What is a ‘Full Send?’

In alpine skiing we call a ‘Full Send’ when you grab your cojones and point your skis straight down the hill; you head fearlessly into (controlled) dangerous situation. (I also stole that from Brittany Phelan watching her send it at the Olympic Ski Cross; she finished second in her second year. Yeah, awesome!). Heading into the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships that was my goal, a full send. I wanted to put myself in a position where I could be in the top in the world, that was my race goal. I executed my race goal. Unfortunately, it just did not play out the way I wanted it to.

As the Rolling Stones famously sing ‘You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need.’

Although not sure finishing 30th in the world is what I need, but, we’ll go with that. Let’s start with, what was my goal? My goal was to finish in the Top 10. And if race conditions were just right, and it played out a certain way, I wanted to run sub 70 minutes.

How do you actually execute a race like that? You make sure you’re at the front and ready to strike at any point. While you do not necessarily have to be standing right at the front of the start line in a road race, you do have to be in a spot to make sure you’re not going to get tripped up, and you’re not so far back that you miss something. I was on the runner’s left, standing with the American’s, knowing I was in good company.

Sending it is getting out with the lead pack or the ones trailing. And I did that. I was working in with a great group of women. I remember going through 5k in 16:25, and we still had our eyes up ahead on the front pack of East African women. In this trailing pack, there was a Belarusian woman who was leading the pack, whom I believe had an exceptional day. From 5 to 10 kilometre I sat in behind her and felt awesome.

Between 10 and 15k I would say my full send got the better or me. And while I may not have run all that fast between those points, I sure was out there fighting. I was light-headed, the world felt like it was spinning, my legs felt detached, and all I could think was make those legs go forward.

At 15k I think I must have sped up and slowed down at least a half a dozen times. I found some downhills that gave my legs new life. Then I would turn a corner and the wind and cold would get the better of me. I played some back and forth with some women. In the end, I got the better of some women. Some women got the better of me. I crossed the line still fighting. I crossed the line with nothing left in my legs. My cool down was a walk, it was all I had left.

A full send, is never, ever giving up in a competition. I Never. Gave. Up.

I had a few things not in my favour. Let’s start with the weather. I think the kite surfing out on the ocean was awesome, which made for some very treacherous wind conditions out on the course. At one point I remember bringing my leg through my stride and the wind pushing my foot so hard into my calf. It was a ‘whoa, it’s windy moment.’ And I reminded myself everyone was having to deal with that wind. In addition, we had a lovely little rainfall, which not only was wet but with the cold wind made all of us freeze.

Unfortunately, I was also battling a wicked head cold; the kind that makes you sleep 12 hours a night, hack and sneeze like a smoker, and one that I took from a head cold at the beginning of the race to a full chest cold by the end. We all battle something when we race, rarely do we go into a race at 100%, and I know I was not the only person battling something out there on race day.

So there you have it. I put it out there, I went for the full send. When I crossed the line, having drifted back from 18th to mid 30’s, and then fighting back again to finish 30th, I was emotional. And by emotional, I mean I was in tears and disappointed in myself for missing my goal and not having my best day; I think that is natural. I’m excited to look at the data and see what played out. I’m excited to learn from the experience. And as my CBC article says, ‘I think there is so much more to come.’ I am not satisfied with the 30th, complacency is not one of my values. My values of hard work and excellence drive me forward.