Tuesday 1 June 2010

P-K at the Ottawa Race Weekend and May POM

I've traveled to races and track meets with many different groups over the years-- from school and club teams to national and provincial teams-- and have observed that the rate of success of individuals (meaning the rate at which group members meet or exceed training expectations) is usually not much above about 60%, and is frequently around 50% (and often much lower in the marathon), such is the difficulty of matching up racing with training performance in our sport. This is why I was so pleasantly surprised-- and impressed-- with the performance of P-K athletes at last weekend's big Ottawa Race Weekend-- always an important focus of our spring campaign. Our rate of success on Saturday was actually very close to 100%. And this is no definitional trick; no one, not one of us, had what could reasonably be described as a "bad" race, let alone disastrous one, and about half of us posted efforts ranging from quite good to great.

Among the notable performances on Saturday were (all official times/place are available from Sportstats):

-An open women's win by Emily Tallen in 35:19 (all 10k times were slower this year than in the past couple of years, due to warm conditions and the return of the pesky northwest wind that so often slows the 10k route up there.)

-A master's men's win by yours truly in 32:03, a runner-up in the same division by Rick Minichiello (or Ricardo Miniello, as the awards announcer called him-- a new nickname?), and a 4th place by Troy Cox.

-An age 50-55 win by Bob McGraw (who was looking for low 35mins but had to settle for 36:28 in the wind). Bob won his division by over 2mins.

-An age 50-55 win by Myra Levac in her first ever 10k (42:38).

-Dylan Wykes' righting-of-the-ship effort in the open men's 10k. Dylan has struggled with minor setbacks all spring, but appears to have begun turning things around with this solid run-- a 6th place over-all and runner-up placing among Canadian men (to 2008 Olympian Eric Gillis).

-Matt Setlack's spectacular 40 second P.B. and runner-up finish in the men's 5k. Battling for the win all the way, Matt shrunk his P.B. down from 15:53 to 15:13-- a huge revision by a guy who is no stranger to serious training (before relocating to Alberta, Matt was a fairly serious runner and duathlon competitor around these parts since first coming to RMC 5 years ago.)

Add to these a handful of other goal-reaching performances and the result is a highly improbable degree of one-day success for a group of more than 15 athletes. I'd like to take credit for this, but I can't. As I say, this rate of success is rare and largely inexplicable; I've been to many events with groups of P-K athletes and have rarely, if ever, seen this rate of satisfaction among my athletes. I'm therefore content to simply enjoy it while it lasts; because, before too long, I'll no doubt be blogging about the opposite, and far less happy, scenario!

Note: The only real disappointed for the group occurred on Sunday, when rookie marathoner Lisa Balerna struggled mightily but missed her goal (which was amply supported by her excellent training build-up) by a wide margin. As I say, success is a little harder to come by when it comes to marathoning.

May POM:

With the group-- from juniors to masters-- in full competitive swing, there are more than a few worthy nominees for May POM. Emily Tallen's P.B.-setting 3rd place finish in the Vancouver Sun Run, her second strong performance in a month (following a somewhat lean 18 months, in which she sometimes wondered if all the effort was worth it), certainly bears mentioning. Her time of 34:11 represents a more than 50 second personal best-- long overdue, but no less welcome because of it. Meanwhile, among the juniors, Clara Langely's provincial age-group-leading and club record-setting 10:09 for 3000m, set in winning her East Region OFSAA qualifier (and establishing her as the overwhelming top seed for OFSAA)is the kind of run that would win POM honours most months. Then there is Rob Asselstine's remarkable run of qualifying races in the 1500 and 3000m-- his double wins in the opening two rounds representing the first victories of his high school career (he is in grade 12). Rob serves as a reminder that we are all, regardless of age, very often better than we think we are, and that it just takes some of us a little longer, and a little more work, to finally realize it. But this month's POM goes to Matt Setlack, for his huge, one-time improvement in the 5k last Saturday evening in Ottawa. A Canadian Forces member, Matt is currently posted in Northern Alberta, where he was forced by the extreme winter weather to do most of his quality training indoors (to say nothing of all alone). After a predictably slow start to the spring season, Matt surprised me (and himself, I would guess!) with this seasonal goal-level performance in only his 3rd race this year. One suspects he will be a frequent nominee in the remaining months of the year. Congrats, Matt! Along with the other monthly winners, Matt's performance will be considered for 2010 POY honours, come January.