the workout begins. 10 minutes have passed. 15 minutes have passed. 17 minutes have passed. Ah shit you just realized that you looked at your watch 25 seconds ago and the time didn’t change by 20 minutes like you expected it would. Just as you begin to wonder why the hell you are doing this when you could be watching the new Black Mirror episodes, you realize that you are at the most integral part of the workout: where the champions are separated from the wannabees. Does the aquajogger, bored out of his mind, CHANGE his workout to conclude after just 30 minutes in the pool, ending all hope of maintaining his current fitness level…or does he continue the 60 minute workout he promised himself he would complete and truly discover his potential as a runner.

The answer is that he chooses the 30 minute option and sits in the sauna for 30 minutes for a “60 minute workout.”

After sending the necessary snapchats to ensure everyone knows how hard the aquajogger is working, he returns home, triumphant and a hero. He then changes into his most comfortable sweatpants, hops on the couch and takes a nap of champions.

This is the life of an aquajogger.

365 days of running!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello fellow running enthusiasts! While I’m not one to brag I did a thing that I thought would be cool to share. This past year starting December 29th 2016 I decided I would run at least 1.61 kilometers or 1 mile a day for a year. I’m proud to say after 365 days of putting one foot in front of the other I’ve done it. So what does 1 year of running in Rylan’s shoes look like? My physical/spiritual journey took me to 7 states, 6 countries, saw me cover roughly 2,500 miles, destroy 4 pairs of running shoes, drink 18 gallons of chocolate milk, and burn roughly 215,000 calories (for the record that’s 860 packages of peanut M&M’s). I ran through colonial capitals, up volcanos, past giant soybean statues, and even took a stab at the now infamous historic Berwyn running tour. Looking back I’ve found these experiences, extraordinary for a reason, that surprised even myself. Every day I have been fortunate enough to wake up thinking today I’m going to go for a run. Regardless of the weather, location, people, or life situation I could be certain that I would lace up my running shoes and go out for a run. This unwavering commitment to something so small and meaningless might confuse a lot of people, but to me it opened my eyes to the wonders of dedication and passion. Such passion has led me to meet other running obsessed individuals who, even though they put my hat on the flagpole and made fun of my aqua jogging, I would consider some of my most best friends. So where does this leave you, UMD Club Running blog readers. Maybe you’re already an avid runner or perhaps I made you read this and you absolutely detest bipedal movement. Whatever your situation I encourage you to start a streak of your own whether it be running related or not you are sure to find something special from it!

Here’s to many more years of running and new streaks for the new year!