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.
— Dan Lilot (@Lilot1TrackMind) December 6, 2015
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.
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!
Dylan Wykes well off 2nd pack pic.twitter.com/L8i27jAjnk
— Japan Running News (@JRNLive) December 6, 2015