Scott Anderson's Olympic
Trials On-Line Journal:
A Dream Deferred or A Dream
June 27, 2000: Starting today, miler Scott Anderson will regularly
share his thoughts with the LetsRun.com community leading up
to the 2000 US Olympic Trials.
Since graduating from Princeton University in 1996 and competing
in the '96 Trials, Anderson, 26, has devoted his life to preparing
for the 2000 Trials. He passed on numerous lucrative job opportunities
and took a job at a non-profit research institute in Washington,
DC so that he could pursue his dream of being a US Olympian by
training with the DC based Reebok Enclave.
While Scott has competed
at the US Nationals in the 1500 meters every year since 1995
and three times has advanced to the finals (in 1995, 1998 and
1999), he finds himself in the unenviable position of lacking
a qualifying time to this year's nationals and Olympic Trials
just 17 days before they start.
Realistically, he only
has two chances left to qualify. This weekend he will compete
at Maine Distance Festival, and if he doesn't qualify this weekend,
he will try one more time next weekend in Montreal, Canada.
During the outdoor season,
Anderson has run the 1500 meters three times and has a seasonal
best of 3:42.28 (his other two times were 3:42.66, 3:42.39),
which while better than a four minute mile isn't equal to the
Olympic Trials qualifying time of 3:40.50.
Is the dream still alive?
Is he nervous? If he doesn't qualify, will he feel that he has
wasted four years of his life? Read below to find out.
#1 - June 27, 2000 - Two more
weeks left. Well, realistically, one more week. If I don't run
the 1500m qualifying time of 3:40.50 in Maine this Saturday,
my chances will be pretty slim next week in Montreal, where there
will be considerably less competition and even worse atmosphere.
The atmosphere in my head has already escalated close to desperate
and I have become even more neurotic than normal.
This morning I wake up at 9:30 after a healthy 10 hours of sleep
and as I embark on the 10 meter walk to the bathroom, I find
myself gauging how fresh and bouncy my legs feel: "In five
days, will these legs be capable of averaging just under 59 seconds
per lap for almost 4 laps?" Too stiff to tell, I decide
optimistically. The 90-degree heat and Washington, DC humidity
send me back into my air-conditioned room to plan my day. Since
I quit my job at the beginning of May in order to sharpen my
focus on running, my days have comprised running, stretching,
reading, doing mundane errands, and hanging out with teammates.
(Up until last week, when I finally broke down and bought a computer,
my days were mercifully free of web surfing.)
I have mixed feelings about my current
sabbatical from the labor force. My friendships with my non-working
teammates have certainly benefited. Jason Rhodes (an 800 meter
runner and teammate) , John Honerkamp (800/1500 m runner and
teammate), and I are the charter members of the Glover Park Croquet
Association and are working on finding a title sponsor for the
upcoming GPCA grand prix series in August.
Chris Graff (one of my housemates, teammate
and 10,000 meter runner) and I have spent some serious quality
time on the front porch taking turns in our make shift ice bath.
After tough workouts, I take our garden hose and fill a giant
Home Depot garbage can. As it's filling, I go to the liquor store
in back of our house and buy a forty-pound bag of ice. I relish
the Thursday evening trips to the store when the other patrons
are purchasing supplies for their imminent debauchery, much as
I would have been not too long ago.
The contrast between my former and current
missions boosts my confidence: I think "Look at these sacrifices
I am now making: how can my running not drastically improve?"
I return to the porch and insert our homemade stool (constructed
one afternoon out of old futon boards) into the now-full garbage
can. Then, fully aware of the potential tragic irony of an injury
caused by trying to take an ice bath, I gingerly step onto an
upside down bucket before slowly straddling the tub and immersing
myself into the lukewarm water.
After successful immersion, I dump in
the ice, which melts at a perfect rate so that as I get acclimatized
the temperature falls. Then Graff and I have deep theoretical
discussions about darts, the merits of having a girlfriend, and
other matters of equal gravity, all the while feeling pretty
pleased with ourselves for our nifty setup.
My friend Andy Heily went to England
for some scholarly pursuits this summer, so he left me the pool
pass for his apartment complex. I often meet my teammates, Mark
Sivieri and Chris Grier, over at the pool after runs on hot afternoons.
We sit and admire the wide assortment of good-looking women and
guess at their professions.
One of them, we are convinced, is an
exotic dancer - what other profession would allow her to hang
out at the pool all day? With our strapping physiques, we hope
that maybe the women make the same assumption about us.
As I start to taper and cut back the mileage, the intensity and
duration of my runs coincides with that of my other roommate
and teammate, Kevin Jermyn, who is finally on the road back to
health after a devastating hamstring injury sustained back in
February at the National XC Championships in Greensboro. Last
fall, he resigned from his business manager job at the prestigious
Cobalt Internet consulting company to train for the Trials and
to focus more on his Trackcoach.com venture.
Needless to say, this injury was not
good for household morale. After two months, KJ still could not
run without pain, but after a rigorous physical therapy session
in San Diego and hours of ballistic stretches and drills, he
is now running up to 50 minutes a day. Although he claims he
won't be able to compete until next fall, when we go running
together it seems to me that he effortlessly bounds up hills
like a kangaroo while I huff and puff just to keep up with him.
Is this a good sign for me if he's three months from competition
shape and I am supposed to be the best shape of my life?
Tomorrow, I'll talk about the downside
of not working, but first I'll finish up with the "highlights"
from the rest of my day. On descending to the kitchen, I discover
I'm out of cereal. Another trip to the Fresh Fields supermarket
down the street is in order. I probably average about one trip
a day, mainly because the idea of shopping for vast quantities
of stuff is overwhelming and because the opportunity cost of
my time is low, but also because I like the Fresh Fields atmosphere
and because I would not otherwise see a non-runner all day.
I know I won't be running until later
this evening when it's cool, and I am too impatient to wait until
then to find out how my legs are feeling, so I do a few stretches
and put on my running shoes for a
jaunt down to the store. My legs do indeed feel good, but the
pessimist in me questions whether this is because it's all downhill.
I'll have to wait all day to find out.
After breakfast, I head back up to the air-conditioned room,
where I make an unsuccessful attempt to figure out why my printer
only prints in color. This takes up an embarrassing large amount
of time, as does every activity I engage in, now that I have
an abundance of time. I go downstairs to check the mail: a few
credit card offers, a Vitamin Shoppe catalog, but as usual, nothing
personal and no Palm Pilot yet.
In an effort to be industrious with
my free time last month, I researched the best online bank deal
and found one that would give me a free palm pilot for signing
me up. But it looks like by the time I get it, the model will
probably be obsolete.
I head back up to the haven of air-conditioning
and talk on the phone to John for a bit about our tentative plans
to run in Europe in August. We decide to hold off on buying tickets
until after we qualify for the Trials. We don't need the added
stress of knowing we will have wasted hundreds of dollars if
we don't run fast. And if we do qualify, we will be happy enough
to spend a little bit more for tickets.
Around 6:45, Graff exits his room after another 3-hour nap. The
guy probably sleeps 13 hours a day. He is a machine. I have to
constantly remind myself that he is not normal and that 9 hours
of sleep is fine for me. We agree to go running together. I have
successfully avoided thinking about my legs for the whole afternoon
but the prospect of running with Graff makes me a little nervous.
He is a 10k runner and in my current state of mind, I don't need
be comparing myself to someone who is more aerobically fit than
The first 10 minutes of the run are downhill, so I can't immediately
evaluate the status of my legs. I tell myself one day doesn't
matter anyway, but I know from experience that 90% of the time,
the way my legs feel the week leading up to a race is a good
indicator of how well I will race, so I can't help this pre-occupation.
Fortunately, when we hit the flat part, I feel bouncy.
After half an hour of clipping along at 6:20 pace, Graff veers
off to add on a few extra miles. I head to the track where I
throw in a couple strides while thinking about running fast but
concentrating on staying relaxed. Feeling pretty good - I head
home with a spring in my step and a smile on my face, but tomorrow's
workout on the track will be a better test.