My lungs are burning, my legs are starting to wear in from the week’s volume of training. Sweat is dripping off of my hat from the Florida humidity; it’s 82 degrees at only 7:00 am. One foot in front of the other, step for step we are battling it out. He edges up next to me – I had slightly passed him about 10 feet back. We meet stride for stride, step for step, passing others in the race. I am a full 1:00 min faster than my planned race pace. I start getting a little winded, but then this thought comes into my head. Don’t touch my BAR! And that’s all I repeated in my head, over and over again. (More on this statement later.) I knew this guy was the one, he was the one that I was going to battle it out with on this run. Record screech – now let’s rewind the clock by seven”ish” days.

David: Hey coach, let’s do a total mileage race this week.

Me: You mean total miles on the week?

David: Yes.

Me: Deal!

David: Now remember we have the 10K, then a 5K that we are going to run together this Saturday so that day is a wash due to the race.

Me: Yeah, so that means you better be ready to go to a dark place mentally to beat me!

Now, I’m thinking at this point that all I have to do is run a few miles a day, roughly 3-5, totaling about 30 miles. This should be enough to beat David by roughly 5 miles on the week as he doesn’t usually run more than 20 miles a week.

Day 1 Sunday – I ran 3.10 miles thinking I’m going to get a jump start on this thing.

Day 2 Monday – David comes flying out of the gate with a 6 mile run. I responded back later that day with a 3 mile run, but ¼ way into the run I realized I didn’t start my watch correctly. So, that distance doesn’t count. I only logged 2.49 miles on Monday. At this point, I am standing at 5.59 miles and David is at 6.

Day 3 Tuesday – I pull into the gym to train David as we have a 7:00 AM personal training session scheduled. When I pulled in I noticed his car was there and he wasn’t! I said to myself he’s out putting in his miles! He gets back to the gym and says check your app, I look and this man put in a 9.01 mile run before our session. Now, knowing that I had a fully packed schedule that day, there was no way I had time to get 9 miles in. But, I did manage to get 6.21. Total mileage to this point: David 15.07 miles, 11.8 for me. For those not great at quick math, David is ahead by 3.27 miles.

Day 4 Wednesday – Thinking that David isn’t going to match me and thinking to myself he usually backs off and starts slowing down when he/we have a race weekend ahead by this point, I logged in a measly 3.33 miles thinking he isn’t going to push.

Day 5 Thursday – Now, like I said, he usually starts to slow down by this point. It’s Thursday morning and I know that I can pull ahead. I got an 8.7 mile run in and I must say it was rough, the sun was beating down and the humidity was treacherous; my legs were heavy and I was having a little doubt about my ability and how I was going to perform for this upcoming race. Because if it feels like this, it’s going to be miserable. I finished and at this point my total mileage was 20.5 miles on the week. David is standing in second place at 15.07 miles. With David standing in second place by almost 5 miles difference I thought to myself, there’s NO WAY he is going to push to try to catch up. He is going to save it for Saturday.

Day 6 Friday – One day before the Orlando Best Damn Race 10K, immediately followed by a 5k. We have another personal training session scheduled and again I pulled into the parking lot at 6:30 am, his truck there and he wasn’t. I punched the steering wheel screaming HE’S OUT PUTTING IN HIS MILES! I get to the gym, put my stuff away and get a video from him saying guess what? I’m going to have 6 miles in once I get back! Now I say, you better be ready to go mentally deep. I have no time to run as I had a full day scheduled. David gets back to the gym and another person training says hey, what’s your max bench? I said I don’t know, let’s find out! (I am quite possibly the most competitive and stubborn person you’ll ever meet.)

Needless to say I lost the max bench contest. He’s 52 years old and maxes out at 225 lbs, I maxed at 120 lbs. I say, fine you have me on weight, but what about reps? (See stubborn comment above.) So, we loaded the bar at 65 lbs and went rep for rep. Jeff is his name, and since he won the max effort contest, he went first. He started 10 reps, then 20 reps, 25, 30, 31 struggling, 32, 33, 34 and finally 35 reps he racks the bar. Now, it’s my turn, 10, 15, 20 still going smoothly, 25, now I’m starting to struggle, 28, 29 and the bar falls on my chest. Jeff goes to grab to help and I yelled at him DON’T TOUCH MY BAR!!!

You see most people are afraid to fail, they are afraid to suffer, they want to bail out the moment they are in pain. Not me, I’m willing to die trying, die pushing till the last breath. I hit 30, 31 then 32 with my arms absolutely giving out with the bar falling on my chest. They picked the bar off of me and I stood up and said good job you won… eventually.

Friday afternoon rolls around and I remembered I still need to get my run in. I realize I can squeeze in a 3-4 mile run now, then get another run in later tonight. I took off at 12:30 PM and put in 4.01 miles. Now, unbeknownst to me, David was out running as well. He logged in another 5 miles. Great, I definitely have to run at night. So at 9:00 PM Friday evening I logged another 3.62 miles.

Day 7 Saturday – Race day! I wake up in the morning and check the app for total mileage so far and at this point we are dead even at 30 miles each. I pull into the parking lot, and low and behold David starts running as soon as he sees me and trying to log in miles before the race. I said no way! I parked the car and took off running to log mine in as well.

Now, we get in the race corral together and wait for the buzzer to go off for us to start. We held the same pace for about 1.5 miles, then my legs warmed up. I felt great and started to pull away. As the race went on I started feeling stronger and stronger, as I was passing people at about mile 2.5-2.75 I found my rhythm. Then, that’s when we met. I hit mile 3, the crowd thinned out, and I wasn’t passing as many as before. I was slowly catching people, but not as many. Then I saw this tall man, roughly in his mid to late 30’s, and slowly crept up on him. I caught him, and we were shoulder to shoulder, step to step. I slowly crept in front of him and after a few minutes he crept in front of me. I knew this guy was the one, he was the one that I was going to battle it out with on this run.Then this thought came in my head. DON’T TOUCH MY BAR!

What’s that mean? It means learn to suffer, learn to live in the pain, don’t be in a hurry to get away from it. Learn to go to that deep, dark place and face those demons. When you give your all and have nothing left, you then know you truly gave 100%. Attack the island and burn the ships!

We ran, stride for stride, step for step, the whole time my lungs burning, legs heavy, feet tight, and all I keep repeating is DON’T TOUCH MY BAR SON! We kept this pace for the next 2 miles and I’m saying to myself hold back just a tad, and when there’s .5 left you’re going to go all out because this guy isn’t backing down. I’m going to see what you’re really made of.

Step for step, shoulder to shoulder one mile to go we hit a crowd and I decided to hold the same pace but made a quick adjustment and jumped up on the sidewalk. Innately I started to change gears, and picked up the pace by just a few more steps. He was just behind me still step for step, and then that’s when I knew I was in his head. I heard him let out a deep breath. And he slowly started to fade behind me at this point. But I knew if I backed off he was going to catch me as I could hear his breath and footsteps not far behind me. I finally hit the last .5 and said this is it, I hit the next push and laid it all out. Pushing everything I had he was nowhere to be found and finally I crossed the finish line.

Total miles to this point – me 39.05. David 39.05

Time to rest for a minute and get ready for the 5K. The 5K starts and this time I’m running it with my son and David is running it with two other guys that joined us for the 5k. My son and I got done fairly quickly, but David and the others took much longer. My son and I are waiting for them to cross the finish line. As they come by, David yells, “How many miles do you think I put in?” What? He said “I ran 4 miles inside the 5K.” How? He was running back and forth inside of the 5k. NO!

Saturday evening at 6:30 pm I decided to run another 4 miles. Totaling 43.10 on the week for me and 40.63 miles for David. I get home, shower and let the dog rest from our run.

I’m sitting in my living room, I just got done eating dinner and all of a sudden my phone goes off. It’s 9:30 pm and I see my text message bubble pop up. David admonished me for telling him I was going to stop at 40!

I didn’t respond. Now at this point David has a choice to make. Either quit and admit defeat or dig deep and push out another run at 10:00 pm on Saturday night. At 12:01 AM my phone goes off, it’s David.

David- responds with – It is now complete, accompanied by a screenshot of 45.5 miles total for the week. Needless to say I was annoyed by this. But I also took pleasure in knowing that he was going to have to make a choice to win, either quit or go run. He chose to continue to fight. Well done David!

Why did I share this story with you? Well, multiple reasons. You can mentally and physically push yourself further then you would ever believe you can. You just have to make a decision to go for it. Next, don’t just settle for good enough. Whatever you do, give 100%, not just enough to get the job done. Be willing to push yourself so far that you learn what your physical and mental boundaries are. Be willing to dig deep and deal with the pain, the challenges, the discomfort. From those moments you will truly find yourself and what you can accomplish.

And lastly, DON’T TOUCH MY BAR!

Train hard, be a beast!
Robert Mosier