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STWM 2014

October 21, 2014

For the past week I’ve been in Toronto helping Canada Running Series with the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM).  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was mainly picking up athletes and agents from the airport and driving them to the hotel in downtown Toronto.  Saturday was making sure all the pacers knew their jobs, matching the pacers with runners and getting the runners set to go. At the race on Sunday I helped at the start and finish line.  Sunday afternoon and Monday there were a bunch more trips to the airport making sure everyone caught their flight.  Seeing all the work that goes into the elite part of the marathon was eye-opening and I had a good time working with Clif, Alan and the rest of the CRS crew.

Race day seemed really cold standing around but overall the conditions were good for a marathon. I was particularly excited about Eric Gillis and Robert Winslow who were both in shape to break 2:10 and 2:20 respectively. They both had good pacers and other runner(s) to key off of. Eric was lucky to have two good Kenyan pacers plus the Ukranian, Vitaliy Shafar.

Eric went through halfway in 64:47 (2:09:34 pace) with the other three guys. He looked very strong and I was excited about the record but knew to wait until the 30km and 35km splits before getting too excited. Shafar had a 5 second gap by 30km and he went on to break 2:10:10. Eric stayed behind one of his pacers through 32km and was still on pace, but slowing down at 35km. In the end he was able to come away with a 2:11:21 PB for 9th place. I thought it was a great run and shows how consistent Eric is, he’s run under 2:12:08 four times at STWM in four goes!  Gillis’ thoughts after the race.

I’ll admit that part of me would have been jealous if Eric broke the record while I watched from the sidelines. But more than anything I would like to see that record fall by my teammate and friend. It would also give me more confidence in our marathon training and motivate the heck out of me for 2015.

Robert Winslow finished in 2:20:11 (PB by ~2 minutes), good for 11th overall and 3rd Canadian (Kip Kangogo was 2nd Canadian).  Winslow was so close to sub 2:20 after opening in 69:33 through halfway.  I took particular satisfaction in Winslow’s PB as I helped estimate his paces for many workouts.

Taking the Ethiopians back to the airport on Monday was another adventure all together. Many of the athletes come with only two very small bags but leave with two enormous bags plus more than allowable carry-on.  The Ethiopian community in Toronto sends a ton of stuff back with them. One guy had a big box containing a new baby car seat on top of his luggage. Ten Ethiopians and two minivans should have been an easy fit. But with all the luggage we had to stack bags floor to ceiling, have the athletes sit and put bags on their laps and every other possible space. I have a feeling when the airline mentions extra baggage fees their english becomes much worse.

It was awesome working with the Kenyans, Ethiopians and other elite athletes over those six days. Being around so many talented, motivated individuals was energizing and I found myself cruising a 20km run on Monday morning when I should have been exhausted. Oh ya, I’m up to 20km of running now!

Four good articles that came out the past week:

Post STWM race article from The Star

Lure of the marathon COC website

Canadian Marathoner Reid Coolsaet in it for the long haul

Eric Gillis seeks to break 39 year-old Canadian record 

 

The whole STWM race is on youtube (feed starts at 1:05:05 and race starts at 1:35:10).

 

 

 

 

 

Command me to be well

September 30, 2014

Today I got back my latest MRI results and there are very positive signs of healing. I’m not sure I’m ready to go full out yet, but I’m well on my way. In the past 4 weeks I managed to go from 1km of running to 7km yesterday.  My body feels great, no pain and I’m moving more smoothly than I have in a long time. I suppose feeling smooth is to be expected when running less than 30km/week. To gain fitness I’ve been water running for 100 minutes six days a week. The pool is boring but I feel it’s the best way for me to get back in shape. I figure pool running will be my main activity through October while I build up my running. If all goes well I’ll get in 2-3 months of solid running before I make a decision to run a marathon next Spring (April or May). The Olympic qualifying window for the marathon should open up in early 2015. That would give the marathoners three decent shots at qualifying (Winter/Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter/Spring 2016). It would be great if I could maximize my attempts but there is no sense forcing a marathon and I’ll only run a marathon if I feel I can do a proper build-up. On Saturday we hosted the 3rd Kids for Kenya Toilet Run at Churchill Park in Hamilton. The event has continued to grow each year and I’m sure when the total gets added up we’ll be able to fund a couple more toilets for schools in Kenya. Here’s a video of the event from Get Out There magazine:

No sleep ’till …

September 2, 2014

In my last web log I still felt a sharp pain in my pubic bone when I tried to run. No surprise then when my Aug 1st MRI still had a fracture present. In the past few weeks I’ve been feeling better and more comfortable moving around. It’s small things such as running up a few stairs or picking it up a little when crossing a road when I notice that my injury has improved.

Yesterday was the first day that I tried running for any sort of distance. I ran 1km without any sharp pain, just a dull ache in my pubic bone, which is to be expected coming back from a fracture. The next month or so will be slow-going, I’m ready to be patient and focus on 2015. I’m going to see my doctor this week to go over the next phase. The main thing will be taking my time as I probably need to heal some more and I don’t want to run into other problems. That means it will take me at least one month to build up to a 10km easy run. After 14 weeks without running I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes me 14 weeks to get back to a good level of running fitness.

In the past few weeks I’ve been walking 1.5 – 2.5 hours a day. This gets me out of the house, walking on trails while listening to podcasts. It’s important to have some weight bearing activity in my legs before I start running again. This is also my second week of pool running. It’s been good getting in some exercise again, my brain is happier with movement.

Just out on a walk, phone in hand.

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Knowing in early August that I needed more rest I made plans for a road trip to Brooklyn to see Arcade Fire. I’ve been to NYC many times and I’ve only been to Brooklyn once and I’ve always wanted to check it out and figured there was no better time than the present.

My goal was to drive to Brooklyn and never leave the borough throughout the trip and fully explore the neighbourhoods. My girlfriend found a road race in Harlem on Saturday morning so we made an exception for a few hours so she could race a 5km.  We stayed in Park Slope and checked out Willamsburg, Downtown, Gowanus and Cobble Hill. Brooklyn is the hippest place to live, so many cool restaurants, pubs and shops. The Arcade Fire concert at Barclays was amazing, they put on a great show.

The next day we went to Harlem for the road race and I did a little Big L tour and made the quick walk over to 139th and Lennox. Later that day we saw Boyhood at a theatre at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, I highly recommend it. I would have liked to stay in Brooklyn longer but restaurants get expensive very quickly, especially on an injured runner’s salary.

 

Park Slope brownstones.

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Arcade Fire Friday (aug 22) night at Braclays Center.

 

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Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn.

 

 

 

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Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn.

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I’m down, but I’m not defeated

August 4, 2014

10 weeks ago when I decided I needed to rest there was a fear in the back of my head that even with complete rest my injury would still be present. That fear became a reality when I tried running two weeks ago and the pain in my groin felt the same. I’ve had a couple broken bones in the past so I know the achy pain which dissipates when I start using that area again. The pain in my groin is still sharp.

The first five weeks I took off weren’t that bad, somewhat enjoyable. Taking some time off can be a good thing. During that time I was patient and embraced the idleness. However, not doing any activity for 5 weeks, 6 weeks, 7 weeks.. started to take it’s toll and I was anxious to be active again. I started doing some light mobility exercises, eating healthy and getting back some routine in my life. I was getting excited about training again because I thought I was nearing the end of the tunnel.

Part of me hoped that the pain I felt day-to-day was just scar tissue and with a little exercise it would clear up so I decided to do a little running after 8 weeks. My plan was not to exceed 10 minutes. I wish I would have had to hold myself back, instead I barely made it to one minute. I ended up jogging 4 x 1 minute with one minute walk in between, (I haven’t run since).

That really deflated my hopes of coming back. Not to sound overly dramatic but I think it’s natural to wonder if this is the end of the line. If I didn’t think I have the ability to run a PB in the marathon perhaps I would call it a career and focus on something else and shift my running away from high-end goals. At this point I, first and foremost, want to resume an active lifestyle.

After feeling sorry for myself I scheduled a doctor’s appointment and a subsequent MRI. Hopefully on Thursday I’ll get the MRI results and figure out what the next steps are. From this MRI they should be able to establish what isn’t healing and what needs to be fixed. Perhaps the bone chip was detached for so long that it smoothed over and time-off alone was never going to re-attach it? Maybe there is a surgery that can fix me?

 

The Commonwealth Games were great to watch. The men’s 10,000m was the highlight for me, watching Cam Levins go for gold down the homestretch was incredible. Watching 40 year old Jo Pavey get bronze in the women’s 5000m was inspirational, especially if you realize the setbacks she’s had over her career. Nick Wills’ kick in the 1500m was out of this world, bummer he wasn’t in better position with 200m to go. Watching Zane Robertson snag a medal in the 5000m was cool knowing his and his twin brother’s story, check out the film “Running Away From Nothing.” Kate Van Buskirk made a big step in the right direction by grabbing bronze in the 1500m.

Michael Shelly showed, once again, that he is a brilliant championship marathon runner by winning the gold medal in Glasgow (with a 2:11:15 PB). He finished second four years ago in Delhi and at the 2012 Olympics ran even splits of 67:05 to finish 16th overall.  He’s likely to run a big PB with the right race.

The men’s road cycling was a great race. It was absolutely pouring rain for most the 168km criterium course and the whole field dwindled down to just 12 finishers by the end (from over 140 starters!).  With about 11km to go Geraint Thomas dispatched Jack Bauer and Simon Thwaites with a decisive move. It was pretty clear that Thomas was going to win barring disaster as he held a 45 second lead with about 6km to go. Then disaster struck, he punctured his front tire and had to get a wheel change. The change didn’t look as though it was really quick and I thought the chasers were going to catch up, although they didn’t. His lead was cut down to 20 seconds and he managed to hold them off and win the gold.

I took my girlfriend to her first baseball game ever the other night. The Detroit Tigers scored in every inning they were at bat to win 11-5 over Colorado. I told her this was rare, although I didn’t realize just how rare it is. It’s the first time the Tigers have ever done it (unless they did it before 1912, record keeping wasn’t so good back then). It’s the first MLB game since 2006 to have such a feat. And it’s only been done 15 times, ever.

 

 

Bedlam in Belgium

July 3, 2014

A month has passed since my last post so I figure I’d throw out an update.

In the past month I haven’t done any exercise. Whenever I tell people this they ask about cross-training and I tell them nothing, nada. I don’t even walk to the grocery store because then I would have to carry groceries home. It’s been a huge lifestyle change for me but because I know it’s what I need to do I’ve embraced the lifestyle. I’m taking this rest seriously, as I would any activity that will eventually make me run faster.

Surely all this rest must be helping my body repair itself.  It’s tough to gauge though because I actually feel more sore at times (mainly when I wake up). I take that as a sign of healing. I also haven’t tested it with any exercise so I don’t know how it would feel with real strain.

I’m still going to wait another two weeks before I start any cross-training or running. It’s going to be a slow process to get back into shape and I’m ready to be patient.

In the meantime I’ve started to get acupuncture, for overall healing, from Brendan Cleary in Georgetown and I got some heel lifts from Applied Biomechanics in Guelph.

So far so good for Belgium in the World Cup!

I built my 3-D printer in a couple of days and then thought I’d just simply hit ‘print’ to make things. Turns out it’s a little more complicated than that… The software took a little figuring out and then calibrating the printer is a skill in itself. I finally got some items printed. It was a pretty neat project and it’s interesting to print harder objects.

I was a little intimated at first with all these pieces…

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Getting there…

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Finished printer – the spool of filament gets fed into the red extruder and melts it at 200C

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Bottle opener and 4 of 9 pieces of a gun

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Printer in action

 

 

I went to Vancouver the other week. My initial plan was to run the Scotiabank Half Marathon and then stay for my sister’s graduation. I still kept the same flights to watch the half, celebrate Rob Watson’s birthday and then spend some time with my family. My parents, aunt and Grandy came in from Michigan, my brother from South Africa and cousin from LA. I’m very proud to say that my sister in now a Naturopathic Doctor!

Family at graduation dinner.

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Grandy imitating a sculpture in Vancouver.

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My garden is coming along quite well.

Week one

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Week 3

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week 5

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Baby, be good, do what you should, you know it will be alright

June 3, 2014

I put off writing this blog until I could properly explain my injury and prognosis. Last week I had an arthrogram and MRI to check for a labral tear and sports hernia. Turns out I have a slight labral tear and an avulsion which has similar signs to a sports hernia.

The tear in my labrum is probably not affecting me much, if at all. The main problem is a “thin linear fluid cleft separating the pubis from the rectus abdominus-adductor aponeurotic plate, with a tiny avulsed periosteal or osseous fragment, in keeping with a right aponeurotic plate tear/adductor avulsion,” at the right pubic bone. When I first read the report I didn’t understand much. After google searches I understood a little more. This morning my doctor made it all very clear to me. Basically my rectus abdominus ripped off my pubic bone and took a little piece with it.

I’ve been feeling this pain in deferent degrees for years, I’m not really sure how long I’ve been carrying it. It’s similar to a sports hernia and it would be great to run without it. At the 2014 London marathon the muscles around my injury tightened up and it would be swell if that didn’t happen in the future.

This is an injury which needs 4-6 weeks of rest (1 week rest down) to let the bone re-attach and the muscle repair itself. That means complete rest for at least 4 weeks, no cross-training. I could elect to cross-train after four weeks but I’d rather not test it too soon and risk re-injuring myself.

Why did this happen?… It’s an repetitive overuse injury that affected my right side due to having a shorter right leg. In the future I will be running with some sort of lift in my right shoe. I still need to see an orthopedist for that.

In the past few years I’ve devoted myself to the marathon, often neglecting other aspects of my life. I have the mindset that if I’m going to pursue my dream that I’m going to do it 100%.  When running is going well it makes sense. How much more could I put on my plate? Would I have made the Olympics if I had spread myself thinner? However, when I’m stuck with six weeks of no physical activity it’s a lot of free time. I’m even weary to cruise around on my skateboard, leisure bike rides or kayak down the Speed River. The other problem is that I eat out of boredom. I don’t even own a scale but it might be a good tool to keep things from getting too out of control (a little out of hand is fine).

There are a few projects that I’ve had in the back of my mind that I might go forward with now that I have ample free time. Building a 3-D printer, planting a vegetable garden, learn how to edit video and finish Road to London, start personal coaching… I also thought about travelling, but would have to consider therapy too. The reality; lots of reading, watching movies, World Cup and full stages of Le Tour.

I’ve already sketched out possible future races (long-term outlook) depending on when I get back to running and subsequently back into shape. My main focus is 2015 when the Olympic marathon qualifying window will surely open. Speaking of teams, I think it goes without saying I won’t be going to Commonwealth Games this summer. I’ve qualified but when the team list comes out this week don’t expect to see my name on it as I already told Athletics Canada I won’t be going. That was a decision I made after London when I ran 2:13 and would have rather attempted to improve on that time in the fall.

Blog updates will be infrequent over the next couple of months. Thanks for reading.

 

I met myself in a dream

May 20, 2014

Slowly but surely my fitness is coming back. My right hip/groin/abdomen injury has been been improving except for a little setback yesterday. We did a track session (8 x 800m) that went well. I eased into the 800’s and felt good throughout and then my right hip tightened up on the cool-down. It’s a little better today after a bunch of foam rolling and I think/hope it will keep improving. Next week I have an MRI to see exactly what’s up.

This weekend I’m going to pace Gillis at the Ottawa Marathon. I feel I’m fit enough to help him out and hopefully pace him past halfway. It’s a good thing I decided to pace Gillis because it motivated me to get in shape despite my injury constantly annoying me. From Ottawa I’ll have four weeks to get in some good sessions before I head to Vancouver for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon #SVHM.

I ran SVHM in 2012 and missed the record by 6 or 7 seconds. There is a bonus for the record so it would be worth it for me to pay a little more attention to the clock this time around. It’s a fun course, running from UBC to Stanley Park with a tough go over the Burard street bridge around 18km. Press Release.

On May 31st we have the Speed River Inferno Presented by New Balance at The University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium. If all goes well I’ll pace the 5000m at the Inferno. That depends on my recovery from pacing Ottawa. Everyone is welcome to join the Road Mile 7:30pm on the 30th and the fun run 8am on the 31st

I’m looking forward to these pacing duties. It’s a fun way to get in a solid session and I get to help out my teammates. If things are going well I can stay in longer and if I’m having an off-day I can pull the plug early. There is of course pressure to hit specific paces and I feel confident with marathon pacing. Hitting 65 second 400’s is harder because I rarely run that fast anymore.

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