Sunday, December 14, 2008

USATF Frostbite 10k

“It’s every man for himself today”…. “just try to survive”… “it feels worse than it looks”. These were the encouraging words that were ringing in my head as I warmed up for the USATF club nationals. I heard everything from -10to 10 degrees with pretty big wind gusts. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was going to give it my best come race time. As much as I did not enjoy this race it helped me learn allot about myself, and also what it takes to be great.

For the past two months I completed some of the best, most focused training I have ever completed since high school. For the first time since summer I had been injury free for quite some time, and to be honest I started to really fall in love with training. I was excited to run with a fast field and a fast group of guys at Club Nats. I can say that physically I was in great shape. This is where my personal lesson comes in, but we will get back to that after the race.

My warm up went well I was still cold, but not as bad as 30 minutes ago. As I took my sweats off I just told myself to have fun, and race my race. The gun was up and whether I was ready or not, the race was only seconds from starting. The gun went off and I began running. Luckily I did not start at the front of my team; I was tucked into a nice pack, protecting me from the wind. After about 100 meters I decided I wanted to be farter up to avoid the big jam up that usually occurs on the first turn. I worked my way out of the pack and into the COLD side wind. Luckily this idea somewhat paid off because at the turn I just slid my way around the congestion that was occurring. For the first mile I just tried to stay relaxed. I passed the 1 mile marker at 5:13. and not too much longer after that I finished my first lap.

Lap two is where my race started to go down hill. I can honestly say I just mentally checked out. People were passing me and I just did not care. I did not have any fight to go with them. Mentally I needed to change something if I was going to salvage my race. I heard this phrase not long ago that said “fake it till you make it”. The idea was that if you are having a bad race, just pretend like you are having a great time, and pretty soon you will feel good again. I decided to try and smile, but as I went to move my lips I realized they felt like rubber and would not move. That lasted 3 seconds. Hmmmm lets see what else do I got oh “Pain is only temporary” OK that made me laugh a little, the wind was icing my legs quite nicely, numbing my legs from pain. I tried numerous quotes that usually inspire me, but none worked.

As I was having these thoughts in my head I saw a competitor in front of me just stop, shake his head, and walk away. Shortly after, another competitor appeared from the pack ahead, and started running the opposite direction, he had one bear foot, and one shoe. At this point I immediately thought of Mt. Everest, where people get way too cold and start to do crazy things. I have huge respect for whoever this was because instead of dropping out, he ran back, put his shoe on and finished the race.

Right before I was about to start my third and final lap I suddenly started passing people. I had found motivation. The Idea of, the faster I go the faster this last lap would be over with finally was the motivational thought I needed to start racing. With a sudden gust of energy I was passing people by the dozens, I was feeling smooth and simply excited to be almost done.

It was here I mentally took another fall. Out of no where I got a sharp pain in my side, I never get side aches when I run, but this hurt quite bad. For the first time in my life I was 99% sure I would DNF the race. I started running a pace that felt like I was walking, and pressing on my side, because it was the only thing that made the running bearable. I couldn’t even count how many people were quickly passing me,

I had most definitely hit a low point in my race.

I learned a very good lesson when I hit this low point. I learned the value of running on a team. If I was running solo out there that day I would have dropped out, no questions asked, but I knew the team was counting on me to finish. This race was not about me, I had 6 other guys that were counting on me to finish. Snails pace or not I need to get to that line! So with this thought I just kept running. Still feeling in pain and running slow I came to the corner where some of the tri-fusion gang, was cheering me on. This gave me more motivation to finish, and I appreciate them cheering us on more than you can ever imagine.

After what felt like walking for half a mile, the pain subsided, I had half a mile to go and I had some serious work to do. I tried as hard as I could to pass as many people as I could. I wasn’t thinking about a time, all I could think about was points. Every person I passed was one less point counting against our team. With 200 meters to go I kicked it in picking off 4 more runners. With great relief I was done.

I was standing at the finish line cold, bleeding, miserable, but I was very happy with what I had just done. I got home from the race and started getting ready for the post race fun. I noticed I had a headache, but decided to go anyways. As I sat at wingers I realized I was not feeling well. My forehead was splitting, my vision was blurry and I could barely understand anything that people were saying to me. I decided to opt out of the USATF post race party, and my dad took me home. At this point I just felt like dying. I threw up everything I ate at wingers, and could no longer hold down water. I was dehydrated. It didn’t matter if I was standing up, or lying down, I still felt dizzy and hot. It was a long night, one at which I did not sleep. I was either trying to drink water, or throwing up the water I just drank. It was at this point I wondered why I do this, and questioned ever racing again.

December 13th was a long day.

Every race you compete in will teach you something new about yourself, this race taught me allot.

  1. Never give up- I felt like I could not take another step, with my side ache, but after a short while it went away. Suffering 1 more minute was an easy trade off to my first DNF.
  2. Team is very important- If it wasn’t for the team I would have probably quit, and never learned the first lesson or finished the race.
  3. The power of mind- physically I was very prepared for this race, but mentally I was not.

I will never forget this race. I now know that if ever want to get better, and compete at a higher level in any sport, I need to mentally be tough. There were allot of amazing runners out there that day, and pretty much all of them ran very tough. A strong athlete will race, but a great athlete will win. A champion will be prepared for anything, and rise to the occasion. Even with the cold conditions the leaders still ran around

30 minutes, and thought nothing of it. Today as I woke up, the day after the race, I felt inspired. I know what I have to do to race at a higher level, and now I have a whole winter to prepare.

I would like to thank all my teammates, you guys all ran awesome!! A huge thanks to Steve from brooks who put the team together and allowed me to run on it! I would also like to congratulate team EMDE, and the Spokane Swifts. You guys represented Spokane well, and ran great! A huge congrats to Forest Braden who placed 3rd overall running 31:00. Keep an eye out for him in the not so distant future! I would like to thank everyone that cheered for me on the course out there, and I would also like to thank my parents, they support me not matter what I do.

Final time- 35:24:00


Michael W. Bergquist said...

We all fight different battles, save the weather. Your training has brought you a long way. I'm really impressed with how well you did and how you fought through your problems when others gave up. I'm glad to read that you've found some motivation to expect more from yourself. You dropped me from the word go, in one mile putting nearly 50 seconds of the 2:03 you beat me by. I went home, retooled my entire training program and got started that same day at the pool. It sucked, but like you I found some motivation, so I look forward to seeing you at the next one ... perhaps for at least a mile.

Steve said...

First of all, Great Job. I know you would have liked a better result but like you said, you walked away from this race with a desire to get better and that is the most important part.

I can only imagine what is in store in the future. Keep up the hard work.

PS. If your stitch was anything like I experienced in Boise then props to you. I had to walk to get through the pain. I bet you were still running under 6's though.

jessithompson said...


I was inspired by watching you. I knew you were toughing it out big time when you were holding your side. It was so freaking cold out there I couldn't believe any of you guys actually started the race... major props.

I have a couple of short video clips and a pic of you (holding your side) on my blog. Be sure to check them out.

You're tough, Hosh. I'm glad you can take the good from this experience.

You're one bad ass hoshberry shortcake.

Tiffany said...

Hosh Berry,

You are tough as nails! What struck me most about your post was that you never really mentioned that it was FREEZING out there! I know you said it was cold, but seriously, I could barely stand to walk from my car into the store. I have no idea how you made it through that race.

I love how much you learned from it and that you were able to remain positive, even though it didn't turn out quite like you expected. You rock!

p.s. Clearly you should have run with your strawberry on. It would have kept you warmer! ;)

Matt said...

You were a trooper out there, to push through a side stitch when already dealing the the elements. It will make you tougher..Once your 21..

Great work out there, use that motivation!!