Writing

The Roller Coaster

I have learned a lot over the years from running. I’ve learned how to turn off my mind to have clear thoughts regarding my identity and direction, I’ve learned how to set goals and strive to complete them, I’ve learned how small I am in a world that’s ginormous (from a competitive and literal standpoint) which has kept me grounded, and most importantly, I’ve learned how to properly plan and focus on the task at hand, day-to-day, rather than sizing myself up against my main goal. It can be really intimidating, setting a major goal and reminding yourself of it with no stairs, no smaller goals, to get yourself there.

I created a plan to get myself to where I want to be in 2020 shortly after returning to Calgary. In the Autumn of 2018, I wanted to knock off a PB (Yes, it’s PB, not PR. Get it straight.) in the Half Marathon before focusing solely on the Marathon through 2019.

1:04:28 defines me. I am damn proud of that PB because I worked my ass off to have a flawless training block and it gave me hope that there are no limits. Shortly after that race, I believed 1:04 was going to turn into 1:03, then 1:02. That was three years ago and I still sit here with 1:04:28 beside my name.

I understand where I stand compared to the rest of Canada and the World. I’m a minute and seven seconds shy of the Canadian 10K road record, three minutes shy of the Half record, eight minutes and forty seconds shy of the marathon record. There are a handful of guys that are currently running faster than me in those respective distances. I feel like I have lucked out with sponsorship opportunities in the past and present while others are having difficulty even getting a gear deal. I’m not putting myself down, I’m simply drawing the line because I’m not delusional and blinded by my own ego.

The training block going into the Monterey Bay Half Marathon (November 11) was going really well. I set a new course record at the Dino Dash 5K in Calgary, set a new PB in the 10K at the Eastside 10K while running a 5K PB during the second half of that race and then won the Victoria Half Marathon. I had planned to run 1:02:40 in Monterey which I felt was an achievable goal.

There’s something sexy about 1:02. Most of the big guns in Canadian distance running have run 1:02 – Bairu, Wykes, Schiebler, Coolsaet, and most recently, Levins and Esselink. I think it would be so fricken cool to be in that group. Above, there are those names, all have gone to American or top Canadian Universities with reputable track & field programs. Then imagine in there, there’s Hofbauer, an underground kid that went to SAIT. One day…

The night before Monterey Bay Half, the race was cancelled due to wildfire smoke. That was a tough pill to swallow because so much time was put into a moment that would never happen. It’s not like underperforming on race day because at least then, you had a chance to compete. We weren’t even presented with a chance to toe the line.

Although our outcome was a bummer, a lot of lives were lost or ruined during our time in California. The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive in California history. Nearly 154,000 acres of land was burned, 18,800 structures destroyed, a whole town was wiped off the map, insurance companies went under, and nearly 90 people died. Compared to what others had to deal with just hours away from us, was it really a big deal that we couldn’t race? No.

I had Houston on the radar to redeem myself. Houston Half was ten weeks after Monterey Bay Half. The plan was to run easy for a few weeks then get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, I was hit by laryngitis in the middle of November. I hardly ate anything solid for two weeks. I could barely sleep because I couldn’t swallow my saliva and would choke on it. My body weight dropped at a time when I was at my lightest and I barely added on weight before getting hit by a flu bug around Christmas. That bug still impacts me now, a month later.

I went to Houston and still toed the line, hoping that maybe, somehow, I could perform. 3KM in and I was having difficulty breathing while my heart was going at (what felt like) 300BPM. That’s just the way she goes.

My health has not been the greatest over the last couple of months and a string of bad luck has prohibited me from competing at a level I (and others) expect.

Another thing I’ve learned from running is to expect the unexpected. Even though I had a plan and set myself up for success, uncontrolled variables derailed those plans and all I can do now is focus on the day-to-day work to get back to where I want to be. When times get tough, focus on the moment and do your best to set yourself for success tomorrow by listening to what your body needs today.