My Shadow Haunts me


You check your shoes one last time and take that final opportunity to shake out your legs.  Your vision is fixated on the yellow jacket of a man that stands 100 meters away, and you are entranced by the light that reflects off his silver revolver.

Both his arms go up and the crowd is silenced by anticipation.  Everybody has come to watch somebody, but you feel a specific pair of eyes peering into your soul.  It’s a familiar feeling, and you know one particular competitor is checking to see if your brain and your heart are working as one today.

Your body is filled with tension as your toes rest at an immeasurable distance from a white line that has become the barrier between the hard work that lies ahead and the most important goals of your young running career. 

Smoke billows from the barrel of the gun and you explode from the line.  300 bodies jostle for position in a sea of elbows and spikes. Ten seconds of an all-out sprint and you begin to feel comfortable as you take the position you rightfully earned over a season of racing. Order has been restored to a social structure that is dictated by time.

The tension dissipates as you settle into the front pack, but the feeling of being watched has not gone away.  You glance to you right and there he is……..your nemesis; a shadow that seems to always appear during your biggest running moments.

Every competitive runner has someone they compete against.  It’s an innate desire of the human psyche that keeps us driven to achieve. Whether it’s a friendly rivalry, or bitter hatred, your nemesis is always in the back of your running subconscious.  After you are done with your job as an individual and a teammate, you always check to see where he is.  You lock horns with him each weekend; either on the race course or in a set of results.  The comparison is always made.

But what if that nemesis is your teammate and the battlefield extends beyond the race course to your daily practice? That’s the world Kevin Thomas and Joel Hubbard live in at Marshfield.  The two are arguably the best teammate duo in the state and they know the road to an individual title involves beating somebody that knows you all too well.

Imagine showing up to every practice knowing that the person standing next to you is going to present a challenge every step of the way. Most elite athletes are the best on their team, and the only thing they have to fight is their own internal doubts. The choice for Hubbard and Thomas is simple, step-up every day or get crushed.

What makes the duo so successful is that their running strengths are vastly different.  Thomas is an aerobic monster with an uncanny ability to push the pace.  Conversely, Hubbard has lethal foot speed that he unleashes after setting up his prey for three miles.  The running relationship is akin to that of Shayne Collins and Josh Lampron.  The Mansfield teammates from last season displayed the same profile; Collins pushed long runs with his 9:07 two mile stamina, and Lampron controlled intervals with his 4:05 mile speed.  Given the success of those two, it appears that Thomas and Hubbard have each stumbled upon the perfect training partner.

Credit has to be given to Coach Sheppard for not only coming up with an elite level training plan for his two stars, but also for having the wherewithal to manage the complex team dynamic.  Having one state contender on your team is tremendous pressure for a coach, but having two is unimaginable.  Coach Sheppard has done a tremendous job fostering a productive relationship between his talented team members.  Marshfield has remained in the rankings all season and Sheppard will be the first to tell you that having too many talented athletes is a good problem to have.

If the workout below is any indication, Hubbard and Thomas will be in the hunt for a win on Saturday.  They have the advantage of a teammate in the front pack, and anybody who plans on taking home the individual crown had better be prepared to deal with two athletes that will use their strengths to help each other.  If all goes well, one will win a state title, but unfortunately, one will not. Regardless of the outcome, both are always happy for the success of the other because they realize that working together is what got them to this point. 

Workout of the Week lives on in large part because of the tremendous efforts of Steve Infascelli.  We would like to thank him for filming and editing another great installment, and we would also like to thank the Marshfield program for participating. Talented athletes and talented coaches are always fun to watch. Enjoy!




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A Cog in the Lowell Machine - Lowell Boys

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