Peter Licari - Chase Pack Review: An Eventful Misnomer Jim Ryun Invitational 2012

Published by DyeStatFL
Sep 17th 2012, 10:32pm | 1741 views

Chase Pack Review: An Eventful Misnomer

Posted by Peter Licari on September 16, 2012 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

First off, I'm sorry that Friday's post is being posted today. I went home this weekend and I left my computer in my dorm, so I wasn't able to update Caustic Cookies. Even if I had brought it, the post wouldn't have been up until 3 A.M Saturday morning because I was out regaling in the very subject matter of this post with my girl, two of my best friends -Josh Enot and Andrew Giesel- and Josh's girlfriend, Rachel. Since Steph and I had plans for the next day, we hung out for maybe 45 minutes before splitting off again to hang out with friends. So Josh, Goose, Rachel, and I were all being uber cool kids, hanging out at Lazy Moon Pizza until 2 A.M.  My next race will be on a Saturday, so the next Chase Pack Review will be a bonus post for that week!

I had just arrived at the Adidas Jim Ryun Invitational. The sky was clear, the air was crisp (read below 80% humidity. This is Florida we're talking about), and I could feel the rage-steam broiling my brain like a pot-roast. I had just arrived at the Adidas Jim Ryun Invitational. I had arrived 20 minutes later than I wanted due to Google Maps' perorgative to screw with me.

Turn left at the corner of "Virtual Monopoly" and "Go F*ck Yourself"

The fact that I wasted nearly an eighth of a tank of gas trying to look for the field notwithstanding, I was actually feeling really good. My legs had finally decided to flush out the stubborn lactic acid out and I was feeling pretty chipper. On a side note, when was the last time you heard anyone under the age of 40 use the adjective chipper non-ironically? If your answer was never, there's a first for everything apparently.

My legs were feeling fresh and I was pretty excited. I mean, this was the Jim Ryun Invitational. Better yet, it was the Inaugural Jim Ryun Invitational! That meant that my odds of seeing the legend himself had to be pretty high.

For those who aren't aware of Mr. Ryun, I will try to write a brief synopsis of his accomplishments as I feel Hemmingway would:

Fast man: Olympic medalist, awesome person.

I grouped up with my team and proceeded with a run through of the course. The first thought that came to mind was: "Dang, this place isn't really stable." My second thought was: "Dang, for Florida, this place is really unstable and hilly." We had done it folks. Something that would have made Lewis and Clark turn green with envy. We found hills in Florida. Granted, they were artificially designed and developed just to inflict pain on innocent distance runners but hey, beggars can't be choosers. 

Fortunately for me, I spent more than 300 miles over the course of my summer running on a trail with eerily similar terrain. Seriously- the Flagler trail in Chuluota, Florida has some of the best dirt and sand to prepare your legs for racing on less-than-steady terrain. It was a pain in the rear, but I oddly felt at home. 

We went to the line with instructions to treat this like a more conserved tempo workout than an actual race; Coach Dror wanted us to work on our pack running. We were alright with that. After all, the field seemed anemic. I think there was maybe six teams there as a max. Some larger schools decided to send in their "B" Squad, but we were lonesome at the start. I think at one point, we managed to spread out everyone so that half the field had a starting box to themselves. 

I looked up at our starter for instructions and, sure as rain (I have dedicated this post to old idioms), there he was. Jim Ryun. The Jim Ryun was our starter! The thrill was almost enough to make us forget that we didn't have a gun to actually start the race. So Mr. Ryun just yelled "Go" and we bolted off. 

The first few kilometers were really relaxing. Brian Garcia from Florida College and Kyler Kathman of Southeastern University were up with us in the front. (Funny enough, I actually know both of them personally. Brian and his family were the ones who managed to help me find the dang course while Kyler and I competed against each other last year in the track district and regional 1600 and 3200. Both of them are the nicest kids you could talk to...but I'll quickly qualify that by adding "off the course." Extraordinarily genial, but both are fierce competitors). Other than those two, the front was dominated by UT Spartans. Our entire top 7 was nestled in this conglomerate. We continued forward, barking instructions and encouragement between bursts of breath. 

Well, "We" did up until the third kilometer. Then I was sort of the team chatterbox. It got to the point where Mike Z pretty much told me to shut up. To be honest, I really didn't give a damn. I have a tendency to talk when I'm feeling excited. We were through nearly 3 miles by that point and I was eager to go. And the best part was once we got there, we were allowed to loosen up and spread out. As soon as that mark hit, Lewis and Mike gave us some final instructions: "Don't try to sprint off and catch [Brian and Kyler (who had separated themselves at around 3k)]. Just work at it and go for it!"

It was like a second gun had gone off. Well, technically a first one but you know... Charles, Geremy, and I all lengthened out our strides and started to gain. Charles more successfully than Jeremy and I; he whizzed past Kyler and kept chugging until he was neck and neck with Brian. Jeremy and I were a bit more controlled, but no one could say we weren't gaining.

Well, Gary the Pessimist could've just said that they were just slowing down more so than we were, but who asked him anyways?

We zipped past the spectators and descended again into hilly, wooded seclusion. I was moving efficiently and feeling oddly relaxed. I passed Kyler on one of the hills and he gave me a smile. "Good job."

Seriously. Someone needs to canonize that child. 

I looked out ahead. Charles and Brian were just rolling through the hills. I was moving fast, and some part of me even hinted that I may be moving faster than they were, but the gap seemed nearly insurmountable. In retrospect, it was maybe 40 meters. If it was any longer, I would be surprised. But as we were descending one of the hills at around the 6th kilometer, I noticed something a little off: both of them were hurting. After running for a few years, one becomes pretty skilled at picking up on the nuances of decay. Charles and Brian were simultaneously showing the classic signs of fatigue. I was feeling fine. It was there that I knew...

I knew I was going to catch them come Hell or high water. It was going to hurt, I would have to work hard- I wasn't deluding myself. But I could do it. I just had to push.

The hills were becoming shorter and more frequent. This is tough for any runner to run through, especially when tired. When exhaustion creeps in, many have the proclivity to try and charge the hills and rest on the downhills. Perhaps it's to get the work done quicker, perhaps it's to try and break the other runner. Who knows? I do know that it's a double-edged sword. You might be able to demoralize your immediate opponent, but you'll wear yourself down trying. If you have a significant gap, then it doesn't matter. If your previously significant gap was being cut away by a determined college freshman, then it might not be the best strategy. 

I caught Charles before Brian. Charles gave me a tired "go get 'im" and I left without speaking. I was in a zone; there was no more need for words. 

I reached Brian by the 7th kilometer. He was done. I passed him smoothly on a slight decline. There was just over a half-mile remaining and I was leading. Part of me couldn't believe it. The rest of me reminded that fraction that we didn't have time for that. No time for thought. No time for anything other than driving the knees and propelling myself forward. No time for anything other than the race.

In the periphery of my senses, I could hear someone. Somehow I knew it was Geremy. He has a fast kick and a burning desire to win. So did I.

I came into the final quarter mile. I felt my arms start to pump like pistons. My legs responded in kind. Two more turns. 50 meters through sugar sand. Last turn, a quick 180 towards the finish chute. 100 meters left. The crowd is cheering. I hear my parents. I hear my coaches. I hear teammates and total strangers. All of them screaming for me. Although the way they said it differed, and the words they used varied, I knew they were all telling me to do the same thing:


I sprinted as hard as my legs would carry. Then I forced myself faster. First came the clock, then the finish line, then the dirt. I collapsed down, too tired to walk and too stunned to understand what I had just done.

I, a college freshman in my second 8k ever, had won. 

My father picked me up and everyone rushed over to congratulate me. But I don't think it really sank in for a while. Not until later that night where the top runners were handed their medals from Jim Ryun.

Actual medal

Even then, I was still feeling the rumbles of the aftershocks over the next 24 hours as I was vividly telling everyone what had happened. 

To add icing to the cake, UT men and women both dominated. The girls led by about 20 points and the guys team won by 67 points.

So I guess that this post was a misnomer. Normally this is supposed to be the chase pack review. A review from the perspective of an average contestant in college cross-country. I guess it just goes to show you that life gives funny little surprises like that. 

PS: Dr. Bob of Distance Preps was on site and interviewed a certain incredulous race winner. Check out the video here.


Peter writes for his personal blog at and also has written for



Hello. My name is Peter Licari and I’m a distance runner/ freelance writer. I’ve been running since I was in fifth grade and I’ve been writing for even longer. I ran for Hagerty High School under the tutelage of Matt Malkovich and Jay Getty. I was the MVP in Track and Cross Country for four years and currently hold the school record in every distance event and relay (and, incidentally, the school record for the most school records). While I was racing, I was also heavily focusing on my writing. I penned three unpublished, full-length novels and scores of published articles and poems. Running and writing are my two major passions and I pursue both of them with equal zeal. I managed to win four district titles and qualify for four state championships between the two sports. In regards to writing, I received the creative writing superlative at my high school for my stories and articles. I have been fortunate enough to be able to continue my running career on scholarship at the University of Tampa while being extremely humbled with the opportunity to write for Distance Preps. 

Read more from Peter HERE : - The Future Runs Now - Blogs - XC - Sport of the Dedicated

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