Went up to Ottawa yesterday afternoon for a little tune up race at the Terry Fox Stadium on their newly laid track....which while it is disappointingly not blue, is still a very nice track. (It was blue before, now it is the standard boring salmon-red colour) Kev had decided that I needed a tune up race to remind my legs of what they are supposed to do before I head out to BC at the end of the week. While I was completely in agreement, I had some reservations of how I would do as my legs felt tired after the week's work. We had not tapered (decreased training volume) prior to the race and essentially treated it as a workout. Added to this was the fact that we knew it would be a low key affair, giving me nothing to get pumped for and cause to worry if some young pup beat me. As it shook down, I didn't have too much to worry about. The meet schedule was non-existant and I didn't know how many athletes were there so I ended up warming up too soon, and having to wait around until it was my turn. There is nothing worse than the feeling of having completed your warmup and gone through your pre-race routine and then having to stretch it out until race time. You want to move around to stay loose and limber but not do anything more than is absolutely necessary, for fear of wasting energy and effort. It's a kind of limbo land - so I lay down and shut my eyes until it was time.
This little doze must have left me slightly dozy on the line because when the gun went off, I was almost engulfed by the pack....despite my being on the inside lane. Within 10m I woke up and slipped into 2nd. Kev had told me to hang out and chill and then wind things up for a fast last 150m but I think I took his words a little too seriously. We went through 200m in 29secs and then I was passed and dropped to 4th. It was alright because the runners who had passed me were moving quicker and so I followed and at 400m (through in 56-57) I was in second. Down the back stretch I stepped into lane two and made a bid for first, trying to do it as comfortably as possible. At 200m to go, I started to ease away from the pack....trying to run as smooth and relaxed as possible, working on the form that we had been practicing. It was a comfortable win, in 1:52.8, a full second ahead of 2nd. I essentially even-split the race (ie. I ran the first and second laps the same) which is a good thing to do, and while the race was not a cakewalk, I was never really pushed at any point. We did what we set out to do and I am satisified with the time and the win, but I know I will have to be sharper next week.
After the race I had a good chat with Jason Dunkerley, a visually-impaired athlete who has represented Canada at several major competitions, most recently winning bronze medals in the 800m and 1500m events at the 2008 Beijing Para-Olympics. I have met him several times at races as well as at a presentation he gave for a class I took at Queen's. He was in the 800m race with me, running 2:03 with the aide of guide runner. Jason uses a guide runner to help him navigate through the race. They have to run side by side with their arms touching and in sync for the whole race....turning corners and avoiding other athletes at high speeds! Think about walking with your eyes closed, never mind running! Pretty incredible and it takes a fair bit of training and cohesion to run effectively together. Yesterday's guide runner was Tyson Loney, who was one of the top performing rookie athletes on the XC and track teams at Queen's this past year. Jason is in the midst of trying to break 2:00 for the 800m and 4:05 for the 1500m, currently only a couple of seconds off each time. He is looking to make a push for London in 2012....he will surely qualify as he is one of the best in his events in Canada and the world, but he is looking to continue to hit personal best times on his way. Jason currently works for The Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability which is a organization that "promotes, supports and enables Canadians with disabilities to live active, healthy lives" but is looking for a way to live as a full-time athlete. He has already competed at the top levels in the world while holding down a job but for continued improvement he needs to find a way to devote more time to running. If anyone, running companies, sponsors etc, know how or could help him do this, please get in touch with him! You can look him up online via the Active Living Alliance or Athletics Canada website, or catch him in person ripping around the track in Ottawa!
Anyway that's all for today.... I will run easy today and will taper this week in prep for the races next week. We have a couple workouts ahead of us on the track: fast relaxed and comfortable to sharpen me up for some blazing times out West!