Can you run as fast as this house will fall?

By June 21, 2011News

I enjoyed a little ‘break’ after the Ottawa 10k. It was a long (maybe a race or two too long) season of road and track racing. So I gave my body a few days off and then a week of easy running, before starting back into workouts. I spent some time at home with family and friend, ate my fair share of crap, and drank my fair share of beer.

I’ve been training relatively hard again for about 10-14 days. I’m having a bit of trouble getting my legs back under me which should make this weekends ScotiaBank Vancouver Half Marathon interesting. I might surprise myself or it might be a complete death march. Only time will tell.

I’ve put together a bit of a review of my races from the first half of this year, some thoughts on them now that all is said and done, and a few pics:

First half half-marathon, Vancouver, Feb 13: 1st, 1:04:39. A decent start to the season. I went back to Vancouver in mid-Jan and found myself struggling. I did a 16k tempo run about two weeks prior to this race and could only muster up ~3:15/km. I had to back off the mileage for a few weeks after that in order to ‘freshen-up’ and give myself a chance at running for the CR (1:04:44) at this race. I wasn’t super keen on lowering the mileage at that point in the year, but I obliged and it worked out for me in the end.

Near the start of the First Half 1/2 marathon in Vancouver. It was a solo effort. (photo courtesy Rich Horne)


St. Patty’s 5k, March 12, Vancouver: 1st, 14:43. Just a tune up for the big race the following weekend. On a cold and windy day I never got going and didn’t gain a lot of confidence from the effort. But it was fun to get out there and compete.

Just over 1km into the race. Didn't feel great on this day, but it was familiar territory racing around Stanley Park. (photo courtesy Christine Papau)


NYC half-marathon, March 20: 13th, 1:02:14. Couldn’t have asked for much more out of this race. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in. I just wanted to race the competition and see how I stacked up. 13th is pretty far down the line, but it was a great field and I managed to beat some very good guys.

Givin'er through Manhattan. Photo Courtesy Victor Sailer,

I was pretty excited about where my fitness was at after this race, but it was a point-to-point and net downhill course. So, the time may have been a bit deceptive. My initial plan for the spring was to run a fast 10k on the roads. But after this half, Rich and I floated around the idea of running a 10,000m on the track. Initially I didn’t make track a priority for this year because I’d had some disappointments with it in years past, and (unfortunately) financially I felt I couldn’t commit to running track (where usually I lose $; given travel/accommo expenses and no prize money to be earned). I plugged my 1:02:14 into the McMillan calculator and it spit out a 27:58. I knew that wasn’t realistic, but it did get me excited. Still it took me a while to commit to racing on the track. My workouts after the half were pretty good, but not great. They didn’t give me (or Rich) the confidence that I could run really well over 10,000m. After a week or two of ‘humming and hawing’ Rich told me I needed to make up my mind (both because some tweaks needed to be made to the training and because I had previously committed to the Sporting Life 10k in Toronto (the same day as the Stanford 10,000m). Obviously I eventually decided to change course a bit and run the 10,000m. But first I had another race.

Vancouver Sun Run 10k, April 15th: 2nd, 29:15. I wanted to win this one pretty badly after having placed 2nd on two previous occasions. I knew I was in good shape but the training had not gone well enough to tell me I was just gonna walk away with things. Eric Gillis ran a great race and beat me and Kip Kangogo well over the last 1k. After being dropped by Kip and Eric’s moves with 800-1000m to go I managed to ‘sac-up’, put in a mad sprint over the last 300m and catch Kip for 2nd, literally on the line. I was pretty disappointed after the race, but in hindsight I was not prepared mentally or physically for the intensity of the moves made in the later part of the race.

A mad sprint to catch Kip right at the finish line. We finished with the same time, but I was awarded 2nd place. (photo courtesy Vancouver Sun)


Next race up was unexpected/unplanned (at least for me it was). After the Sun Run I think Rich thought I needed another race, to get me to where I needed to be both physically and mentally for the 10,000m on the track.

Oregon Relays 5,000m, April 21, Eugene, OR: 2nd, 13:43.43. I was buzzing after this race. It was exactly what I needed. I got out there and competed hard and came away with a PB and a bit of confidence.

About 2,500m into the race, following one of the many Japenese runners in the race. (Photo courtesy

I had only 9 days between the Oregon race and the Stanford race. But, within a day or two of the 5,000m I was feeling good again. It was a big help that we made a point of getting into spikes as soon as the weather allowed, back in March. In the past I’ve done so little training in spikes that after a track race in spikes my body (especially my calves) were really sore for a long while afterwards. I did a tune-up workout on the Tuesday following Eugene and then just a bunch of easy running and strides all the way into the race in California.


Payton Jordan Invitational 10,000m, May 1: 23rd!, 28:12:82.

This race was the most focused and determined I’ve ever been in a track race. I never lost concentration , stuck to the game plan, and came out with a huge PB. It was very satisfying to get this result. For me it was confirmation of my abilities and some of my previous results (both my marathon and half-marathon PBs were set on ‘aided’ courses, and thus will always be marked with an asterisks or simply not recognized in some instances).

There isn't a photo of me in this race that I can find. In fact I didn't even make it onto the front row of the start line, I started in the second row all by myself!

Whether I was aware of it or not, following the NYC half the focus of my training had switched to be as ready as possible for this race. Afterwards Rich told me he had me come to a peak for the race and that it may be tough to hold it together for my next two races. At this point my mantra or motto became ‘it’s all gravy’, i.e. Anything else this season would just be an added bonus.
This seemed like a good frame of mind to approach things over the last month, but things never really panned out. Whether it be fatigue from the fairly hectic racing schedule, or the travel, or the training coming to a ‘peak’ or a combo of all of those things I wasn’t able to do any training over the past month that felt good or gave me much confidence. But I still went into my races thinking I could have a good day.

BUPA Great Manchester Run 10k, May 15, Manchester England: 13th 29:30. Just never got rolling in this one. Felt flat and couldn’t stay in contention with the lead group. My body wasn’t responding at all and just felt like I couldn’t compete well. Ran the last 4k pretty much solo and just got slower and slower.

Ottawa Race Weekend 10k, May 28th: 9th, 30:17. Yikes. I was hoping to have a good one hear and pick up a few months rent and maybe a sub 29 performance. I did neither. I was dejected for a few minutes but then remembered ‘it’s all gravy’.

About 1km into the race. Bairu just behind me. I was still feeling good at this point in the race 🙂 Think I'll break out a new (yet the same) Mizuno racing singlet for the 2nd half of the year. The current one got a lot of use!

All told over the span of a few months I revamped 3 personal bests; 5000m 13:43 from 13:58 (Melbourne ’05), 10,000m 28:12 down from 28:58 (Stanford ’09), and 1/2 marathon to 1:02:14 from 1:03:53 (Houston ’08).

I arrived back in Vancouver yesterday, and my apartment was still here (Luckily the rioters skipped it when burning the place down). I’m excited about getting focused again and training hard. Our build-up for Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) starts on July 4. I’m looking forward to that. And I plan to update the blog on a much more regular basis throughout the build-up.