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General Running • April 30, 2019

My OTQ Journey (Part 4): Motivation, Bad Days, and Chasing 20-year-old Nick

Nick Klastava OTQ Journey

In this ongoing series, elite marathoner Nick Klastava takes us on his journey towards a 2019 Olympic Trials Qualifier (OTQ) goal. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 on his beginning. Nick is sponsored by rabbit running apparel and Megaton Coffee. Footwear is provided courtesy of Running Warehouse, featuring 90-day no-question returns and free 2-day shipping.

With Shamrock behind me, it was time to look forward to Pike’s Peek 10k (yes, it’s ‘peek,’ not ‘peak’) on April 28. I had a month of intense training to get me ready to roll.

April is always a great month for me. For starters, it’s my birthday month (as in 30 whole days—everyone is entitled to an entire month to celebrate). It’s also Boston Marathon month, and with that race comes a wealth of amazing running stories.

So much about my running is social—the friends I make, the runs I share with people. On a day like Marathon Monday I feel personally invested in hundreds of my friends’ journeys.

As many of you know, the weather at this year’s Boston Marathon was not great. A lot of my friends suffered out there, and I drew inspiration from them as I watched the race from the comfort of my living room. There is just something about Marathon Monday that helps to counteract the times when my motivation seems to be getting low.

April Training

I had been grinding through some tough workouts this past month, (including my coach’s “birthday present,” a 10k and faster progression run). As a result, I was brought back to the sobering reality of what it’s like to train for a 10k. That burning sensation as you push through the end of a workout with lactic acid throughout your legs and your chest on fire.

About two weekends out from my upcoming race I had another really hard workout on a Saturday—14 miles with 20 minutes at 10k pace. When I woke up, it was a humid morning, the first really humid day of the year. As I started my warmup I knew I was going to be drenched quickly, but off I went.

As I attempted this workout my splits were nowhere close to where I wanted them. In some cases, almost a minute off pace for a mile split.

As I finished, I was pretty disappointed. Instantly, fear set in that I had taken a step back. It took some self-talk and a nice message from my coach to remind myself that journeys are full of both good and bad days, and having bad days just shows that you care about something. Bouncing back defines you more than months of good workouts without any friction.

I went out the next day and listened to my body as it struggled through another humid day. But on the following Wednesday, everything clicked again and I felt fit. The previous workout was hardly remembered.

I think a lot of stress/anxiety goes into workouts where we don’t hit our paces, and especially those we miss completely. However, we are more than one single workout. Instead of going into a spiral of self-doubt, it’s important for us to remember that we are built over time, over a trial of miles. That matters more for our fitness than any single day.

The Lead-up to Pike’s Peek 10k

Leading up to Pike’s Peek I felt it was important to look back at my training and how it had gone for the cycle. Reviewing my training helps me gain perspective to remind myself that I am more than an arbitrary number on a clock at a finish line.

In the last few months I had been running paces I never imagined I would do again. I had put in solid training weeks of mileage despite juggling a lot of my life. I had been fortunate enough during all these high miles to have Running Warehouse provide me with a pair of Hoka Arahi, one of my favorite shoes, to help support my running journey to OTQ. I am so blessed to have companies on board and helping me on this incredible ride.

When I think of all of this, it’s this perspective that allows me to feel at ease and relaxed. If something didn’t go right on Sunday it wouldn’t define or prove anything to me. I know my fitness is high and I am ready to take the next step and celebrate this wonderful journey.

As I toed the line on Sunday, I realized I was going after a PR that was 17 years old. I was 20 years old when I ran 33:09 around the track at Monmouth University.  When I started running again in 2011 after almost 10 years away from the sport, I thought this was one PR I would never touch again.

Since that last PR, so much has changed in my life, all for the better, but I am still chasing a time on a clock that pulls me back to that moment in my life. A confused college kid with no idea about the life he would be leading at 37 years old. That’s the beautiful part of our running adventures. No matter where we are in life, we can think back to these running moments and remember the person we used to be.

The gun went off, and I ran.

Stay tuned for a day to remember.

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