Joe Guerra – 3k PR at SPIRE

This one is being recorded as one of my best races ever. Definitely one of my best finishes in years… YEARS!! 9/10 times when I race a PR, I either fade to barely hang on or run consistent splits. My final lap today was blistering for my standards. I haven’t closed like this since college.. in an 800m. I guess watching a surplus of professional races on the treadmill has given me ideas. Plus my training has been great the last few months and we’ve started throwing in speed stuff over the course of the last month or so.

This past week has been pretty stressful outside of running. The market dipping caused me to work all day last Sunday and to wake up at 4 am twice during the week. Inclement weather almost kept me off the track Tuesday. And of course Ky forgot to tell me that she was putting drywall in her house this weekend in Cleveland. So sleeping in a deconstructed and half painted house Friday was awesome. Allergies were acting up from the house smelling like smoke and paint. I was pretty worn out Friday night from work and sleeping there was icing on the cake.

But there are only a few opportunities to run fast in one’s lifetime. This was a chance for me. I knew I was in shape to go under 8:30. I just had to get it out of me.

Still feeling salty about being in heat 2, I toed the line ready to move with the front group. Of course the gun went off and I went right to the back, middleish of the field. Nice and calm I wanted to see how the first lap would go out. I didn’t want to go out in 48 like last week, but was ready to if needed. My legs felt nice and loose. Some kid from Guelph shot out like a cannon and immediately put a 30 meter lead on the field. I though maybe he was going to rabbit, but not one of his teammates followed suit.

Sub 50 for lap one felt easy. The next 4 laps felt easy too. Like stupid easy. I spent most of the first half in lane 1.5 almost lane 2 because I was scared of getting trapped. I was totally relaxed and I wanted Josh to know I was there to work with him. We ran just about conjoined at the hip for most of the first half. It felt great.. We were going to break 8:30 together today.

Passing through 1500m in 4:16/17 we were slightly off pace. I told Josh “Let’s freaking do this!!!” (only I didn’t say freak). Kept it calm for another lap then decided enough was enough. We were gradually losing ground to be on pace and I recognized it. I jolted to the lead with 1100m to go. I figured I would try to stretch the lead. My move didn’t separate me, but it had to have brought us closer to getting back on pace. I only led for about 300m before being passed. It was weird though. Normally I get passed and that’s it, I fall back and the race gets away.

Not this time. I was totally calm and relaxed. I just slipped right back behind the new leader. 800m to go. Another 200m and then the hurt really started to sink in. I couldn’t feel footsteps behind me anymore. 2 laps and 2 Canadians left. We were off pace, and the slight panic started to come out. A few frantic cheers from coaches, teammates of other competitors. It was crunch time, winning time.

It was only a few seconds, but it started to feel like an eternity. Seriously 3-4 seconds felt like the biggest hole to climb out of. It was make or break time. I thought if I could just hang on, just keep myself in it.. I still have a chance. I have made it this far.. I don’t want to have to do this next weekend. How many times do I have to do this to myself? My family? I drag them and myself 3 hours across the state each weekend, put myself in position to hit this time standard, then crash and burn. Not today… but it hurts… but I’m so close… the internal demons grew louder and louder.

It was really starting to hurt and I figured I was just about done for. Dad and Hannah were cheering for me near the finish line and first turn. I heard dad say I was falling off pace (for about the 5th time) and it just annoyed me. Of course he doesn’t give me splits as requested, just tells me to run faster. Whatever just hang on 500m to go. Then with 400m to go Benji and Jake had a few words of encouragement. Ben said “You can do it Joe!!!” and Jake yelled “You’re a miler! It’s just 400, It’s just 400!!!” They were right… and the flip was switched. Got around Guelph #2 with 350m to go and set my sights on #1. I was so pissed when I saw the clock at 7:43ish I started cranking it up some more. I was off by 3 seconds. What are 3 seconds I thought? 3 seconds are the difference between me flying to Lichtenstein or staying home this summer. 3 seconds to set a national record. 3 seconds is nothing. I’m faster than this. I’ve run faster on this track before for mile and 800m races. Just close like you used to. This track is made for it. In reality I was about 5 seconds off pace.

With 200m to go I found another gear and I heard the PA announcer mention it over the loudspeaker. I think the only reason I heard it was because it sounded just like the guy who announces the state high school meet. It had to be the same guy. I’ve been listening to that guys voice for years. Ever since Ted Ginn was hurdling to state titles. It registered with me. Strike for home!! I saw the clock changing over from 8:19 to 8:20 with about 50-60m to go (I couldn’t tell which start line it was). I just said if I can’t cover 50 meters in 10 seconds I don’t deserve it. You’re right there!!! I thought I crossed in 8:28, but I was a bit closer to 8:30. Gave a finger point to mom filming, I knew where she was and I was hoping she filmed the race. We don’t have to do this again next weekend… #endrant #seeyouinlichtenstein


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