Monday, 9 February 2009

P-K at The Dome

The first track outing for P-K in 2009 took place at the famed Dome Louis Riel in Ottawa’s east end on Saturday. Among those taking part were Rejean Chaisson, Dylan Wykes and junior triathlete Alex Hinton in the 5k and 3k respectively. Rejean and Dylan were following up their Half Marathon outings in Florida last month and young Alex was testing his fitness after a winter spent concentrating on his swim training.

Dylan’s plan, which he executed to near perfection, was to attempt to run for 3k at close to his spring goal 10k pace (2:50/km) before dropping his pace gradually over the final 5 laps. A slightly too quick initial lap—understandable given this was his first track 5k in over 2 years— created some difficulty in finding the correct pace (68 secs per lap); but, by 4 laps, he was in the rhythm and looking smooth. Only an inability to lift the pace to the planned 64-63 over the final two laps—due probably to a lack of adrenalin, the 10:30am start time, and a full Tuesday session going in—stood between him and perfect execution of the pre-race plan. He finished in 14:04—his 3rd fastest ever 5k, and his fastest solo effort by far. He is now perfectly positioned to enter his spring track build-up, which will begin with a month here in Kingston and continue at the warm weather/altitude venue (probably Flagstaff, AZ). His first spring track event will be a 10k in Palo Alto CA at the end of March. The direction of the remainder of the spring season will be determined largely by that result.

Rejean went into his 5k, only his second ever in competition, following a successful recovery from his difficult Half Marathon experience in Naples. Running alone behind Dylan and two Brookes Marathon Project athletes, however, he struggled early with the planned pace of 3:00/km. He would drift further from the target , but avoid a complete collapse of form, finishing in a useful 15:21—a time 25 seconds slower than his best, but still easily better than his personal best from less than a year ago (16:05). With the Ottawa transit strike finally over, Rejean can return to devoting his energies exclusively to running, rather than wasting them on getting himself to work, on foot, along poorly plowed sidewalks, and through -30 degree temperatures!

Meanwhile, Alex, expecting to be handed his head by 10th grade prodigy and fellow triathlete Tristan Woodfine, surprised himself—and probably young Woodfine too—by producing a personal best run (8:54), capped by a strong from-the-front final kilometer of 2:51. He was eventually nipped at the line by Tristan, who was also very close, or perhaps just under, his personal best time. With a total of zero track sessions under his belt since ending the season last June, Alex is ideally positioned to make huge inroads against his personal bests at 1500m and 3k as the school season unfolds; and, with the level of talent currently amassed in the senior boys ranks across the province this year, he will need to in order to be a competitive factor!

Note: The highlight performance among the younger members of the group was grade 10 Cam Levac’s 24 second personal best in the 3k (9:51 from 10:15 last July)—a very promising mid-winter outing for an athlete still in his first year of formal track training!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reacting a bit to the statement: "If we are to expect more young athletes to reach their 20s with an interest in pursuing the sport ... we have to ensure that their involvement in the sport remains relatively casual and seasonal up to the age of at least 16. In running, it has been shown by literally hundreds of examples world-wide, it is possible to begin serious training as late as age 19 or 20 and still achieve world class results."

This seems to be true for running, but I don't think that this has been shown to be true in other sports such as swimming.

Second, in a later statement lumping minor hockey and competitive swimming together as a sort of counter-example to parent involvement in sport seems to be too broad a brush. Minor hockey is a whole other category of insanity where parents "own" clubs, coach, and determine which kids even participate for their own social reasons. The comment certainly applies to minor hockey. However, in age-group swimming, parents are generally not coaching but are needed as swimming is expensive, with high facility costs, as well as needed for officiating - without an army of volunteer parents, one could not even run swim meets. I can only think of one Canadian example of a swimmer that competed at the olympic level that started late in life (17 years old): Rick Say - sort of a Kevin Sullivan in reverse. While it may require 8-10 years to develop a runner to full potential, the development time in swimming is more like 12-15 years!

Another thing is the reward system. Compared to running and swimming, making a living from hockey is relatively easy. Swimming is probably worse than running - while the rewards from track and field and swimming may compare, there is no equivalent of road racing in swimming. In road racing, runner can at least offset their costs. When a Canadian set a world record for the first time in 7 years at spring nationals 3 weeks ago, who knew? It did not make most newspapers. For her 200 breast stroke SC world record, Annamay Pierse did get a car from GM (sort of) a Pontiac Wave worth $9,995 new. Compared to hockey, swimming is an econo-sport, it seems.

27 March 2009 at 22:43  

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