Scott Anderson's Olympic
Trials On-Line Journal:
Part 5- Not being Part of
This is the fifth installment of miler Scott Anderson's Olympic
Trials Journal. If you missed his eye-opening installments #1 or #2 or #3 or #4
we strongly urge you to read them before
reading this installment as they provide background information
which makes things a lot easier to understand (especially #1) .
To make a long story short, Scott has spent much of the last 4 years
preparing for the 2000 Olympic Trials, which he unfortunately didn't
qualify for. Click
here to be taken to Installment #1.
#5 - Saturday, July 16, 2000:
Saturday 7-16 Greetings from Sacramento. This morning, Clemens
(a teammate in the Reebok Enclave) was looking at last night's
results in the local newspaper, the Sacramento Bee. I already
knew the basic outcome of the first night of the trials: my roommate
Graff and former roommate Weldon had finished somewhere in the
29:30 range; and my teammates Holman, Holthaus, and Ryan had all
advanced in the 1500, as had Downin, who, apparently, had looked
fantastic. But this newspaper was my first face to face confrontation
with the meet.
I knew a moment like this would
come. I knew that I would be tempted to scour the results. And
I anticipated that after reading them, I would immediately regret
my action, as if I had just gobbled up a sinful dessert. So it
was with apprehension that I perused the names of all the 10k
competitors in the box score. Would the reality sink in that I
had devoted the last four years to preparation for competing in
these trials and that I had failed even to qualify? After getting
my toes wet with the 10k results, I cautiously cast my gaze over
to the next page and examined the results of the two heats, prepared
to be overwhelmed with pangs of regret and feelings of "I should
be there." Jennings and Lunn had won their respective heats in
comparable times. Both heats were relatively fast, but my 1998
pr of 3:40.28 would have advanced me to the finals from either.
To my surprise, I found myself
reading the familiar names comfortably with detached interest,
as if I were reading the box score to a Chicago Cubs game: I'm
interested to see how many homers Sammy Sosa hit, but I do not
feel like it's a reminder of my failure realize my childhood dreams
of playing professional baseball. We'll see how I feel as I watch
the 1500m finals in person tomorrow night. Does this lack of emotion
mean I'm done? It can't be a good sign for my future running,
but I think it's a good sign for my non-running life. I think
I'll be able to move on.
I had a great talk with Centro
(Matt Centrowitz, the distance coach of the Enclave) last night.
He told me I was a great person and that he was glad to have gotten
to know me over the past four years. He knew that I had worked
hard and didn't know what had gone wrong for me the last couple
years. He told me about how I would succeed at anything I did.
He is intense and sincere and he looks you in the eye and you
know that he cares. And like Gags and my college coach, Mike Brady,
when he tells you something, you believe him. I like that in a
We discussed the roles parents
can play in a child's life. I have recently become appreciative
of my parents' method. I tell Centro that they never pressured
me to study a specific subject, apply to the right school, or
pursue a certain career. I never felt like I had to get good grades
or I had to be a doctor or lawyer to make them proud. In fact,
I almost felt that they would be more proud of me if I pursued
some alternative path. They would rather I follow my passions
and interests than follow my peers into a career that was the
"cool" thing to do. And they tried to expand my opportunities
to help me discover those passions. Now I understand why, in 8th
grade, they would stand their ground when I implored them to buy
me the pair of Girbaud pants all my friends were wearing. Or why,
my junior year of high school, my dad took me on a grueling roadtrip
to visit eight colleges. (Never mind that this attempt to broaden
my horizons probably backfired: I ended up matriculating to the
first one I visited, as my enthusiasm for the expedition waned
in step with the weather, which progressively worsened from beautiful
in NJ to cold rain in Boston.)
And this leads me to the dilemma
I currently face in my imminent non-running career. I told Centro
that I worry about my motivation and my enthusiasm about searching
for a job in New York or California. Am I enthused about working
in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street because I crave the status
and money involved? I try to convince myself that is not my motivation.
Finance and economics (Wall Street) challenge and interest me
and the prospect of working in a cutting-edge industry where people
love their work (Silicon Valley) excites me. Centro says to trust
my gut feeling and not to doubt my motivations. He says my parents
will be proud of me whatever I do.
Then he talks about how important
it is for a professional runner not to be bored, because a bored
individual loses focus on the goal. I relate this to my joblessness
over the past two months. With no structured intellectual stimulation
in my life, I have felt like something is missing (this could
be defined as boredom), like all my eggs are in one basket, and,
as a result, have had less than perfect mental health in pursuit
of my running goals. The effect of any one bad race or one bad
workout or even one bad easy run gets amplified when I have no
other stimulus of self confidence. When I had a job or was in
school, I always was working on some project or paper. This gave
me a sense of purpose, and when I solved the problem, it gave
me a sense of accomplishment. Not that a person needs to be accomplishing
goals to be happy. Robert aka Rojo has shared similar feelings
about being jobless. His aunt pointed out that he was too goal
oriented and derived too much of his self worth from accomplishing
conventional goals (getting good grades, running fast, advancing
in a career). Thus when his only was running fast, there was no
buffer to reduce the blow to his happiness when the running was
going poorly. She suggested that he become less goal-oriented
and gain more appreciation for developing relationships. The flaws
in this suggestion are that 1) it puts your happiness in things
that are out of your control, 2) it makes you vulnerable if relationships
go sour and 3) I don't think an individual can overnight make
herself appreciative of friendships and family. I know this theory
that a person's happiness is based on goals and relationships
probably sounds obvious, but it's something I had never heard
articulated before I decided to quit my job and run fulltime.
Listening to Robert, I realize that since I quit my job, I have
indeed become more appreciative of my relationship, even without
having thought about this theory.
Centro and I start talking about
how you have to be true to yourself to run well. For me, that
might mean keeping a job, at least part time, while training.
Just because other guys thrive under the stress of running full
time does not meant that I will thrive. I have to do what's right
Recently I have become aware
of another facet of my life in which I have not been myself. Ever
since I heard about the exploits of the Georgetown trio of Eric
O'Brien, Mark Sivieri, and Andy Downin and saw how well they ran
in Eugene and Atlanta in 96, I have aspired to be part of the
Georgetown alumni group that had fun and ran fast. So I moved
to DC to try to share in their success with the ladies and on
the track. I became good friends with them and was pleased that
I had become part of this "cool" group. But I, like others, failed
to appreciate that each of these guys was an individual not to
be confused with the others, and more importantly that by trying
to emulate them, I was not being myself. OB demonstrated his independence
by doing what was best for him and moving to Atlanta; Downin made
a similar decision by moving to Wisconsin.
I have talked about this with
Siv recently. He is a funny guy and a great story teller. I see
him being the life of the party and aspire to it. But I am aware
of how pathetic it is to want to have someone else's personality.
And this isn't to say his personality is bad. I love Siv and his
personality. But it's not me. And Siv agrees.
Graff, Heily and Siv are moving
in together this fall. I could be the fourth person if I commit
to staying in DC for another year. It would be so fun, even if
I were not running. And being in this group house would be the
ultimate realization of being included in the "cool" group. But
I've been in DC for four years and know I need to try something
new to reach my full potential as a person. As much as I'm tempted
to, I know I can't make decisions based on wanting to be part
of a group, even if they are great friends.
Back to Centro. I'll never forget
him lecturing Holthaus and me after indoor nationals in 98 when
Robbie Howell, a former teammate of mine who transferred to NC
State, ran 4:00 on the DMR and almost walked Holthaus down. He
tells us that Robbie is going to succeed in life because he makes
a change when he needs to. He's unhappy somewhere so he moves.
And then he runs fast. You guys can't let inertia keep you from
making a change if you need one. I almost thought he was encouraging
us to get up and leave the Enclave.
Being true to oneself is obviously
the key not just to running well but to leading a fulfilling life.
Paradoxically, although my learning of this lesson may lead me
to a running break-through, it may also lead me away from running.
In my next few months of self-exploration I may discover that
my main motive for continuing running would be to be part of this
running culture. That would be the wrong reason for me, but we'll
see. Gags agrees with my assessment and suggests that I just keep
my options open my doing basework throughout the fall.
Ok enough of my confessions of
my personality flaws. I went to the pool for a bit today with
the Economist. As I sit down, I realize I haven't read anything
in about a week. And I realize that I haven't really missed it.
Applying what I just discussed to this situation, does this suggest
that by reading, I am just trying to be something I am not? Am
I just a wannabe intellectual? Okay, I'm being way too cynical
about my motives. In spite of the "No diving" signs plastered
all over the fencing, two young girls make their attempts. One
bends down on a knee and after a few seconds hesitation, successfully
completes one. No Louganis, but definitely a notch up from a belly
flop. I reward her effort with sincere applause. The parents look
over at me skeptically, as if I'm being sarcastic or even worse,
some pervert. Great. The younger sister gets in the same position
but after much delay jumps in feet first with the exclamation,
"I'm afraid." I remember learning to dive at the Aldeen's pool
as a kid and bailing out in the exact same fashion. Why do kids
have such fear of going in head first?
Editor's Note: Please feel
free to email you comments to Scott at Saa13074@aol.com.
Lots of people have really enjoyed his journal and have inquired
about contacting Scott and he said he'd be happy to receive any