Red & White

Breaking silence for the first time since November.

On February 28th, I had the opportunity to represent Canada at the NACAC/World’s Best 10K. When I received the invitation towards the end of January, I was ecstatic to accept. Ever since I started this running gig at SAIT, I had dreamt of representing the far north in international competition and that was my big picture goal. Although there are larger, more prestigious races than NACAC races, any opportunity to wear the Canadian singlet is an honour and making any national level team is a big deal (as long as you don’t let it go to your head). The World’s Best 10K allowed me to see a part of the world I’ve never seen before, race against some fierce international competitors, meet new people from around the world, and establish friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. The event itself is top notch. Athletes were provided with meals, accommodation at a beautiful resort, and the opportunity to explore cultural/heritage sites of Old San Juan (photos below). I’d recommend the race to all runners.

For those that haven’t been to the Caribbean or Puerto Rico, it’s frickin’ hot down there! My first day there was a train-wreck. I went out for a run during the peak of the day; it was 28 degrees with a humidex pushing 35 degrees and the sun was beating down. I didn’t wear sunscreen, so yea, that hour out there went as well as you can expect. For the next couple days, I took my tomato coloured body outside in the mornings to avoid the heat. For fun, we’d kick by the beach, drinking litres of water and reading books. It was rather pleasant. My roommate was Jim Spisak (USA), 1:02 half marathoner, 28 minute 10K kind of guy. We got along really well as we were both representing our countries for the first time.

Coming into the race, I was feeling good, not quite Nacho Libre good though. My training has been hit and miss with general fatigue issues and tight hamstrings (the snow and ice will do that to a man). Thankfully, Robin at the Art of Chiropractic has been keeping those hamstrings limber and well enough to withstand the kilometres of concrete. During my layover in Houston, Calum Neff showed me around and took me to Chilled Cryospa. They have these weird Normatec space boots that compress your legs, then we hopped into the the cryotherapy chamber where temperatures drop below -245 degrees. My nipples have never hit diamond hard so quickly. Overall, it was a cool experience and Cal has things set up nicely down there (thanks Cal and Chilled Cryospa!).

Onto race day. We woke up at 4AM, had breakfast, then on the bus by 5:30Am. We arrived to the start area around 6:15am then Lanni and I headed out for a pre-race jog. We never discussed our plans or goals for the race, but I think it was mutual that we were in it to win it. This was Canada’s first time being represented at the WB10K, so we wanted to make an impact.

On the start-line at 7AM, we waited for the start gun to go off. The sun was up, increasing the temperature to around 25 degrees with the humidity pushing 90% and the dewpoint around 20 degrees. To say the least, it was the complete opposite to what I’m used to in Calgary. Waiting on the line, we were directed to wait a minute, then two minutes, then 5 seconds. However that works, I don’t know, but then BANG, the loudest explosion I’ve ever heard. Puerto Rico likes to do things differently, so instead of a starting gun, they had a starting cannon. This caught us all off guard and it scared the shit out of us! For the whole race and half the day, I couldn’t hear out of my right ear and my left ear was impaired. Oh well, we were off to the races.

The first 3K went to plan, clocking 8:29 while feeling smooth and in control. Shortly after, the group started to surge off and I gave it a go, but my bloody hamstring bit back and really dictated the rest of the race. From there, my paces slowed and my stride was altered. The Mexican and Puerto Rico competitors caught up with me around 3.5K, so we hung out for the rest of the race. Together, we went through 5K at 14:40. If you checked the official results, it appears the 3K, 5K, 8K splits were all off.

From 5K – 8.5K, our small chase group made up some ground on guys falling off from the lead pack. I saw Jim up in the distance, but couldn’t close the gap, especially with the bummed hammy. At 8.5K, the Mexican and Puerto Rican pulled away from me. At 9K, I made a move and overtook the Puerto Rican, good enough for 3rd among NACAC athletes and 15th overall.

The conditions out there were unbearable (for a cold climate Canadian) and I didn’t hit my time goal, but I finished the race and gave us a chance to win the cup. Coming into the race, I think it would be fair to say USA was the favourites to win. Jim had beaten me by 47 seconds, so I really hoped Lanni had a big race out there to cover the ground I couldn’t. The finish area was carnage; athletes collapsing as they crossed the line, so I got out of there ASAP. A group of us jumped into the van headed for the hotel. Rob Guy with AC was there too and mentioned that we won the cup. At first, I thought he was kidding, so I asked again and we actually won. Lanni put the team on her shoulders, beating out all NACAC women by more than a minute and 4 seconds. She made up the ground I couldn’t, leaving me forever grateful to be on that team with her.

The International chase pack.

Although I didn’t individually have the best race, the experience itself was unforgettable. In the future, I really hope to run that race again, but for the meantime, we have some work to do at home. So what’s next? I’ll monitor this tight hamstring over the next 7 days, then prepare for the Modo 8K on March 20th, then Sun Run in Mid-April. There’s still a lot of Spicy Salsa in the jar, so Sun Run is going to be FAST. Lets just put it this way, as long as I’m rockin’ this mullet, nothing is distracting me from the run game. There’s been mention of me attempting the Olympic Standard for the 10,000m sometime this spring; that’s far-fetched and won’t happen. I’m ambitious, but that’s pushing it, so we’ll stick to the roads.

Here’s some pic’s from the trip:

Cal Neff’s secret moon boots
The resort pool
Morning run views
Morning run views
Morning run views
Morning run views
Morning run views
Our lunch hangout loved Homer Simpson
Old San Juan at night
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Old San Juan
Old San Juan

Keep those tempos hot n’ spicy!

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