Sunday, 12 August 2012

Blog # 4 Altitude Camp, Toronto 10 miler, and brief thoughts on the olympics

For the last week of July and the first week of August, I was at Mammoth Lakes, California for Christian Altitude Camp. This is something that I have done the past 4 years. It basically serves as my vacation, and it is probably one of the closest things you can come to heaven here on earth. There are a number of reasons why I keep coming back. There is something unique and special about meeting and living with a group of people who share my two biggest passions of being a Christian and a runner. It's really nice to be able to focus solely on those two things for a few weeks. Every year I go I am amazed by the beauty of God's creation, and I've also always had breakthrough races in the next few months after camp. Those are two more good reason that convinced me to come again. It is meant mainly for collegiate runners, but there are a few post collegiate runners like me also. I would recommend this experience for any runner who is Christian or interested in what the Christian life is all about.

One cool thing happened when I went on an easy run by Horseshoe lake at the beginning of my second week. I was running by myself since the guy I started with was going to fast for my liking, and after my first 5 mile loop I stopped to use the restroom, and when I came out, I saw 2004 silver medalist and this years 4th place finisher in the Olympic Marathon, Meb Keflezighi, approaching the same loop I was about to do. He was still training up there and I heard he didn't fly into London until less than a week before his race. I was like "MEB!" but I don't think he heard me because he was listening to music. I started the loop a bit ahead of him, and when he passed me, I realized he wasn't going to much faster than I was, so I picked up the pace a slight bit, and went with him for my second 5 mile loop. I estimate we were going low 6 minute pace. Yea...I was drafting behind one of the best marathoners in the world for an easy run! For some reason, I ran that loop a minute faster, but it felt so easy, whereas the first loop by myself I was struggling a little bit. There is something about running with someone that accomplished that gives you a bit of a boost. His coach was on the bike beside him and he asked me where I was from and if I knew Meb. "Yea I know who he is...I'm just a bit star struck!"

Overall I was happy with the training I got up there. I ran a little over 100 miles the first week, and about  110 the second week. I did have 6 mile a tempo run where I went out too hard, and ran the last 3 miles 30 seconds slower than the first 3 miles despite the last 3 miles being more of a downhill, but I ended up running around the same time as I did last year when I did the same route. I also felt like I got in a few solid long runs and a decent fartlek session. This past week, I lowered the mileage a bit, and got ready for the Toronto 10 miler. While Canada's top 3 marathoners were out in London and getting top 30 finishes, some of Canada's next best distance runners and 2016 hopefuls were in this race. Matt Loiselle and Rob Watson are probably Canada's 4th and 5th best marathoners, and they would be my main competition going in, along with a few Kenyans. I ended up 5th, and I was a bit disappointed with my time that was just over 51 minutes. I thought I was in sub 50 minute shape, and its frustrating when I see my splits are slower than what I ran in a 30k race before my injury in a race that's barely over half of that distance. Especially when the leaders But I remain optimistic because I think I am in similar or better shape than last year at this time. I guess it'll still take some time for me to get back to where I was. I'm leaning towards passing on a marathon this fall, since I want to make a run at the 2:15 standard for making the world championships if I do run it, and it likely isn't realistic for me to expect that in 2 months, but if I can get into better shape than I was before my injury, making a run at sub 2:15 in Ottawa in May could be a goal worth pursuing, but that's along ways away. I'm running a 10k next week, and after that I will start to think more seriously about my fall racing plans.

The Olympics were exciting for me to watch this year, especially since I actually know some of the runners this year. Mainly, Mo Ahmed, my high school training partner, in the 10k, who came 18th. The progression that both he and Cam Levins have made over the past year or two has been phenomenal. Both of them are young and I suspect that they have their best running ahead of them. That seems to be the theme of many of the Canadian track athletes this year. A lot of young Canadian athletes exceeded expectations, and if they continue to improve we should have more than just one podium finish for the 2016 games. It was also good to see all 3 Canadians finish top 30 in the marathon. I wasn't able to watch it, but based on the online splits it looks like they ran a smart pace and moved up a lot in the later stages of the race. One thing that slightly annoyed me with these Olympics was how tactical many of the distance races were. Even more tactical than usual for the Olympics. I know championship races are supposed to be tactical, but 2:23 800 split for womens 1500? 9:36 3k for womens 5k? Come on! Some of those girls have faster personal bests than me. For the mens race, the 3k went out in a laughable 8:42, essentially turning it into a 2k race. Chances are there were athletes who would have benefited by running a faster pace in those races, but didn't have the guts to lead. For example, if the Kenyans or Ethiopians agreed to share pace duties in the mens 5k, they may have been able to take the kick out of Mo Farah, who pulled off the impressive double gold in the 5k/10k. Galen Rupp is another guy who really impressed me these Olympics, picking up that silver medal in the 10k. He and Cam Levins are an inspiration to all white runners that with hard training, it is possible to keep up with the East African's

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