It’s a word that has taken on a whole new meaning for me this past month.
“Boom” has resonated with me since reading Mr. Eriksson’s words in Paul Gains’ CBC sports story, “Canadian marathoners upset with Athletics Canada’s Rio qualification policy”, which was written shortly after the Around the Bay 30 km race where I failed to prove fitness on a cold and windy day with a 1:47. In the story, while addressing the requirement to prove fitness, Mr. Eriksson says, “Boom, off we go. Now you have got to do it.” And “Boom,” yesterday I did it at the Montreal Half Marathon.
While I am glad to check the box in order to fulfill my requirements to be named to the 2016 Olympic team, running a 1:12:30 half marathon in April does not mean I will peak in a marathon in August. I sure hope so and will do everything to make that happen. However for me, running a half marathon at marathon pace 6-8 weeks out, has proven that I am fit, and worked well in my previous builds to peak for my goal marathons. Replicating this pattern was not an option. It was 1:13:00 or try again. And again.
There have been inaccuracies in some of the stories and a lot of opinions with misinformation, and I am not about to address those. Not because I have now proven my fitness, but because I don’t feel it’s necessary to engage. In his article, Mr. Gains did an excellent job in showing that making it to the Olympics is more than just achieving a qualifying standard. Shortly after Paul’s article, Reid Coolsaet followed up with a post on his blog, explaining his situation after also just falling short of the required time to prove fitness, at the World Half Marathon Championships where the men’s race ended in heavy rain and winds. I’ve always looked up to and respected Reid and was again impressed to read his blog with his objective way of showing his frustration with the system. That guy is an experienced marathoner who knows his body, knows his numbers, and knows what it takes to be at his very best. Reid has run well under the Olympic standard twice in the qualifying period! He settles for nothing less. We’re all trusting that the right decision will be made.
So, back to the “Boom!”
I had three weeks to recover from the Bay and prepare to run another race that would hopefully provide decent, not perfect, but decent racing conditions. Coach Rick did an excellent job of researching my options, which was not easy, and Montreal was the #1 pick. A big part of choosing a race involves the science of determining the best course layout, competition, previous times, weather, and travel logistics. But it can also involve the art of emotion. I know Eric Gillis has chosen to train and race closer to home for this reason. Also a parent, he knows the benefit of staying local and drawing on the positive energy that comes from balancing family and life as an athlete. Not only did Montreal provide another great opportunity for me to race with the incredible Canada Running Series (CRS), but it allowed me to return to the race where I finished with incredible pain and tremendous emotion after fracturing my femur while defending my national title in 2014. I know some are fatigued by me writing about my broken leg, old age, Christian faith, and life as a mother of three, but it’s who I am. I’ve always wanted to be real and tell my story to encourage and inspire others, some who are reading it for the first time.
So back to choosing Montreal. The plan was that I would travel there, and decide to race if the weather looked decent. If it wasn’t, I would wear my training shoes and run it as a tempo training run. Fortunately, the forecast didn’t change and we had a beautiful day. It was likely about 5C and sunny with a small amount of wind, which is always expected on the Parc Jean-Drapeau course. I felt comfortable and relaxed and just treated it like any other race. I had a great group of men to run with and just started chipping away at 3:26 per km, the target goal pace. Like many races, I was conservative, which worked to my favour; every kilometre felt the same, a good sign of fitness.
There were many thoughts that went through my head during the race: 1. I kept thinking about my son who reminded me that we didn’t get all those travel vaccinations for nothing. 2. Today was the day to do it. 3. The last time I ran this race, I hopped on one leg to finish. It would feel good to fly down the last 500 m today on two healthy legs!
I did it. And as I crossed the line, I couldn’t help but smile. In my interview, just a few seconds after finishing, I thanked the CRS and the people of Montreal and the team at the Montreal General Hospital for their incredible support in 2014.
What next? A bit of well-deserved down time with training and some various video and photo shoots (an iRun cover!), and other extra activities. I will officially start my Rio build in May, which will include running the May 29 Calgary half marathon, which is also the Canadian championships. Onward we go.
Credit: Inge Johnson/Canada Running Series