Friday, 11 May 2012

Blog #1 Perseverance through tough times

About a month and a half ago, I had the best race of my life so far. I knew I was in good shape, but the question was how much. Around the Bay 30k in Hamilton was a perfect place to test that. I ran intelligently, battling back from 6th place to finish 2nd only to olympic bound Reid Coolsaet. I never would have thought that, and I praise God for that. It's a race that sort of put me on the map. People are wondering who I am and starting to take notice. In particular, a guy named Theo Wright who I do not know sent me a facebook message congratulating me on ATB and suggesting that I start a blog. I considered it, but with exams coming up, I decided to wait until after exams to do that. Those ended a few weeks here it goes.

I expected the time after exams to be a time of happiness, relief, relaxation, and a time to really focus on training. Unfortunately, the start to the summer has been quite the opposite. April 22, 2 days after my last exam, I ran the downhill Yonge street 10k. The downhill lead to a huge 1 minute PB (29:10), but also an injury in my SI joint which I did not feel until the next day, after my recovery run, in my lower back and glutes. Not a good trade-off. The timing of this injury really sucked because I got selected to represent Canada at Boulder Bolder 10k in Colorado at the end of May. I had to make the difficult decision to pull out of that race this week as the injury was not recovering fast enough. It's really about 50/50 whether I would be recovered and well enough to race on time for that race. In life sometimes there are times where it is smart to gamble, but this isn't one of them. I'm young and just came off a huge breakthrough race, so it would be stupid to risk further injuring myself for one race when I potentially have a good future ahead of me. I'm going to let this thing heal completely, and although this sucks really bad and it's going to be a tough and boring few weeks for me, I have to have the attitude and confidence that I will have more opportunities like this in the future. And I did have a pretty neat opportunity last fall in Japan at Ekiden relays, where I ran a 5k as a substitute, so I can't be complaining too much.

But I also have to look at the bigger picture. One year ago, I graduated from Campbell University, NC, where I was a mediocre college runner at best. To be honest, my first few years were just plain pathetic. My last year I did manage to get my 10k just barely under 31 and my 5k barely under 15. So if you were to tell me back then that I would run 1:35:04 for 30k and finish within 2 minutes of an Olympian, I wouldn't believe you. If you would have told me I would have got selected to 2 national teams, (I wasn't actually in the relay at Japan and I'm injured for Boulder...but still...) I wouldn't have believed you either. Now I am splitting my 10k in half marathons and 30k's faster than my 10k collegiate best on the track. So although at first, I was angry at God for taking this opportunity away from me, after thinking about it, I realize that is kind of foolish. He has blessed me so much this past year in terms of running. I can take this injury as a learning experience. I spent the last year basically self coached, taking some post degree courses in math/stats at Waterloo, while putting in some good training, occasionally meeting up with Derek Nakluski and Adam Hortain for easy runs and workouts. I enjoyed that, and my rate of improvement has been almost miraculous, but now I am realizing that if I want to step it up to the next level, I need someone to help me out with the little things. Improving things such as flexibility, form, nutrition and other things that I stink at could go along way in preventing things like this from happening again. I plan on going to Guelph this fall to train with their excellent group. They have the tools there to help me with those little things. There I can get great coaching and learn from some of the best runners in the country about what it takes to get to the next level. I think the results from this past year have given me the confidence to pursue reaching that next level. I am passionate about running and have some God given talent and perseverance, but I think I just need tweaking and I think Guelph would be a good fit for me to do that. And oh yeah, I applied for my masters know... in case of the rare chance I can't make a living running.

This injury is not the only reason why it is tough times right now. My high school , Smithville District Christian High, has suffered the loss of two of its former students this  past week. One two years older than me, Anthony Tiersma, died of cancer, and one of my own classmates from grade school and high school, Chelsea Feddema, died in a tragic horse riding accident when it got spooked and ran on the road getting struck by a truck. Truly heartbreaking. My prayers go out to both of those families. It sort of puts my temporary injury problem into perspective. We don't always understand why things happen the way they do, but the nice thing about the Christian faith is the eternal hope we have, and we know God is in control. So we truly can be content whatever the circumstances, as talked about in Philippians 4:11.

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