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Dylan Wykes

Fukuoka Marathon Post Mortem

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I went to Japan for a marathon. I dropped out. I’m disappointed. That’s the short version of this update. You can move on with your day now, or read below for the sad tale of events and my reflections on them.

The race itself was a great event; well organized, great course, nice weather. You couldn’t ask for a lot more to be setup to run fast, besides maybe a personal pacer. I managed to run my desired pace for all of 12k or so, and then things quickly unraveled. It was a weird feeling to have to really keep on it to maintain pace that early in the race. Usually I can go into autopilot and click off marathon pace for a long time. Today, after about 8k, any time I tried to relax and find a groove I was at least 5s/km slower than the pace I was hoping to hit. By 18k I knew it would take a small miracle to achieve the Olympic standard (2:12:50). By 21k my leg was sore, I was slowing rapidly, I was defeated and packed it in. Thats how small the margin for error is in this for me and how quickly things can change. 2 or 3 seconds per kilometre slower than planned and all can be lost.

The journey to Japan started as far back as June, when after months of inconsistent training I spent a few more weeks on the sidelines and realized that my initial ambitions of running the Berlin marathon in September (or even Toronto marathon in October) were unlikely. By late September, after 6 weeks of decent training and my first decent race in months, all sights were set on Fukuoka.

Training went well in the lead up to the race. Nothing spectacular, but good enough. The training was more conservative than in the past, with lower mileage and more recovery days between hard workouts. I knew it wasn’t my strongest buildup to a marathon, but it was close to what I’d done for previous races where my times were close to 2:12:50. I really tried to enjoy the process this time around and not get too stressed out about specific workouts. (That’s made a lot easier when I get to hang out at the park with my wife and daughter between training runs!) A few weeks out from the race I hit a good workout and was really able to start telling myself hitting the Olympic standard in Fukuoka would be a real possibility.

What went wrong for me out there, I’m not exactly sure. I have been dealing with a pesky post tib tendon the past few weeks. It interrupted training a little bit and definitely messed with my head in the week or so leading up to the race, even though on race day it felt the best it had in two weeks. Jet lag was likely a bigger contributor to my problems out there. I’ve raced very well in the past off of a poor sleep the night before the race. But, I had 3-4 pretty terrible sleeps upon arriving in Japan. I felt a bit like a zombie on race morning. I didn’t have a particular plan to adjust to the time difference. Maybe that was something I should have been more diligent about.

Some would ask why go so far away to race when it adds that unpredictable variable of travel/jetlag. The easy answer is the timing of this race just fit the best with my training. But, regardless of the timing, there aren’t many races that would give me the opportunity (in terms of appropriate course and competition) to run fast that wouldn’t require similar travel. Besides maybe Chicago and Toronto in October there aren’t any races I can think of in Canada or the USA at anytime of the year that fit the bill. That’s just the reality of the event and what I’m trying to accomplish. It would have been much easier to go to Sacramento (on the same day as Fukuoka), but it’s not a certified course, so any performance their would not be counted towards Olympic qualification. I don’t regret coming to Japan and taking the opportunity. I just wish I’d been able to get more out of it.

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I’ve dropped out of races before and I know inevitably I’ll pick up the pieces and move on to the next one. But right now this one stings, both literally and figuratively. That pesky post tib tendon I mentioned before is not happy with me now. If I’m honest with myself, it probably would’ve slowed me down a lot after 30-35k, even if all else was going smooth. That is really frustrating, especially after finally stringing together 4 months of consistent and quality training. I’ve tried to think back to what I did wrong to let this creep up. Seemingly overnight it went from an underlying issue for several weeks that I was managing (with treatment and exercises) to a crippling injury that forced me to take several days off the week of the race.

Lots of sacrifices were made in preparation for this race, including living in Flagstaff, AZ for 5 months. I know that sounds like a pretty sweet thing to do, and I know how lucky I am to be able to do it. But, it was a lot of work and sacrifice, especially on Francine’s part, to make that happen. I’m not making nearly enough money as a runner to move the family to Flagstaff for 5 months and simply put life on hold back in Vancouver. And I’m not willing to leave my ladies behind for weeks or months on end to go away to a training camp on my own. We had to make a lot of changes and spend a lot of time, energy, and money to have things go smoothly in Arizona. So, right now all of that time and energy and sacrifice feels like a waste and a huge burden that didn’t need to be thrust on a lot of people. (Many thanks to running community in Canada for their support especially Peter Butler in Vancouver and the fundraising efforts of Al Cantlay and the running community in Kingston. Without their help in the years following the London Olympics we likely couldn’t have afforded the short-term move to Flagstaff)

For now, it’s back to Vancouver to see my two girls, catch up with friends and make sure I’m 100% healthy. If I can get back training in the next few weeks I will have another opportunity to try for the Olympic standard in the spring, likely somewhere in Europe. We are not at the end of the road yet!

Hello From Flagstaff

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My wife told me this blog lacked some zip. I decided I was going to drink a beer to help with my wit, but I took some Benadryl instead – because I have some nasty poison ivy like rash all over my body.

I got the rash because I’ve been out running in nature. Yes, that’s right, I’ve been running! Not something I’ve been able to do as much of as I would have wanted over the past year or so. I have had lots of injuries, some more serious than others. Perhaps inevitably when so much of my life is focused on performance and because so much of my identity is shaped by my running, the injuries are followed by emotional ups and downs. I came across this article/blog written by British distance runner Andy Baddeley about his struggles with injury and depression. I was shocked at the many many parallels I was able to draw to my own experience over the past few years. Especially the part about having a new baby and that being so joyous, but then at the same time being so down about running. It was actually really good for me to read that article, it helped me deal with some of my ‘issues’ and reframe others.

A good quote that I’ll steal from Francine’s old coach Pete Grinbergs; ‘It means everything, but it means nothing’. Running is a sport in which you often have to be pretty selfish and we tend to get caught up in ourselves and how to achieve our goals. Having a family has helped put that in perspective. Sure my running is really important and when I’m in the moment I want to be my best and get the most out of myself. But when I walk in the door from a hard training session and my 10 month old daughter, Sasha, gives me a big smile and crawls my way, that training session I just completed – whether great or terrible – seems to mean a lot less. I think that little shift in mentality really helps me in both my athletic pursuits and the rest of my life. 

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That brings me back to the nasty rash that has required the dose of Benadryl. I have spent the past 2 months navigating the endless dirt roads and trails of Flagstaff, AZ and somewhere along the way I came in to contact with a bit more of nature than my sensitive city boy skin can handle. But I’ll deal with it if it means I’m out there training everyday, which I have been now for at least a few weeks in a row. 

Getting over the injury hump this time around was a bit different than my past experiences. Many of my past injuries were pretty cut and dry in terms of diagnosis and prognosis; you have a stress fracture, rest for 6 weeks, start back slowly. But since January I’ve had a bunch of different things including a tear in the tendon that attaches to the top of the hamstring – a real pain in the butt that one was. Many of these injuries would come and go, allowing me to train for a few weeks before they crept up again and sidelined me for a few more weeks. This was tough to deal with as I had so much self doubt about my fitness, my bodies ability to recover, my motivation to continue, etc. Without any distinct deadline or light at the end of the tunnel I was becoming more and more frustrated and despondent about this whole running thing. Luckily I have some great people around me including my family and my sponsors Mizuno Canada and Forerunners, that support me no matter what happens. Knowing I had that support kept me going. But, before I knew it July had rolled around, I hadn’t really had any consistent training and was about to embark on this grandiose training camp to Flagstaff, AZ with my wife and baby daughter.

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This grand adventure to Arizona started as a part the of process in my pipe dream to break the Canadian marathon record at the 2015 Berlin Marathon. (Spoiler alert, that’s not going to happen, at least I won’t be the one breaking the record, because I won’t be on the start line!) I have a lot of pipe dreams when it comes to running. A lot of them are ridiculous, too over the top to tell readers about. But, that is one of the things that keeps me motivated and dedicated through all the ups and downs. Most of the time the dreams don’t come to fruition, but once in a while they do. Anyways, The whole point in being here is because Flagstaff is at 7,000ft above sea level. The air is more rarefied the higher you go in elevation and to adapt to this the body increases the blood volume or something like that. Whatever the mechanism is, there is performance benefit to training here especially for endurance athletes. I like to tell people it just makes you tougher – because you bloody well suffer in the thin air. 

One of the other advantages of being here is that I have worked closely with Dr. John Ball in Phoenix, AZ. When I arrived in July my body was still a mess and I wasn’t really able to train much at all. But, working with John has really helped me to sort things out. I probably spent as much time in his clinic as I did actually running in the first few weeks here. It certainly hasn’t been an overnight fix. That is something both my coach, Richard Lee, and John have continually tried to drill into me. So, now I putter away at a some ridiculous looking exercises John has given me, both before and after running each day. But along the way he’s taught me more about how my body functions now and how it should function optimally than I ever really cared to think about previously.

I can now say that I am really enjoying running again and am trying to enjoy the entire process. For so long my running has been about the end result. But with so many injuries I’ve found myself really far behind where I wanted to be and throwing myself against a wall to try to catch up. I’ve been able to be a bit more patient this time around, in part because the altitude here has prevented me from going out and hammering workouts before I’m really prepared to do so. And in part because I think I’m slowly learning that if I take small steps I can actually still make progress, not huge leaps, but still…progress.

Otherwise, life up here is pretty good. Francine works harder at her PhD and some new research at NAU than I can fathom and Sasha continues to be a little spark plug. She has been getting in some good training since we’ve been here too. She passed her swimming lessons with flying colours and has been crawling around like a maniac!

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In other news the sport of track & field has had it’s ups and downs this summer. There have been huge allegations of systematic doping in Russia and the coverup of doping across the world by the international federation that oversees the sport. In more positive news Canada had a fantastic World Championships, bringing home 8 medals (its best ever). The NCAA Athletics Canada’s new athlete development program is really working! Lastly, I’m really looking forward to the fall marathon season. I have a lot of athletes I coach running various marathons across the globe. Many of Canada’s top marathoners will also be toeing the line at big city marathons this fall; Reid Coolsaet (who has already provisionally qualified for the Olympics) will be running the Berlin Marathon. A few weeks later Robbie Watson will be toeing the line in Chicago looking for a sub 2:12:50. And a week after that Eric Gillis, Matt Loiselle, Sammy Jibril and Lanni Marchant will race in Toronto with high hopes of running times that will qualify them for next summer’s Olympics in Rio. Hopefully a few other ladies like Rachel Hannah and Kim Doerksen, who are tackling the marathon will also have a go!

I have hopes of being on the starting line for some races this fall too – with low expectations, all as part of the process. Maybe my next update will even be race report! Thanks for reading.

Babies, Moms, and Running

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Most of my audience is probably only interested in the ‘Running’ part of this post’s title, so I’ll get that out of the way and then let you carry on with your day.

I am back training, at a level that I would call actual training. We did lots of searching for “why” the latest injury (a stress fracture in my right distal fibula) occurred. Nothing concrete has come of that. There is always that period of searching for answers, but maybe sometimes there isn’t an answer, or at least not an answer that we can come to with the limited resources I have at my disposal (many people are surprised with how unscientific our approach to training is. Maybe that will be my downfall, but it is what it is). It feels good to be back and I’m looking forward to an eventful 2015. I did not have my carding (Government Funding) renewed, which is disappointing (maybe more on that another time). And good luck to everyone running Nationals XC this weekend in Vancouver. I will not be racing. If I had two more good weeks of training under me and I wasn’t worried about messing up my ankle I might give it a go. But, I will be spectating instead. There should be some great races so if you’re in Vancouver head out to Jericho Beach Park on Saturday.

You can follow some of my training runs on Movescount http://www.movescount.com/members/dwykes and Strava http://www.strava.com/athletes/dylan_wykes. Will likely be hard to make sense of a lot of the workouts. But, when I wear my Suunto Ambit 2R watch that data will show up on those links.

Next topic of interest; my wife had a baby girl on November 1! Sasha is amazing and makes for an exciting new adventure in life. It has been great thus far, despite lacking a bit of sleep here and there. Priorities are shifting a little bit, but in a good way.

 

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Last topic; Moms. Certainly watching my wife give birth to our baby girl gave me a whole new appreciation for all moms out there (‘Thanks Mom’!). But, I wanted to talk specifically about moms who run, even more specifically moms who run really fast. Recently there has been a lot of media attention around elite female marathon runners who are also moms. Specifically around the NYC marathon; Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor, and Clara Peterson received a lot of well deserved attention around their training and racing during and after pregnancy. Krista Duchene may be a familiar name to Canadian marathon fans; she is a mom of 3 and has done her best running since having her children. One of my teammates here in Vancouver, Sabrina Wilkie has started a blog about her current experience of training while pregnant, which you can check out here: http://www.mizunousa.com/running/blog/running-for-two/

My wife has done pregnancy and health research in some shape or form for the past 10 years and she also has many friends who run and train a lot. She would get questions from these friends regarding what they could/should safely do for training during pregnancy. Though not her expertise, she did some research and found there was a real dearth of studies on the subject. So, with the help of her colleagues at the University of Ottawa and consultation with several of her elite female friends a study of elite female distance runners was born. With my background in statistics and epidemiology, I’ve also been involved in the conception of the study. Our main objectives are to find out what women did for training before, during, and after pregnancy. Our survey is up at the link below and we would greatly appreciate readers passing this on to anyone they know who may meet our inclusion criteria (also below). A second objective is looking at some of the social factors around pregnancy for elite female distance runners, including other peoples perceptions of their activity during pregnancy and issues around sponsorships/contracts. We tackled the later topics through phone interviews with a highly elite group of women. Results of those interviews will be presented at academic conferences sometime in the new year.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/elitepregnancy

To take part in the study you must have been pregnant and given birth within the past 5 years and run faster than one of the following standards:

1,500m: 4:29.42
3,000m steeplechase: 10:48.89
5,000m: 16:38.13
10,000m: 35:06.22
half-marathon: 1:17:08
marathon: 2:46:00

 

Blog update: I am gonna break you down….to tiny tiny parts

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It’s been a roller coaster ride the past month or so, dealing with minor and now major setbacks. Things started to unravel in mid-July. My hamstring started to tighten up during a workout, I got through it without really thinking about it. But, it became worse over the next two days. I then stupidly and stubbornly tried to race a small race here in Vancouver – Summerfast 10k. I stopped at 5k as the hamstring had tightened up a lot. I battled with that for 3 weeks – taking a few days off, then a few test runs, before eventually taking 10 days off to let it completely heal. I was in a bit of panic about STWM at that point, but knew I was in great shape prior to that hiccup. When I started back my hamstring felt great. By my 3rd run back I could feel some light pain in my ankle. I had two separate rehab appointments for my hamstring that day and asked about my ankle, no one thought it was a big deal. I thought it might be some peroneal tendinitis so was taking some anti-inflams, icing, and applying a topical anti-inflam. Two runs later I only made in 20′ and was hobbling – I stopped and walked home. Later that day it swelled up like a balloon and I could barely walk on it. I went to VGH and came out with a boot and crutches. At this point the diagnosis is unclear, but likely a stress fracture in the distal fibula. A bone scan is scheduled for tomorrow to confirm.

I was pretty baffled with how quickly this came on. If I’d been running 200k per week, slowly felt the pain worsening and didn’t deal with it, I’d be kicking myself. But, I’m not really sure I’d ever be perceptive enough to back off after 1 or 2 runs with some (not a ton) of pain for fear that I had a stress fracture. I’ve run through a lot of aches and pains over the years and usually came out the good side of things.

At this point I obviously will not be running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 19th. You can read Paul Gains write-up about that here. This is a very unfortunate turn of events. I had a lot riding on being able to run, and run well in Toronto. But, as Paul notes, the positive is that I will be here for the birth of our baby girl. Everything happens for a reason and I would have been crushed to miss that. So, there are lots of positives and lots to focus my energy on over the next few months.

I haven’t thought much about what’s next in terms of running. I’m still, nearly two weeks later, in some denial about this whole set of events. Qualifying for Rio 2016 Olympic games is just around the corner, with the window for qualifying likely beginning January 2015. I was really hoping to have a solid race under my belt in Toronto, secure Sport Canada carding for another year and go about my business qualifying. The last two years have been an injury filled mess, and there have certainly been times I’ve thought about packing it in. But, there have also been enough times where I’ve gotten back in a good groove and saw glimpses of my old self. Those glimpses have kept me going and they will continue to keep me going for at least a couple more years.

Thanks to Alan, STWM race director for his support, I’m sure the event will be a huge success and I look forward to watching my teammates run well there. Thanks to those on the ground here in Vancouver for trying to help me figure this one out. And a big thanks to Mizuno Canada and Forerunners for their continued support!

Thanks for reading!

 

Fall Marathons and Fatherhood

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I’ve already posted the link to the below article on Twitter and Facebook, but I know some of you (my dad!) aren’t privy to those sources of technology. I have signed up to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 19th and my wife is expecting just a few days later. As the article points out, this was not an easy decision for me to make, and it may be one that I end up regretting, but it’s something we are comfortable with giving a go, so that’s what we will do. Some people might think, why not just do a race at a different time, that doesn’t present the possible conflict.

The decision to race a particular marathon is not an easy one and involves many factors. For some the main priority is running fast and finding the race that best presents that opportunity; fast course, consistent weather, good pacers, a group of guys aiming to run the same time, etc. While for others the main priority is maximizing the financial incentives; appearance fee, prize money, time bonuses, etc. And still for others the timing of a race and how it fits into a long-term (or short-term) plan is an important factor; planning ahead to future races, obtaining standards for Sport Canada carding, obtaining standards for World Championships or Olympic Games, and in my case this time around – planning around a child being born!

When you’re only really able to run 2-3 marathons per 12 months at a high level sometimes you have to pick and choose your races for different reasons. I wish (and I know my coach wishes) I was in a situation where I could run every race simply to maximize my performance – the best course, the best weather, etc. But, the reality is other factors become important at times. Expecting our first child is an amazing and exciting life event and an important factor in my decision making. Also, I’m grateful for the current support I receive that allows me to be a full-time athlete. If I don’t give myself the opportunity to be considered for carding or to make some money through appearances and prizes, continuing to pursue the sport at the highest level to achieve my best becomes less and less of a reality.

So, there’s a little insight into what’s involved in the decision making process for an athlete at my level.

Please enjoy Paul Gains article, below:

TORONTO. August 5th. Canada’s Dylan Wykes will make his third appearance at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with the fingers on both hands crossed, hoping that medical doctors are precise.

The IAAF Silver Label race is scheduled for Sunday October 19th. Wykes’ wife, Francine, is due to give birth to the couple’s first child five days later. The couple met while attending Providence College on track and field scholarships.

Two years ago Wykes rose to number two on the Canadian all time marathon rankings list with a 2:10:47 performance at the Rotterdam marathon. Only Jerome Drayton’s thirty-nine year old Canadian record (2:10:09) is superior.

But Wykes, a 31 year old Kingston, Ontario native, who now resides in Vancouver, would like nothing better than to claim that record. Given the circumstances his decision to commit to the Toronto race – where he will join fellow Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis on the start line – was not an easy one to make.

“I want to be present for the birth of the baby,” Wykes declares, “I was trying to decide whether it was worth risking not being there by going to Toronto and also where my head would be mentally if I was in Toronto and Francine went into labour in Vancouver while I was away. Francine and I discussed things; if we were both going to be comfortable with me not being there; just trying to see what might have been options. That was the main consideration.

“Her parents are in Cambridge. We talked about the possibility of (her having the baby there) but we are pretty set up here in Vancouver now and we decided it would be better to stay in Vancouver. And, Francine’s parents are going to come out while I am in Toronto.”

Two years ago he was Canada’s top finisher in the 2012 Olympic marathon finishing 20th in 2:15:26. That was his fourth marathon start in ten months. The Rotterdam race had been his third attempt at the Olympic qualifying standard. After achieving his Olympic dream even his coach, Richard Lee, wondered if he would ever sacrifice so much to run a fast marathon again.

“I think a lot of it for me was knowing the commitment that it takes and the sacrifices you have to make to make something like a Canadian record or an Olympic team,” Wykes reveals. “It’s huge. There have been times since then that I have questioned whether or not it would be worthwhile pushing through that again.

“Since April (of this year) I feel I am getting into a training groove with the group in Vancouver again and it feels like is something I am motivated to do again. I can sense that getting to that fitness is something I can achieve again. So, I am motivated.”

Dylan powers his way past "Gassy Jack" en route to victory at 2013 Vancouver Eastside 10K. Photo Credit: Chris Relke, Canada Running Series

Dylan powers his way past “Gassy Jack” en route to victory at 2013 Vancouver Eastside 10K. Photo Credit: Chris Relke, Canada Running Series

While he trained alone for most of his 2012 Olympic quest he has since been joined by Canadian internationals Rob Watson and Kelly Wiebe, all under the guidance of the head coach of the BC Endurance Project, Richard Lee. Already the results have been superb. A late entry to the Vancouver Sun Run 10k he finished a surprising second there in 29:11. Most significantly, on June 22nd he won the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon in 1:03:51.

“I had no training partners at all (before London) I did almost all my training on my own leading up to London,” he admits. “It’s good (having partners), it’s definitely part of what has helped my motivation to have this training group. The way I did it before I was doing everything by myself. That was hard to stay motivated. So it’s good to have guys like Rob and Kelly out there.

“We have kind of done a pre-buildup to the buildup and increased the mileage a bit. I went through some ups and downs after the half (Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon) but I am coming through it now. We should be doing our hardest training over the next five or six weeks.”

Dylan's back... leading the pack on his way to victory in June's Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon!

Dylan’s back… leading the pack on his way to victory in June’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half-marathon!

Wykes admits he watched the recent Commonwealth Games with great interest. Australia’s Michael Shelley claimed gold in 2:11:15 ahead of five East African athletes. The result at once had Wykes asking himself, ‘what if?’

“It was funny because the guy that won was a guy I wanted to key off at the Olympics because he has got some good results at championships,” says the Canadian star. “I ended up being a little ambitious (in London) and was maybe 30 seconds ahead of him at halfway. Sure enough, he came past me and beat me by a minute. He came 16th. So I have followed his career. I was watching the Glasgow race thinking, I could be in there. but, it is what it is.”

Only one race is planned, prior to Toronto, the Vancouver Eastside 10km which is also part of the Canada Running Series. It’s a race he won last year. His and coach Lee’s reasoning is to limit the amount of travel that can disrupt the final preparations for the marathon.

“It will be good to get in a bunch of training,” he adds. “I am not sure of the value of racing while you are in marathon training, to see where your fitness is, because it doesn’t really tell you a lot. You can try and rest but you are still tired from the (marathon) training. But it’s good to go through the motions of racing and realizing you are going to do this for real five weeks later.”

Drawing inspiration from American Meb Keflezighi who won this year’s Boston Marathon aged 38, Wykes believes he has a few more years in him, at least to get through another Olympic cycle, possibly two. But again motivation will factor into the equation.

“I really just want to get the most out of myself as I can,” he declares. “Obviously the Canadian Record falls into that. It just so happens that 2:10 is a barrier I would like to break and the Canadian Record falls within that. That’s huge, I would love to improve on my finish at the London Olympics, make another Olympic team. I look at guys who have finished in the top 10 in past years and I’d like to get to that level. That would be something that would be a nice touch.”

But, for now, Wykes realizes running his first marathon in two years is the next challenge on the roads along with becoming a father for the first time. Combining the two is something he will be discussing with his rival, Eric Gillis, a father of two.

“A guy like Eric he has spent the best part of his career as a father,” says Wykes with a laugh, “I’m sure he will have a lot of words of wisdom for me, how to prioritize things. It will be change in my life and, definitely, a shock to the system.”

For further information and entry into this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon events see www.stwm.ca

 

 

 

Commonwealth Games Marathon this Sunday!

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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!

2014 Scotiabank Vancouver Half

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I raced this past weekend at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon. It went well, as I was able to get the win, in a time of 1:03:51. A summary of the day’s events with a few photos can be found here.

I decided to race here in Vancouver shortly after the Ottawa 10k. Training was going well and it seemed like a good opportunity to test myself over a longer distance – after racing two 10ks in the months prior. I was a bit concerned about the big downhill down from UBC to Spanish Banks, as the pain in my pelvis returns from time to time when running downhills hard.

This interview from after the race sums up my thoughts pretty well. So well in fact I’ll stop writing and let you watch it instead:

I’m pleased to have this one under my belt. I was not nervous about my fitness, but admittedly was about my body holding up over 21.1km. Writing this now everything feels good. I’m taking it easy for a few days now and then am looking forward to getting back into training. No races on the horizon at this point, but I’ll update when there is.

As usual with Canada Running Series races, this event was very well done. Hats off to Clif, Alan, and their crew.

 

Thanks for reading/watching!

My Tour du Ontario

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The news today is that I’ll be racing at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon (SVHM) on June 22. I’m excited to race here in Vancouver again. Check out this article by Paul Gains. More on that later, as I also wanted to look back at the Lowertown Brewery (Ottawa) 10k and some other events that have kept me busy the past few weeks.

My training following the Sun Run 10k at the end of April went quite well. Rob Watson and I did some good workouts together as he was preparing for the Ottawa marathon. Things actually worked out quite well; as he was tapering I was ramping up and we were able to do some of the same workouts. Some went better than others for me, but I went in to the Ottawa 10k confident I could run fast.

That didn’t actually materialize for me on the day. The lead group included 2:03 marathoner Geoffrey Mutai and Kenyan Olympic Trials 10,000m Champ Wilson Kiprop. I didn’t have the confidence to go with the leaders from the gun. Instead I found myself running solo the entire way. That wasn’t much fun and my motivation waned. I got to halfway in 14:30 and pretty much just hung on for dear life from there. I tried to reel in a few of the stragglers from the lead pack, but in the end I just had nothing. I finished 9th overall in 29:40. Check out results here. The consolation prize was that I was the top Canadian in the race. I was disappointed with how things went, but my spirits were raised by some good drinks and good eats at the Manx (my favourite Ottawa establishment).

On Sunday Eric Gillis and Rhiannon Johns took home the crowns as Canadian marathon champs. My man Rob got himself a nice shiny silver medal, running a gutsy race and hanging on well. Congrats to all of them for getting  it done over 42.2km!

The week following the race we bounced around between Toronto, Kingston, and Westport. It was a bit of a crazy week to be honest, but I’m only back in Ontario every so often so I had to get in as much visiting as possible with family and friends.

On Monday I spent a day at Mizuno Canada headquarters in Mississauga, doing some filming for promo of some of their great new products. Larry Abbott is a natural in front of the camera, hopefully I held my own as his sidekick. We had some fun and I’m looking forward to seeing how things pan out. After the long day in front of the camera I did a long progression run up and down the Don Valley. The humidity got the best of me and I ended up staggering down East Dundas street for about a mile before I found our hotel!

While in Toronto I also did a talk with Rejean Chiassons’ new running group – Pace and Mind. It was fun to meet some members of the group and I am excited to see how the group grows under the tutelage of coach Chiasson! The MaRs innovation centre is a cool place and a great concept that I wasn’t aware of until this week. I also for the first time found my way to the Belt Line path in Toronto. I’d heard many battle stories from my former coach – Steve Boyd – of gruelling workouts in the heat and humidity dodging the trophy wife’s and handbag dogs of Mt. Pleasant. I was surprised how nice the path was – running in TO ain’t half bad I guess, but it sure sucks compared to Vancouver!

After that it was off to Kingston for a few events on Thursday. First I went to Frontenac Public School as a guest at the Reading & Running program. The kids were awesome; they challenged me to a few running races and showed off their own running and reading skills. Hats off to all the volunteers that make this program happen. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn and learn to love running. The fact that the program culminates with them receiving new running shoes and busing up to a Toronto for a 5km race is really exciting.

Following the Reading & Running it was off to Runners Choice for a Mizuno wear test night. We had a good turnout of folks from the local running community who got to test out some Mizuno sneakers. With our Mizuno’s strapped on we did a preview of the course for the Beat Beethoven run. Are you tired yet? Cause I sure was! You can check out some more photos from my visit here.

Oh and did I mention through much of the week I had the guys from Crimson Fish films following me around? They filmed some of workouts and got a taste for what my day to day life of training was like. It was weird to have a camera in my face for the better part of a few days. They also talked to some people who knew me as a young buck and have watched me grow a few inches over the years. We even paid a visit to my elementary school – R. G. Sinclair! Not much has changed, but they do have this wild new thing called a Smart Board. That was fascinating. I would’ve been a genius had that been at my disposal all my life! Anyways, hopefully the guys got some good footage and can put together something interesting of my rather uninteresting life.

The last event on my Tour du Ontario was the Beat Beethoven run in Kingston. This event is an annual 8km race on the KRRA racing schedule. The challenge is to run the 8km course before the Kingston Symphony finishes playing Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, which is 50 minutes long. 8km in 50min isn’t much of a challenge for me, but my coach decided 16km (2x the 8km course) would be. It ended up being a fun event that the race organizers really got behind and the crowds were great. I did the first lap of the course in 24:28 and then did a 180 turn and headed back out for another lap, which I completed in 24:48 (I blame all the high-fives towards the end, see pic below, for the positive split). All in all it was a good workout and  it was great to get out and be part of the Running community in Kingston again. I got to catch up with some old friends and make some new ones.

I’m back in Vancouver now and definitely in need of some RnR. Even though it was a whirlwind of a week I still managed to get in some great training and am excited to tie the line at SVHM on June 22. This race runs through my neighbourhood  which is both a good thing and a bad thing. I know the course well and hopefully that gives me some sort of advantage. But, it also goes right near my place at about 15km. That could be a bad thing if I’m in the hurt locker…which I plan to be at that point.

 

Well thanks for reading.

Where have you been hiding?

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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

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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!