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Tim Rossi thinks he can shave 16 minutes off his marathon time

Editor's Note: I once described New York native Tim Rossi as a junkyard dog (to him, which might not have been taken well) for his tendency to show up at any and every race from a mile upwards in NYC (to be honest I think he’d race you to the next block if you were up for it). He’s out racing every week, fighting his way through injuries and a bitter NYC winter, flying the flag for his crew, Lostboys.

TEMPO asked Tim to share his race goals for 2018. Check out Tim’s goals and then reassess your own.

“People conceptualize conditioning in different ways," he said. "Some think it's a ladder straight up. Others see plateaus, blockages, ceilings. I see it as a geometric spiraling upward, with each spin of the circle taking you a different distance upward. Some spins may even take you downward, just gathering momentum for the next upswing. Sometimes you will work your fanny off and see very little gain; other times you will amaze yourself and not really know why". – Bruce Denton on fitness in Once a Runner.


“Tim Rossi is an idiot"

I can hear the message board posters already, except that I’m not a nearly good enough runner to show up on the message boards at all.

Regardless, I like to think that I have enough self-awareness to realize that my running goals are gaudy enough to breed some sort of extreme response, which will generally boil down to “Tim is clearly out of his mind”.

Instead of beating around the bush and laying out my defense before stating my goals, I’m going to just throw them out there. They are:

  • A Sub-2:30 Marathon (by the end of 2018)
  • A Sub-1:12 Half (by the end of 2018)
  • Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifier (eventually)

And for context, my current PRs are the following:

  • Marathon: 2:46:12 (2015, most recent was a 2:52:59 in Boston 2017)
  • Half: 1:14:37 (NYC half 2017, that is my most recent half)
  • Trials: Definitely not Olympic stuff.

So yes, I realize that I’m looking to take chunks off these PRs, to the point where any normal person would think I’m nuts. But, in a sport that is extremely black and white, these numbers do not tell the whole story.

My most recent marathon doesn’t tell how I trained for it on what I later discovered to be a stress-reaction in my right shin after taking pretty much all of 2016 to recover from 2-successive stress fractures (one in my left foot, one in my right foot just to keep things symmetrical), running all of 30 MPW (average, it was more of a 40-mile week followed by a 10-mile week over an over again) during the training cycle.

It also doesn’t tell how this same training helped me remain sane while my dad was hospitalized after suffering a minor heart attack and having quadruple-bypass surgery two days before I ran my half PR of 1:14:37. Or how I started running “seriously” in 2014 to train for my first marathon after only running to enable beer consumption during college (i.e. to keep from getting fat from consuming beer).

Regardless, people will ask why; why those goals?

My response? It’s complicated.


I thrive off competition, I love working within running and seeing the results. It’s one of the reasons that I race so often on the NYC road circuit, and recently I have been finishing in times and places that I never dreamed of previously. I’ve ran the same 4-6 mile courses minutes faster than I ever have previously. But more importantly, I’m finishing next to people I used to dream of finishing close to.

The NYC running scene isn’t all that big once you’re in it. There is a line somewhere (I believe in Again to Carthage) about how races may contain thousands of people but once the gun goes off you are racing the same 4 or 5 guys you’ve raced every time before. This is true of NYC as well; run enough races and you will be pushing with the same familiar faces time and time again.

Except, for me, that’s not true anymore. I’m now finishing minutes ahead of those same faces I rubbed elbows with in 2015 and 2016, swapping those faces out for the guys that I thought were on another level back then. The people that I used to berate with training questions are now the same people that I want to break on race day.

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“Mentally, I am beyond my PRs, and I am past barriers that appeared enormous in the past. The last two marathons I’ve ran I’ve wanted to go sub 2:40.

Now, I truly believe that setting that goal would be selling myself short”.

I need to believe that I am on one of the major upswings that Bruce Denton talks about, because why would I believe anything else?


With that said, I do believe that marathon pace displays itself to you over a training cycle, and I’m very willing to adjust my goals based on training. But saying that I am going for these goals excites me, it gets me out of bed for those snowy 10 mile slogs after workout days and through the middle-miles of tough tempos. Running itself has done a ton for me, and I run for many reasons, but these goals are a big part.

And if they are crazy? So be it, I’ll be crazy.

I’d rather dream than never try.

And so I’ll leave you with this:

"'You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky’ – Michael Scott” – Tim Rossi. Stay lost.

Editor's Note: We'll check in with Tim throughout 2018 and see how he's going.

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