My Road To New York

I’ve been dreaming about qualifying for the New York Marathon for 2 years.

New York Marathon Vision Board

To qualify for New York, I needed a time, a really fast time. A time I have never run before. A time my legs have never dared.

Like all big dreams, I first write the goal in my journal.

Then I make myself believe I can accomplish this dream.

And it’s not always easy, sometimes I don’t believe myself. Okay,  a lot of times I don’t believe myself.

The beautiful part is that at some point, I WILL BELIEVE myself.

The body can only go, where the mind has been.

 

My first attempt to qualify was at the Boston Marathon 2016. Boston was incredible. The crowds euphoric. I now understood why this race was every runner’s dream. Robert and I worked for years to qualify. After hundreds of hours of training, and 2 qualifying attempts. We finally qualified in at the Long Beach Marathon in 2015.

We broke the coveted 3 hour mark. Coming in at 2:59.

 

 

It was a chilly, sweet morning as Robert and I boarded the bus to the start line. We looked around and saw the world’s greatest runners. Everybody looked fast. Mind you, Robert and I finished the Long Beach Marathon 19th and 22nd out of 3,300.

I felt nervous. I felt excited. I wanted to compete. I wanted to run with the world’s greatest runners. We wore the coveted red bib. The fastest bib Wave #1.The race began. I started fast. I felt great.

I set the race target:2:53

The time that would get me to the world’s fastest marathon, the New York Marathon.

As we ran, Robert and I were swallowed by the sea of runners. Surely this will clear out, I thought. Everybody can’t run at this pace.

But they did.

Mile after mile after mile.

6:25, 6:18, 6:20…

No, matter how fast I ran. I couldn’t pass anyone. Everybody was fast, super fast.

I thought I was the fast one.

I get this weird feeling, whenever someone runs at my pace. I feel like I’m drowning. I feel like I can’t maintain the pace. I feel like I’m not good enough. You see, I’m not a runner, I played basketball and baseball in high school. So running with the world’s elite, I felt like an impostor. Everybody at that level, including Robert, ran track or cross-country. I lifted weights. I wished we we’re lifting weights that day.

Imagine if someone tied you to a car and then drove off. And you tried to run with the car. You hang on for dear life, running so fast you feel like you could fall. Like your legs weren’t supposed to move that fast.  That’s how I felt that day, and then I cracked.

I felt like I got hit by a truck. My legs hurt so much. The pace was ridiculous. The runners speeding by me only added salt to the wound.

By mile 13, I knew there would be no NY Qualification. Heck, there might be no finish. Robert was nowhere to be found. He dropped before I did. I decided to wait for Robbie D.

To either suffer or celebrate together.

We did both.

We gave painful high-fives to the thousands cheering us on.

Boston became the celebration for years of effort.

As we turned in Boylston’s street.

The finish line neared closer. Robert and I embraced.

 

We did it.

Well almost…

3:37?

Not exactly the 2:52 we we’re shooting for.

I set many goals that seem impossible. They can overwhelm me. Whether they be business, personal or life goals. I set them as big as possible. Then I go out there and fail.
I fail again and again.
Failing never feels good. But failing is a prerequisite for success. There was no qualification in Boston, but I vowed to try again.

Then the injuries began…

“The unimaginable happened. During a comfortable 40-mile bike and six-mile run, I felt my calf pull.
I shut down my run immediately. Uber to the rescue. Some of you know that Ironman Santa Rosa is the highlight of my year. This injury put my best performance in jeopardy.
I was crushed.
For a moment. Then I realized all the blessings in my life. I would recover, and if I didn’t I would be okay.
I focused on different workouts, nutrition, flexibility and promised myself I would control what I could.”   -July 2017

 

One year went by.

 

“Not all stories have happy endings. In life, sometimes the hero doesn’t win.
I worked all year for a chance to qualify for the New York Marathon. Mile repeats, sprints, Ironmans, hundreds of hours of training.

I suffered a fluke calf strain back in June. I rested, I healed, and I completed my best Ironman to date.
2017 was supposed to be the year I qualified.
Today, I woke up excited. My calf felt great. But at 1.5 miles, the pain returned. I instantly realized New York 2018 was out.

As I ran in pain, I knew this would be my last sad mile of 2017.
I share this, not for you to feel sorry for me. I share this because sometimes people wonder why I work so hard? Why I try so hard? Why I get up so early on a Sunday?
I try so hard because I’m deathly afraid of failing. Failing at anything. Failure scares the sh#t out of me.
I’ve failed more times than anyone will ever know. And it always hurts. Always.
As many times, as I’ve failed. I’ve always found a way to pick myself up. Never give up on your dreams. In life, in sport, in business. Never give up.

Sorry, New York. I’ll have to wait another year.”  – November 2017

 

Two years went by.

 

But my NY dream never relinquished.

 

When injuries happen. When accidents happen. When life doesn’t go your way.
It’s easy to be sad.
I’m working my tail off and nothing.

This freaking sucks, life isn’t fair.
But wait,
Life was never supposed to be fair.
Life doesn’t care.
Life relies solely on your attitude.
Life is what you make it.
Life is what you do.
Life is how you respond.
Life is what happens when you get knocked down.
Life happens when you get up.

I trained, I trained not only the body but the mind. I know what needs to happen to qualify for New York. I know it’s a two-year goal. I know, I need to run faster than ever. I know, I know, I know!

For the past year (when I wasn’t hurt.)

  • I did speed work (fastest mile: 5:07.)
  • I did half-marathon work (ran 5 in practice.)
  • I worked on my cardio through the bike and swim.
  • I lost weight (I’m 5 pounds less than my fittest weight ever.)
  • And I added my secret weapon:

 

Breaking Two’s Turbo Pegasus coupled with yellow laces.

My generation’s PF Flyers

Guaranteed to make every kid run faster and jump higher.

 

The body can only do what the mind believes.
My body is ready.

The mind is ready.
The time has come to punch my ticket to New York.

The Long Beach Marathon is here.

Goal needed to qualify for New York:

13.1 miles <1:25  Pace: 6:25/mile

 

 

Please cheer us on, as we attempt to accomplish our dream.

Tony Arreola

Runner

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