Wednesday, 28 September 2016

BEKELE IS BACK BABY & the fall continues to progress

Sup friends! What a weekend hey, holy cow. That Berlin Marathon once again didn't disappoint and treated us to one of the best footraces of all time between two LEGENDS. In this post we will get into that and look at what it means for the marathon, most notably the world record and the insanity that will be the London Marathon 2017. Your boy here got that one SOOO wrong, but we will get to that a little later. First we need to get some shout outs going, but before that a msg to my boy Garrett, I know your reading this dude, don't throw stones if you live in a glass house big guy! ;), point noted about the lower case "d" but easy on the 5k blow up pal....when your back rolling 14's you get to call my blow ups poor performances, deal? haha (I kid of course) ;). Anyway, onto the shout outs. Last weekend saw a ton of races here in Canada, the big one was the CRS Oasis Zoo Run. There were some great times from some beauties, Bolts rolled a nice little 31 high in his 3rd race in 3 weeks, the wolf, JC cranked a low 32 coming off some HUGE weeks of training. By the looks of it he and Clay pack ran in the zoo...hunting down pray all the while reminiscing of the good old days at Queens I suspect. Runner Rob looked to roll a good race too. Well done gents, that's a brutal rhythm sapping course, you can take a minute off that on a flat course with good conditions, your all FIT! The next shoutout goes to two of my favorite peeps working with Saucony Canada. Catherine threw it down at the Montreal R&R 5k and Linda killed it in Berlin completing her 3rd marathon major. (Chicago, NYC and now Berlin). Locally, we had our provincial half and full marathon. Props to Jason Guy on getting the win in a PB of 77 minutes and to Ian Royle for defending his provincial marathon title in 2:41. I really wanted to jump into the half and rip a 67/68 but I was on the road and coach John had a big workout planned for me so I actually ran a half on the same day in Fogo which was near Gander where I was staying. I had 20'/15'/10' off a 5' jog. It went really well, I averaged 5:06/mile or 3:10/k during the working parts of the half and afterwards cruised the rest of the race in at around 6' miles. It worked out perfectly as I finished the race having run my marathon pace for the half 71/72 (depending what time was official).

The GOAT is back.

What can we say about that performance by Kenenisa Bekele, we were treated to some of the magic that made him a legend on the track. And before going a step further let's acknowledge the greatness of Wilson Kipsang. The guy has broken 2:05 for the past 7 years and the average of his 5 fastest times are sub 2:04. I honestly thought he was on the decline a little after seeing his performances since running 2:04 in London back in 2014. But he made this race, and Bekele would have not run nearly that fast without Wilson keeping the pace going after the rabbits dropped. 

What was amazing was that they ran as fast as they did with a very uneven 61:11 first half. I expected the whole pack to slow significantly after seeing 11 men through that fast. you'd think they would want 61:25-30 and then keep it rolling, and certainly not going out in a low 2:40 first K. It's a testament to just how great both athletes are that they could absorb such a hot early pace.

What I found interesting and Andrew Jones, over on the boards mentioned this as well in one of the treads. Bekele is unsure of himself still in the marathon, especially going through that fast. He likely could have broken away at 38k when he first got back on the shoulder of Kipsang but the track runner he is told him to stay on his shoulder until he was sure he could close it out. And that he did, going 2:47, 2:49 and 30 seconds for the last 195m. We saw him drop the arms, get loose and then rip the way we used to see the last 400 of championship 5 and 10k's. It was such a treat and a race that will go down as one of the best ever over the distance.

So the question now becomes, what could Kipchoge have done in that race and will we see the 3 titans of the marathon square off in London next April? I personally feel like Kipchoge would have squeezed the pace down when Bekele was off the back and that he'd have kept that 35-40k split around 14:30, not letting it get to 14:59 like Wilson did, enabling Bekele to claw back. I'm just speculating here but I feel like Kipchoge could have gone as quick as 2:02:30 if not faster. But, that's just speculation. What we as fans need to hope for is that Bekele stays clear of running Dubai, gets a good healthy stretch of training in and comes to London in the spring in that type of shape or a bit better. He has now run a super fast time and knows he can tolerate it. Even though I think Kipchoge could have run faster, I DO NOT however, think he could have closed the last 2.2k as fast as Bekele did so we could have an epic battle on our hands this spring. He and Kipsang will want to make it fast, obviously a WR attempt and not let it slow at all between 30-40 and hope they drop Bekele.

I don't know what's going to happen but I think this could be the very best Marathon of all time. It's also fair to say that Stanley Biwott could get himself into low 2:03 shape for that race as well. He was in the 2:03's this year on that course. So let's all keep our fingers crossed the good folks at London lay down some big appearance fees and get some sensible pace makers.

My week in training.

I'm really clicking right now. Kate and Peter Bazeley moved back in town so having them and John A. around all the time even my easy runs are super solid and I'm rolling some great workouts. Most notably the half marathon from Fogo last weekend. I actually went 5 seconds quicker through 5km in a 20' segment on a rolling course then I did only a couple weeks ago. I'll go out in Toronto at 31:50 through 10k and work from there depending on how I feel. 32:30 last year didn't feel bad and I negative split the back half ever so slightly so I'd like to be about a minute or so quicker this year overall. 67 mid would be great. I'm not in 66 shape so I don't want to force it and blow up. If this goes well I'll talk to my coach and make a plan for a big race in January. I'd like to debut in the marathon next year if I'm fit so if things go well maybe Huston for a debut, or if he feels that's not a good idea I'll do the half there. I'm only looking towards Scotiabank and National Cross right now but after that and some downtime I'll make some plans. Either way, as I sit here and type this I'm confident I'm fitter then I was this time last year and I ran some big PB's at that time so I'm excited to explore things this fall and run some PB's.

Monday - 93' with 4X15" strides

Tuesday - 90' with 4X15" strides

Wednesday - 66' with 5X1K off 2' recovery "hard". 2:58, 2:52, 2:55, 2:53, 2:46

Thursday - 90' with 4X15" strides

Friday - 47' with 4X15" strides

Saturday - 122' (20.3 miles) with 20/15/10 @ 5:06/mile or 3:10/K avg in a half marathon.

Sunday - 61' easy, legs a little heavy.

Alright ladies and gents. That's it for this week. Next week we will break down Chicago. Onward!


Monday, 19 September 2016

A look at the first fall Abbott WMM and some great performances to kick off the season.

Hey friends, sorry for missing last week's post. I got home from Toronto and had a lot of work to catch up on at the office so that paired with some heavy training made me decide to just wait a week and post when I had some free time to write a proper entry. Of course Costen has been badgering me since I touched down in Newfoundland to get this up so here you go wolf, finally hot off the press! The badgering was warranted though, as his roommate, and a friend of mine Andrew Courchene, ran me down like I was standing still and streaked away with 800m to go at the 5km champs. Whats worse is the night before the race the three of us were having a chat at the Yorkville Center, I say "I'm going for broke boys, sub 15 on the roads....sprint the first and last K and let the rest work itself out." Jeff being the supportive friend replies "Yeah man, go for it, that's what you came here for". Our boy Courchene goes "Cool man, I'll see you at 4km". Sure enough homeboy rolls me up right where he says he will. Now, dude's such a nice guy the first thing he says when he sees me after the race is "sorry dude". Andrew's an OFFSA bronze medalist from back in the day in the same graduating class as Olympian Matt Hughes so obviously the kid's got a better pedigree then I do so I'll give you that one big guy! Hopefully I play things smart at Scotiabank and roll 4 back to back 15:50's nice and even rather then going out in 8:53 through 3k then all of a sudden start running 3:20k's.

So yeah, before I get into the shout outs I'll briefly talk about my first outing of the fall, the 5km champs last weekend in Yorkville. As you likely gleaned from the opening paragraph, I went out a little quick and my legs didn't have any pop in them over the final 2km. I haven't really laced em up and raced all out in a competitive field since Ottawa race weekend so I didn't feel smooth at all going through the 1k in 2:55 and my racing senses weren't there. There's no excuse for running that slow but I mean I ran 15:40 last year as well in the same race then proceeded to sharpen up and 3 weeks later ran 31:07 and a week after that 68:47 so I'm actually not that bummed or concerned. I hit some big workouts since I've been back and I'm confident it was just an off race. (I did 15X1'/1' going between a 5 minute mile and a 5:30 and just kept going to 10km in 32:17 last week so I know the fitness is there).

Anyway, the race wasn't super great but the weekend certainly was. My flight was perfect, I got a cab with a very interesting driver who gave me the low down on the Jays season so far and TIFF. Then the first guy I spot at our hotel is non other then Nacho Libre, Trevor Hofbauer who's a beauty if you ever met one. (Check out his latest blog, he's moving to Speed River - ). They didn't have the block of rooms that was provided ready for us so we grabbed stuff from whole foods and then met Mike Tate and my roommate for the weekend John Mason. After we got everything sorted out I met up with Jeff and Courchene for a chat and a Freshii before the technical meeting. That night I grabbed some food with My coach, John Lofranco and his other athlete, my friend Laura Batternik who came 3rd overall in the race btw, congrats Laura! After the race it was all about getting some time in with the GRE crew, I swear you'll never find a funnier or better group of dudes to hang with for brunch and beers. They are all great runners and even better human beings. I mean we are talking legend status to the point they have nicknames...I'm not even joking, from "Runner Rob, to Marathon Mike and's a great crew and I look forward to grabbing some post race beverages after Scotia.

Noteworthy performances and shout outs.

1 - Jay Sneddon and Garrett De Jong in the Ottawa 5k. My bud Jay opened up his season with a super solid 5km that was good for a top 10 finish at the Army Run 5k and the Legendary Garrett "Don't Call it a Comeback" De Jong laced em up for the first time since Ottawa race weekend 2015. It's awesome to see him back, he's got boatloads of talent and some fast PR's (3:54/8:23) 1500/3k so when he comes back at 100% I'll have my hands full for sure. I can't tell you how many times I've been having a great race and out of nowhere comes Garrett galloping along and dropping me in the last half of the race. The sole win I have over him was Ottawa 10k 2015 and it took Costen dragging me to a 31. I remember running 31:17 in 2014 in T.O and feeling like a boss hitting 9k and then he just destroyed me over the last 800 putting like 10 seconds on me. So yeah, get healthy Garrett, come out for Scotiabank, we will get on the go with JC and plan for Kingston! I look forward to chasing you deep into the fall! (Maybe a game of detonator again post XC Nats at the abberdeen house)

2 - Matt Power at the Acadia AUS Meet. Matt's a young guy from St. John's who is beyond talented, he runs super low mileage but is really developing into a stud runner. If all goes well he's certainly got a chance this year at a top 7 finish in the conference. My X boy's have it on lockdown from 1 through 5 but Matt should sneak into 6th or 7th. The only bad news about Matt's development is that back in April I could jump into a local 5k for fun, roll an easy 15:30 5km and be well clear of him, from here on out I'll have to race all out and go 14 high to have that much breathing room, and I bet within a year or two he will be running that quick himself.

3 - Kevin Coffey at the Eastside 10k. Kev ran 31 flat on some serious marathon training. He's running some workouts that make you want to delete strava they are so fast/long. This is going to be the year Kev goes sub 2:20 at Scotia, he's run 2:21 flat before but he's a different beast now so don't be surprised to see a 2:18 out of him or better.

4 - Leslie Sexton, also at the Eastside 10k. Leslie threw down on marathon legs as well and dropped a 33:17 which shows she's extremely fit. Leslie is another one who's strava running will make you tired just scrolling through it. Props as well go to Dayna P on running a strong race too, also mid marathon build. Both Dayna and Leslie could go sub 2:30 if everything falls into place come October 16th so keep it locked!

What will the men's race look like in Berlin this year?

Here we are, less then a week out from the first major of the fall, the notoriously fast Berlin Marathon. From what I've seen and can gather, Berlin isn't really known for spending big money on appearance fees like London and NYC, instead they use the allure of a blistering fast course. This coupled with the fact that people know the organizers generally get really good pacers to go to at least 25k normally attracts the fastest guys to go after the world record. Unfortunately, this being an Olympic year, the greatest marathoner the world has ever seen, Eliud Kipchoge is only 6 weeks removed from a 2:08, Olympic gold performance and thus won't be competing. That's not to say their aren't some big time names toeing the line, there most definitely are. On the very top end you've got E. Mutai and Wilson Kipsang, both sub 2:03:30 runners at their best. We are also going to see the GOAT, Kenny Bekele toeing the line with a couple other studs most notably Tsegaye Mekonnen who I feel is the man to put your money on. He's super young and has a 2:04 mid to his name.

What I've noticed in the marathon at the very highest level, I'm talking sub 2:05 guys, is that the body can only produce so many of those races. We all witnessed what it took for Kimetto to run that 2:02:57. He literally collapsed over the finish line and hasn't been a factor in any race since then. Wilson Kipsang held his peak for the better part of 4 years from the first time he broke 2:04 in Frankfurt up until the 2015 London Marathon when he was toe to toe with Kipchoge running 2:04 in London but even he has lost several steps since then. It's not just what racing at that velocity for 2 hours will do to you, but the build ups it takes. I even see it with sub elites to a lesser extent. It takes a toll on the body.

I bring this up because most of the top talent is likely on the other side of their peak, Bekele's 3rd place in London was a very good sign however given his training had apparently been very spotty and 3 month out he was like 20 pounds over his racing weight, doing workouts and running high mileage on as little as 1200 calories a day if reports from his camp are to be believed. 

If I was laying my own money down I'd put it on the upset and take Mekonnen, he will likely run fearlessly and if he's still around with 10k to go he has the younger less marathon callused legs. But never discount guy's like Mutai, Kipsang or Bekele. They have accomplished so much and possess such talent that anything is possible. This is one to watch. I predict a 2:04 mid race.

OK guys, I'll get out of here. I promise to be back to normal next week and talk training, more marathons and fall plans.

Until then, keep that chin tucked,

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Week that was in training, some DL stuff & the cool part of running.

What's up guys, I trust you all had a killer last weekend of summer. I kicked it with the fam Newfoundland style and got a run in on Monday with my boy Mike Thorton who had a lay over here in St. John's (He's a pilot so hopefully this becomes a regular occurrence). I hope your all training well, the big races on the roads for this fall season really start to kick off this coming weekend with the 5km champs in Yorkville which I'm pretty stoked for. Then a couple weeks after that there's the Zoo Run, the Montreal R&R which I found out my favorite Saucony rep ;), Catherine will be running in, so good luck out there C! As we move on from there we have the always competitive Eastside 10k in VanCity which always attracts some of the big boys and then STWM which plays host to the National Marathon champs once again. Your boy here will be ducking the big boys battling it out over 26.2 and opting for a quick half but if all goes well I'll run the big show there next year myself. I assume the majority of us who are post collegiate athletes will likely shut the road races down and put in 6 weeks of solid training before heading off to Kingston for XC nationals once again. So, it's going to be a busy fall for sure. I'm pumped to also follow some CIS and NCAA XC. There's lots of hot talent and we will be treated to some spicy races, epic threads and AP shenanigans! So without stretching this any longer I'll briefly talk some pro news, talk about why this sport is so awesome and inclusive and then break down my training.

Some pro news.

Well that Zurich meet wasn't as cracking as I had hopped it would be. I mean there was definitely some solid performances. Most notably Shannon Rowbury taking the win in a seasons best of 3:57 and Muir coming second to steal the diamond race. In the women's 800 the top 3 from Rio went 1-2-3 again just a little slower but still a winning time of 1:56. The men's 5000 really showed that the top dogs are fatigued from a long season of chasing times to qualify, running diamond leagues, rounds at the games and now they are just hanging on. Gebrewit benefited from nobody going with the pace and closed ridiculously fast in an otherwise pedestrian race to snatch 50K for his efforts. Other then that Lashawn Merritt took the win in the 400 and Ruth Jibet proved her dominance again in the women's steeple with a solid 9:07.

This week the last meeting of the year takes place. There's a few story lines that should be on our radars in terms of fast times. I've outlined the diamond races that are still up for grabs last week so check out my last post if your looking at who needs what in this last meeting. But in terms of tasty races. The women's 5000 will be quick because, well Ayana is running and her legs don't go any slower then 70 seconds/quarter. so could Shannon Rowbury jump on the train and threaten Molly's AR of 14:42? I personally doubt it as she was likely at her highest fitness ever last year when she ran 3:56 and ran 14:48 but it's not impossible. Keep an eye on that one for sure. In the men's 1500 the diamond race is basically decided but will we see anyone go for a sub 3:30? I think Kiprop is toast for the year and has just burned a little too hot for too long. He ran 3:29 in like mid April. But Makhloufi is still rocking and rolling. Dropping 1:42 800's like a boss. He will go with a hot pace if it's presented and I also think Managoi of Kenya is still full of running so he may run fast as well. Then there's Blankenship and Andrews who would love to end the season with a new PB. I doubt either are in anything better then 3:34 shape but it's something to watch for. In the men's steeple if this had been a week ago I'd be excited to see if Jager could make an assault on a sub 8 clocking but he looked really sluggish in that 5000 and has had a heck of a season. I suspect this will be an 8:05-8:10 race with a fast last 300m. No blazing times but some good competitive running. Lastly, the men's 800m. Like the other events I feel like this being an Olympic year, everyone has been on their game for a very long time and holding their peak for at least a couple months. I doubt we see anything too quick here. But we could see a 1:43/44. I'm taking Kipketer but I'm also keeping an eye on Clayton Murphy to see how he runs after a story book year.

On the roads next week we are also in for a treat, the Great North Run will be contested in South Shields once again and it's always exciting. Farah ran a smoking time there last year and has won it ever since the great Bekele held him off in 2012. Dathan Ritzenhein is also in the field and ran a decent solo 10 mile at Crim a couple weeks ago. I suspect he's marathon fit but can still run around 61 mid on the quick point to point course. This is definitely one to get up early and watch!

Why I love this sport and it's inclusiveness.

I don't normally get all emo or sappy on here, but lately on runs while shuffling along listening to "Scared" by the Hip, I think about well....running and all the good things it's given me. I think about the friends I've made along the way, guys who have been in it since they were kids, ran track, cross, heck even befriended an ofssa medalist who came through in the class with Matt Hughs. My point is, the running community is just so inclusive. It doesn't matter if you run a 13 minute 5k or a 40 minute 5k. We set out to accomplish the same goal and we form a bond through that endeavor. In the grand scheme of things, even though I'm very committed to my running and it's incredibly important to me I'm far from being a top of the food chain athlete. But I can toe the line with Olympians on any given weekend and can go grab a beer with them after the race. (This happened just a few months back in fact with our boy Reid). After the run is done, we are all just people who are brought together by one sport and it's something I haven't seen in any others that I've participated in. In reality I was, at a time during my Jr career a far better hockey player then I am a runner but the same camaraderie just wasn't there. And though I made some lasting friendships that I certainly value very much it just ins't the same.

Maybe I'm getting sentimental here, I don't know but it's something I've been pondering lately and I even notice it when I frequent different social media mediums. People that I once just followed on twitter or Instagram I've ended up meeting at race expos, a start line or I get a msg saying they are in town and we go for a run and grab some food. It's really what I value most about the sport and the thing that holds the most importance to me. The sport has given me lifelong friends that I'd do anything for and these are also people who I learn a lot from and admire greatly.

I think that to be a good runner you really need determination, discipline and an incredible work ethic. These aren't traits that we simply turn off after we finish our training or run our goal race. They are skills that transfer to our daily lives and it's apparent in all the people I've met throughout this journey over the past 5 years. I've met friends like JJ out in BC who's work ethic, faith and personality have led him to great success in running, work and his life in general. You won't catch many 29 year olds with their lives as together as that guy. My bud Ryan, living the solitary life in northern Quebec teaching kids of various nationalities and effecting change in each of their lives. Amy, an extraordinary soul with a passion for words, she writes such incredible stories about all the amazing runners in this great community of ours. Jeff, a young guy who can come off quiet and reserved but has a very wise head on his shoulders, handling PR and working for some of the most important people in the Ontario political system. I could list literally 50 more people off the top of my head. 

I guess this is sort of a thank you to the sport itself. Thank you for including me in this great community and allowing me to participate even as a late comer and most importantly thank you for the friendships that you have brought me. I'll never take it for granted and hope I can leave the sport just a little better then I found it.

On that note, I want to share an awesome story with you guys about another amazing human I met through running. Jay Sneddon, is an inspirational young man who I met in person for the first time on the starting line back in May at Ottawa Race Weekend. I won't ruin Jay's story for you, instead I'll link to a piece written about him in the Vancouver Sun. Keep up the awesome work Jay, I'll see you in Kingston bud!

My week in training.

Monday - 76' with 4X15" strides + General Strength 

Tuesday - 48' with 10X200m @ mile race pace off 90" rest

Wednesday - 62' with 4X15" strides

Thursday - 79' with 10X1'/2' continuous going between 5:00/5:30/mile. The average for the 30' was 5:19/mile

Friday - OFF + General Strength 

Saturday - 90' easy long run

Sunday - 60' super chill.

So my week was lighter then the last few, I was really feeling the cumulative fatigue and we are trying to freshen the legs up a bit for a nice 5km PB this weekend then it's back to the grind.

That's it for me,
Enjoy the week folks and stay frosty

Shoutout to the crew down at Saucony HQ in the US. I had a sneak peak of the Spring/Summer 2017 kit waiting for me along with a really nice card. Thanks guys. It's seriously a privilege to run for the company.