Oh hey! Ya I have a blog again! I know it’s been a while since I gave up on the whole blog thing but that’s a story for another time. So without further ado let’s get back at it and jump right into a quick recap of what I got up to in 2013!
What a year it was! Without a doubt this has to go down as my best one yet, especially in the international travel department. In 2013 I was fortunate enough to be named to a whole bunch of national teams (Five Total), taking me around the world and back a few times! After it was all said and done I took over 30 flights and traveled well over 100,000 miles.
As 2013 comes to a close I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this past year. Despite being a great year, not all was perfect. I experienced plenty of ups and downs, lots of stress, anxiety and pressure and a lot of time spent away from home on the road. However, in the end it was an amazing year and as part of my reflections I have drafted up a list of my top 5 race experiences in 2013, ranked not just by how fast I ran, but also including the entire meet experience, including location, the crowd and the importance of the meet. Here we go…
5) Tokyo, Japan (May 5, 2013) – This was my first time ever to Asia and it would be a quick one! I was invited to compete in the Tokyo World Challenge and raced the Steeplechase. Together Alex Genest and I flew from Vancouver to Tokyo, arriving in Tokyo on a Thursday night. We had the next day to rest, acclimatize, get a pre-comp in and figure out how to use those crazy futuristic heated toilets! Then before we knew it, it was race day! The race was held in Tokyo’s old Olympic Stadium and we were told this would be the last event ever held in the stadium before they tore it down and began construction on the new Stadium for the 2020 Olympics. Despite the serious jet lag, I ran an 8:33 and less than 72 hours after landing in Tokyo the wheels were up again and I was off to Guelph for a week of training.
4) Shanghai, China (May 18th, 2013) – Only a week after my first trip to Asia I was on my way back again! After the longest flight of my life, 14.5 hours! (again with my travel buddy Alex) I was in Shanghai, China for my first ever Diamond League meet. The big times! For this amazing opportunity I have to give special thanks to Kris Mychasiw, my agent, who worked his magic and got me a spot on that starting line. Shanghai was massive, smoggy and smelly but that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the race. As I stood on the start line I looked to either side and saw legends like Paul Koech, Abel Mutai and Conseslus Kipruto. Wow, was I dreaming or what?! One could argue that I was in over my head but, I was confident in my fitness and looked to take advantage of this great opportunity. I tried my best to hang in there and while I didn’t knock it out of the park like I had hoped, I still managed a Seasons Best 8:31.3 and got my 2nd “B” Standard of the season. Plus I didn’t get food poisoning which seemed almost inevitable!
3) Bydgoszcz, Poland (March 24, 2013) – The only non-steeplechase on this list comes from the 2013 World Cross Country Championships. This had to be one of the best trips I have ever been on. Not only was our team super talented, it was also just a really awesome group of people. We all got along great, raced well and even managed to have some fun along the way. (Harlem Shake Anyone?) In the past, as a junior, I had never run well at a World XC Champs. I never felt confident and was always feeling in over my head. This time around I wanted to change that. I was confident in my fitness and the course, covered in mud and ice, was just to my liking. It also helped that I had one of those special days where the effort came easy. I got out well (Top 50) and just kept climbing up the field until I crossed the line in 33rd place! I was friggin pumped and I can’t wait for the next World XC in 2015!
2) London, England (July 27th, 2013) – This story begins about a week before the race. Alex Genest had been invited to this race and since I had not heard anything I figured it was a no go. I was disappointed but, as it was the London Anniversary Games and the last Diamond League before the World Championships, I knew it was a popular choice and that a spot on that starting line would be hard to come by. On July 22nd, my birthday, I was spending a rare day off with Alex touring around Helsinki, Finland. It was a miserable day, it was pouring rain and cold and we had tried Finland’s best attempt at Mexican food for lunch (That was a bust). After a few hours we decided that we had had enough and headed home. The day had kind of been a bust in general until I checked my email and saw an message from my agent titled “Check Twitter”. I was on twitter within nanoseconds and saw his tweet announcing that I was into the race in London. I hit the roof, did a little dance and then started packing! 5 Days later I was in London, England racing in my 2nd Diamond League event in a sold out Olympic Stadium. This was by far the best meet experience I have ever witnessed let alone competed in. There was rock music, Pyro techniques, Usain Bolt and Mo Farah. This was track and field at its best. I was on cloud nine! That was until about halfway through the race when the effect of racing 3 steeplechases in 10 days caught up to me and I had to just bite my lip and giver Hell just to hang on to finish 8th with an 8:34.
1) Moscow, Russia (August 12, 2013) – In 2013 I qualified for my first World Track and Field Championships! Since I was a 9 year old with a terrible bowl-cut I have dreamed of competing for Canada at a World Track and Field Championships. 18 years later this dream finally came true. However, when I crossed the line in Moncton, securing my place on the team, it was not at all how I imagined it. In place of adrenaline and happiness there was just a huge release of stress, instead of a cheering crowd, the stadium was deserted due to a torrential rainstorm and, instead of celebrating with family and friends I was tagged for doping control and it was 3+ hours later that I finally emerged from under the stadium to darkness and an empty track. I walked alone back to my dorm room where I dropped off my stuff and that night I went to Safeway with Alex Genest to buy diapers for his kid. It was kind of surreal…
Over the following days and weeks I began to realize what had happened and I started to get really excited. I still had 6 weeks to go and a bunch of races so I just tried to put my head down and not to think too much. (This was easier said than done). After almost a month in Europe and a week in Kamen, Germany at Team Canada’s Prep Camp we finally traveled as a team to Russia. Arriving in Moscow was an amazing feeling but unlike other teams I had been on in the past I felt comfortable and at ease. Was I nervous? You bet! But I felt like I belonged and that I could compete with these guys. When I entered the stadium at 10:30am on August 12th, it didn’t matter that the only people in the stands were my coach, friends and parents, I was prepared and focused. I had trained my whole life for an opportunity like this. The race went out fairly conservative and I was able to get myself into a good position. I stayed among the lead group of about 10 throughout the race and even with 400m to go I still had the leaders in sight. I dug deep and I crossed the line in 8:29. Immediately I knew that time would not be fast enough to advance to the finals and initially I was pretty bummed. The goal coming in, although lofty, was to qualify for the finals. When I finally arrived at the warm-up stadium I learned that I finished 23rd, up 16 places from my ranking of 39th coming into the meet, and a few months later I’d be moved up to 22nd after a guy was busted for doping.
After reflecting on this amazing year I can’t help but think of just how thankful I am. It takes so many little pieces to come together, some as a result of decades of hard work, while others maybe just a flash of good fortune. I am thankful for all the people I have in my life. I have such a great team of wonderful, intelligent, supportive people who unselfishly help me to chase my goals. I can’t wait to get 2014 going and see where these next 12 months take me!