2 weeks, 6 races…
… 4 planes, two ferries, a train, some transit, and a lot of driving. Sun. Heat. Cold. Wind. Rain, but teeming rain. Sleet, but no snow (thank goodness!). It seems like I saw it all on another west coast adventure.
From Portland, a stop at the Nest in Seattle, off to 2 NTL meets in BC, then back down to Portland, before flying back to Toronto to race in Guelph, another NTL meet.
And I am home now. Ahhh.
Portland Track Festival
Ok, already wrote about that one here, but hey it had to get a mention. It is part of this crazy west coast adventure after all, and it has the best donuts.
After the headache crash at Portland I was a little nervous heading into the Vancouver 1500m. Thankfully the Watkins family opened their home to me and I managed to somewhat get the headache and fatigue under control. (I think it was all the amazing coffee Trev keeps in the house). I had a few days to explore so of course I had some local coffee and donuts (best. training. diet. ever) and caught up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while.
The Harry Jerome track is out in Burnaby, and thanks to some track friends I hoped a ride from almost UBC out the stadium. The meet was scheduled to start at 6 so of course there was some amazing rush-hour traffic to contend with (yes, Vancouver traffic is bad. No, it’s not like Toronto, but there is some same same but different to it). The track is surrounded by this amazing park, so on warm-up you are surrounded by these monstrous pines. It as amazing to have my friend and training partner, Andrea, back for warm-up; it was just like being at a workout again.
I didn’t really have any expectations for the 1500m race, it was my first one of the year and my plan was just to race it. I got myself in the mix and reminded myself of the mantra ‘no gaps.’ And I secretly kept telling myself to go for the win, because really we all want to win. The pace didn’t quite get out as fast as we wanted it, but maybe for my first 1500 that was ok. I hadn’t really tested my kick, and really hadn’t been working on speed. I finished in 3rd in a relatively stacked field. It was a great step forward. No headache. Actually got to do a cool down. And had a blast out on the track.
Victoria Track Classic
The Victoria track Classic is always the second day after Harry Jerome. You try to sleep after Harry Jerome, get up early, hop on a ferry to the Island, do a pre-comp and then race the following day. It’s hectic but the ferry trip over, when it’s sunny, is totally rejuvenating.
I decided I was going to race another 1500m. The field wasn’t as stacked as Harry Jerome but we had a good pace setter. Plus the thought of running an 800m with no speed training was not appealing at all. Andrea again was in the 1500m with me, just like another workout day. We were staying in an AirBnB in Downtown so there was lots of fun coffee and food to explore.
The race was an afternoon race (instead of the usual evening), which meant even less recovery time, but when we finished it meant we had time to check out the food trucks at ‘car free day.’
Before the food I did have to race. Unfortunately the race really slowed down after the first lap. I sat in and let the race unfold. I wanted to test my kick, I just wanted to see if it could come out play again. And it really did. I had a great closing lap and an especially fast last 200m. It was a great confidence booster. So much so that I thought I should just jump into another race and decided to run the 800m. It was scheduled to go off about 20 minutes after the finish of the 1500m; needless to say I was lacticy in the first 120m of the race (no PB in the 800m but still a great race).
With the speed train rolling and an opportunity to go fast in Portland again, I decided to extend my west coast adventure (thank you again to the Watkins family for opening your home to me) and make another attempt at the Olympic 1500m standard at the Stumptown Twilight. The field was stacking up to be great so it seemed like an awesome opportunity.
The weather went very ‘Portland’ on Thursday. The skies opened and I partook in one of my favourite activities, stalking the weather. I am fascinated by weather and enjoy watching the ‘green monster’ track across the sky. The ‘green monster’ was supposed to exit Portland around 5:30pm, which would set up for some ideal racing conditions, mild temperature and no wind. The ‘green monster’ decided that it want to stay and hang out.
The Stumptown twilight was officially the wettest I’ve ever been racing. It rained, then rained some more and I felt like as the 1500m started it started raining even harder. There was no warm when I started, I was absolutely freezing. Not ideal but you work with what you have. I raced smart. It was slow, but when you’re finishing in a constant puddle around the track it’s just not going to be fast.
Speed River Inferno
Race number 6, another 1500m part of the NTL series. After flying back across the country I didn’t really know what to expect. It wa
sn’t just that my legs were tired after so much racing, but I was also generally tired from all the travel. The thought of the 1 hour drive to Guelph wasn’t so appealing, although the thought of racing was.
I had an unfortunate headache set in about 90 minutes before the scheduled start of the 1500. It totally freaked me out. Why was it happening again after feeling pretty great for a few days. Whatever triggered it, it was there and it was put up and shut up time or go home. Well the put up part was a little emotional and I had some teary moments; it’s just so frustrating to have a headache all the time!
Over to some therapy they seemed to get it some what under control. I was just not feeling great but started to warm up. Running actually made me feel better, which just seems crazy! I got through my warm-up, I knew to step off the track if it got really bad.
When I got to the start line, I just thought to myself there is nothing wrong, go race, go win. I could tell I was tired when I started, but I’ve had great races in the past when I haven’t felt 100%, so I went with it. With about 200 to go I just felt like I couldn’t go anymore; I wanted to step off the track. And for a micro-second I even considered it. But I’m a fighter, so I pushed, stepped forward and told myself to hurt. It was another step forward, sub 4:10 for the first time this season. On tired legs, with a headache, I’ll more than take it.
I got some great advice on this trip. While I’m not sure it was intended as advice, that was how I was taking it (Thanks Peter). Athletes go through ups and downs; it’s a natural cycle. The great athletes are the ones that endure, that survive, and find the positive and lessons in the down moments. These are the champions that make gold from coal. It can be injury, athletic plateaus (or valleys), physical and/or mental stress, there are a multitude of things that can cause this to happen.
I have been on this amazing upward trend with times improving for the last two years. I have managed to stay (relatively) injury free by listening to my body. I have been able to improve my fitness by pushing the boundaries, and again listening to my body. It is natural for the upward trend to shallow a little, even dip.
Being the positivist, I cannot help but reflect and look how far I’ve come along this spring and early summer. I am still on an upward trend, my times in the races I have run are improving, despite not a ton of training in the last 6-7 weeks. It’s not ideal, but it’s reality. You can love it or hate it. Make the most of it. Enjoy life and whatever you do. Let go of the things you cannot control. I can’t change that I’m injured. I can change certain things to try to help my injury, not complain about them, actually make physical changes. You are in control of this game called ‘life,’ and I am one of the fortunate few that really does have one of the really cool jobs; I travel the world and run (and sometimes, I actually do some work on my PhD!)