Monday, 23 April 2012

#63: Don't Let Me Down

Going downhill fast: Yonge St. race report and training update.

Yesterday marked just 2 weeks to Goodlife and was spent running a final tune-up race. The Yonge St 10k was said to be fast and it did not disappoint. I ran a ridiculously quick 33:16 (3:20/k) over the 10km which was almost 3 minutes faster than my previous best (35:56) at the distance. I'll happily take the time but will also place a massive asterisk next to the result given the downhill course (and helpful tailwind). It's technically a PB, but certainly not an honest one.

The whole day was great from start to finish. Got up early and biked across town to Casa Byrne Campbell to catch a ride in the Byrnemobile up to the start. Most of our group (Rob, Doyle, Davey, Melinda and I) did a 3k warm-up on side streets before getting close to the front of the first corral for the start. The gun went off at 9am and the first k was quick as usual in 3:14. It only got moderately slower from that point. I ran with Darren for the first 7k where we hit the 5k mark in ~16:30. I've been tending not to check my watch at all lately and instead run by feel which has worked really well for me. Today, I got the 1k split and didn't check my watch again until the finish. No negative split (~16:30 and ~16:45) but not far off. I ran in a small group for the first 3k and then with Darren to about 7k when we parted ways at the turn on Richmond and then ran solo. The hurt began around 8k and it was a battle to hold on for dear life. I managed to pass 3 guys in those last 3k including one with a hundred metres to go. Final k was the fastest in 3:10 which again goes to show, there is always something left in the tank if you dig deep enough. Once the race was over, I waited for the other guys to come in and we then did a 10k cooldown along the Lakeshore. Rest of the day was spent in good company enjoying some brews with my crew.

A huge congratulations to fellow Longboat Roadrunners including the 5 women (Julie, Tara, Lynn, Melinda and Christine) who WON the women's team challenge and to our guys (myself, Darren, Davey, Rog and Rob) who won the men's!!! (CRS just updated the results while I was in the process of writing this.) Originally, our women's team wasn't even considered and our men's team finished third. We lost to a stacked team that recruited 'ringers' including the eventual winner Reid Coolsaet (28:36; another amazing race from our soon to be Olympic Marathoner) and some African guy who finished 4th. But congrats to all other LB runners who ran great races today including Hiddleston, Simion, Stefan, Kevin G, George, Rob H, Richard, Tony S and everyone else as well.
Reid Coolsaet breaking the tape in 28:35.7, only 0.3 seconds ahead of Kangogo! Also, check out this article from the Star.
Two weeks to taper and given yesterday's result, I'm feeling great going forward. I'm cutting back the mileage in order to rest/recover both physically and mentally and be ready to rock the full. We've got a long but easy 32k to do on Wed and a final dress rehearsal on Friday running 10k at marathon pace. 110k this week and 80k next. Onward to Goodlife. Full steam ahead!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

#62: Things We Said Today

A number of people have recently made comments in that I haven't been blogging very much lately or that my blog posts weren't sufficiently controversial, provocative or downright insulting. I guess that's because I've been spending the majority of my time trying to complete my Master's thesis at U of T as well as doing a helluva lot of running and training for the Goodlife Marathon.

But since the good people (ie you readers) have come to depend on me (and because I'm tapering and have more time on my hands), I feel I should give you what you have come to expect... a good ol' fashioned running rant.

Where shall I begin? How about with something controversial and the 'Athletics Canada' ridiculously tough standards to go to the Olympics. In case you didn't know, in order for a Canadian marathoner to qualify for the games, he/she must run faster than a 2:11:29/2:29:55. This despite the IAAF standard for qualification being a sub 2:15/2:37. Many people think that's just downright unfair. I agree. Kinda. I truly think that the best thing for our country and our sport (and for the games itself!) would be to have as many athletes in as many sports represented in the games as possible. I can only imagine how this might impact children and youth to aspire for greatness and for all people to develop a love and appreciation of sport ( and physical activity generally) that is sorely lacking in the present day. That said, with limited resources and increasing costs, I understand that AC only wants to support and send athletes that have a reasonable shot at success (eg. who place within the top 12-15 overall) and that may even podium/medal (albeit highly unlikely in the marathon). And thus I am torn. Last week, Lanni Marchant and Krista DuChene narrowly missed the (Canadian) Olympic standard by posting impressive 2:31 and 2:32 results in Rotterdam. They are thus within  ~3min of our unique standard but also ~5min under the international one. There was subsequently some talk of the Canadian Olympic Committee and AC making a special exception for them and sending them to London anyway, but this may have been a rumour and it doesn't look like an exception will be made afterall. As sad as I am to say it, I have to agree with that. They didn't make the standard; they shouldn't go! Had Wykes not run his 2:10:47 on Sunday but had done a 2:12 instead (even a 2:11:32!), he would NOT have been going to London. Full stop! Nor would Watson who ran 2:13 and is well under the international (2:15) standard. This isn't about gender, equality or fairness; it's about integrity and playing by the rules as written. We set tough standards for a reason (whether it's a good one is debatable) and the athletes know exactly what they need to do to get there... so go do it! All the more impressive then, are the times posted by Reid, Eric and Dylan to get them to the games. They may not medal in London, but they certainly won't disappoint either (top 20 for sure!). I'd even wager to say that Jerome Draytons' 36 year old CND record (2:10:09) is likely to fall. We shall see. In the meantime, to support our Canadian athletes as they prepare for London and make a contribution to Canada's sporting success, please donate here.

Next up: Provocative. Recently, the Globe and Mail asked runners to comment about what 'irks' them most. Naturally, I had some things to say and many of you should not be surprised. Prologue: Yes, I AM an elitist runner. No, I am NOT an elite runner and no, I never will be. But that doesn't mean I don't/can't have the mindset and mentality of one. In short, I run to compete, to be better (ie faster, fitter, further) and always strive to be the best I can be. I am thus completely committed and determined to doing everything possible to make that happen which includes a lot of time, effort, hard-work, sacrifice, and even money (all of which is not available for everyone). If you don't get that or don't like that; than that's perfectly fine, but I really have no interest in what you have to say or what you do as a runner! We runners are not all alike. I value competition, commitment and performance; others don't! But without further comment:

Running Rant: What irks runners? Where do I begin?! Little dogs with lots of bark; big dogs with lots of bite; dogs off leash; dog shit; goose shit; all shit; vomit; clueless kids; clueless parents; clueless pedestrians; cigarette butts; all smokers; most motorists; speedy cyclists (this isn't the Tour!); slow side-walkers; middle of the side-walkers; groups of side-walkers; zig-zaggers; anyone who doesn't walk/run on the RIGHT side of a sidewalk; and of course bicycles on sidewalks!!!; garbage/recycling days (the smell! And bins on the sidewalk); broken glass; garbage; people who run the wrong way or on the inside lane of a track; people who don't know what the word "TRACK!" means; people who cycle on a track, use it walk their dog, themselves or let their kids play on it; joggers with terrible form; overweight joggers with minimalist shoes; fivefingers and barefoot runners/joggers with terrible form; barefoot runners in a race; running a race with an iPod, iPhone or any head-phones; clueless, spaced-out, music blaring, headphone wearing runners; wearing cotton t-shirts and sweat pants to run; wearing the race shirt in the race; not lining up properly in the corrals at a race; runners who go out way too fast in the first km of a race; expensive race fees; useless race medals, souvenirs and waste; race walkers (just run!); space belts in 5 and 10ks; space belts period; camelbacks and backpacks on runners; “running” a race slower than a 6:00/k pace; spitters and snorters; heavy breathers; smelly runners; runners who don't know how to pace themselves; runners who try to speed up and race you on the side-walk; anyone who complains about city marathons; anything to do with Rob Ford and running; and anyone who shouts/yells "Slow down!" "Speed Up" "Run Forrest Run!” or anything ‘clever’ at runners.

And finally, the downright insulting. After coming across a number of blogs and forums specifically for the ultra-running community, I have come to the following conclusion. That being that the vast majority of ultra-'runners' are ageing and over the hill; slightly and perhaps moderately overweight, sluggishly slow and who seem to have way too much time and money for their unnecessarily long forays in the forest. Might I add: "Not that there's anything wrong with that!" Yet, feel free to use rare exceptions (perhaps yourself) to prove me wrong.

Note: It's called a generalization because it is generally true! Eg. The 'opinions' expressed in this blog.

Until next time...Keep running!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

#61: Crying, Waiting, Hoping

Not much to report these days so this will be short and almost entirely running related.

First of all, a HUGE congratulations to our 4 Canadian runners in Rotterdam today who absolutely destroyed the distance. Dylan Wykes finished 7th overall and smashed the Olympic Standard of 2:11:29 by posting an amazing time of 2:10:47, which is also the second fastest marathon time by a Canadian EVER!!! Rob Watson of the hugely popular 'LeBlogDuRob' went balls to the wall and hit a 3min PB but narrowly missed the standard posting a gutsy 2:13:35. Cookies and beer are still certainly in order. And last but certainly not least, the two females also fell just short of the woman's standard (2:29:55) by notched incredible PBs led by Lanni Marchant in 2:31:51 and Krista DuChene in 2:32:05. Amazing races by our Canadian elite distance runners. Looking forward to seeing 3 guys (Wykes, Coolsaet and Gillis) in London this summer and the females continue to make gains for our country and our sport. Incredible!

From left: Dylan Wykes, Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis. The top 3 Canadian marathoners and  heading to London 2012.
And then there's us mere mortals! There are but 3 weeks to go to Goodlife and it's now officially taper time. Today we did our penultimate long run of 32k which topped off a 140+km week that also included the toughest workout of the season on Wed. The next three weeks will see decreased but still substantially high mileage of  approximately 125, 125 and 120k leading up to and including the marathon on 06 May. As Davey pointed out this morning: "The hay is in the barn...we just have to shut the door!" Cheers to that! Next Sunday I and many others in the cub will also compete in the team challenge at the Yonge St. 10k and will get to see how we stand up to the group standard which Darren set today with an impressive Sun Run performance of 34:33. With a hugely favourable downhill course at Yonge St., a 34 low or 33 high should just be within reach and the team challenge could be ours.

And finally, just in time for the marathon, I'm re-reading 'Again to Carthage' the sequel to the highly acclaimed 'Once a Runner' both by John L. Parker Jr. Earlier today, I just happened to be reading Chapter 27, coincidentally titled 'Correspondence,' and was moved by a number of paragraphs that I'd like to share here. I am convinced that these words say more about the reasons I run than any others...

“…when you’re a competitive runner in training you are constantly in a process of ascending… It’s not something most human beings would give a moment of consideration to, that it is actually possible to be living for years in a state of constant betterment. To consider that you are better today than you were yesterday or a year ago, and that you will be better still tomorrow or next week or at tournament time your senior year. That if you’re doing it right you are an organism constantly evolving toward some agreed-upon approximation of excellence.”

"... it was something we lived every second of our lives. It was such a part of us that if we had ever given it any thought, it would have been a mental lapse, a sign of weakness. Of course I am getting better every day, I would have said, what the hell am I training for otherwise? As if there were only one alternative, as if the arrow of improvement necessarily parallels the arrow of time, and in only one direction."

", lose or draw, just being involved in such an undertaking was itself ennobling. It was an uplifting experience that we all intuitively understood to be such, and I now know that almost incidentally the spiritual force of our effort created a slipstream that drew all else in our lives along with it and made us better in other ways as well."

So with that in mind... Keep running everyone.

Friday, 6 April 2012

#60: Glad All Over

Dan: I'm running a race tomorrow.
Non-runner: Are you going to win?
Dan: Probably not.
Non-runner: Then why bother?!

This post is dedicated to all those who find it foolish or pointless that we runners compete in races that we have almost no chance of winning. Occasionally we do and today I did!

For first time in my running career, after so many losses, I actually won a race! I won the Good Friday 10-miler (16.1k) in Burlington, ON in a time of 57:21 (3:33/k) and it felt pretty darn good.

I certainly wasn't expecting to do this when I woke up this morning but hey, it's Good Friday, and miracles do happen. Obviously I have little to complain about but rather can't say enough good things about the race: the organization by the Burlington Runners Club; the course (2 loops of 5M) which is not the flattest but contains some beautiful sights and scenery; the weather which was near perfect with only a slight bit of wind; and everything else was spot on as well (the post-race food, the short awards ceremony; the facilities; the bag check; everything).

I'll admit it wasn't the strongest field with only 3 guys going sub 60 but I showed up in top shape and got lucky in that faster guys did not! I led for the majority of the race (since about 5k) and was scared as hell that someone would hunt me down and pass me but I got into a nice comfortable groove and nailed a massive negative split (29:15 vs 28:06) which is sorta the secret to my racing success this year. DON'T GO OUT TOO FAST! Kudos again to the Rob C program for keeping this momentum going and for the constant support of my amazing running buddies and club friends who make the whole experience worthwhile.

Exactly one month to go to the Goodlife Marathon on 06 May and I am as excited as electrons that we're going to smash it. Sub 2:42 for sure!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

#59: I'll Be on My Way

The Dan Way Journey of Life continues and takes another turn...

Hide your children everyone, today I received confirmation that I had been successfully accepted to Teacher's College. This means at least one more year of being in school (ie extremely poor but with loads of free time) and one less year of facing the 'real world' (responsibility, obligations and all that good stuff). Now I have but two weeks to decide where to pursue my pedagogical path to becoming an enlightened educator. My options include the University of Western Ontario (UWO; aka Western in London, ON) or the University of Toronto (also my current location). Eventually I plan to (and will) teach intermediate/senior level sciences (biology, chemistry, maybe even physics) to high school students. I know these areas well given my undergraduate and graduate education, especially biology (including physiology, biochemistry, and cell biology). And so after many years of contemplating possible career avenues (doctor, academia, public servant), I have settled on a most necessary and noble (perhaps nonsensical) career in education.

Many of you who regularly read my blog might doubt my ability or willingness to teach children and youth, display leadership and respect or contribute to the betterment of society in any way (given my budding reputation as a selfish, arrogant, elitist). But who better to instruct, inspire, motivate and mould a new generation of young humans than myself? Clearly, the "everybody wins", politically correct model stressing inclusion, fairness and equality is not working based on my observations and interactions with teenagers (a massive generalization I realize); and so perhaps a new model, a better model, is in order. Don't get me wrong, I value and at times even espouse the above qualities and recognize their profound importance; however, I do not feel they should be prioritized and emphasized at the cost of essential others such as personal responsibility, integrity, honesty, commitment and dedication.

People who know me well will have realized that above all, I value meritocracy: Those who work hard and strive to achieve a worthwhile goal should be justly rewarded for their efforts. This is essentially why I love the sport of running; where you only get out what you're willing to put in. I am also a perfectionist that expects the best of myself and others. I don't like to be disappointed when others let me down and I don't tolerate excuses for personal failures. Making mistakes is acceptable and even expected; but when done repeatedly, they become choices. Everyone must be accountable to themselves and at times to others. People are independent and free to make the best possible choices for themselves; although sadly many fail to do so. They should not expect others to be responsible for them and should acknowledge and accept their own limitations (mine are numerous as indicated above). Believe it or not, I also am occasionally empathetic and have a sincere consideration for others. I can be kind, compassionate and caring and often genuinely want to help those who need and require it. I help those who help themselves. I also value loyalty and uphold numerous family values. I’ll admit I’m not a great person, but I’m not a terrible person either.

Ultimately, I do not feel a need to justify who I am or what I plan to do with my life. I am confident that I will make an excellent teacher one day and am excited for the challenges and rewards that such an endeavour will create. I am optimistic and enthusiastic about disseminating knowledge; contributing to personal and social development; and leading by example. I will continue to learn from the past, be focused on the present but will always look forward to the future.