What Motivates You?
The Clash of the Titans: Jacob Edwards and His Quest to Dethrone the King
January is a month for thinking. There’s something about the cold harsh weather outside that encourages one to contemplate the world around them. And while others spend this pensive time of year pondering complex philosophical issues such as space, time travel, and the nature of existence, I naturally spend my time mulling over the idea of retiring from serious running.
I have retired from running in previous winters, only to return to the grind in the spring and summer. This year was no different, I made the bold claim that I was done with competitive running in November. However, after much deliberation, a couple low mileage weeks, and no amount of serious thought I made the impulsive decision to spend another year training towards running a “fast” marathon. Yet this year will be different.
This year my return to the marathon is not motivated by a burning desire to run another race, to punish my body with full time work and 100 mile weeks, or to test own physical limits. Rather, I am motivated solely by the desire to race the “King of Summit” and end a streak of loses against my oldest rival. I plan to reverse my fortunes on May 24th at the Vermont City Marathon.
Who is this “King of Summit?” The king is none other than Summit Running Company employee Chris Croff who was crowned by cult classic author Chris Lear, a onetime Summit resident, after a string of convincing victories in local road races. Although I was absent from almost all of these races the name stuck and it became clear that it would take a well-trained individual to match his speed and dethrone the ‘king’.
‘The King ‘ Chris Croff winning in New Haven
The ‘King’ and I are more than just co-workers… We grew up in South Eastern Connecticut, where we competed in the same high school conference and became ‘fast’ friends. We attended the same college separated only by one graduating year and went on to share a small studio apartment and now work together at the Summit Running Company. Needless to say we have done more races together then I care to count. In high school he dominated me, with my only win coming in the New England Championships where I placed 16th. In college XC we split most of the races but he always beat me when it counted and I have never beaten him on the track. This last fact wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as I got to enjoy the view from behind. My last win against the ‘king’ was the Tarzan Brown Road Race, a 5.5 miler in November 2009. However desperate my chances look on paper I am confident that the marathon is a different animal to tame and the longer distance suits me.
We have raced two half marathons together and again I lost in both. However, his first win came one week after I came back from the USA Half Championships for his second win I was suffering a lot of hamstring pain prior and during the race. In 2012 I set and still hold a faster personal best in the half by 19 seconds, My 1:08:40 was for 3rd place at the Unite Half as compared to his 1:08:59 for a win in Liberty City. Vermont City will be my 7th marathon where my personal best is 2:25:45 and I have run the Vermont course before in 2010 for a time of 2:31:20. Running the course and knowing the distance in my opinion are big advantages. The ‘king’ has attempted a marathon once when he was in poor shape and found sitting on the pavement at 18 miles a better option than suffering through the last 8. So, his one attempt amounted in a DNF.
Me (Jacob) finishing USA Half Championships 1:09:37
I do believe that pending a healthy build up for this race the two of us will both be prepared to put our best effort forward. We will also get to see who actually hates to lose more as it is reflected in our training, race strategy and how we attack one another in the later miles of the race if we happen to be close. Rest assured there will be no surprises on race day; we are training together, traveling together and sharing a hotel room the night before. As long as we don’t stay up too late the night before enjoying our pre-race flex off in the mirrors, I think we both have a good chance to do something special.
However twisted my motivation might be, it definitely counts for something. My quest to dethrone the king is something I can hold on to that will drag me out of bed for those cold winter runs before the sunrises and keep me up long after the sun goes down. We all need that spark that keeps us training, focused and happy. I hope you all find it this racing season.
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