Allendale, MI – February 12, 2016

DNF – dropped @ 2600m (7:47)

(written on 1-22-21…)

After a winter of “healthy life routine” and solid training, I looked ahead at races that inspired me. I wasn’t into the “ultras” yet and wanted to run fast, so I signed up for an open 5K on the famed indoor track up at GVSU, a mere two hours north of New Carlisle, into the great state of Michigan. Grand Valley has always held a special place in my heart. Their legendary coach, Jerry Baltes, was also a New Prairie High alum and GVSU was one of the schools I had wanted to attend and compete at, post high-school. They boast one of the nicest indoor track facilities in the nation (300m!). I had run an open 1600m race there in February 2013, my senior year of high school, and really loved the surface and energy (I placed 2nd in my heat, in 4:25, one place behind eventual national champion and multiple-time NCAA All-American at Stanford, Grant Fisher, who ran 4:19 that day). Indoor track has always inspired me (energy + noise + winter fitness + repetition) and I’ve run some of my best performances indoors.

I put in some good sessions over the winter. February came quickly, however. My goal was to run under 15:00! My previous PR (and current PR, still!) was 15:51, run during my senior year of HS cross country in October 2012. I had confidence that I was a more mature, fitter runner than I was in HS, no doubt.

The gun went off and I soon found myself in the lead. I was nailing 300m splits very consistently and right on pace of sub-4:50/mi. I held the lead until maybe 2k, where I dropped to 3rd place or so. For some reason, the weight of the situation, the discomfort of running 4:48/mi pace, of being up at GVSU alone, making this trip for myself, doing all this training alone, trying to perform well in front of former coaches/teammates at U. of Southern Indiana whom I left for a girl back in 2014 (transferring to Valpo), and having these silly (unrealistic?) goals for myself…it all hit me hard and I became mentally fragile. I was just over halfway into the race, and decided to drop from the race at 2600m (7:47). I jogged straight to my cubby hole, grabbed my backpack that I had stashed, and marched upstairs to the grandstands, where I had set up camp.

I was embarrassed. Tired. Weak. Full of regret. Overthinking. Overanalyzing.

How could I actually DROP OUT of a track race? Not injured. Just weak. Couldn’t hang. Damn.

Before I left, I stayed for a few of the other races. I watched and admired the fitness of guys like Zach Panning and Tyler Pence, as my mind was consumed with personal dissatisfaction. How could I get to THAT level? By myself. No coach. No team. On my own dime.

Back to the drawing board.

(Side Notes: #1.) As I arrived and set up camp in the grandstands, I met an interesting couple who were in the row in front of me. AJ and Robin Baker, from Minnesota/Seattle, but had ties to Michigan. AJ was also racing an open 5K on that day. We talked about training, life, and trail running. At this time, I had already started to think deeper about ultrarunning. AJ was also into it. Good stuff. #2.) After I had gathered my belongings and found my Ford Explorer, I drove to the next town and devoured some Little Caesars, then found a local park along the Grand River and watched the ice bergs float by. A huge snow storm was letting loose and I needed to get back home to New Carlisle. The highways were in horrendous shape, and I could barely see. It was absolutely the worst weather I have ever driven in, to this day! I made it home, finally, after a stop at McDonalds to cure my woes.)


LaGrange, WI – May 14, 2016

DNF – dropped @ 30.5mi (~4h10m)


South Bend, IN – June 4, 2016

8th – 1:24:20


Plymouth, IN – September 5, 2016

DNF – dropped @ 6mi

Published by Nick Arndt

Runner of dirt, rocks, and pavement. Live/work/train in the Adirondack Mountains.

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