Yesterday was the first big track specific session of the year. There were hurdles, spikes, and a whole lot of lactic acid. It was great! When I woke up this morning I was tired and I was sore. My motivation was…low. Luckily I have a good friend who was willing to accompany on his bike for my 10-miler through Stanley Park. Armed with a GoPro he captured some great shots along the way. Thanks Blaise for the company!
After a great holiday season with a little too much good food & drink I was really looking forward to heading down to Austin, Texas for a week and a half to hook up with my teammates and coach and get the ball rolling for the 2015 season.
While Vancouver is about as good as it gets in Canada during the Winter nothing beats 20+ degrees (Celsius) in mid-January. Plus, Austin has a great reputation as an outgoing, athletic-minded city with good eats, beer and music. Some liken it to the Portland of the south. (or is Portland the Austin of the west?….)
After 8 nights in Austin I’ve put together my Austin Top 8!
- The State of Texas – Out of all the states in the US, Texas has got the reputation for being the biggest, baddest, all around most “American” state of them all. Having never been to the great state of Texas before I was excited to get down there and see what all the fuss is about. Well after finding a 2 inch long bullet on my first run (through a very quiet picturesque neighborhood) some Texas Stereotypes defintely rang true!
- The Weather – 20+ degrees (Celsius) in mid-January….enough said!
- The People – While we operate in a bubble during this type of training camp, the people of Austin we did meet seemed like pretty good people. They like to exercise and to eat good food. They are also a bit weird and they are proud of it. One afternoon we were warming up for a session on the track when a senior citizen rode by on his bike wearing nothing but a G-string! This got quite the reaction from our group which only encouraged the old man to start slapping his naked ass. Very nice Austin, very nice!
- Town Lake Running Trail – This trail is found right downtown Austin and runs alongside the mighty Colorado River. It’s 10 miles of crushed gravel with a few small sections of bike bath. It’s an amazing trail for doing off day runs and long tempos. It is also where every runner in Austin seemingly runs and on a nice day it can be tough to navigate.
- Entourage? I don’t mean the hit HBO series that ended back in 2011 do I!? Yes sir! Between training runs we literally just watched Entourage. Starting from Season 1, within the 8 days I was in the house we had cruised well into Season 6. Some say it was in prep for the new movie coming out soon, but I’m fairly confident it’s just an excuse to rest and do nothing else for hours at a time.
- Tex-Mex – I came down to Texas for 3 things… #1 a warm weather training camp. #2 Texas BBQ. #3 a sampling of some of the finest Tex-Mex you can find. Now I’m sure every Austenite has their favourite joint, but we hit up Polvos Mexican Restaurant and it did not disappoint! Enchiladas, Tacos, and Margaritas it was a feast fit for a luchador!
- Texas BBQ – If there is one thing that Texas does bigger and better than everyone else it’s BBQ. One night after a hard session on the track the team drove 20 miles out into the bush to “The Salt Lick”. Now this place is something out of a legend. It’s like the baseball field in “Field of Dreams” except, replace an Iowa corn farm with a big ol BBQ pit full of cooked meat, and the Chicago Black Sox with the Speed River Track Club. It was glorious! We ate a gross amount of meat products and then slipped into a meat induced coma.
- Speed River TFC – Even with all the delicious food and great weather, the main reason I went all the way to Texas was to spend some time with my team and coach. I’ve been living back on the west coast for 2.5 years but have stayed a part of the Speed River TFC the whole time. While there have been lots of changes over the years the core group has remained the same and it is always great to catch up with old friends. During the week and a bit I spent in Texas the group laid down a number of solid sessions and it felt great to be back training once again apart of a group.
Morning workout at Buffalo Park
Every year teams of runners ascend to Flagstaff, Arizona for its many soft trails and ultra thin air. Americans, Canadians, Germans, Australians, Swedes, you name it, they are here. And while we all represent different teams and countries, for the few weeks we spend up here, we share the same trails, tracks, gyms, coffee shops and restaurants. It’s a unique atmosphere and there is a certain type of comfort seeing other runners from all over the world coming to the same place to do the same thing and chase the same goals. Later in the season these same people will be our competitors, but while up here the atmosphere is relaxed and everyone is on the same page.
This is my second stint at altitude and I already seem to be acclimatizing a little bit better this time around. Maybe it’s because I know what to expect, or maybe it’s because I came into camp a little more rested. The experts will say that your body adjusts faster the more time you spend at altitude. Whatever the reason, the first few runs have felt better and I seem to be surviving a little better on the hills this time around.
I’m actually a bit shocked I even made it to Flagstaff. After the up and down last couple of months I’ve had I had almost written off going to altitude. Even last week I hadn’t put too much thought into the trip. However, after seeing another Cardiologist late last week, where I did and passed a Cardiac Stress Test, I was cleared to continue training and to go to altitude. Two days later I was on a plane headed South.
So far it’s been a great move! It’s great to be back with my Speed River teammates, Alex Genest, Taylor Milne, Kyle Boorsma, Rachel Aubrey, Chantelle Groenewoud and Andrea Seccafien. After doing much of my running on my own it’s great to have some training partners and to spend time with some really good friends.
The first few days at altitude are all about acclimatization, this means running a little bit easier on runs and making sure you are recovering as much as possible between runs. No matter how easy you go the altitude still gets to you and after being up here for three days I’m starting to feel its effects… but I guess that is the point!
My goal for the next 3.5 weeks is to not only get in a great block of training, but more importantly I just want to get back to enjoying running. The last couple of months have been nothing but doctors appointments and stress and that took a toll on both my love for running as well as my hairline ;). Hopefully after a few weeks of good training I’ll return to sea level with a renewed confidence in myself and motivation for the training and racing to come.
A few shots from a hike we did earlier this week: