Commonwealth Games Marathon this Sunday!

The Commonwealth Games kicked off on Wednesday! I won’t be participating, as I did not obtain a qualifying mark in the required timeline (I haven’t run a marathon since the Olympics). But, I’m still tuning in with a lot of interest.

The Athletics events get underway this weekend, starting with my favourite event, the marathon. In what I believe to be a unique setup for a major championships the Men’s and Women’s marathons will be happening at the same time, with the men starting 28 minutes ahead of the women. Though the timing isn’t great for us here in Canada I suggest you try to tune-in if you can, the races kick off in the wee hours of Sunday morning (1:02am PST for the men, 1:30am PST for the women). You should be able to watch online http://www.cbc.ca/sports/commonwealthgames

Unfortunately there will not be a Canadian presence in the men’s marathon race. We did have three men qualify, but Rob Watson and Eric Gillis decided to focus on running a spring (Ottawa) and fall marathon instead, while Reid Coolsaet has been sidelined by an injury. But, there will still be a great race out on the roads of Glasgow. I was surprised to see only 25 men on the start list. It’s sad in a way, but also gives the opportunity for some to surprise and climb the podium. I’d really like to see Michael Shelley of Australia repeat as a medalist (he won Silver in Dehli in 2010). Michael has been a consistent performer in Championship style races, with his best performance being a great 16th place at the 2012 London Olympic marathon.

As for the women, there will be a Canadian presence, with Canadian Record Holder Lanni Marchant toeing the line. As with the men’s race the start list for the women’s race is small – with only 21 women. Lanni is ranked in the top 6 based on PB, but hasn’t quite proven herself in a championship race. Fingers crossed she runs smart and doesn’t end up with pins jabbing her quads at the 40km mark. I believe she is rounding into top form after a busy spring of racing. So, lets look for Lanni to take on the Kenyan trio and get on the podium!

Where have you been hiding?

So, it’s been a while now hasn’t it!?! 5-6 months or so since an update on the website. Lots of ups and downs since then. Here is a brief (hopefully) recap of what’s been happening, culminating with this past Sunday’s Vancouver Sun Run 10k.

Back in October I started battling some low iron issues. Then I started to get some pain in my groin. In hindsight these two were probably related, though I didn’t think so at the time. I was extra fatigued from the low iron and mindlessly still hammering away at workouts; extra tired –> form deteriorating more quickly, often, dramatically –> biomechanical disaster. This all came about around the time of the Chiba Ekiden. Needless to say I was not in a good headspace going into that race. I should’ve pulled the plug on that one, the team would’ve been much better off. But, Reid Coolsaet was the alternate. Reid was all set to run the Fukuoka marathon 10 days after Chiba. I didn’t want to withdraw, forcing Reid to run the Ekiden, and possibly have it negatively effect his run at Fukuoka. So, I sucked it up and ran horrible (31:something – all sorts of horrible).

After hanging my head for a few weeks (and relaxing in Hawaii) and having my body feel no better I had some imaging done in the groin/pelvis area. The diagnosis was osteitis pubis (i.e. inflammation in the pubic synthesis), sounds like fun eh? I’d assumed it was a stress fracture again. One might think osteitis pubis was a better diagnosis, but the timeline on that is much more vague, whereas a stress fracture is usually 6-8 weeks of rest and you’re good to go again. At that point I was pretty much done with the sport, I couldn’t wrap my head around suffering through another injury and another rehab of an injury. I started thinking about doing other things; Med school, expanding my online coaching service, a job as an epidemiologist. I also took up cycling, to stay somewhat fit, but more so somewhat sane and started to enjoy it. But, I still missed running, a lot.

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Alas, sometime in January, I started back to some running. I dedicated myself to the rehab and built a good team around me; including physio Chris Napier, chiro Gerry Ramogida, rmt Andrew Peters, and steadfast coach Rich Lee. There were moments when I thought it all a waste of time, but then those when it seemed to be coming back together quickly. In hindsight I was lucky to pre-occupy myself somewhat with a few different part-time jobs (including a new ambassadorship with Forerunners here in Vancouver) and the excitement of an upcoming wedding (admittedly I didn’t really do much on the planning end of things for that).

Fast forward to the end of March and I found myself running 70miles/week, with the odd workout in there. The workouts were going pretty well, and I was doing just enough to feel like I was actually ‘training’. After a couple weeks at a training camp in California with the BC Endurance Project, a week in Ontario for my wedding, a nasty hangover, and a few days of good rest I landed on the start line of the Vancouver Sun Run. I was very cautiously optimistic and excited.

I got in the mix with the lead group straight from the gun. I thought I might hang on for 2k or 10k. Whichever it would be I was determined to be satisfied with the outcome. I was still in the pack at 4km, feeling pretty good, and sensing a few others not feeling so good. Eventually winner Paul Kimugul made a strong move up and down the burrard bridge that broke me and everyone else. I was so exhausted by 6km and really wanted to stop. But, quickly a battle ensued with eventually 3rd place finisher Jordan Chimpangama. It was tough, but fun. There were times when he would pull ahead of me and I’d just want to pack it in, but then I’d suck it up and surge to catch him. Then there were times when I was feeling good and surging on him. By about 8.5k I had a small gap on him (how small, I don’t know, because I wasn’t properly informed when I asked :)). Once we got to the Cambie Bridge I just sucked it up and was determined to not get passed.

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This was the 4th time I’ve finished 2nd at the Sun Run. On the first occasion I finished 2nd in 2007 I was delighted, as it was one of my first big road race performances. The next two times I was bitterly disappointed not to win. This time, I was content. Sure it would’ve been nice to win, but that would’ve been a lot to ask given the circumstances.

So, that’s that. On to the next one…hopefully it won’t be a 5 month wait this time.

Follow me on Twitter and my Facebook page for more frequent updates.

And finally, just wanted to wish Krista Duchene well on her road to recovery after fracturing her femur during the Canadian Half Marathon Champs this past weekend.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good: The sun is shining in Vancouver. This makes getting out the door and putting in the training that much easier, even when Kelly Weibe is leaving you behind before each interval even begins! Other things to list under the good category; Our training group (B.C. Endurance Project – more on this another time) is rolling along really nicely now. Also, recently I found out I will be carded (government financial support) again next year. This is a huge relief for me as I had to apply for ‘injury carding’ status this year, and nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to being carded. So, these three things; sunshine, the BCEP, and carding make up the Good.

The Bad: Training has been very up and down for me the past few weeks, since the San Jose half-marathon. I’ve had a bunch of mediocre workouts, and some downright horrible workouts. But, I’ve got a good team of people around me and we’re working hard to figure out what is going on and will right the ship in short order.

The Ugly: I’ve had my fair share of bad races over the years, but my most recent race in Portsmouth, England might take the cake. It got me thinking about my worst/most miserable races over the past few years. I’m not meaning to be a debbie-downer here and get everyone all depressed about racing, I’m just acknowledging that we all have bad races once in a while. And in writing about these races I’ve realized how quickly you can bounce back from a bad one. Here’s a list of my top 5 worst races (in memory, I’ve probably blocked out some even worse races from my childhood, when I’d run away afterwards kicking and screaming, furious about my failure).

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 2004 NCAA XC Champs, terre Haute, IN. My senior at Providence College. I couldn’t really get things going that fall, after a good year the previous winter having run 7:58 (3000m) & 4:01 (mile). NCAA XC is the most ruthless race out there. The depth is incredible, if you give up 20 secs over the last 2km your giving up a good 40 places.  I went out hard hoping to improve on my 45th place finish from the previous year. And I died even harder. My day was over by about 2 miles. It was a long last 4 miles or so. Worst thing about this race is it was my last raced for Providence College, to cap of a rather lackluster career there as I went on to get injured that winter and wasn’t able to run indoor or outdoor track. I graduated in May of the following year and had barely run a step in the 4 months since Getting injured. At the time I was pretty sure I was done its running.

2006 Natioanls XC, Jericho Beach Vancouver. I had been 5th place two years previous and after injury in 2005 was looking forward to the race. I didn’t have many races under my belt that fall and turned out to be not nearly as fit as I thought. The race was a sufferfest from the get go. I finished 14th overall in a weak year, in terms of depth. I contemplated quitting the sport long and hard after that race. I was bustin my ass working a 40+ hr/week job in Providence, RI and still trying to train and race. Results like this didn’t make it seem worth while.

2008 World XC, Edinburgh Scotland. Luckily I stuck with the sport and redeem myself at the 2007 National XC champs, finishing 3rd, which landed me a spot on this team. I suffered from some ridiculous stomach cramps in this race from very early on. Made for one of the longer most awful race experiences I’ve had. Finished 129 out of 165 finishers. But, apparently I was in good shape as just two weeks later I ran 2:15:16 at the Rotterdam Marathon.

Geez, there’s a lot of cross country in this list. Let’s think about some road races…

Any and every Oasis Zoo Run I’ve competed in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013. That is simply the worst race ever (for me), period.

But, my race two weekends ago takes the cake. 2013 Great South run (10miles), 14th place in 52:53. Portsmouth, UK. Having felt pretty average in training since the San Jose half three weeks previous I was pretty nervous to see what my body and mind were going to give me on the day. The situation was not made any easier by the 40(?) mph winds. My goal was to try to compete as much as possible as it was a deep field of good calibre athletes. I knew it was going to be a rough day, when 200m into the race someone in front of me fired a snot-rocket and it lodged itself directly in my ear! Despite this mishap I tried to go with the lead pack, but realized after 500m that was hopeless, then I tried to go with the second pack, this too proved really hard, but I got onto the back of it and tried to stay out of the wind some. I felt just awful,  legs like lead, breathing like a maniac, and lost contact before I reached even 1 mile. The next 9 miles were probably the longest of my life, longer than the end of a marathon even. The last 2 mile in particular were unreal, into this ridiculous headwind along the sea coast. I actually thought walking might be faster and more efficient at one point. The last 1km was sort of fun, as 4 of us that had been running 200m apart the previous 3 miles, came together and duked it out. I got out kicked by the other 3! Best part of this trip, bringing home $50 worth of Cadbury’s chocolate. I’ve got quite the stash now (of candy, not upper lip hair – I tried the mo-vember last year and it was awful)!

So, there you go…maybe I should’ve started with the bad and ended with the good for this blog? Maybe everyone can just read it backwards, from bottom to top. That’d be a much better read!

 

 

 

Zoo Run Race Report

I was in Scarborough (not Toronto!) this past weekend for the Oasis Zoo Run, which also doubles as the National 10km road race championships. After finally getting in a race last weekend at the Eastside 10k in Vancouver, I was pretty excited about racing against some of Canada’s top road racers.

My coach (Rich) and I actually came up with a bold plan to go hard from the gun, try to get a big lead and hold on for dear life. This plan had two rational reasons in my mind, that in combination made the strategy seem doable: 1) the other top guys in the field were training for the marathon and might be running on tired legs, 2) The Zoo Run course is terrible, and I particularly struggle on the sections with lots of little turns and ups and downs. The best running on this years course could be done in the first 4-5km. So, going out hard would take advantage of that.

As it turns out the lead I had in this picture below is about as big as the lead ever got. I hit the first 1km in 2:42, pretty darn quick. Unfortunately it wasn’t in me on the day to push harder from 2-5km. I knew I needed to be 14:30 or faster and a good bit in front to hold on once the course started twisting and turning and making me dizzy.

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But I got to 3k in about 8:40 and 5k at 14:40. At that point Reid & Eric were only a few seconds behind. I eased off a bit, knowing they would catch me, hoping I’d have the energy to go with them. Once they caught me they went by pretty hard and fast. I was able to hang in there until about 7k, but then I started losing ground. I tried to keep my loses to a minimum and even claw my way back from 8-9km. But, once we got to 1km to go I knew I was out of it and just got to the finish line, 4th place in a time of 30:11. Results can be found here.

I was initially, and still am disappointed with the end result, but have to keep things in perspective. Though I feel like training is going well and I’m fit, after such a long absence things aren’t going to click in the races straight away. Also, Reid and Eric (and Kip) are top class athletes and I had to really be on my game for that race strategy to work out. But, it was worth a try, and it worked on Rob Watson, who likes to employ that strategy himself from time to time.

Next up is the RNR San Jose 1/2 marathon on October 6th. I’m looking forward to running a 1/2. I love that distance and seem to be able to post a decent result no matter what type of training or stage of my training I’m in.

A summer wasting

Wow, summer has really flown by.  I wrote a draft of this blog back at the beginning of August, meant as recap of what I was up to in July. Then all of August happened without me getting back to it. But, here’s an update:

For me July started in my hometown of Kingston, ON at the Limestone Mile. I ran this event several times in high school and again after I graduated from university. It was fun to get back to Kingston and see that the running community is alive and well. There were some great performances, and I was especially impressed with the turnout for the kids race. Maybe there is a future Olympian in the mix there somewhere!

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After being in Kingston I flew out to Vancouver for a short training camp. For me this was a great stepping stone in my training. When I went to Vancouver I was at the point where I was feeling ok, able to handle 70-75 miles per week and a bit of cross-training, but no real significant or structured intensity. I left Vancouver with a few good workouts under my belt and feeling confident that my body is willing to cooperate and handle a little bit of intensity.

It was fun to be back out in Vancouver running on some familiar trails and with a good group of people. I was able to join Rob Watson and new Vancouver resident Kelly Wiebe for a few workouts. It was great to rub shoulders with these guys and see Rob hit some big marathon training workouts. He owes his 20th place at World Champs to me for pacing him through 8k of a 35km tempo!

Me, Kelly, and Rob getting down to some grub at Marina Side Grill after Rob  killed a 35k tempo in Stanley Pk

Me, Kelly, and Rob getting down to some grub at Marina Side Grill after Rob killed a 35k tempo in Stanley Pk

After Vancouver it was back up to Parliament Hill for a few weeks. Luckily I missed the worst of the humidity there. And, I actually really enjoyed my training in Ottawa in August, for the most part. I found some new places to run and was putting in some workouts that made me feel like getting back to my old self might be a possibility. One particular workout was a 4mile ‘tempo’ that I did in early August where I hit 19:05. Even though the effort was far above threshold, I knew by running 3:00/km pace that I was getting in decent shape again. August in Ottawa was also a good time for me to continue working with some new athletes as part of my coaching endeavour with Mike Woods - Mile2Marathon Coaching. The groups on Wednesday & Saturday mornings were small, but a very dedicated bunch and I’ll miss coaching them in person, but look forward to continuing to help them become better runners.

A nice run over the Ottawa River with Parliament in the background

A nice run over the Ottawa River with Parliament in the background

Now, all the stars have aligned and I find myself back in my old stomping grounds in Vancouver. I’m looking forward to getting settled in and getting in a good groove here again. Recently, my coach Richard Lee accepted a job with BC Athletics as Provincial Coach – for Endurance events- you can read more about that here. He possess one of the best minds of anyone I’ve met in terms of developing and implementing a high performance training plan. Over the years he has made me realise it’s not just about the workouts you do, but also about having an appropriate plan and structure in place that can make attaining your goals more realistic. BC Athletics is lucky to have him, as are all the athletes he is coaching. I’m excited for some of the opportunities that may arise for me and his other athletes as a result of his new position.

Despite the ups and downs and backs and forths’ from East to West, over the past few weeks I’ve continued to progress nicely in training. I’ve put in some tempo running around Stanley Park, a 5x1600m workout on the track at UBC, and some other fun stuff. We’re still trying to find a balance between increasing milage and intensity. This week, instead of hitting the track for a second time we did a workout of 400 ‘hard’/200 ‘cruise’ on some gravel paths around Burnaby Lake. The pictures below are from yesterdays long/progression run in North Van. It was my first time running at this location it was a nice change.

It was a hilly route!

Seymour Demonstration Forest for a Progression Run

Seymour Demonstration Forest for a progression run

It was a hilly route!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m happy to say that I’m only 6 days away from my first race in over a year. I’ll be lining up and lacing up some new Mizuno Racing Flats at the Eastside 10k in Vancouver on Sept 14th. I haven’t raced since the Olympic Games Marathon on August 12th of last year. Needless to say I’m a little nervous, a little anxious, and a whole lot excited to get back out there. I love the process of training, but I love racing more and it’s been a very long 13 months without it.

Thanks for reading!

Nutana is nice!

 

I’ve had a pretty busy past few weeks, attending different events in Kingston, ON and Saskatoon, SK.

In Kingston, two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share stories of my Olympic experience with kids at Rideau Heights P.S. and the Boys and Girls club of Kingston. Speaking to groups of kids is always interesting. Usually I’m standing in front of them and wonder if anything I’m saying is actually registering with them. But, I figure if I can inspire even one kid to chase his dreams than its a worthwhile outing.

At Rideau Heights P.S.

At Rideau Heights P.S.

I also helped lead a Run4Change 5k fun run from Runners’ Choice Kingston as part of the Run4Change event. These events were taking place across Canada the week of May 13-17 to help raise money for Start2Finish, a charity whose objective is to break the cycle of child poverty in Canada. I was happy to be part of the event in Kingston, we raised over $1000, and I hope in future years we can grow the event and bring greater awareness to this important cause.

Here is an article from the Whig Standard about some of the events. And check out some great pictures from the events on my Facebook page or over at Runners’ Choice Kingston’s Facebook page.

This past weekend I was in Saskatoon for the 35th annual Saskatchewan Marathon. The race organizing committee asked Reid Coolsaet and I to lead a few runs with the local road runners and speak at the expo and pasta dinner. It was my first time in Saskatoon and I really enjoyed it. They’ve got some great running along the Saskatchewan River. The Saskatchewan Marathon was a really well run event that I hope will continue to grow and start to attract more elite runners from across Canada.

 

A cool shot of the 'castle on the river' in Saskatoon

A cool shot of the ‘castle on the river’ in Saskatoon

At the pasta dinner I spoke about my ‘Olympic Journey’  and Reid gave a great talk about the training camps he’s done in Kenya. Apparently our talk’s were well received and people enjoyed the banter that Reid and I had when answering people’s questions. I believe the SRRA will have some pics from the different events on their website and here is an article on how the ‘races’ played out yesterday.

One question some people asked me is what I’ve done with my ‘free’ time when I was injured an unable to run earlier in the year. You’d be surprised how time consuming cross-training 2x per day, physio/massage therapy, and doctors appointments can be. But, one new thing I have made time for and really enjoyed is coaching. A good friend of mine in Ottawa, Mike Woods (Canadian Junior Record holder for 1mile and 3,000m – Now making a name for himself in the world of Professional Cycling), has been coaching a small group a couple times per week and I volunteered to help out. I thought it would be a good thing to do to take my mind off my own inability to run, and feel the energy and enthusiasm of a group of people that were enjoying their running. It’s been a really fun experience, I did not think I’d enjoy sharing my experience and knowledge of the sport as much as I have.

This experience along with the many, many questions I receive from people about what they can do to improve their running at events like the Saskatchewan marathon have been the impetus for a new endeavor called Mile2Marathon Coaching. I’m really excited about this new project that Mike and I have just started. As we detail on our site, we’ve both received expert coaching throughout our careers and feel everyone deserves a similar experience to get the most out of their running. Though our coaching service is an online modality we are really hoping to offer a very personal experience for runners everywhere.  Please check out the ‘coaching’ tab on my website or Mile2Marathon Coaching website for more info. Ok that’s that for the shameless plug.

As for my running…it was nice to get in some decent easy runs in Saskatoon with Reid. I’ve got a few aches and pains, but for the mot part I’m feeling healthy and eager to get back into a real structured and intense training routine. But, patience is what is necessary at the moment, to make sure I don’t fall of the wagon for another extended period of time.

Heading back to my old stomping grounds this weekend for 2 great events. Saturday at Lemoine Pt and Sunday at Fort Henry. Join me…

I’m looking forward to getting back to two of my favourite training grounds from my highschool and gradschool days in Kingston, but more importantly to support two great running events going on in the city.

On Saturday I’ll be at Lemoine Point Conservation area helping out at the Tracey Kirkland Family Fun Walk/Run 5km race. Tracey is a young marathon runner from Kingston who was on her way to run a marathon in San Francisco when she collapsed and was rushed to hospital. It was discovered she has AVM. She remains in ICU in Toronto. The event aims to raise funds to off set the costs of Tracey’s medical care. I’ve donated a signed piece of Olympic Team gear to the silent auction. More information on the event and how you can register or donate is available here and here. If you are in Kingston with nothing to do on Saturday morning please come and support this event.

Sunday, the Athletics Ontario Cross Country Championships will be taking place up on the cross country course at Fort Henry Hill, hosted by Kingston running club Physi-Kult (to which I am a member). I won’t be racing, but I’ll be there cheering on all the runners, handing out some awards, signing some autographs, and just hanging out. The races start at 10:00am with the bantam girls 2km and the final race of the day, the Senior Men’s 10km starts at 2:35pm. There is more information available here. Current weather forecast for Sunday looks fantastic. So, come check out the action if you’re in the area. We’ll be raffling off some signed Olympic Team gear, with proceeds going to the Physi-Kult junior athletes travel fund.

I have fond (and some not so fond) memories of both training and racing at both Lemoine Pt and Fort Henry hill while growing up in Kingston. My first memories of Lemoine Pt are from when I went to summer camp there as a 6-10 yr old. I can remember the walk from Rotary Pk to the beach at Lemoine and thinking the place was so so huge. Now when I go back and go for a run around the ~3mile perimeter trail I find myself wishing it were much larger. I also miss the chip truck that used to be parked half-way along our walking route in my summer camp days. What happened to that thing? I mean who wouldn’t want to stop for some fries or poutine part way through a run or walk!?!

One of my funnier memories of running at Fort Henry actually comes from a road race I did there while at home over Christmas Holidays during University. Temps were right around the freezing mark and about half way through this 8km race it started to rain ever so lightly. I was duking it out for top spot with old man Boyd. And all of a sudden the road turns into a skating rink. It was ridiculously dangerous, especially considering my racing flats had zero grip. I can remember sliding across the pavement right through an intersection. We probably should’ve just stop racing, but Steve and I continued to battle it out until we got the steep downhill at Fort Henry, then I was actually afraid I was gonna fall on my face, so packed it in and let Steve win. His version of this story probably has him just beating me out right, but I swear I eased up and let him win :)

Anyways, I hope to see some of you readers out at these events this coming weekend.

Me back in grade 5 or 6(?) racing at Lemoine Pt. Notice the high socks: I was way ahead of the times in terms of this whole compression sock thing!

Blog Update: the road to London finally came to an end and ran into a wall. My race report from Olympic marathon

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I just returned to Canada two days ago after a week of touring around England with family and friends.

Simply put, the Olympic marathon was the most incredible racing experience of my life. The best marathon runners in the world, the loudest crowds I have ever heard, a challenging course and conditions. There was nothing ordinary about this. [Read more...]

Update number four on the Road to London: Opening Ceremonies and hanging out with The Queen

We are a little less than one week away from lining up for the Olympic marathon. Things have been going well since the last update.
I went to London for a few days to take part in the Opening Ceremonies. That was an incredible experience. I’m really happy that I was able to take part. I also got to meet the Queen of England while I was there. It was a pretty funny experience as myself and javelin thrower Curtis Moss didn’t really know what we were getting into. We were just asked to show up at a certain place and time for a ‘luncheon’. Turns out we, along with athletes and delegates from several other countries were going to meet the Queen. She came around and shook our hands and asked some token questions; what event are you in, when is it, are you enjoying London. I told her she could watch my race from her window at home. She politely told me she would prefer to watch on TV.
I was happy to get in a few days in the village in London, to get the ‘lay of the land’. But overall it was a pretty exhausting experience. So I was happy to head back to St. Moritz. I’ve been back here for a little over a week, with my coach. I’ve started to back down quite a bit in terms of both training volume and intensity. But I have gotten in a few good workouts in the heat (and lower altitude) in Chiavenna, Italy. 

I’ve posted some more photos to http://dwykes.tumblr.com/ from running in Chiavenna, here in St. Moritz, and from a nice run I did in Richmond Park while I was in London. 
A bit of boredom usually starts to set in when backing off the heavy training as I have a lot more time on my hands. I’ve been spending a lot of time watching the Olympics on TV. Yesterday was the women’s Marathon. It was good to watch that as it gave me some sense of the course. It’s been exciting watching my Athletics teammates compete. ‘team St. Moritz’ is off to a good start with a very strong 13th place finish from Inaki Gomez in the 20km race walk! And today HilarymStellingwerf qualified for the 1500m semi-finals!
I head back to London later this week. The race is Sunday August 12th at 11:00am London time (6:00am EST).

Update il numero tre: T minus three weeks til we toe the line

Yesterday I threw down 25.5miles to cap of a solid 4 weeks of training here in St. Moritz. I’d be lying if I told you everything has gone smoothly. This block of training was a real grind for me to get through. Between the extremely random weather, the altitude, and pushing the envelope with more intensity than in the past I walked away from some workouts exhausted mentally and banged up physically. But, with some good treatment I was able to get my body feeling right and keep the hand on the fire so to speak. And now I get to come up for some air, both figuratively and literally. I’ll head down to Zurich later this week and get in a workout there and then on to London for a few days.

I will be taking part in the Opening Ceremonies. Most athletes skip this ceremony as it can be physically taxing and therefore might take away from performance. My coach and I felt this would be a good thing to do to help get over the awe of the Olympics and to get in a bit of an Olympic experience. Since I’m competing on the last day of the Games I will not get the chance to attend any other events. But at the same time with it being 16 days before my race I’m not worried about the physical toll that walking in the opening ceremony will have on my legs. I was pleased to see several veteran track athletes including Bernard Lagat and Nick Willis will be taking part in the Opening Ceremonies. Sort of reaffirmed that it’s not a bad idea. And of course with Simon Whitfield as Canada’s flag bearer I expect this will be a very exciting experience for me.

I still remember watching Simon win gold in 2000. At the time I was a 17 year old dreaming of OFSAA track medals and an NCAA scholarship. Seeing Simon win gold made me think about the bigger picture. Since that day I’ve always been a huge Whitfield fan, and over the years have even found myself more and more interested in triathlon. Heck if I was 5 years younger in 2000 I probably Would’ve demanded my parents put me swimming lessons and buy me a road bike. That transformation was clearly visible amongsts kids that bit younger than me in the Kingston area. The Alex Hintons and Tristan Woodfines of the world went into triathlon as kids and are now making noise in that sport, no doubt inspired by Simon’s exploits. Me, I still haven’t mastered the doggy paddle.

Fellow Canadian track athletes Hilary Stellingwerf (1500m) and Inaki Gomez (20km race walk) have also been here training. Last week we took the gondola up to Piz Nair (one of the peaks here behind my apartment up in the Albula range). I posted a few pictures from that to tumblr. The most excitement besides that was a few games of pool with members of the Canandian rowing team who were training just down the road in Silvaplana. It was cool to meet these guys and I look forward to cheering them on (from afar) as they loom to scoop up some hardware in London.

I wish I had more news to report from here in Switzerland, but my days have been pretty uneventful besides training. I did get some nice press in the Toronto Star on Sunday. But for the most part all has been quite and I’m focused on the 12th of August.