Remembering Ed Whitlock at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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By Paul Gains

As the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon quickly approaches, organizers have revealed plans to honour a man who was a critical and inspirational part of the event for years but who, sadly, passed away seven months ago.

Ed Whitlock was 86 when he succumbed to prostate cancer on March 13th.

Over the years Ed defied aging to set world age-class records that perhaps will never be broken and which astonished runners around the globe. He also developed a close relationship with Toronto Waterfront, turning up for press conferences in his suit and tie whenever he was asked, and supplying the mantra which Race Director Alan Brookes eagerly adopted: “Don’t limit yourself.”

Ed, as he was known to the thousands who queued up to meet him at races, or, who ran alongside him, was the oldest man to beat three hours for the marathon when he ran 2:52:47 at age 69. But that was only the beginning.

A World Masters’ 70+ record followed when he ran 2:59:10 at age 72 in 2003 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and became the first and only septuagenarian to go under the magic 3-hour mark. He took that out of sight with a 2:54:49 at age 73 at the 2004 event. Indeed, as Brookes is fond of saying, Toronto Waterfront was “Ed’s race”. As his fame spread globally, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon took off, almost tripling in numbers between 2003 and 2005, then earning first an IAAF Silver Label, then the coveted IAAF Gold Label.

2012 Scotiabank Toronto Marathon, October 14, 2012. Photo credit: Victor Sailer/Canada Running Series

Ed went on to set World Masters’ marathon records for age 75+, 80+ and most recently 85+ with a time of 3:56:38 last October 16th, 2016 in Toronto. In all, he set roughly 25 World Masters’ records over distances from 1,500m to the marathon. All this success meant that Ed was the subject of innumerable magazine and newspaper interviews and adored by runners of all abilities. It was a conundrum for him as he was as humble as much as he was talented.

“I don’t know how to respond to them. Well how do you respond to that?” he said with a laugh on one occasion. “I suppose it’s nice for people to say I inspire them but I am somewhat embarrassed and I don’t know what the appropriate response is to that.

“I don’t consider myself to be an inspiring person. I am not one to stand up on the stage and say ‘you all can do this.’”

No doubt he would be a little embarrassed then by what Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon organizers have planned to remember him.

With the blessing of his family, a #RememberingEd Signing wall at the Runners’ Expo is to be set up along with a display of memorabilia including Ed’s famous singlets, shoes, medals, trophies and photos, courtesy of the Whitlock family and the Milton Hall of Fame.

Also at the Runners’ Expo, noted chalk artist, Victor Fraser, will do a live drawing of Ed using a photo taken at the 2003 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

At the 8:45 a.m. race start there will be a minute’s silence in his memory. That will be followed by perhaps the most exciting element in this tribute, the inclusion of three designated pacemakers who will take runners through to the finish in three of Ed’s most recognized world marathon record times: 2:54:49 (age 73), 3:15:54 (age 80) and 3:56:38 (age 85).

Ed Whitlock Pacer bibs. Meet the Pacers this Sat Oct 21st at the International Friendship Run – Enercare Centre, Hall B at 9 a.m.

The volunteer pacemakers are from local running clubs and crews: Nick Croker from Black Lungs Toronto (2:54); Noel Guy from Longboat Roadrunners (3:15) and Ben Kaplan from iRun assuming the 3:56 pacemaking duty. Kaplan is writing a book on Ed tentatively entitled “The Master.”

In the words of Alan Brookes, with whom Ed had a close relationship: “This year’s race is going to be very emotional. No Ed. But he’ll be with us. He’ll be with us forever. He’s part of our DNA, of who we are, and what we’ve all achieved together — for our event, our sport, our city, our country and running worldwide. We just have to carry the torch from here, and never limit ourselves. Join us in #RememberingEd”

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For further information: www.STWM.ca

IMPORTANT. MEDIA CREDENTIALS: For media interested in access on race weekend, including press conferences, start/finish lines and Media Centre, credentials are an absolute requirement. Please apply here: http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/media/#media

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

How to Prep for Race Day. By John Stanton, Founder of Running Room.

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By John Stanton, Founder of Running Room. 

As race day approaches, you may have a few questions on final training and race strategy. Here are some thoughts from founder of Running Room, John Stanton.

At running events and expos, I am frequently asked: “What is the bare minimum I need to run to prepare for a big race?”

The answer is: you need to run four times a week. Two of these runs are simply for base training, while the other two should be high-quality runs with a focus on speed and stamina. The quality runs should consist of a tempo speed run and a weekend long slow endurance run.

For a tempo workout, begin and end with a 1K warm-up and 1K cool-down. The kilometres in between (ranging from 5 to 10K) should be run at a pace about 15 to 30 seconds slower than your current 5K race pace. Tempo runs help your body and mind adapt to running at an uncomfortable pace. They help increase your VO2 Max (your body’s ability to take in and utilize oxygen at the muscle layer to make energy), as well as push out your lactate threshold (the point at which you feel that burning sensation in your legs from the lactic acid). These workouts will make you a more efficient runner and improve your ability to fight off fatigue.

To teach your body that you can pull out some speed when needed, add a short burst to your tempo runs. During your weekly tempo session, include a repeat that is 60 to 90 seconds faster than your projected race day pace. The faster running over a shorter period of time will build your confidence and add some snap to your leg turnover rate, while minimizing your injury risk.

Your long slow run is just that: long, slow distance. Your pace should be about 60 to 90 seconds slower than your projected race pace. Doing your long runs at a slower pace helps your body build endurance without wearing it down. Most running injuries come from running too fast—I have yet to hear of a runner becoming injured from running too slow. The purpose of the long run is to introduce your body to the rigours of running for an extended period of time, so be disciplined about the slower pace required for these workouts.

The two weekly base training or “maintenance” runs are short runs of 3 to 5K. These are as much for your head as they are for your body, and they should be run at a comfortable pace.

They are designed to keep your total weekly base miles up and act as recovery runs to keep your legs loose and limber.

Following this four-runs-per-week program is useful, especially when you’re trying to balance your personal, professional and community activities and still find time to run.

Race Strategy

There are three strategies for race day:

  • Start hard and fast and fade in the later stages of the race.
  • Start slow and run a faster second half of the race.
  • Run the whole race at a steady consistent pace.

My recommendation is to run the whole race at an even pace. This approach will, in theory, produce the best times for the runner. Start too fast, and you will discover an early and deep fatigue created from early oxygen debt. Running the final stages of the race is a challenge because of the deep fatigue. For the best recovery, start slow and build into the race. Your optimum time may not be achieved, but your post-race recovery will be improved. It makes for the most comfortable race. Even pacing will give you the best race results.

Angela Tanui Flying Kenyan Flag at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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By Paul Gains

A strong contingent of Ethiopian runners will make their way across the Atlantic to compete in this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and so it falls upon Angela Tanui to be the Kenyan ‘flag bearer’ at this IAAF Gold Label race.

Tanui will not shy from the important role she finds herself in when she toes the line October 22nd. The rivalry between the East African neighbours is legendary and longstanding, particularly in Toronto. Ethiopian women have been victorious here seven of the last ten years. But as an indication of how close the rivalry is, the Course and Canadian All-comers Women’s record is 2:22:43, held jointly by Sharon Cherop KEN (2010) and Koren Jelala Yal ETH (2011) who ran identical times.

“Off course, yes, as a Kenyan I always want to make Kenya proud of me,” the 25 year old Tanui says of the matter.

Best known for her success at the shorter distances – last year she set personal bests of 31:26 in the 10k and a stunning 1:07:16 for the half marathon – she made her marathon debut earlier this year with a clocking of 2:26:31 at the Vienna Marathon. That was good enough for 5th place. She admits learning much from her experience.

“I learnt that the marathon is a calculation race which needs a smart mind,” she reveals. “I have increased the mileage per week and have planned an extra-long run (35 kilometres) compared to the last marathon preparation.

“My expectation is to run a personal best. With the debut in Vienna I am confident I learned a lot and can really improve. I can’t tell (by how much) but that is my inner prayer. Of course, the training was tougher and I will arrive much better prepared for this event in Toronto.”

Tanui is from a large family in Uasin-Gishu county, around 60 kilometres from Iten, where she is living and training. She has two brothers and four sisters one of whom, Euliter, is also runner and lives with her in Iten. Tanui’s boyfriend, Elijah Tirop, with whom she also shares her home, will accompany her to Toronto as he will perform pacemaking duties for the elite men.

Among her training partners are a trio of past Toronto racers, Ishhimael Chemtan (2015 men’s champion), Rebecca Chesir (3rd in 2016) and Sharon Cherop (2010 winner).  They are all represented by Demadonna Athletic Promotions, an Italian sports agency.

“I spoke of the race with them and they told me that it is a non-predictable race which varies according to the weather conditions,” she says of her reconnaissance.

Although she spends much of her time training and recovering, Tanui enjoys relaxing while watching Nigerian movies. And like many of her compatriots and training partners she is also a football fan.

“I am a fan and supporter of Manchester United and my favourite player is (Javier) Chicharito (Hernandez) even if he is not playing for Manchester this year,” she adds.

Although she is just 25 years old and conceivably has another five to ten years of running in her she has already had thoughts of what life might look like upon retirement.

“I would like to be a coach,” she says. “I’m accumulating a lot of experience in the field and would like one day to share my knowledge with the young runners of my village in order to give them the opportunity to improve their lifestyle and have an income from this activity.”

The future is certainly bright and she is only just beginning her marathon career. Suddenly, though she must carry the honour of her nation on the world stage. The question remains whether she can unsettle the Ethiopians on the streets of Toronto and carve out a victory. Her countrymen will be watching.

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For further information and to join Angela on the Start line, www.STWM.ca

IMPORTANT – MEDIA CREDENTIALS: For media interested in access on race weekend, including press conferences, start/finish lines and Media Centre, credentials are an absolute requirement. Please apply here: http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/media/#media

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

What Elite Athletes Eat: Marathon Edition

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For anyone racing a marathon, either for their first or fiftieth time, the pre-race dinner is always a hot topic.

What should you eat?

What should you avoid?

Is carb-loading really all it’s cracked up to be?

We may not have the exact answers, but what we’ve learned over time is that it’s best to eat what you’re used to, and that a carbohydrate-rich meal is a go-to for most runners.  There is a large Canadian elite contingent coming to race at the Canadian Marathon Championships at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, so we took the chance to ask them what fuels their fire the night before a big race.

Sami Jibril: When I’m out of town, maintaining a routine diet has its challenges. I personally try to pack at least one meal and snacks for long out of town races but when its not possible, and I am stuck in an airport with limited food options, I need to be flexible. I understand unhealthy food is better than no food, but healthy food (good fuel) is even better.

The most important factors I consider for selecting meals is food that is high in carbohydrates and easy to digest. The simpler the foods the better, and nothing unfamiliar.

Living in the Toronto and running STWM I have the luxury to eat a personal homemade meal the night before my race. I typically eat a heavy meatless pasta/spaghetti dinner with lots of veggies and I binge on fruits for dessert.

Leslie Sexton: My go-to meal before long runs and workouts when I’m at home is usually beef or chicken kabobs with grilled vegetables (splashed with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar) and linguine with pesto sauce. I love cooking on the BBQ during the summer because it adds a bit of flavour and usually requires less clean-up. And of course some chocolate for dessert!

Kevin Coffey:  The last supper isn’t much of a change from the usual meal before a focused long run. I never experiment with new foods and I try to keep the fibre as low as I can.  For my last meal before a big race, I will have Thai gluten free stir fry rice noodles with a simple tomato sauce and half a serving of chicken (60g-75g of carbohydrate) with a refreshing glass of sports drink (30g carbohydrate). I have found gluten free pasta works best for my stomach and it often has less fibre than whole wheat.

Catherine Watkins: My favourite pre-race food is simply chicken or salmon with brown rice and veggies. For the marathon, I’ll go heavier on the rice and lighter on the veggies!  If it’s a shorter race and out of town I find sushi is a great pre-race food. Usually a salmon roll, tuna roll, and avocado roll.

Natasha LeBeaud Anzures: Before a race, I love to have a giant veggie-packed salad topped with my all-time favorite food: beets.  I love a big serving of brown race pasta (I have Celiac disease, so I cannot have any gluten) with marinara sauce and a side of salmon.

Trevor Hofbauer: My pre-race meal while traveling is pasta with a cream sauce and chicken. Regular pasta with a tomato sauce is an appropriate alternative as well.  For STWM, I’m actually bringing my pre-race dinner with me from Guelph. It will be my staple carbohydrate meal; cornmeal, sweet potato, chicken breast.

John Mason: The night and even through the week leading up to the race I eat a lot of bread.  I eat a lot of bread in general, but even more in the last few days heading into a marathon.  In 2015 before STWM I ate 4 loaves of bread in the last 36 hours leading into the race, an entire loaf of bread for dinner as I was strolling the streets of Toronto.  Bread and butter really is my marathon “bread and butter”.

running while travelling

Running tips while travelling

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When away on vacation, going for a run may seem like too much effort.  Where is there to run? Who will run with me? What if I get lost? There are a lot of variables when running in an area that you’re not familiar with. However, if you do the research, and have the motivation to lace up your shoes while away, there’s no reason for missing runs while travelling.

Be prepared

If the thought of running while on vacation has flickered through your mind, make sure you pack the essentials. Depending on where you’re travelling to, pack the necessary gear to be able to run comfortably in the destination’s climate. Looking at the weather forecast will help you avoid over-packing. Grabbing a versatile pair of running shoes, and a couple outfits should be enough to get you through the holiday.

Scout out popular routes

Thankfully, like most things in the world, there’s an app for that. Many runners have some kind of GPS watch that will record their running route. If they upload this data into any app such as MapMyRun, Strava, Garmin Connect etc., it can be available to the public to view. In addition, some sites have heat maps that show the most popular areas to run. Stick to previously run routes, or ‘hot’ areas, so the likelihood of having other people around increases.

Sign up for a race

This is the easiest way to get a run in. Even if it’s not a goal race, you’ll get to see the city without worrying about traffic, and possibly get a good workout in!  Even looking up other race maps can give some ideas on where to run too. After the race, knowing some of the areas that you ran through can give some insight on other areas to check out on a subsequent run.

Connect with the locals

Most cities will have run groups either out of running stores, or with local clubs/crews. Check out their websites, or ask a local running store about your options and hop in with the group. It’s a great way to run with others, see the sights without worry, and learn some good routes.

Ask your hotel

Hotels are a wealth of knowledge. Typically staffed with locals, the concierges or receptionists will likely know of local parks or popular areas to run in even if they aren’t runners themselves. If all else fails, utilize the hotel’s fitness centre. Most hotel will have at least one treadmill to get in some extra miles, even if it’s not the most scenic of options.

Look on a map

If you’re in a city, either check out a guide book, or look online at a map of the area. Local parks, trails, stadiums, and schools will likely be listed and can give insight to what’s available. If you need to get a workout in, there’s usually a track that’s available for public use.  It may not be rubberized, but it’ll be 400m of undisturbed running.

The internet is going to be your friend while travelling. From running apps, to online maps, and city pages, everything you need to know will be on there.  If you don’t feel like researching, just lace up your shoes, write the hotel’s address on your hand, and get outside.  Someone will be able to help you if you get lost!

Cam Levins To Race ‘Half’ at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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By Paul Gains

In what could be a massive boost for Canadian marathoning, Cam Levins has announced he will tackle the half marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon October 22nd.

The former Canadian 10,000m record holder at 27:07.92 has extraordinary credentials on the track, and coupled with his appetite for high mileage training volume it is only a matter of time before he makes an impact in the full marathon distance. His debut at the half marathon in Toronto is a giant leap towards that goal.

Now 28 years old, the native of Black Creek, B.C. had surgery in July 2016 to correct ongoing problems in his foot. Since then he has been especially cautious though he has set an ambitious goal for Toronto.

“My plan is to go out with the marathon pace group at 63 minutes,” he reveals. “What I would like to do is try and qualify for the 2018 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. So whatever it takes to do that at the very least and if I am feeling good (I will) knock it out of the park. That’s sort of my main goal going into this.”

At a Portland Twilight meet in June, Levins took to the track and ran 5000m in 14:10.92 which is almost a minute slower than his personal best. But it was a starting point.  In August, he raced the Beach to Beacon 10K in 29:24. More recently, he won the Canadian 5K Championship. Being selected to represent Canada at the half-marathon championships in Valencia, Spain, on March 24th, is therefore, a tangible goal.

The comeback has been mounted with an enormous change in his coaching situation. In July he left the Nike Oregon Project, the Alberto Salazar coached group which includes Olympic medalists Mo Farah, Matthew Centrowitz and Galen Rupp, to return to his former college coach, Eric Houle of Southern Utah University.

Reuniting with Houle, who is a proponent of very high training volumes, has seen him head up to Utah’s high altitude for weeks at a time. Cedar City is at roughly 6,000 feet above sea level and some of his longer runs have taken place at 9,000 feet.

“I spent all of July, a bit of June and a bit of August up there getting on the same page as Coach Houle,” he explains. “I don’t feel necessarily the need to be there right now. I think he understands where I am. He continues to give me workouts from a distance. I have been able to train with Ryan Vail here. My plan is to hop back and forth.”

Levins also moved homes during the summer and discovered, to his delight, that American marathoner Ryan Vail was a neighbour. They have been training together up until Vail’s 8th place finish at the Berlin Marathon on September 24th. Levins is relatively pleased with his training.

“I think it’s coming along pretty well, some hiccups here and there,” Levins says. “I feel pretty good about it. It has just been forward momentum, not incredibly fast, but I think I am continuing to improve, so I am happy with that.

“Coach Houle and I have agreed to that (high mileage) and we have been doing it as much as I have been able to. That’s the idea for sure. I have done some 20 mile runs pretty consistently. I live just a couple of blocks from Ryan Vail and he has been a fantastic training partner.”

Levins had originally entertained the idea of running a full marathon but realized he must contain his enthusiasm somewhat. He credits Eric Houle for providing a solid ground on which to build for the future.

“Coach Houle and I think one of the big reasons it works is that we have a really good athlete-coach relationship which I didn’t realize was so important until I left (Utah),” he explains. “I didn’t realize how good ours was. Now, going back, there is a lot of trust there.

“If he tells me to do something, whether I have a discussion about it or not, I will do it. And, he will listen to me. The communication is there. He certainly believes in me. I trust him and if he pushes back on it, its ok. It’s a good dynamic, ultimately, that I just never really developed with the coaching of the Oregon Project.”

Leaving the Nike Oregon Project meant leaving Nike. Running fans have noticed him racing in all sorts of clothing, often his 2012 Canadian Olympic singlet and a variety of training shoes.

“I am wearing just whatever I want,” he declares. “I have run in some Nike and I have run in some Altra shoes just because my buddy runs for their company. But really I will run in whatever I feel like.”

For the most part, his foot is no longer troubling him although he sometimes feels an ache. He had been told that it might take a year or more for the pain to be completely gone. He puts this down to nerve damage from the surgery. But he is optimistic about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The half marathon distance will prove a good test of his fitness level and provide an indication of what he might expect in 2018.

“I am looking forward to a good track season next year. That is my plan right now, and using that strength and fitness to go into a marathon and knock it out of the park next year,” he says before unleashing specific goals.

“I want to qualify for the World Indoors. My focus will be at the 3000m and mile. Outdoors the 5K and 10K are obviously the big ones for me. I am not counting out anything.”

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For more information and to join Cam at this year’s race: http://STWM.ca

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

 

 

evan dunfee

Walking vs Running: one man’s very specific case study by Evan Dunfee

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Over the last 12 months it has become a fairly common occurrence for the Vancouver running community to see me out on the streets tackling a road race.  Over the last year I have walked in 10km, half marathon and full marathon races, and ran a 10km and a half marathon.

This dabbling in running during my off-season has led to a lot of questions. How often do you run in training? How does racing/recovery differ? Why do you do it?

And I think it would be fun to attempt to answer some of these questions by comparing my two most recent road races, the Scotiabank Half Marathon, where I race walked to a 95th place finish in 1:29:54, and the recent Eastside 10km, where I ran my way to 6th place in 32:26.

evan dunfee

So just how much running do I do in training? Since May 1st I’ve run 120km (not including a few 3km late night runs/plods home from the bar), or a whopping average of 6km per week. Evidently running isn’t something I find myself doing in training too often.

That lack of running most clearly rears its ugly head when it comes to recovering from running races vs. walking races. I can typically bounce back from a 30-40min hard walking effort either later that day or the next day. However, after running the Eastside 10k my legs were shot.

evan dunfee

Race walking, because of its lower impact, takes way less of a strain physically on your body (think somewhere between swimming and running). Plus, given that it’s my primary form of training, my body is primed to handle the specific stressors exceptionally well. Running however, requires way more calf/quad activation, and the higher impact takes its toll on my joints and ITBs.

Additionally, after most of my walking races my focus is on recovering as quickly as possible because I’m mid-season. After Eastside the focus was getting home ASAP to shower and head downtown to celebrate the end of my off-season. With drinks at the White Caps game and a late night concert, my body woke up the next day with considerably more DOMS.

There are many more similarities (think physiological measures: %VO2max, HR etc…) than there are differences. One difference, while running, is how easily my mind wanders. Not having to focus on technique freed up mental capacity. Unfortunately, that mental capacity was used to frequently question: “Why are you doing this to yourself?”. It’s tough to say if that is a positive or negative difference.

Another big difference was the overwhelming lack of expectations. When I go into a walking race I roughly know what I should be capable of. Sometimes this is a hindrance where I might hold back subconsciously. With running, I had no idea what to expect. I figured a good strategy was to make sure I ran hard enough that I was tired by 3km and then just hang on from there.

But moreover, no one else had any real expectations. I could have run 34min and people still would have thought that was pretty good for a race walker. Special shoutout here to my retired teammate/full-time lawyer Inaki Gomez who busted out a 35min run! He lost the fastest lawyer battle when Lanni Marchant pulled away from him late in the game.

Talking about others helps me segue into my final point, which is the real reason I come out to these races (running or walking). That reason is to sneak my way into the amazing running community we have in Vancouver. A community which I used to feel like an outsider in but now, finally, feel like I am welcome. Doing these events has helped show that we race walkers are serious athletes. I think that it has helped raise the level of respect we walkers have. It has also brought me way closer to this incredible community. From the awesome run clubs around the city, to the strong Strava contingent constantly pursuing personal excellence. These are the people I draw constant inspiration from. So if it means putting up with a few days of sore ITBs and calf cramps each year then it is well worth the price!

Catherine Watkins Chasing Canadian Masters’ Marathon Record

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By Paul Gains

If things go according to plan, Catherine Watkins will be a new Canadian Masters’ record holder in the marathon come October 22nd.

The 46-year-old from Vancouver has set the women’s 45 years+ standard of 2:40:20 as her target when she lines up for the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. That time was set by fellow British Columbian, Marilyn Arsenault at Toronto Waterfront event four years ago.

“That’s the goal,” she acknowledges with a smile. “I do think everything will have to fall into place for that to happen. It will have to be one of those days where everything goes well. I know I am physically capable of it but, if it’s windy or it’s hot, obviously that will alter that.

“I would be disappointed if the day was the right day and I felt like I should have run the time that I think I can run. I would definitely be disappointed. I know enough about the marathon and a lot of it is getting to the start line healthy. But anything can happen on the day. I have had mixed experiences in the marathon, ‘GI’ or weather-related issues.”

Two years ago Watkins won the Eugene Marathon in a personal best time of 2:42:35. She was also the Masters’ winner at the Houston Marathon earlier that same year. And, when a place on Canada’s Pan Am Games team opened up, she answered the call, finishing 8th in her first international Games. But like all Masters competitors she faces the constant aging process which makes training more difficult and recovery even more of a challenge.

“Eventually there is going to be slowing down,” she concedes. “But for the longer events the half marathon and marathon, that kind of training has a little more longevity for me. I find where I am slowing is definitely in the shorter distances. It has been harder to get the intensity, like in the 5k and 10k, I have noticed it a bit.”

Nevertheless, her Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon buildup has been encouraging. Healthy, and training consistently at 130 kilometres a week, she ran superbly at the recent Under Armour Eastside 10k in Vancouver, finishing in a time of 35:43 on a challenging course.

“I was actually really, really happy with that because it was in the middle of marathon training,” she adds. “So it’s hard to know how a 10k will go when you are in the middle of marathon training. I just felt really strong and consistent. I ‘even split’ the course and it was kind of a tough course to do that on. I ran 17:50 and 17:50 for my 5ks and it’s not really a fast course it was probably closer to a low 35 effort overall. So, I feel I am really in a good spot.”

With her two daughters in middle school she is able to do the necessary ‘pre-hab’ stretching and warm-ups prior to getting out for her training runs.

“I end up doing 45 minutes to an hour of rolling and physio before I head out the door and then in the evening more rolling and stretching,” she says of the technique which incorporates the use of massage balls.  “I am getting massages weekly and physio treatments every couple of weeks to keep everything on track. Gone are the days when I can just lace up the shoes and go for a run.”

Watkins laughs at her last statement. Clearly she is relishing her career in Masters’ running. A sponsorship from Oiselle was one of her rewards and just last weekend she spent time with other elite athletes and staff at a retreat in Sonoma, California. The break was a little relief from the constant training she has been doing with coach Richard Lee of the BC Endurance Project and fellow marathoner Kevin Coffey.

“It’s actually been going really well,” she says of her buildup. “When we first started out I thought ‘oh my gosh how am I going to do a marathon?’ as you always do when you start. The last few weeks everything has started to click at the perfect time. It has been good. I have got my last huge workout coming up this weekend, 37km I think, on Saturday.

“Richard comes on his bike and carries my bottles so I can practice feeding. This is great. That’s one of the hardest things to practice on your own, being able to drink at that pace and get the fueling. I am still practicing. I think I wear as much as I drink!”

An avid reader of books, Watkins is a member of a book club which meets every four to six weeks. The rest of her time is taken up with parenting two active girls. When possible, she admits with a laugh, she enjoys nap time.

It will be all business though when she arrives in Toronto for the Waterfront Marathon. There are records to be broken and should ideal conditions prevail the name Catherine Watkins could be in the record book.

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For more information and to join Catherine in this year’s race:  www.stwm.ca

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

 

 

Uganda’s Alex Chesakit Racing at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

By | Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | No Comments

By Paul Gains

East African runners have dominated the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon the past two decades, but one thing this IAAF Gold Label race has never had is a Ugandan victor.

Alex Chesakit is hoping to upset the favoured Kenyans and Ethiopians when he lines up for this year’s event on October 22nd.

The 36 year-old native of Kapchorwa in Uganda’s eastern highlands ran a personal best of 2:11:01 at the 2016 Cape Town Marathon and credits the influence of 2012 Olympic Marathon Champion Stephen Kiprotich for his success.

“Stephen inspired me a lot,” says Chesakit of his famous countryman, who was also crowned the 2013 IAAF World Marathon Champion. “I am expecting a win and to run a good time in the marathon very soon.

“Stephen is the key athlete in Uganda, and Kapchorwa specifically, and a role model for the new generation like Joshua Cheptegei and other youngsters who are coming up now. I always train with Stephen when he’s at home in Kapchorwa.”

Cheptegei, of course, is the young Ugandan who pushed the British superstar Mo Farah all the way to the line in the 2017 World Championship 10,000m final before settling for the silver medal.

Kiprotich’s Olympic gold medal, Uganda’s first since John Akii-Bua’s 400m hurdles gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics, launched a newfound interest in distance running. And, when the nation’s capital, Kampala, hosted the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in March this year massive crowds came out to support their heroes.

It is precisely because of the growing interest in running that in November of last year Global Sports opened a training camp in Kapchorwa on Mount Elgon. Global manages Kiprotich as well as 2016 Olympic champion, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. The primary purpose of the new camp is to further develop talent in the region which has produced a string of international level distance runners. Most are preparing for the track but there more whose attention is focused completely on the half marathon and marathon distances.

Two full time coaches, a massage therapist – all Ugandans – work under a mentor coach from the Netherlands named Andy Ruiter here. At present they are working with about fifteen athletes most of whom are competing on the track still. Training there has lifted Chesakit’s expectations substantially.

“I live just outside the camp, but I am mostly there during the week especially when there is a key training session like track, fartlek, a long run and tempo runs,” he explains. “My house is near the track so when we go for a track workout I walk from home and meet the guys there.”

At home he has a family, a wife and three young children. Running, he says, is a means to provide a good lifestyle for them.

“Every marathon you run you take a new experience home and we try to improve for the next,” he says of his career to date.

“In Toronto I am hoping to break 2:10:00 for the first time which will help me to qualify for Commonwealth Games. I missed the World Championships in London due to visa issues. I was supposed to compete but the visa arrived too late.”

Like most East African runners Chesakit treats running as a profession and he realizes that time is fleeting.

“My goal is through running to secure finance for my family but ultimately to inspire many young talents in the sport,” Chesakit admits.

“I hope to compete for another ten years and my desire is to be a coach after retirement and help the new generation to get opportunities in life and show them the right way.”

The Toronto field is the strongest ever assembled in Canada with Kenyans Dickson Chumba, a past Chicago and Tokyo marathon winner, and defending Toronto champion, Philemon Rono already confirmed. Ethiopia will counter through the very talented duo of Solomon Deksisa, (2:06:22 at the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon) and Endeshaw Negesse, the 2015 Tokyo Marathon champion who has a personal best of 2:04:52.

Against such opposition, Chesakit will have his hands full. But the vision of being the first Ugandan to stand on the podium is a powerful one for this talented marathon runner.

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For more information and to join Alex Chesakit at this year’s race: http://STWM.ca

About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:

An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. http://STWM.ca

 

 

 

ideal workout

When’s your ideal workout time?

By | Training Tips | No Comments

It’s hard to say when the ideal workout time is.  It’s a personal preference, but any option has it’s advantages. Some people can’t fathom rolling out of bed, into their running shoes and heading out the door before they’re truly awake. Others can’t imagine running in the heat of the afternoon, or in the darkness of night.  What works for one person, doesn’t always work for someone else. It comes down to running when it works best for you, your schedule, and your mind. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each time of day:

Morning runner:

Getting out of bed and going out for a run straight away is great for several reasons.  If you have a high-stress job that doesn’t have a clock-out time, running first thing in the morning will help you avoid missing workouts after work.  It can help boost your focus for the day, and kick-start your metabolism. Furthermore, it can lead to making healthier decisions throughout the day as you’ll have started your day on a high note. In terms of the run itself, there are usually less people out and about early in the day, so you won’t have to battle crowds on popular running routes in your city.

The downsides to running in the morning are due to our body’s physical state.  Body temperatures when you wake up are lower than later in the day. As a result our muscles, tendons and ligaments are colder and need some extra time to warm up.  If an adequate warmup isn’t done, it increases the risk of injury. Additionally, lung function is poor due to the lungs being more constricted and inefficient bringing oxygen in after a night’s sleep your. The inefficient oxygen intake makes hard efforts can seem more difficult early in the morning.

Afternoon/evening runner:

Working out later in the day allows the body to get moving and have the blood flowing through your muscles, ligaments and tendons. The body is a fine-tuned machine, that varies the amount of circulating hormones depending on the time of day.  In the afternoon/evening, testosterone levels are higher.  Thus, the afternoon is a great time for any strength or power workouts. In addition, cortisol (a stress hormone which aids in the storage of fat and reduction in muscle tissue) levels decrease throughout the day. Lower cortisol levels help to gain muscle mass.  Post-work times are typically safer to be out in too.  More people are doing post-work errands, or their own workouts, so areas are more populated and safer to run through.

Despite all the great things the afternoon has to offer, there are downfalls.  Leaving workouts to later in the day are seen to be easier to miss.  After a long day of work, when energy is low, it’s easy to lose motivation and opt out of a workout.  Especially in jobs that don’t have a set end time.  If you get caught up in a project, work later, and end up fuelling improperly, it’s not surprising if a workout gets missed.  There are no real physical downfalls, only psychological.  So if your will power is high and you prefer the evening routine, you’re good to go!

Whatever time you decide on, it’ll be the best time for you and your schedule.  There are pros and cons to any situation, just do whatever gets you into your shoes and outside!