Chasing Chris Pollack

Chasing Chris Pollack

It was December 2007.  I had trained hard for the last 20 weeks for this big event.  I was ready.  I had run three previous marathons but I had yet to qualify for Boston.  The weather was perfect on that Sunday morning.  My wife, daughter, mother-in-law and sister-in-law had come out to cheer me on.  They were planning on seeing me at a few different spots along the course then waiting for me at the finish line.  I needed to run under 3 hours and 10 minutes in order to achieve that elusive Boston Qualifier Time.  This was the one.  I was trained, rested, motivated, and I had great support.  I could feel it.

When I crossed that finish line and saw 3:08 on the clock, I was irrationally ecstatic.  I know it sounds silly to say but I would put this moment just below getting married and having children as far as life accomplishments go.  I worked my way through the finishers line to find my family.  My wife and 2 year old daughter were bouncing with excitement as well.  We celebrated together for a few moments before finding the rest of my family.  Then the mood changed.

“Wow, Nick!! 3:08 is amazing.  Great job,” my mother-in-law said.  Then she spoke the words that would shape my running life for the next 5 years: “Did you see that Chris Pollack finished in 2:58?”

Stop the music.  I had never heard this name before.  I had no idea who Chris Pollack was and I didn’t really care to know.  There were hundreds of people that ran faster than I ran that day.  But all of a sudden, one of these people had a name and he was somehow inserted into my celebration.  How dare he take this moment from me.  And so I began Chasing Chris Pollack…

I run a few local half-marathons and marathons every year and after that day in 2007 it became a ritual of mine to check the times online after each race.  I first search for my name, check my time, and allow myself a moment to celebrate another accomplishment.  Then I search for Chris Pollack.  He happens to run most of the same races that I do and he happens to run them a few minutes faster than I do… every single time.

But I’ve been gaining on him.  Last December at CIM, I ran the fastest race of my life to finish in 2 hours and 49 minutes only to find that Chris Pollack ran it 18 seconds faster.  Darn you, Chris.

Yesterday was my 8th time running CIM.  It rained like crazy the whole time.  I’m not in the same shape I was last year so I knew that I wasn’t going to PR but I wanted to come in under 3 hours.  I ran a decent race even though I hit the proverbial wall around mile 23.  I crossed the finish line, sopping wet, in 2:59:30.  It felt really good.  It went from good to great later in the day when I checked the times online and saw that my nemesis crossed the line about 20 seconds after me.  I might have noticed him during the race except that I’ve never met him and even after a little online research (creepy, I know), I’m not exactly sure what he looks like.

As I have shared the “Chasing Chris Pollack” story with friends and family a few times over the past years, we’ve often joked about the day that I finally do beat him.  Some friends have suggested that it would be delightful if I would aggressively get in his face and say something like, “Who’s the fastest now, Chris?”  He would likely stare at me for a few seconds with a look of confusion before asking something like, “I’m sorry, do I know you?”

Well Chris, maybe we don’t know each other.  And maybe you don’t know that we’ve been in a bitter competition for the last 5 years.  Even still, thanks for the motivation.  Oh, and sorry I had to embarrass you like that yesterday.  See you soon.

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About Mr. Zerwas

Passionate about Family, Health, Fitness, Nutrition and Multimedia - Teaching Video and Broadcasting and Del Oro High School in Loomis, CA

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  1. I beat him again – but not really | - December 8, 2014

    […] doesn’t know me at all (we’ve literally never met) but he became my nemesis after unintentionally darkening one of the best moments of my life 7 years ago.  In the weeks preceding the marathon this year I decided to simplify things a bit.  I decided […]

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