The Most Inspirational Performances of 2017

Hello. It’s been a minute. I apologize for the lack of a blog post last week. I started Winter Break, got home with my family, started preparing for the holidays and decided to take the week off (from blogging, not from running).

Truth be told, I felt like the blog had gotten a little stale and I needed to take a step back to freshen it up. I think it had gotten stale cause I had been doing it day to day for a couple months. I had my routine of run, work, run and occasionally race on the weekends. I felt like I was not giving my readers any new or fresh insight into the sport. So I took a break and now I feel renewed and ready to write.

The title of this post is the most inspirational performances of 2017. I am writing this on New Year’s Eve (probably won’t release it till New Year’s Day cause my Twitter feed is going to be quite busy today with year end awards and I don’t want it to this to get lost on there). I have chosen nine performances from this past year that inspired and continue to inspire my running. These performances come from three different categories. I will write about three inspiring performances from my friends, three inspiring performances from the professional running world, and three inspiring from myself. The reasoning behind this is quite simple. These three categories are where I find my inspiration for running. I look to my friends, to the elites of the sport, and I look to myself. So let’s get started.

Inspiring Performances from My Friends:

  1. October 28th — Cornell Men’s Cross Country Wins Midwest Conference Championship

Oh yeah, you know I had to get my boys in here. Ever since I became a part of the Cornell College men’s cross country team in 2013, we have talked about winning the Midwest Conference Championship. But championships do not come easy. It takes of special group of both talented and dedicated men to pull off a conference championship. We never quite got there in my four years at Cornell. But I am so glad that this team finally got one.

I knew leaving last year that this year was probably going to be the time they got one. So glad to see the boys pull it off. Glad to see them bring one home for Coach Schofer. Also so glad someone beat those damn kangaroos from Grinnell. Go get another one next year.

  1. February 25th — Husani Newbold wins 60 meter dash at Midwest Conference Indoor Championships

The most hyped I’ve ever been after watching a race. Husani loves track and has been dedicated his whole career at Cornell. He has been a man of great potential but has battled some injury. He put in so much work and really earned a conference championship. It was so awesome to see that come true. He also beat Ethan Reschke, who is the real deal.

I feel like the whole team went insane when Husani won the 60. It was not just sprinters who rooted for him. It was sprinters, distance runners, throwers, everyone. That speaks to the type of dude Husani is.

  1. July 9th — Ryan Wess Silver Rush Run (50 miles)

Ryan did not win this race. But he has been a guy who I have admired for his toughness for a while. Ryan did not have the day he was hoping for in this 50 miler. He hit some low points. And he just kept battling. Not only did he finish, he also earned his way into the Leadville 100 this coming August, which he is going to kill.

Straight up, Ryan is tougher than me. If I had a bad day in a 50 miler, yeah fuckkkkkk that I am dropping out. Instead this man just did the gut check and pushed through. Says a lot about who he is. Ryan and this race is whole reason why someday I will run a 50 miler.

Inspiring Performances from the Elites:

  1. November 5th — Shalane Flanagan wins the New York City Marathon

Right before she crossed the finish line, Shalane raised her arms in the air let out a loud “fuck yes!” It was the most real moment of running I saw this year. On the day when everything goes right, take the win in the big race, and realize all the hard work pays off.

I also said fuck yes when winning a race this past year. The difference is I said mine when winning a slow heat of the 3,000 meters at a small indoor meet in Iowa and Shalane did it when winning a World Major Marathon. Minor differences.

  1. August 11th — Emma Coburn wins 3000 meter steeplechase at World Championships (Also break American Record)

Wins the world championship and breaks the American record in the same race? Talk about a dream moment. It has been so long since someone besides an East African won the steeplechase. And as a steeplechaser and an American, it is awesome to see someone challenge that East African dominance.

  1. May 6th — Eliud Kipchoge runs 2:00:25 in the marathon

Yeah the time is impressive. And if you have not watched the documentary on this performance, check it out now. Now I understand that this documentary and the sub 2 hour project was mostly just a marketing ploy by Nike, but Kipchoge came within 25 seconds of actually doing it. Which is fucking nuts.

The thing I have taken away from this is how strong Kipchoge is mentally. He takes his mental preparation just as serious as his physical. He might be the toughest runner on Earth. It is something I hope I can start to tap into a little bit in my own running.

Inspiring Performances by Me:

  1. October 15 — I run 1:20:15 in my half marathon debut

By far the performance I am most proud of this year. I balled out this day. 6:08 pace for 13.1 miles, are you kidding me? Maybe I have hyped this performance up too much. Perhaps I just had low expectations and I crushed those expectations. Maybe I’m just a scrub. But this performance has me really excited and looking forward to my progression into longer races in my running career.

I just had a day out there in Denver. Every once in a while, you get to have a day on race day. A day where the pain comes but it does not affect you. You just are able to keep pushing and embrace the pain fully. I’m telling you, I passed so many people that day. And no one passed me after the first couple miles. It was awesome. Perfect execution of my race plan.

  1. May 5 — I run 4:17 for 1500

I have talked about this before on the blog, but my best months of running in my life (so far) were January to May of my junior year of college. It is hard to explain, but my running took a step back my senior year. And when you take a step back in your running career, you start to question if you will ever get back to that level you were at. And during my senior year, I constantly questioned whether or not I could get back to that level I was at junior year.

I had some times that were close and just a bit behind my junior times, but I still felt far away. My junior year, I would step on the start line with confidence and swagger. I went in to races knowing I would run a personal best and knowing that I had a nasty kick that would smoke fools. For example, when I ran my 1500 personal best (4:15) I threw down a balls to the wall kick at 300 meters to go and although I did not win that race, it is still one of my most memorable and proud moments as a runner. And my senior year, I just never had one of those balls out super proud moments.

That is, I did not have one of those moments until May 5th, the second to last track meet of my collegiate career. I ran 4:17 for 1500 which is super close to my personal best. But more importantly, I had some swagger in that race and I had a mean kick. I remember coming through 1100 meters in that race, and thinking to myself “I still have a lot left in the tank”. And I decided at that moment that I would throw down a big kick at 300. So I hit 300 and started throwing down. I passed some guys and was looking good. But after about 80 meters I started to feel my legs get heavy and I started to doubt myself. I thought maybe I had misjudged what I had left in the tank and I thought that I just was not the guy who could kick hard from 300 out anymore. But then I saw my teammates cheering for me and pulled myself out of those negative thoughts with around 200 meters to go. I hit another gear, passed two Coe guys and crossed the line in 4:17. I finally felt like I had tapped into that level I had reached my junior year. I felt like I could once again get back to that level. And I’m still trying to get back there, but I am close. It’s coming in 2018.

  1. December 31st — I run 17:02 for 5K

Oh yeah! I ran a 5K today. So let’s talk about it. This is my fastest 5K since graduating college. So close to running under 17 minutes. I am almost there. I’ve been working towards it for a while. Next time I lace them up for 5K it is happening.

I took second in the race today. The guy I lost to? Tyler McCandless, who is an Olympic Trials qualifier. So I guess I can accept that. At the race, I was in third place for most of it. I was probably 20 yards back of second place at the second mile but I told myself if I could just slowly reel him in and give myself a chance at second, I would be satisfied. And I just went to work that third mile. I pulled him back in with around 400 to go and he put a surge on me as soon as I came up on him. The thing was, I covered that surge easily and I think he was disheartened by that. We turned the corner towards the finish line and I emptied the tank. He did not come with me. I put eight seconds on him in a little more than 200 meters. I had a nice kick today. Unfortunately, I watched the clock slowly tick to just over 17 minutes as I finished. But it was a really positive note to end the year on and makes me look forward to 2018.

Had the whole fam out to run on New Year’s Eve. No surprise that I was first place of the bunch.

Thanks for reading, happy New Year and I love you. Next post I will talk to you all about my goals for 2018.

Tucker

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