I think one of the major changes in my life over the past several years is surrounding myself more and more with a positive group of people who make me a better person. A few years ago, I read an article and I have seen more and more of them popping up lately talking about how some of the most successful people in the world attribute a lot of their success and ideas to having a group of people around them that encourage them, promote them and just make them better each day. An entourage if you must say, which is a great show also. For most of my life I think I used to take that for granted and sometimes even just ignore when people would say “Great job Nick” when I accomplished something that didn’t seem significant to me. I think we all have huge goals for ourselves and we feel like achieving them are the only ways sometimes we feel validated but over the past few years having people in my life who support me day in and out with positivity and supporting feedback I think has lead me to an overall better place in my life.
I never thought it mattered who I surrounded myself with on a daily basis when I was younger but as I have grown up into my 30’s I realized who I allow into my life to influence me is a very important decision. Too often we let people into our inner circle or close group without truly realizing how they may be affecting our lives, sometimes in a negative manner. Ridding yourselves of toxic people who aren’t there for your best interests, who aren’t there to support you, who are just there for themselves can have a huge impact on your success and general well-being. In the end you are the sum of who you spend your time with. Make sure that those are people who lift you, inspire you, and motivate you to do and be more. And even as you grow up you might change friends but that’s just part of life. In the end trust that the hard work, positivity, and keeping your sights high are things you can’t risk deviating from if you want the life you dream of.
My latest race was the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on April 8th, and it was my first time running this race although I have spectated it on numerous occasions. The weather forecast called for really cold conditions but my training was really solid and I felt great. I decided to sleep in my own bed the night before and ride down with some friends the morning of, which turned out to be quite easy thanks to some secret parking locations from the always clutch Pete Mulligan. We grabbed a quick warmup and wore way more clothing then I figured I’d ever be wearing for an April race and jogged over to the start. Due to people lining up way to early it involved a good deal of pushing through people to make it towards the front area but finally made it before the gun went off but being 30 minutes after my warmup I was barely warm anymore. So off we went and I tried to be pretty calm and follow coach’s advice and settle in a little slower for the first mile and smile often! So I let a lot of competitors I know go and settled in and rolled through the first mile in 5:28, after that mile the little pack I was in started to break off and 3 people surged ahead so I followed them for the next 3 miles and rolled into some solid splits 16:48 through the 5k 21:35 for 4 miles but then fell off that pack a little as we rolled through 5 miles and I came across in 27:04, which was right where I wanted to be halfway through a 10 miler.
However, as I continued I just never felt like I ever got in a good groove and after 5 I let my mind wander for a little bit taking in a bit too much of the scenery and not focusing enough on the grueling task at hand as the pack ahead of me started to gap me by a wide margin. I ran by some of my friends who took time out of their morning to come down and cheer in the cold and I snapped out of it and tried to get moving again to catch that pack, coming through 10k in 33:41, which is my fastest 10k since 2002! Right after 10k my teammate Maxime caught up to me, while wearing headphones of course and got me to go with him. For 2 miles we ran together but I could not find a consistent pace, we’d run stride for stride but then I’d chop up my strides and fall back only having to surge again to catch up. Right around 6.5 my hamstring started to tightened up and I could feel me having to adjust my stride, but with 3.5 to go I was not going to let that ruin my day.
Around 8 Maxime started to pull away and again I was left to my own devices to get to the finish line, 2 people rolled past me during the last 2 miles and both times I took the energy I had to go with them for as long as I could but my pace was slowing. My slowest two miles were my last two 5:36 and 5:42, the last mile is basically the only uphill mile on the entire course. I worked really hard getting up that hill knowing I was siphoning time that I spent the first 8 miles earning at this point. As I saw the clock I knew a PR was in the cards and I pushed hard into the finish line closing in on 54:44 a 14 second PR. As I look back I think I know I left some time out there but ultimately on a day where things didn’t go perfectly to be able to still PR and run tough is a big win. I took some time to celebrate with my teammates who all accomplished many great things that day themselves and then we hit up some DC breakfast and headed home. On the road to NJ Half Marathon this 10-mile PR was a good stepping stone and with a couple weeks left I am feeling more confident than ever to go after a shiny new half PR on 28 April.