TGIF: Brian Costanzo

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This Goal Is Finished
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Today’s TGIF Achiever is an amazing mentor and leader for Matt, Brian Costanzo.  Although Brian has enjoyed plenty of career success, and deservedly so, the goal he chose to share with us to today is a personal one.  Brian did such an enjoyable job of telling the story that we are going to forego our traditional TGIF Interview format and let this achievement unfold on its own for you.

Have a wonderful Friday and weekend!

Is it the Goal or the Journey?
By Brian Costanzo

Brian, his wife and two awesome children. 

My name is Brian Costanzo, and I am a runner. To me, running is my time to meditate, my time to dream big, and my time to reflect on how fortunate I am for my health, success and relationships.

Needless to say, I set goals in my life regarding running. So last year, I ran my first relay race (Ragnar) with 11 other crazy people who wanted to run 200 miles in a 36-hour time period with little or no sleep (and riding around in a minivan). Sounds like fun, right?

To achieve any plan, one must prepare and train. I usually run 3–4 times a week for roughly 3–4 miles at a time. To train for the relay race, however, it’s recommended that you put in 30-40 miles a week (with a long run of 10-12 miles) for a few months in advance of the event. My goal was to run my three legs of the race under a 10-minute pace (OK, young runners … I’m not in my twenties anymore when my pace was in the sevens. Oh, how I miss that speed!). The goal for our team, called WTF (Waynewood Track and Field), was not to end up in last place in our category.

Waynewood Track and Field: The WTF Team

We took off at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, 24 September, and made our way to Cumberland, Maryland. Before the race, I shaved the head of Ben, one of our team members! The race started promptly at 8 a.m. with the sound of a horn, and off our first team member went. That is when reality sunk in, and I was a little nervous! It was already 90 degrees outside, and it was expected to tip over 100— not ideal running conditions!

My first leg of the relay race was eight miles— two miles flat, two miles up, an eight-percent grade, and then a rolling path. To be honest, the eight percent was freaking me out. My team members assured me, however, that I had put in enough training and that I would be just fine. I also think it was the “unknown” of not having run three times consecutively in a day, with no sleep and in the dark in some cases. That said, we did do several night runs with headlamps during training. With anything I do, I look at the positives and look to overcome the obstacles. I said to myself, “Whatever happens today, I know it is going to make for a good story or two.” We cheered on as the runners transitioned, and then drove up to the transition point, where I was scheduled to receive the bracelet.

Chatting with Christa at the transition point.

Ben arrived while I was chatting with Christa at the transition point. I started my journey of eight miles slow and steady. Every time I run, I always remember what they taught me when I ran marathons years ago: Do not to go out of the gate to fast; pace yourself, warm up and then test your endurance. With that in mind, I ran for 2 miles along a country road, where I passed a few barns and houses. It was a great run, and I was falling into a rhythm, confident and assured that this would be a breeze!

The scenery during our run. 

Remember that grade? I was conveniently forgetting it. I was so caught up in enjoying the moment that I paused on an old rusty steel bridge to look at the running water and listen to how quiet it was. I told myself that I need to stop and take it all in. The real test for me came as I was climbing up an old gravel road for two miles at that eight-percent grade. As I approached the hill, with the temperatures in the 90’s, I looked around and there were four to five other runners ahead or behind me. Along the entire race, there was many times that our team van would stop and motivate each other. Unfortunately, on this leg I was on my own when I needed encouragement the most.

The first five minutes were good. I took shorter strides and worked my way up the hill. I thought, “OK, I got this!” As I climbed the hill, I was sweating more and more. I drank more water, and that helped a bit, but I could feel my pace slowing down … so slow that I could see a caterpillar crossing in front of me. Then a woman passed me! (Ladies, don’t take that the wrong way … it’s just a guy/ego thing). When I passed her, another runner passed us both. We must have gone back and forth several times. And as much as it pains me to walk on a run, all of us walked and ran up that damn hill. We inspired each other and ran together.

Working through a leg of the relay. 

With my team hopefully at the top of the hill to cheer me on, I found new inspiration in this team that was tackling the hill together. We found strength in each other. As we crested the top of that hill, hearing the roar of the crowd, we gave each other high-fives. I went on to finish the rest of that leg, and overall I met my under-10-minute goal. It is amazing to me that my sense of accomplishment was not finishing my three legs or running with our last runner at the National Harbor. No, my accomplishment was taking it all in along the way, bonding with my team—as well as my new “hill team”—and making it up that hill. Goals can be anticlimactic. We are driven in life to achieve a number or a finish, and I encourage us all to stop and think about all the ways we grow along the way. The journey.

This September, when WTF gets back together for Year 2, I will not have the same fears of the unknown. I will train mentally and physically to achieve the results that I expect. As my dad says, and as I tell my own kids, “Practice makes perfect.” One of my goals will be to run under-10-minute miles, but my main goal is to get to know the rest of my 11 team members better and to bring my camera to capture the journey.

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