A Much Needed Break

Submitted by Rob Mandje on 15 June 2008 - 6:02pm

G'day again! Once again it's been close to a month since my last update. There's been much to write about. Since my last update I've been back (briefly) to Boulder and left again for California and then back to Boulder, got sick and then went off to Illinois (where I'm updating from) and now finally heading back to Boulder.

Upon getting back to Boulder on Memorial Day, I was greeting by not just Lorraine, but my good friends and mentors Nobby Hashizume and Rod Dixon. They were staying @ Lorraine's place during the week of the Bolder Boulder 10k road race (a very big deal in our city) and also in town for some Lydiard Foundation meetings.

They already knew of my meltdown in Beantown and were eager to sort my head out. I had good talks with both of those guys. I enjoyed my one on one with Rod even more though, as we're much more alike (personality that is) than one would've thought. We had great conversations over dinner (and beers) where I got to pick his brain and just generally shoot the breeze.

All in all I felt better about myself, training, talent and future outlook when their stay was up. Rod was nice enough to autograph me a limited edition painting of his memorable NYC Marathon Victory. Nobby was nice enough to introduce me t some of the local Japanese runners that were in town during their build up for the Games.

Nobby and Rod took time out to also look @ my running log for the past few months to see what I had done. Both seemed impressed with the workouts that I had been doing, and clearly showed that I've got the talent to accomplish my goals -not just this year but in the future as well - so that was reassuring to hear. So for the next 10 days or so till my next race I just hung out and ran easy. Lorraine, Harlan and I really focused on running easy (I was pretty tired from traveling), and made sure to get after it in workouts.

I had 3 workouts between the May 24th race and the next race slated on June 7th. I had asked Lorraine if we could do some workouts over barriers so I could get a bit more comfortable at them. We ran workouts such as 2 x 2k over hurdles which was both tiring and satisfying. We did 'em in away to work on negative splitting. So I'd run let's say 6:10 for both 2k's but it'd be 1st k @ 3:10 and the last k (k = 1,000 meters) @ 3:00.

The other workout we did was just 1 x 2k over steeples as well, where this time we'd run the 1st k in 3:10 but work on running the second 1,000 meters closer to goal pace (at sea level) which was 2:55. So I ran that in 6:05 (3:10/2:55).

I started getting confidence from these workouts, and Lorraine/Harlan said I looked good. The last workout I did before flying out to California was done on the Tuesday before the Satrday (June 7th) race. It consisted of a 6 mile uptempo run (mid 5:40's pace) then straight into the track, change into spikes and run a mile over steeples. 

Harlan & Lorraine did a great job @ setting up the track with the hurdles/barriers while I was out running. I came on the track and suited up. Got to the start and Lorraine told me to run 72's (9:00 pace) for the 1st 1200 and then pick it up on the last lap. I ran straight 1:12, 2:24, 3:34 and closed with a 65 for a 4:39. It felt very easy and I was looking forward to California.

I was thankfully looked after by Steve Sumner's group of runners once I got to Chino Hills on Wednesday afternoon. Steve's got a running group he's generously starting out there. He's got some talented runners coming in. One such runner could be Steve Magness who was a miling stud in High School (4:01) a few years back. He and I hit it off well and trained everyday together while I was there.

Saturday's race went well, in that it was a season best. I ran 9:04., but there was so much left in the tank, that I wished I had engaged a bit more. After watching the video of it Lorraine agreed that there was not only more there, but I could've/should've engaged more.

I finished 3rd @ the USATF West Coast Champs, but 1st and 2nd place were a good 17+ seconds up on me. Here's the link from the meet that one of my mates sent me: http://www.runnerspace.com/eprofile.php?do=videos&pg=1&event_id=30&vide… you can't really see me too much during it, because I'm so far back, but figured I'd add it since I had access to it. The folks @ www.runnerspace.com & www.flotrack.com have really made it easy to follow track online the past 12 - 24 months.

So I got a bit of confidence from that race and felt that things are/were moving in the right direction. Figured I'd come back to Boulder and rest up for one last steeple in the U.S before heading over to Europe. I unfortunately got sick earlier last week.

I got back to Boulder on Sunday night. Felt good on Monday, then woke up (after a horrible night's sleep) sick on Tuesday. I spent all Tuesday (and part of Wednesday) on my back. I was either sleeping on the couch or napping in bed. Just a terrible cold where I'd have impressively long sneezing bouts.

I tried not to panic and just focus on getting healthy, as I already had my ticket booked for the next race (June 14th). Luckily I started coming around on Wed and Thursday. I got in some easy running, but definitely didn't feel too strong. I flew out to Chicago on Friday. Got to my hotel after getting picked up by awesome Meet Director: Patrick Tomasiewicz. I was very impressed by his professionalism and ability to multitask, especially when you take into account that he's younger than I'm (about 23 or 24). So Thanks again Pat!

Once in the hotel I quickly changed and headed out for an easy 3 mile shake out. I didn't feel that great during the run, but once again told myself I'd be okay by Saturday evening (race was @ 8:04 PM). I slept well and woke up feeling much better. My nose/breathing was starting to come around, despite the impressive midwest humidity. I ran another easy 3 miles that morning before retiring to my room to cheer on Spain in the Euro Cup (we won the match!)

Finally I got to the track with my buddy and fellow competitor from Boulder, Andy Smith. The meet: www.midwestdistancegala.com was very impressive and well run. It's an elite High School meet, with a Pro Men's Steeplechase in the middle of it. It was great to meet and interact with the high school kids. Unfortunately my race didn't go as well as Andy's (he won in 8:34).

I finished a well beaten 7th in 9:15. No where near what I had hoped to accomplish (8:45 - 50 was the goal). I'm definitely fit for that or even better and I'll surely run that or faster the net time out. I knew I was in trouble about 600 meters into the race. I felt flat and tired. I battled back from last place a few times only to get dropped again. Luckily I've got a good kick and was able to just muscle my way through the last 800 meters. 

All in all it was a good experience. Sometime we learn more about ourselves from bad races than we do from good ones. This also concludes the 1st part/phase of my racing season. I can't say it's started or it has gone as well as I had hoped. I was hoping by now I'd be running in the 8:40's, instead of 9:04. Regardless, "It's not where you start, but where you end up." as my coach Lorraine likes to tell me.

Now I'm sitting in a Chicago airport with a lot of things going through my mind. DOUBT is definitely not one of them. I know that my Olympic Odyssey isn't over yet. In fact it won't be over (one way or another) till July 23rd (The IAAF/IOC deadline). I'm also very realistic and know that unless I get my act together I could be sitting at home come August watching the games. I can live with that if I've given my best and GOTTEN the best out of myself in the races.

At this point in time though, that's not the case. There's a lot left to do and Lorraine's got the plans set in motion already to do what we need to do in order to make the next 20 or 30 second jump that my fitness/workouts show I can manage.

The next 2.5 - 3wks or so will be spent in Boulder. This will be the longest time I'll have been back "home" since the end of March. I look forward to this time. I'll probably take a few easy days of running to make sure that my health is 100% (which it clearly wasn't last night) and then probably start the next round of workouts. I'm not 100% sure, but I'm definitely excited, as I fully trust Lorraine. 

In the meantime I'll also start thinking about which Euro meetings I want to (and will be accepted to) take part in. The "KBC Night of Athletics" in Heusden is def # 1 on my list, but thats not till July 20th, which would probably (if all goes to plan) be my last race before Beijing. What I need to do now is find one or preferably two steeples before that, starting as early as July 5th.

We'll see what comes of all this. Either way I thank YOU (the readers) for following along my journey. One way or another we'll all find out in the next month+ how or where it'll end. I look forward to that moment....I have already learned a lot on this 1st part of my racing/traveling season.

I want to thank everyone who's made my travels/training/racing easier through extending themselves with transportation/accommodations/meals/expenses assistance. 

Peace & Love