About 10 days ago I noticed a sharp pain on the top of my left foot. I was seeing my physiotherapist (ED) regularly and we did our best to keep it under control so I would be ready to run 3 races at the Canadian University Championships (1000, 4×800, 1500). We put a small lift on the bottom of my foot to help support the stress that was being put on my metatarsal. Unfortunately, as the championship weekend approached the pain grew and grew.

Friday morning (the morning of the 1000 and 4×800) I went to see Ed and he noticed that the pain had been getting worse and said that all signs point to it being some degree of a stress fracture (without the aid of a bone scan he couldn’t verify, but I take everything he says to the bank). My coaches (Ross and Carl) told me 2 things. 1) It is a championship race (meaning: it is an important race) but it is not The Championship Race (meaning: our ultimate goals are set for this summer). 2) Only YOU (me) can make the final decision based on how it feels. They said they would support me with whatever decision I made and told me to take it one race at a time.

I knew it was very unlikely that I would make it through the entire meet so I decided to take it one race at a time. The thing that bothered me was that I was most looking forward to the 1500. Ross and I both thought that this indoor training had best prepared me for the 1500, but with it being the last event I knew it was going to be unlikely that I would get to run.

I started off with the 1000. I had the fastest qualifying time going in and had 2 goals: to win and beat the championship record. The second the gun went, the whole thing just fell apart!

I found myself in the lead after 50 meters. Part of me said, “Slow down… you can’t lead it all if you want to win.” The other part said, “You got to make sure the pace is on if you want the record.” I led until 50 meters to go but never fully committed to the necessary hard pace. I ended up losing and running my slowest time of the season (2:25.37). I realized that if you get lucky, maybe it’ll be a fast pace but championship races are about one thing: winning! Lesson learned.

You can watch the race here.

I won’t lie, I was pissed! I really wanted to win and thought I was capable of a lot more! I had 2 hours before my next race. I stormed off, let off some steam, went for a short jog and then went up to my relay team and said, “Guys, we’ve got to win this! Stay in contact and get me the baton near the front.” The guys ran amazing!

My “little brother” Tyler Pettes ran a controlled 1st leg. He ran at the front of the pack, even split a 1:56.0 and handed off to future M.D. and seasoned veteran Stephen Douglas who ran a strong leg, staying in 3rd most of the race and running a 1:55.7. He handed off to 2nd year heartthrob, Andrew Cruickshank, who went out hard, ran a 1:55.7 and handed the baton off to me in 5th: 3 seconds behind the leader. I didn’t want to make the same mistake as in the 1000 so I played it safe and tucked behind the 3rd and 4th place runners. I passed them with 150 to go and started closing on 2nd place. I ran a 1:50.4 leg; good enough to get us the silver. Victoria won their 5th straight 4×8 title and beat us: 7:37.62 vs. 7:38.07. But we were still happy. We were 2nd last the year before and knew this was a step in the right direction…

You can watch the race here: it takes 90 seconds to get to the gun.

After the race I assumed I was done and while the 4×8 helped make up for the 1000 I still really wanted a gold! I went back to the hotel and iced my legs and took care of my foot. I talked to Ross and we decided to wake-up and see how it was feeling. If it was good then I would warm-up and see how it handled the 2 races from the night before.

I was sitting at a table with my fresh fruit, cottage cheese and hard-boiled eggs, watching large pieces of ice as they casually made their way down the Detroit River. I didn’t sleep much that night. I had been 3rd and 2nd and REALLY wanted to win one…

I went to Starbucks to get my Grande Americano and then headed off to the track to warm-up; but it wasn’t good. I tried doing some drills and strides but the pain was getting worse. The pain was keeping me from getting high on my toes and I was afraid that if I raced and injured it more I would jeopordize my outdoor season.

As I was walking over to the table to scratch my name out of the race (called a DNS: Did Not Start) my old coach, Hugh Cameron, came up to me and said, “Don’t let enthusiasm cloud good judgment.” That helped.

It was painful watching the race. I was ranked 2nd between 2 long-time friends Kyle Boorsma (ranked 1st) and Rob Jackson (ranked 3rd). The three of us all went to the same high school and have a lot of memories together. My best running memory with Kyle was when we went 1-2 at OFSAA regionals in the 1500 (3:57.91 and 3:57.93). I still think the camera was wrong… 🙂

Kyle ran a great race! He set a hard pace and won his 2nd gold of the meet (he also won the 3000). Rob ran gutsy and took a shot at Boorsma with 500m to go but ended up in a respectable 3rd behind Kyle and Matt Hulse (who won the 1000 the night before). Rob told me after, “I really thought I was going to beat him this time…”

It was an emotional weekend and not the sort of ending I had hoped for but the way I see it, this is a good place to start. I’ve still got another year of eligibility and I have been accepted into U of T to do a year of advanced course work. I’m excited to see how much better I can get this year…

I’m going to have to get a bone scan this week and figure out what’s wrong with my foot… until then, it’s late (late) nights of writing.

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Categories: Running


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