An article came out today about how the Canadian marathoners who achieved Olympic standards in 2015 have to show “competitive readiness” in order to be selected to the Olympic games this summer.
I thought I’d write a little more on the subject and let you know how I feel about all of this.
First of all my goal this Olympics is to finish in the top 15. If by July I don’t feel that I’m on track to finish in the top 20 I would rather forgo the Olympics and run a marathon this fall with proper training. At this point in my career I’m not looking for experience (like I may have in past Olympics) as this is likely my last Olympics.
I completely understand Athletic Canada’s position to make sure that they are sending fit athletes. If I was running a federation I would want to make sure that athletes who hit standard in 2015 are on track for at least that same level of performance come the Olympics.
My “competitive readiness” contract with AC was to run a half marathon in the same range in which I have done before my 5 marathons which fell in the 2:10:28-2:11:24 range. My average time for a half going into those races was 63:36. I felt this was a fair target for me.
Unfortunately I came up with an injury in the final weeks before Cardiff and knew my race would likely be compromised. I felt I was in 62:xx shape and figured my injury would likely slow me down to a 63 mid. My plan was to get the standard out of the way and then have a couple of recovery weeks before ramping up the training again.
For the first 15km of Cardiff I was running on pace for 63-mid, the effort felt relatively easy aerobically. Then the injury started to show itself and the weather really picked up after 15km and I slowed. The article says how Lanni ran close to her PB and I did not. Lanni did run really well, however as weird as it sounds, the weather didn’t get really nasty until our last 3-4km. By then the women were already done as they started before us.
(Video of the end of Cardiff once things got nasty)
While it’s true I did pick my target and the race in which I was to achieve it I think it’s unfair to say I chose the weather. The day prior to race day in Cardiff the weather was near perfect. When it comes to showing “competitive readiness” or “proving fitness” I think weather has to be factored in. This is not about hitting the Olympic standard to be eligible, this is about showing that you’re on your way to perform your best come August.
In March 2011 I ran 62:42 at the NYC half marathon (slight downhill). After that race my workouts got better and I felt I was in better shape going into Montreal half one month later. It ended up being windy in Montreal and I ran 64:55. I was in no worse shape one month later but windy conditions and running alone will net very different results.
I looked at the results from Cardiff knowing that many guys were slower than their PB’s. I took the top 60 finishers and looked at the difference between their times and PB’s. I didn’t take into consideration runners beyond 60 as there was some major blow-ups (one guy 13 minutes off PB) and thought it would be unfair. On average, guys who finished in the top 60 were 1:54 slower than their PB with 9 guys posting PB’s. I was 1:40 off of my legal PB. Relatively I didn’t do so bad in that race, even though, personally, it was a disappointment.
It’s not as if we can race half marathons all the time, and there are two good reasons for that. First of all it’s hard on the body to race many of them. Secondly, there aren’t many available at certain times of the year, just like marathons you really only see halfs held in the Spring and Fall (cooler temperatures).
In 2014 at the World Half Marathon championships under nice conditions 38th place (my place at 2016 World Half) was 1:02:27. Not that that stat carries any weight, but still interesting to note.
Also good to note that my 2:10:28 that I ran in September is 2 minutes and 22 seconds under the Canadian Olympic standard. It’s not as though I just barely got under. The other marathon I ran in the qualifying period (2:11:24) is 1 minute 26 seconds under the standard.
So where does this leave me?
Let me preface my plans with this: The last two weeks were supposed to be recovery weeks, I would normally have been running lower volume and lower intensity. Because this injury is lingering I have been cross-training. That is to say I’m not about to run a fast half anytime soon, not that a half marathon in April was ever in the plan.
Looking at the calendar we have just over 18 weeks until the Olympic marathon and I’ve primarily been on the bike and in the pool since Cardiff (similar timeline as before I ran Fukuoka in 2013 after having fractured my clavicle). Hopefully this injury clears up soon and I can get back on track for Ottawa 10km at the end of May, then Toronto Waterfront 10km in June and Boilermaker 15km in July (that’s my original race plan).
Now AC wants me to run another half marathon to show “competitive readiness.” If there was a good half marathon in North America available 6 weeks before the Olympics (on July 10th) then I would happily run there as that is what I normally do anyways (run a half 5-6 weeks out).
The Utica Boilermaker 15km is July 10th (6 weeks out) and I would be more than happy to run that to show fitness. It would also be a great race for me to peak on August 21st. Hence why I included it in my original plan.
There are a couple of good half marathons in Europe (Hamburg and Olomouc) on June 25th. This would be 8 weeks out from Rio marathon. That is usually when I would run 43-45km with 10-12km at race pace. If I need to prove fitness that week obviously I would need to cut that big run out of my program and have a lower volume week (especially once you factor in travelling overseas). Also, June 25th could come with hot temperatures in Hamburg or Olomouc and if AC isn’t going to factor in weather then I could get screwed again. Not that a slower time in heat would be a reflection of my fitness but a reflection of the conditions.
My current injury got bad from a long flight, so if it seems as though I’m not excited about travelling overseas 8 weeks before Rio… you’re right. At least in Rio when I land (if I go) I’ll have physiotherapy right away to fix any kinks.
First and foremost I need to get healthy and back running. Then get fit and start the real training.
Hopefully I can show competitive readiness at the Boilermaker 15km. If AC insists that I need to run that extra 6.1km to show “competitive readiness” then I guess I will have to hop on a plane and sacrifice my marathon build-up. That’s why I don’t want to call it “competitive readiness” because what they’re asking would actually take away from my “competitive readiness.”
The funny part in all of this is that both myself and AC have the same view: Neither of us wants me to run the Olympic marathon if I’m not ready to go.
[*Note, if anyone knows of a competitive (63:30-ish) half marathon on a legal (can’t be point-to-point or, greater than 21m net downhill) flat course in June in North America which has guaranteed good weather please let me know. Thanks.]
It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog (I’ve been busy with a couple other writing projects) so I’ll try and write a quick update leading up to the Cardiff World Half Champs. Basically this is where I lay the ground work for excuses.
Kenya was very productive for me in terms of training. I wasn’t all that fit when I went there and had a slow adjustment period but after two weeks things really clicked. The sessions got better and I started to feel really good. My aspirations for Cardiff were sky-high and I was confident I would run a PB, hopefully challenging for a top-20 finish.
My last track session in Kenya on March 3rd I ran 7 x 1000m with ~2:15 rest (2:55 average), 8 x 600m with ~3:25 rest (1:43 average) with a select group of runners. These guys were doing 15 x 1000m and I hoped to do 10 with them. I started to lose the pack on #7 and decided it was better to run with them instead of getting gapped so I switched to 600m intervals. I was able to handle 600m well and they asked me to lead the last two intervals. I finished that workout feeling really good about my fitness.
Two days later I ran a fartlek of 25 x 1 min hard/1 min easy. During that workout my right low-back was tight, it felt as though my right SI joint was stuck. I didn’t think much of it and got a massage that afternoon.
The next day I flew home. 45 minute flight to Nairobi. 2 hour flight to Addis Ababa. And then 17 hours from Addis to Toronto with a fuel stop in Dublin. The crappy part about the fuel stop is you don’t get off the plane.
That 17 hour flight did me in. My back felt really locked up on Saturday morning when I landed in Toronto. I had an easy run that afternoon which didn’t feel great, especially my right hamstring. On Sunday I ran 30km and by the end of the run I felt pretty wrecked, right hip, right hammy and right low-back all a big mess. On Monday I got physio and chiro and put off my workout two days to let things settle. This was also the day I declared for the World Half team, fully thinking that this tightness and would be gone by the end of the week.
I was hoping to make some gains at sea-level between Kenya and Cardiff but all I could do was try and maintain fitness. Every run was uncomfortable but I did seem to be getting better and I thought once I tapered I could be fine. My sessions weren’t that bad either. I had to hold back a little but I still hit good paces.
My confidence in that time period eroded. I went from ambitious goals to that of proving fitness for Athletics Canada towards Olympic selection. From my last week in Kenya until race week my time-goal slowed by two full minutes.
Finally on race day, less than 10 minutes before the start, I had a couple of strides that didn’t feel all that bad. Adrenaline was working it’s magic. There was still hope!
On the start line I went right to the back because accelerating off the line has felt horrible lately. When the gun went off a few guys from the mass participation field passed me but by 500m I was moving up through the championship field.
By 3km I was in a solid pack and starting to feel better than I have in a few weeks. I was very optimistic that I could have a decent day given how I was feeling. In a windy stretch around 4km I was doing some of the leading into the wind as, aerobically, I felt quite comfortable at that pace. I was tempted to try and bridge the gap to the next pack but I also knew I should not push too hard too early.
Our pack came apart by 7 or 8km and I was trailing a bunch of the guys but still feeling OK. I passed 10km around 29:53 and knew that my fitness was good enough to sustain this pace and probably pick it up off the back end.
As I was running, unbeknownst to me, my timing chip was not working at all and people tracking the race were getting zero splits for me. I told a few people before the race that if I felt as though I was doing bad damage that I would stop running. The team staff all assumed, and rightly so, that I had dropped before the 5km mark as chips rarely malfunction.
Around 15km I started to feel uncomfortable, mainly my hip and low-back. My hamstring never felt great but it didn’t get too much worse. I kept trying positive self-talk knowing it wasn’t that far to the finish. Each passing kilometre things got significantly worse, both in terms of weather (rain and wind picked up) and my body.
By 18km I wanted to stop but I knew I would fight to finish. The three main reasons why I was determined to stay in the race were: 1) I hate dropping out (I’ve only done it twice). 2) Knowing my 15km split I thought I was still 0n pace to prove fitness for Olympic selection. And 3) this was a national team event with 3 to count for team scoring.
Jared Ward from the U.S. passed me around 18km and as we were going up a hill I felt a little better and it was nice to have someone to key off of. Once we were on flatter ground he ran away from me. The wind started to thrash us and the two athletes up ahead of me were still coming back to me which gave me a little more fight. At the same time a pack of 5-6 guys working together came up behind me. In the final kilometre guys started to ramp it up and I felt too uncomfortable pick it up. The last 500m were quite painful on my body.
Finishing 38th in 64:56 was a bummer of a result but given how my body was feeling I couldn’t have asked for much more. In fact I held it together better than I thought I would for the first 15km. Considering that on Thursday I did 3 x 2 minutes and by the end of the second interval I was hurting I’m surprised how much better I felt on race day. That is partly due to the great job of team Canada physiotherapist and massage therapist Brenda and Casey.
At the finish line I was notified that I was selected for drug-testing. Seems as though they had selected me before the race started. The guy who found me probably wondered why they picked a guy who ended up 38th.
What a frustrating race for me because it could have easily have been a much better experience for me. The course was really good and there were a lot of guys I would normally like to be competitive with. I like championship racing and a half marathon is a great distance for me. Had it not been a national team event a week or two before Cardiff I probably would have chosen to do different half marathon later in the Spring. Rob Watson and Brandon Lord also had rough days and we finished 12th as a team. The Canadian girls, on the other hand, all raced well and earned an impressive 6th place team result!!
My plan was to race the Sun Run 10km April 17th, a race I’ve been wanting to do for years. Instead I will take this week off, get some therapy and see where that leads me. The encouraging thing is that I would see improvement when I took one day off. I just didn’t have the luxury of taking more days off with Cardiff approaching. Now I’ll take the time and get healthy with a big year ahead of me.
Ever since my first trip to Kenya in 2011 I’ve wanted to tackle the infamous Fluorspar training route. It’s called Fluorspar because there is a fluorspar mine at the bottom of the road. The route goes up for 20.4km, climbing from 1367m to 2741m in elevation ending in Nyaru, the smallest of villages.
Fluorspar is about a 2 hour drive from Iten so it’s a bit of trek to go there for a single run. However there are athletes making this trip from Iten quite regularly.
Gilbert Kirwa (2:06 runner and 2nd place at 2015 STWM) and Silas Kipruto (sub 60 half) told me a couple of weeks ago they were making the trip pretty soon. I told them I wanted to come for sure. They would meet at the petrol station at 3:30am the following Saturday. As I confirmed closer to the day they changed the meeting time to 4:20am. 4:20 didn’t sound so bad compared to 3:30.
John Mason and I set out from camp at 4:10am on Saturday. When we got to the Petrol station there were about 40 Kenyans. Gilbert pulled up in his pickup truck and all of a sudden about 30 guys piled in the back. John and I looked at each other and noted “there’s no way we’re fitting in there.” And would we even want to drive for 2 hours in the bed of a pickup truck?
Gilbert came over to me and saw our predicament. He told us to wait for 5 minutes and took off. He ran home and drove back with his wife’s car and pulled up to the pumps.
With a quick little honk an attendant came out and started to fill up the car. It didn’t look like this gas station was open and I asked if it was open 24/7, “only if he recognizes the customer at these hours.” We gave him 2000 shillings ($27 CAD) as it was the least we could do for his troubles. Gilbert had to pick up Richard Mengich (sub 60 half) and two of his protégés on the way so at least the car wasn’t only for us.
We were finally on our way at 4:45am. We bypassed Eldoret by way of a 17km dirt road. Dirt roads in Kenya are really rough, if you can average 30km/h that’s very good. I was sitting shotgun eating granola bars and sucking back an Endurance Tap while guys in the back of the pickup were holding on for dear life. They all just held each other to form one unit instead of 30 individual guys.
We got back onto another paved road that kept climbing up and went past Kaptagat (a village with at least three elite training camps). We finally arrived at the top of Fluorspar hill. We only had one designated driver for 2 cars and one pickup truck. The two cars parked at the top and everyone piled into the pickup. Gilbert insisted I get into the cab. There were 4 guys in the cab and almost 40 in the bed.
We didn’t make it far before the guys were banging on the cab. No surprise, guys were going to fall out. It was decided that 15 guys would start to jog down the hill. The pickup would drive down until 5km from the bottom. Those in the truck would jog to the start and the truck would go back up and shuttle the rest down.
(Check my Instagram for video of the guys piling out of the truck)
The views down this dirt road were nothing but spectacular. It was amazing to see this road cut out of the side of, what looked like, a sheer cliff. There are over 20 switchbacks along the 20km climb. On the drive down we passed a handful of runners, including Mary Keitany (sub 2:20 marathon).
The timing worked out well and we were finally all at the bottom of the run around 7:30am. They usually like to start at 6:30am to avoid the heat in the valley. But the late departure and the speed at which one could drive with 30 guys in the back of a pickup slowed things down.
Gilbert addressed the group and said the pace would start out at 4:25/km and shouldn’t get any faster than 4:10/km.
When the run started I was really curious to see how this was going to feel. The pace doesn’t sound that tough but I had been warned by other Kenyans that 4:10/km was a hard effort and the best guys in the world (who live at altitude and run this occasionally) run around 3:50/km.
We started off with a 4:25 km and then things progressed. The pack of about 40 guys slowly fell apart. I told myself to stay with the pack as long as I could. The same guys had absolutely crushed me the last two weeks during fartlek workouts. If I could make it past 10km with the front pack and not lose too much time in the second half I’d call it a successful run.
Somewhere around 6km we came upon a big dump truck that was struggling up the hill. It was spewing black exhaust and I was hoping it would speed up to give us a clear run. We ended up getting closer and closer. Just before we overtook it we could hardly see and the exhaust was nauseating. Even trucks struggle up Fluorspar.
You can see the detailed run on http://www.Strava.com but we were climbing between 37m and 109m each kilometre. It never let up. My legs were tired and I was breathing pretty hard for the given pace. Hiding in the back of the pack we would pass villagers on the way up and once the kids would see me they would cheer “mzungu.” I could tell by their level of excitement there aren’t many wazungu running up Fluorspar.
I made it past 10km with the leaders. Around 11km the dirt road was under construction. It had been recently grated so the dirt was upturned and really soft. This lasted for about 2km. If the uphill and altitude wasn’t zapping enough energy out of your legs, the soft dirt sure would contribute.
Around 12km the pickup truck pulled up and I went over for my bottle. He handed me the wrong one and I asked for the other one that looked similar. He found it and I grabbed a couple of sips. After my drink I was trailing the pack of about 20 guys by 30 metres. It took a while to catch up but I finally did and felt confident that I could handle a slightly faster pace if they picked it up a bit. At times I felt as though I was on the edge, if these guys picked it up any more I was going to pop.
I told myself, “just get to 15km.”
Then, “just get to 18km.”
At 19.5km I was still with the front pack and the guys at the front (we were running 3 rows of 3) started talking about the Mzungu. I picked it up to the front row. They warned me not to push the pace, I told them not to worry I just wanted to hear what they were saying. They were just surprised I was still around.
I made it to the top in 1:27:01 (20.4km at 4:16/km) with the front group, which consisted of eight other guys. Richard Mengich was the only one I knew. The rest of the guys trickled in over the next 15 minutes or so.
This tells me that my fitness is good (better than I thought) but my leg speed is my weakness right now. Not too surprising seeing that I haven’t done many fartleks or interval sessions since National XC champs. When I was injured I was x-training and only putting in volume, no intensity.
Fluorspar exceeded my expectations, both in terms of crazy travel to get there and the route itself. I pictured a more undulating route. This road climbs consistently the whole way, it never lets up until the very end (the 20th km only rises 15m).
It was a very unorthodox run for me, and I suspect for most runners. However most of the good marathoners in the Rift Valley region do this run at least once in a build-up. Some guys will do it a few times.
If it were closer to Iten I’d probably do it again but as it stands that will probably be it for me. Definitely one of the most memorable runs of my life.
John Mason, Tom Lancashire, Colm Sheahan and I decided to make a little adventure out of a Sunday run. Last year I saw a sign “Torok Waterfall Tourist Attraction 2km” about 19km from camp. So we headed out that way with a matatu (hired van) in search of a waterfall.
I was only running 13km (as I did my long run Saturday) and jumped in the matatu as the other guys added on to get in 26km.
When I was waiting at the junction in Kapkoi curious kids kept coming out of the woodwork. This little village of Kapkoi is 20km from Iten and over 10km in the other direction to the small town of Kaptagat. And the road is rough so not much traffic goes through there.
Once we were at the end of drivable road there was a 1km hike to the falls. At this point a few people became our tour guides. Brian and Edwin were good, but Peter Rono was really drunk and annoying. We only paid two of them.
The view from the falls was awesome but the view of the actual falls was obscured by trees. Most people visit the falls by the road at the bottom of the valley.
After the main view point we hiked over to the side to take pictures of the actual falls.
Below are pictures from below and from the sky I found on google
Here’s a link to the blog I wrote for the CBC “Players Own Voice” outlining my racing decisions heading into an Olympic year:
I’ve been in Kenya for one week now and it’s been a different experience than my last 5 times here but eerily similar to my first trip. When one comes to Iten it’s best to be fit, used to running hills and uninjured. I’m none of those at the moment.
Before I left for Kenya I got an MRI to make sure my injury wasn’t anything that was going to stop me dead in my tracks. The results showed no stress fracture nor any ligament tear. With that news I decided to take off for Iten, Kenya.
The first time I came here I hadn’t run much in the 6 weeks prior to mid-January. That time I was able to get into decent shape and run well at the NYC Half Marathon on March 20th (62:42). I’m looking at a similar timeline this go around as I get ready for the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, Wales on March 26th.
I ran 100km last week (you can see my training on Strava) with no quality. Yesterday I tried a 6km pickup in my run. I suffered on the 6km and felt horribly out of shape. On top of that I can still feel my injury when I run (it feels better as the run progresses). Where I’m standing right now it’s hard to imagine I’ll be ready for a big race in March.
On the bright side I can see some progress as I was able to include a pick-up and, generally, my injury is feeling better. Also, I’ve been in this situation before, where I start to question everything because I feel slow. I know if I can stay healthy the fitness will come. I just have to be patient and trust the process.
With 8 weeks to go from this Saturday there is still time to be ready for Cardiff. I’ll need everything to go right. If things don’t go great I will focus on another race later in the season. With Rio the main goal I can’t take unnecessary risks with my training now.
I don’t think it really matters to me if I train at altitude or not in the months right before a big race. But I find altitude and soft surfaces have an advantage when getting in a solid base. Right now I’m able to run a little slower and yet make it harder on my cardiovascular system with the altitude. I love the hills here (most of the time) and the dirt trails are probably better for my injury than being on the roads.
A few people have mentioned to me that it’s probably better to be somewhere warm to heal. I hadn’t thought of that much and not sure if it really makes a difference but it can’t hurt I guess.
I also got 2 massages the first 4 days I was here. At $7 for one hour the price is right. The first time I was slotted right after former marathon WR holder Wilson Kipsang, so I have to believe I’m in good hands.
This time around I’m rooming with John Mason. Once again there are many familiar faces at the camp and in town. I keep seeing some of the locals I’ve trained with and tell them I won’t be joining them until I’m fit. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can update that I’m running with the Kenyans here.
(I’m trying to get a lot of photos up on Instagram while I’m here. Follow @reidcoolsaet)
I’ve been putting off writing a blog for a couple of weeks now. Mainly because I’ve been busy writing articles for iRun magazine and CBC’s Players Own Voice. The articles should come out later this winter. Writing has been a good way to feel productive between training sessions. (I wrote this article a few months ago on Olympic swimmer Andrew Ford).
The other reason I put off a blog is that I’ve been nursing an injury for the past two weeks. I was hoping it would have cleared up before 2016 and I could write a more upbeat blog. The good part is that this isn’t the worst time for an injury to pop up.
The week after nationals cross-country I travelled to China to pace the Guangzhou marathon on December 6th. I paced the lead women for 30km at 3:28/km. I felt a little sore the next day but nothing specific hurt (perhaps a 12 hour flight the next day tightened things up?). Around December 15th I started to feel tightness in my lower right leg but didn’t think much of it until the 20th.
On December 20th it hurt to run right off the bat. I stopped after 30 seconds to stretch and decided to give it a km or two to see if it loosened up. It thought it felt good enough (it wasn’t) and I ran 28km. The next day I woke up and knew right away I wouldn’t be running for a few days. There was a significant pain on my fibula head and tightness all through my lower leg.
Over the past two weeks I’ve loosened up all the muscles in that area but my fibula head is still really sore. I tried running the other day and I could tell that running was going to make it worse so I only logged 4km. The past few days I’ve just been in the pool and on the bike.
My physiotherapist thinks it’s tendinitis caused because my heel and ankle weren’t moving properly and in turn put too much stress on the outside of my leg. I hope that is the case and this can clear up shortly. My fear is that there is a stress fracture in the fibula head and I’ll be off running for another four weeks.
If this doesn’t clear up in the next two weeks I’ll have to postpone my trip to Kenya. I’m slated to leave January 19th but if I need a few more weeks of cross-training and physiotherapy I’ll stick around Guelph.
I had to think twice about going back to Kenya after all the doping allegations that were revealed in the ARD documentary. It makes me uneasy to know that there is a doping problem where I have trained. I figure since the doping scandals have come to light Kenya will be cleaner this year than last year. I believe the IAAF is conducting a review of Kenya and that there will be better anti-doping practices in place.
I know that Kenyan athletes were not always subjected to the same out-of-competition testing that Canadian (and many other countries) athletes are. Doping control can show up to my house (or wherever I input my location on the “Whereabouts” website/app) any day without warning. In Kenya the practice has been to tell the athletes when and where to show up, often having notice a week in advance. That sort of out-of-competition testing isn’t going to deter any athlete ready to cheat.
On this topic, I believe the 2016 Olympic marathon will be the cleanest Olympic marathon since the 1980’s. Mainly due to the inclusion of the biological passport and the IAAF putting pressure on countries to follow WADA’s rules. The biological passport has busted a few marathoners who have never tested positive for a banned substance and I’m sure is scaring a few more from doping.
Here are some pics from Guangzhou, China
A little bit of confusion at the Guangzhou marathon. The organizers had me talk to reporters at the press conference. I was up there with a couple of 2:06 guys. The Ethiopian refused to speak, the Moroccan was pretty good but I was asked the majority of the questions. I had to pretend I was going to compete the next day. It was weird but I think I pulled it off. The next day I paced the women.
The race put us up at the Shangri-La. It was one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. This is the view out the back of the hotel. That is the outskirts of Guangzhou in the background. Needless to say a city of 13.4 million has a ton of high rises.
Shangri-La did a good job of the Christmas lights.
My wonderful girlfriend got me a GoPro for Christmas. I’m hoping to get some more content up on Instagram and this blog with it. The GoPro Session 4 is really small and easy to bring on a run now and then.
My one month XC season reached an end yesterday at the National Cross-Country championships in Kingston, ON. I ended up 5th in a competitive field and was happy with the result.
It’s been a lot of fun training for this race over the past month. Before it was announced that Ottawa Marathon was putting up $2000 for each of the Senior team titles we (Speed River) were planning on sending a team. Once the money was on the line we started to pay a little more attention to what it would take to win the team title.
I’ve been using these XC workouts to help my ‘speed’ whereas most of my teammates have been using the same sessions as their ‘base’ training. XC training seems to compliment both marathon and 800-5000m training from opposite ends.
It was a short build-up coming off Berlin Marathon September 27th, but it went well and I got in just enough sessions where I thought I could take a run at the individual title.
I haven’t raced national xc since 2010 but I’ve raced a handful of XC races in Europe and Kenya. The races in Europe have all been similar; Africans have taken the pace out hard. I’m usually not even in the top 10 after 2km and I claw my way through the field usually finishing 4th or 5th.
Yesterday I was slow off the line but by 600m I was right up there with the leaders. Throughout the race I pushed the pace a little here and there but I never really made a consistent fast pace. There was a big pack for most of the race until it stretched out in the final 2km. With about 1km to go Chuck P-T threw in a good surge.
Anyways, when Chuck took off with about 1km to go Ross, Lucas, Alex and Winter all responded faster than me. I started to ramp it up and went by Alex and Winter with 800 to go. Alex flew back by me and went all the way up to second, behind Ross. I lost ground to the top 4 and just made sure I wasn’t going to get caught by a pack of 4 guys right on my heels.
According to my GPS I ran my last km in 2:52. Basically, Ross ran a 2:42 and the other 3 guys in front of me were under 2:50. The guys just had too much ‘pop’ in their legs at the end of the race for me to compete with. My only chance was to push the pace to the point where they would have been more fatigued by 9km.
So, why didn’t I push the pace? Well, I wasn’t confident enough to lead it out (even though the calm conditions were conducive to front running). A couple times I pushed the pace for a few seconds and contemplated keeping it going but I never went through with it. Either way it made for a really fun race and good for the spectators too.
Ross, Alex, Chuck, Lucas, and me approaching the finish line.
Speed River ended up winning the senior men’s title, as well as both of the junior titles. It may have looked as though we easily won but Alex and Chris (who had the same singlets as Ross, myself, Taylor, Winslow and, Jeremy) didn’t count for our squad. They are registered with Quebec and BC so can’t count for Speed River (weird rules, don’t ask).
Full squad with the 3 banners.
At the after party someone mentioned this was the strongest field up-front for at least 20 years (20 years was an odd number to say). It was a really strong field yesterday (hence why I’m happy with 5th) but it hasn’t been that long since we’ve had comparable fields.
2004 Top 6 with their SB’s:
Simon Bairu 28:28:69 10,000m (2004 NCAA XC champion)
Paul Morrison 13:26.57 5000m
Reid Coolsaet 13:31:01 5000m
Kevin Sullivan 3:34:43 1500m
Ryan Hayden 3:39:78 1500m
Dylan Wykes 7:58:70 3000m
2015 Top 5 with their SB’s:
Ross Proudfoot 13:29:32 5000m
Alex Genest 8:24:84 3000mS/C
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot 3:34:23 1500m
Lucas Bruchet 13:29:79 5000m
Reid Coolsaet 2:10:28 Marathon
You can see that Ross and Lucas at 13:29 are similar to 2004 Paul and myself at 13:26 and 13:31. Chuck and 2004 Sully are eerily close at 3:34 over 1500m. Alex Genest lines up well with 2004 Hayden/Wykes, 8:24 3000m s/c and 3:39 1500m/7:58 3000m. Bairu was a XC specialist at the time (2 NCAA XC wins in a row), he ran 28:04 on the track 6 months later.
What is crazy with today’s depth is that there were notable absentees; Cam Levins, Mo Ahmed, Justyn Knight and Matt Hughes. From memory there weren’t many big names missing in 2004.
What’s also interesting is if you compare what college system the top 10 runners attended in 2004 and 2015:
Simon Bairu NCAA
Paul Morrison NCAA
Reid Coolsaet CIS
Kevin Sullivan NCAA
Ryan Hayden NCAA
Dylan Wykes NCAA
Nigel Wray NCAA
Marcel Hewamudalige NCAA
Brent Corbitt NCAA
Jeremy Deere CIS
Ross Proudfoot CIS
Alex Genest CIS
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot CIS
Lucas Bruchet NAIA (Canadian school)
Reid Coolsaet CIS
Kevin Tree CIS
Ryan Cassidy CIS
Chris Winter NCAA
Nick Falk CIS
Evan Essalink NCAA
2004 had 1 CIS athlete in the top 9
2015 had 1 NCAA athlete in the top 9
These are just one off examples so you can’t really make any conclusions but I bet there is a trend of better runners staying in Canada over the past 10 years.
We had 7 Speed River athletes in the top 24, 5 of whom counted for Speed River
|1||Ross Proudfoot||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||30:06.9|
|2||Alex Genest||Zénix de la Mauricie||30:09.8|
|3||Charles Philibert-Thiboutot||C. A. Université Laval||30:11.2|
|4||Lucas Bruchet||POINT GREY TRACK & FIELD||30:12.7|
|5||Reid Coolsaet||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||30:16.9|
|6||Kevin Tree||NEWMARKET HUSKIES TRACK C||30:17.8|
|8||Chris Winter||UNATTACHED BRITISH COLUMB||30:18.2|
|9||Nicholas Falk||University of Windsor Ath||30:18.9|
|10||Evan Esselink||DURHAM DRAGONS ATHLETICS||30:26.5|
|11||Emmanuel Boisvert||C. A. Université Laval||30:27.5|
|12||Yves Sikubwabo||C. A. Université Laval||30:41.6|
|13||Taylor Milne||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||30:43.8|
|14||Stéphan St-Martin||Coureur Nordique||30:51.3|
|15||Sami Jibril||NEWMARKET HUSKIES TRACK C||30:53.0|
|16||Jeffrey Archer||PHYSI-KULT KINGSTON||30:53.4|
|17||Pier-Olivier Laflamme||Coureur Nordique||30:54.4|
|18||Mike Tate||UNATTACHED NOVA SCOTIA||30:56.7|
|19||Keenan Viney||UNATTACHED ALBERTA||30:58.5|
|20||Blair Morgan||PHYSI-KULT KINGSTON||31:00.4|
|21||Joel Deschiffart||NANAIMO & DISTRICT TRACK||31:03.4|
|22||Shoayb Bascal||VICTORIA INTERNATIONAL RU||31:09.6|
|23||Robert Winslow||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||31:11.1|
|24||Jeremy Rae||SPEED RIVER TRACK & FIELD||31:15.8|