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Daniel Herrera — Race Reflections of a Miler: USATF Distance Classic 1500m

 Daniel, in the olive hat, competes in Section 1 of the men's 1500m at the USATF Distance Classic.

Daniel, in the olive hat, competes in Section 1 of the men's 1500m at the USATF Distance Classic.

The following post was generously composed by High Performance West Elite athlete Daniel Herrera, the Mexican record holder in the 1 Mile outdoors (3:56.13), hours after his 6th place performance in his section of the 1500m at the USATF Distance Classic in a new lifetime best of 3:39.45. 

Enjoy! // jm

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Don't be fooled, running a personal best hurts. I admit to forgetting this fact with incredible frequency.

Falling victim to the illusion of effortlessness is appealing. It’s commonly romanticized. And far too often I chase this promise of effortlessness and wrongly hope for the racing effort to feel easy.

It never does.

Racing the 1500m and then pacing the 5,000m at a national class level in the USATF Middle Distance Classic was no picnic. In the 1500m I established a new lifetime best, 3:39.45, and then afterwards paved the way for 5 laps for a capable 5K field at 64.0/400m clip. 

Don't be fooled, every single step past 200 meters required all my effort. 

Easy was nowhere to be found. It never is. At this point in my career I shouldn't be surprised, and yet I remain hopeful and thus, delusional. 

Harun Abda was tasked with leading our 1500 field through 1,000 meters. Fighting the urge to become complacent mid-race, I focused on each lap, pressing more and more as they clicked by. 

400 meters. Press.

800m. Press.

1200 meters. Press. Press. Press.

"No matter what," I told myself, "don't you dare stop pressing. Not even for an instant."

I opened wide with 300 meters to the finish, positioning myself for whatever sprint I could muster in the final 40 seconds. To my disappointment, there wasn’t enough in me that day to pass my competition. The easy feeling alluded me, again, as it always does. But no matter. Press on I did.

There is no “easy” in high performance racing, only the mirage of easy. The thought that any step in a high performance race will be easy is a thief in the night. 

Since turning pro nearly 3 years ago, accepting, dealing with and overcoming this unavoidable reality has become more salient. It is a truth I have found to be invaluable.

I hope to be privileged to refine this ability further and that it sculpts me into a version of my best self. One who, hopefully, won't be fooled by the myth of "easy" any longer, who instead, opts to press.

But for now, I'm grateful to celebrate a small win of a personal best, even though I'll be back racing soon for that big win.

 

¡Viva el sombrero! — Daniel H

Jonathan Marcus