Have a year
Xs and Arrows
January 11, 2023
I think I can safely say, personally, 2022 was a year unlike any other. I know most of us following 2020 would rather not see those words again but harkening back to my days behind a microphone when a player would have one of those standout games it was second nature to say, "have a day kid." I guess one could say I "had a year" in 2022.
There are plenty of highlights to share personally and professionally, but the journey most of you have been on with me has been my running transformation, and completion of two of the most difficult and famous marathons on the schedule, Los Angeles and New York. I went coast to coast in 2022 and covered a thousand training miles along the way, I think when I add it all up, I almost covered the distance on foot from Los Angeles to New York. Well, not quite, I would be somewhere just outside of Oklahoma City but pushing halfway no doubt.
It started as a one-time challenge in late 2021, just to complete the LA Marathon. Once that was finished, I had an invitation to New York that I could not resist. I mean who would not want to take a foot tour like no other through all five boroughs while bonding with complete strangers and a million fans along the way?
Despite my training telling me otherwise, I took the opportunity. There are few 250-pound distance runners gracing the course. I like to think just my presence gets people thinking, "well if that guy can do it..."
Those were the bookends of the year, but those were not the entirety of why I pushed so hard in 2022. There was the Surf City half marathon in Huntington Beach and the Big Bear Spartan Sprint high atop the San Bernardino Mountains. That one took a little more that just running some miles to accomplish, but when you come down from the mountain having ran, climbed, lifted and tossed your way through obstacles for over three miles, you leave a piece of your soul on those trails ... your gift to the terrain, or maybe its gift to you.
I was satisfied with a lot in 2022, but despite being a year older I have yet to get much wiser, and I signed up for a similar schedule in 2023. I have found that marathon running is like any other hobby, one is always looking for ways to get better. I failed at that mission between Los Angeles and New York, despite crushing the Spartan race in May and staying fit, my knee injuries during the NYC Marathon training led to a lackluster performance in my eye. Yes, running 26.2 miles is an accomplished performance, but given the fact that I was slower than L.A. eight months prior bothers me. I can blame it on the record heat and humidity of that November day in New York, I can point to some self-inflicted causes such as too much walking around the city in the days leading up to the event or I can blame my late morning starting time, but at the end of the day I just did not perform how I wanted. So, it is rematch time.
That is where I am headed in 2023, a rematch with each race in hopes of getting a little better. Los Angeles hurt me last year, and after talking to sports medicine experts I know exactly where that pain started on the course. So, I am more prepared to avoid it this time around. I am training faster, smarter, colder and longer.
Up before most of the world pounding the pavement or the treadmill, so I force myself to get acclimated to a faster pace. While most snooze, I grind, because training for these things, especially with a chip on your shoulder does not come when it is convenient, it happens when it must.
There has certainly been an evolution of the mind and spirit. Distances once thought of as impossible are now justified by split times and total pace. When I ran the Surf City half marathon as a training run last year, I had never had a race day experience and 13.1 miles seemed like an eternity. I will be running 15 the day this column hits newsstands, by the time my rematch with that race on Pacific Coast Highway rolls around it will be just another run.
New York rematch? Absolutely. It looks like there is another invitation headed my way for 2023 and I am already starting to think about how to better prepare for that one as well, but not until I take my pound of flesh out on Los Angeles.
All this preparation takes time, research, study, effort and of course, a lot of uncomfortable moments. Recently this Bible verse from Isaiah 48:10 popped up on one of my social media feeds: "I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering." I cannot think of a better metaphor for what I am experiencing.
With all that said, yes 2022 was a stellar year. I am not discounting the accomplishments, heck I am proud as ever. Who knew that five years ago when I was pushing the 300 pound mark that I would be running marathons, yet lamenting how I could do them better?
Have a year kid.
Yes, I did, but now its time to go back into the furnace of suffering. I have some refining to do.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter, broadcaster and athletics administrator. He advocates for the value of athletic competition and serves as the President of the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club. He can be reached at email@example.com.