Saturday, 2 May 2009

Belated West Coast Wrap, Wykes at Stanford

A rare Saturday entry here, as it took me a while to tidy up loose ends following my return from B.C.

The western sojourn ended, in my case, with a mixed result: I was able to win the master's division of the Times-Colonist 10k, but in time significantly slower than my Sun Run clocking. I took some consolation from the fact that everyone up front slowed a little from their performances of the week before; but, I felt very flat during the race, and attribute most of my shortfall to that. I'm not quite sure why I drew the joker from the deck this time, when I fully expected a repeat of last year, when I felt better (in spite of a significant hangover-- long story) than I had at the Sun Run. At the Sun Run this year, I was suffering from a mild cold, whereas in Victoria I was 100% healthy. Being very experienced at managing successive-week races (in my open days, I would quite often race 2 out of 3 weekends over the entire season), the last thing I was concerned about was coming up flat. It just goes to show, I suppose, that body-knowledge, no matter how finely tuned, is never foolproof, particularly as we age. As I've been saying since turning 40, planning workouts and races for an aging body is very much like trying to hit a moving target; a taper that may have worked last year may be insufficient this year (or sometimes, paradoxically, vice-versa.)

As for Rejean, he ran a little slower than at the Sun Run, but competed well and reported feeling good, finishing 6th overall and 4th Canadian, for his second bit of $ in a week-- easily enough to cover his incidentals for the week. Rejean's performances out west represented a return to a trend of rapid progress that began for him the middle of last year, but which was interrupted by a couple of mid-winter glitches (caused probably by a combination of the Ottawa transit strike and some mild iron deficiency). In both races, he exhibited a toughness and a cool under fire that belied his relative lack of high-level experience. Now that his engine appears to be firing on all cylinders again, expect him to continue to improve throughout the remainder of the season. He is up next in Ottawa in three weeks, at the Nordion 10k-- part of the fantastic International Race Weekend (of which more in a future post).

Other items of note from last week:

Dylan Wykes completed the final two sessions of his 5 week altitude stint and began his taper into the 2nd of two Stanford 10ks-- this one at the Payton Jordan meet. Both sessions-- one longer track session and a tempo run-- went very much according to plan, leaving him feeling the imminence of a significant P.B. As I type, Dylan enters the final few hours before gun time. This morning, the last minute no-show of some top Japanese competitors (citing caution over the flu epidemic)opened up some space in the fast section of the event and caused a wrinkle in our plans. Dylan was offered one of the open spots, so we had the dilemma of whether to stay in the slower section, which would likely be won very close to Dylan's goal time, or opt for the faster section, where the back of the pack would likely be running 10 seconds faster than our planned pace at halfway. My advice was to stay put in the slower section, but I left the final decision up to him, as sometimes athletes have an ineffable sense when their bodies are poised for breakthrough performances; in this instance, I felt he might want to give himself the chance to do something remarkable by attempting to cling to the back of the pack in heat one. In any case, for all of you insomniac track fans, the Payton Jordan meet is being shown on Flotrack, starting at around 11pm Eastern time tonight, with Dylan's race going at about 1:15am. Of course, by the time most of you read this, the races will have been run. However, for those who like the gritty details along with their results, the races will be archived in their entirety for your future viewing pleasure.

And finally, P-Kers Agathe Nicholson (see P-K profiles #3) and Daun Lynch completed their Boston Marathon odyssey with solid (under the full circumstances) performances. In the end, both realized why sub-elite runners tend to run Boston not for the chance to run fast, but for the historical richness of the experience. Since they wanted to start together, and because Daun's qualifying time was far slower than her shape going in, they were forced to start several large corrals behind the those running at their pace. As a result, they had to dodge slower runners, including waiting in line behind them briefly at water stations, for 30k! The breaking and darting around that this necessitated, combined with the demands of Boston's infamous early downhill sections, had the effect of reducing their quads to hamburger (though painful, heavy hamburger!). They finished within 30 seconds of one another in 3:11 and change (with Agathe 6th in the 45-49 age division). Daun will return to New Brunswick for the summer before re-settling in Ottawa, where we wish her all the best. Agathe will lick her wounds for a few weeks before re-grouping for another mighty stab at sub 3:00, this time in Niagara Falls. With help of some more benign training weather and a familiar (and less crowded) course, she will have an excellent chance of establishing herself as one of the top 10 or 15 marathoners in her age group in North America.

On Monday, I will offer a postmortem of Dylan's 10k and, as promised to a reader, a little look at my own training at the moment.

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