First Person: Chris Zablocki
I’m not very good at doing tricks with balls, so I started running after I got cut from the Xavier soccer team. Once I started running, I began to like it more and more because I realized that if you try hard, you win. It’s not like sailing or team sports that have many other variables. With running, you keep improving if you work hard. And I was lucky to have lots of encouraging family, friends, and coaches. Coach Michalski would get so angry if his runners didn’t try as hard as they could. He would sometimes even take out his frustration on steeplechase barriers and other such objects. He was a very good and motivating coach. His assistant, Coach Swift (no lie, that’s his name), had run the marathon in the world championships. We ran before and after school. Unfortunately, I became anemic and ran so slowly that I almost quit. I would have if my friends didn’t urge me not to. I was very surprised I got to go to Dartmouth College, and at the beginning of my freshman year some guys asked what I was doing on the team because I was so slow. But things got better somehow.
When I’m not running I also like to mountain bike (won the Nutmeg State Games one year and totaled my bike the next) and road bike and open water swim (but I usually have someone in my kayak with me in case a monster fish comes).
When I’m not involved in anything aerobic or endurance related, I like to garden chard, tomatoes, and sunflowers. I also like to paint; I exhibited an art show back in January, mostly of the Marshall Islands. I was on Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands for a year and taught world history at the high school there, and then the chemistry teacher tragically died the first week, so I taught those classes as well even though I failed chemistry in college. I also coached a marathon team while there, and after we went for a 20 mile run on the jungle road, the National Olympic Committee gave us a few thousand dollars to go race the marathon at the Kwajalein Atoll Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Test Base. It was really interesting at the base so when I got back I joined the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. But working for 23 hours a day and getting screamed at for not lacing my boots fast enough lost its appeal and I came up with the better idea of fixing people instead of killing them. So even though I don’t like chemistry and failed it in college, I went to finish the med school pre-reqs and will be finished with the post-bac at CCSU at the end of the summer. I just applied to American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine on St. Maarten. I also applied to NE Distance in case it’s not yet time to move on from racing competitively.
This year has been going better than expected. It would be awesome to be like Emil Zatopek or Ryan Hall. When I raced the Tallahassee Marathon, I met a Kenyan named Pete who said it was a good idea to race marathons every two weeks or so. He did it to save up money to buy used diesel tractors for his farm in Kenya and go bowling. I decided to try out his advice, and it has worked pretty well. I got a 2:17 PR in Virginia Beach two weeks after racing another in Albany, Georgia. I was hoping to go even faster in Vermont, especially since my friends drove through a snowstorm to come cheer, but it didn’t happen; it was very rainy. This summer I am looking forward to racing the World Mountain Championships qualifier with my old teammate Glen and coaching the Running Rams Track and Field Camp.
|Zablocki’s Day in the Life
|Wakeup and workout: 2×50 pushups & 3×8 dumbbell twists. Breakfast: cup of Grapenuts, a spoonful of peanut butter, and some orange juice.
Run: 13.7 miles out and back on River Road as fast or slow as the legs feel like going, usually with some surges on the way back.
|Return home for core work: 1×30 pull-ups, 1×20 pull-ups, & 100 bicycle crunches. Refuel: chocolate milk and a bowl of oatmeal with Grapenuts. Drive to CCSU in New Britain.
|Organic chemistry. My lab partner Shelbi explodes extraction flasks of acid in my face.
|Microbiology. Get back papers with points taken off because they are technically correct but still somehow wrong.
|Organic chemistry problems in the library. Lunch: ham and kale sandwich, orange, yogurt, peanuts, water.
|Middlesex Hospital. Visit joint replacement patients and meet interesting people. Help a lady look for her dentures while she tells hunting stories only to later find out that her teeth are in a different town.
|Workout: treadmill (1 mile @ 7% incline warmup, 3-4 miles @ 2.5% incline with 30-60 second sprints added in @ 10-15% incline, so it doesn’t get boring). Swim: intervals of 100m crawl, backstroke, kicking with flippers, 25m butterfly. 1500m total.
|Dinner: varies but includes an iron pill. Check email and go to sleep.
|Not much different than a weekday. If no race or other commitments, make the morning run closer to 2 1/2 or 3 hours since I like to just keep running. I also include some post-run drills such as rock hurl lunges (the rock is about 40 pounds and I named it Matt Pelletier as a way to motivate myself while getting ready for VCM) and pull-ups on my pull-up tree. I believe that the correct way to train is to stuff the biggest engine into the smallest package. On the weekend, I also take more time for breakfast, have a sandwich with eggs over hard, cheese, salsa, hot sauce, kale, with some oatmeal on the side and some orange juice.If I’m racing, wakeup, do jumping jacks and pushups to get pumped up, then drive to the place and race. I try to swim after races; it makes me feel recovered and strong again.
Chris Zablocki ultimately chose to go to med school this fall, and he is now studying in St. Maarten. This article was originally published in the July/August issue of Level Renner, which can be downloaded for free (along with all of our back issues). Get your free subscription today, which also will make you eligible for our subscriber only contests.