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. 


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.

Family pic

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 and Strava 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:

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.

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


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




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

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?

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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).


 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

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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

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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!


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!

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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…

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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!