International Summer Tour 2017: Next Stop: Ninove, Belgium

International Summer Tour: 2017

Memorial Geert Rasschaert 2017 Meet

Meet Results link: http://liveresults.be/2017/memorial-rasschaert/event014h02.html

Welcome back,

After a few travel days, I am officially off to begin my running debut in Belgium, Europe! I’ll admit I needed a few days to settle into the new time zone and home base Leuven, before feeling race-ready. Race #1 of the European circuit was in Ninove, Belgium, less than two hours away. Going into this meet I had the usual nerves, but was anxiously anticipating how this was going to be different from a North American meet. Before I knew it, I had packed my racing kit, a cooler of recovery food, then was following my Vic City Elite crew to the train station. A few delays and hustling across platforms led us to meet up with fellow Vancouver athletes. Together, we walked two kilometres through the city from train to the stadium. To put this in perspective there were roughly twenty athletes lined single file walking through the town center all in athletic clothes and backpacks. Most locals stopped and stared at us as we passed through. Up to this point, I had been a sheep following the pack of athletes. Someone at the front must know where we were going, right?

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Train Station Shenanigans – Photo Credit- Casey Atkin 2017

Upon arrival, I did not know what to expect for my first Europe race. Within our group I was scheduled to race first which meant I had the least amount of time to observe any differences of how the meet may be hosted. The main advice I was given was to expect chaos, and know nothing is definite until you are lined up on the start line. In my mind this meant expect chaos. To compensate the forewarned chaos I forced myself to be surprisingly calm all day and throughout the travel leading to the evening race. With only 15 minutes to buffer arrival and my warm-up I settled in to the meet atmosphere quite quickly.

As I wrapped up the warm-up jog I started scouting out a place to do some dynamic drills and joined the 800m ladies along a gravel/pavement strip outside the stadium. As I was scanning the pathway for smooth surfaces one girl was aimed straight for me running out her stride. As general courtesy I stepped to the side to stay out of her way onto what I thought was grass. Surprise! None of it was grass. It was all stinging nettle and I had an instant reaction with shooting hot pains going across my exposed skin. On the plus side I was wearing long running tights but the nettle wrapped through my ankle and was inside the tongue of my shoe causing it to brush against my foot with every step I took. My first thoughts were denial and this isn’t that bad. As my skin turned from red and stinging to white bumps and insanely itchy I knew I had to accept this was my reality.

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Stinging Nettle

In hindsight looking back, I was so calm this day, that I did not freak out or feel startled by this. This was the unexpected chaos I had been expecting; besides it was runnable, more irritating than anything. After finding out my race was 10 minutes delayed I told Geoff my situation and he escorted me to the medical tent. I still do not know if they spoke Dutch or Flemish, but the translation I interpreted was the medical’s laughing and saying the best way to handle it was to urinate or spit on the sting, similar to a jellyfish reaction. I think as I processed the thought of them spitting on my ankle my face reflected this, which only made them laugh harder. Eventually they sprayed some cooling mist on it, and said I was good to go. It was time to marshal in at the start line.

I watched the 3000m steeplechase and then the first section of the women’s 800m from the start line. They were all fast and it was my turn to go next. The gun went off and I hopped onto the front of the pack in my race with the pacer and behind teammate Laurence. Without a doubt they are the reason we pulled through a 600m PB pace and ultimately an 800m PB and win! After I crossed the finish line I saw my time on the screen and went to smile at the realization of the time I had finished with! It was here I knew how scrunched my face was because of the amount of effort it took to shift into a smile. I knew I had a first class “pain face” because I’d forgotten to relax. This was further verified by photos posted after the race. (See photos below) Not only had I run a heat winning PB, but I also had set the Saskatchewan 800m record! I’ve never looked so forward to sending in my results.

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The Homestretch to Finish Line – Ninove, Belgium 2017

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First Class “Pain Face”

 

So what was the factor? What finally pulled me through to a PB time. I wish I had a simple answer! The best way I can explain that race was having focused acceptance. Zero hesitation. After the stinging nettle (Which I initially thought was poison ivy) I was asked my race plan. In my head, all I wanted to say was run. Before I had a chance to answer – Geoff told me there was a rabbit going in 59.0 for Laurence. Laurence is going for it. You should too. Whatever you have left for the last 100m or 200m who knows, just go for it. Because Why not? I accepted this plan in full. This is exactly what I executed.  I see no point in pondering what-if scenario’s, but I do know I had a lot of help in this race from a pacer, and my teammate Laurence. She definitely helped me through 700m and I owe her a huge thank-you for taking me through that pace. The lactic headache and post-race nausea were all worth it.

Rereading this, I can appreciate that running is a weird sport. Nowhere else would I be happy to have a lactic headache and throw up especially if it is self-induced. Overall, Ninove was an evening trip that I won’t forget. My brief exposure between train and track was beautiful landscapes, church architecture, and fields of stinging nettle. The meet was friendly, and a fun atmosphere with non-athlete spectators! I am looking forward to racing this meet in the future, but for now it’s time for recovery, next race is only four days away!

Stay Tuned for a Day trip and Kayaks!

Much love,

Adrea

 

 

International Summer Tour: 2017 Next Stop: Ottawa, Ontario

Next Stop: Athletics Canada Senior Nationals- Ottawa, ON

Meet Results Link: http://liveresults.athletics.ca/Live_Results/2017/Championships/

Meet hashtag: #ACTF2017

With a brief return to my home training base Victoria, BC, I successfully moved out of my place (in lieu of accepting my new place), celebrated Canada Day, and packed for my next destination: Ottawa, Ontario! A huge thank-you goes out to Scott, Sophie, and Casey; there is no way I could have finished all of these things in Victoria without your help!

In case anyone was wondering, it is a full day of travel to leave from Victoria, BC to arrive in Ottawa, ON. I arrived at the YYJ airport for 6:00AM, and arrived around 9:30PM in YOW. I’ll admit, I opted for the most cost efficient flight, but I do believe I lost a few hours with time change as well. Needless to say, three planes, and one rental car later, I was happy to meet my fellow Vic City ladies Casey and Laurence at the airport. Finally we were in Ottawa and navigated the empty midnight streets to our accommodations

 

As most amateur athletes know, financial burdens of travel can add up fast. When friends and family help out with a place to stay for the weekend it helps tremendously! We were lucky to stay very comfortably with family of fellow Canadian athlete Tommy Des Brisay. I first met Tommy at AC’s warm weather training camp in San Diego, and again in Flagstaff, Arizona. I cannot say enough good things about him and his family! I was happy to be able to catch his race in Ottawa, because Tommy is a busy guy! This weekend he was busy with earlier races, packing, and preparing for travel to London to represent Canada at Para-Worlds this summer. For more on Tommy’s story with running and the awareness and inspiration he brings to autism, I highly encourage watching the stories below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLI-UHHP6as

and

http://www.runnersworld.com/special-report/for-many-with-autism-running-is-a-sport-that-fits

I want to reiterate again, thank-you to Tommy, MaryAnn, Peter, and May, the hospitality was above and beyond what I could have hoped for! I speak on all of our behalf when I say we thoroughly appreciated and are grateful for having a home to stay at during our time in Ottawa!

After Tommy’s race, it was time for me to focus on my quickly approaching 800m semi-final. Until the night before, this race seemed like any other. Arrive, settle in, pick up a few groceries, race prep, relax, and optimize recovery. In general I consider myself laid back, but after I said good night to my roommates and closed the bedroom door, my nerves kicked in like never before. At first, I tried telling myself, this is a good thing, it means there will be some adrenaline stimulated and that is a benefit to your running. Usually I would roll over, and go to sleep without a problem. As the clock struck 2:00AM, I realized this was false hope. I needed to relax in order to get some sleep so the next day I wouldn’t look like a zombie running from The Walking Dead. Instead of ignoring it any longer, at 2:00AM I decided to think about why I was feeling this nervousness.

After rolling through a series of superficial reasons, I finally arrived at some truths. The ultimate reason I was losing sleep was the realization of fear. Not the typical fear of being scared or inadequate. This was the realization that there are at least twenty girls who are all well and beyond capable to take one of the eight spots available in the 800m final. Mathematically that meant there would be twelve, talented, fast, capable, 800m ladies, who would not be racing in the final. The even more terrifying thought was I was a part of that top twenty. This race wasn’t about to be a revelation of who is and who is not fast. It is clear the girls in all three heats of this semi-final are fast, and this was the exciting head to head competition where we all come together and take our shot at tactical racing. Regardless of results, the guarantee was that there would be extreme triumph and extreme heartbreak, with very little in between. Any predictions for the top 8 in this race were as likely as the final eight predictions in NCAA March Madness drafts. It was anybody’s game/ race.

By 2:45am I managed to work out the probabilities of my race. Physically I looked like I was shivering because my nerves had me shaking instead of letting me go to sleep. I think I eventually shivered enough that I tired out and that is what drifted me into sleep that night. This unpredictability was unsettling, but humbling to accept and believe in the high level of athleticism I was a part of.

The next day my only objective was to be and feel calm. When I was finally at the track my coach Heather asked me what my race plan was and how I was feeling. Seeing my fellow competitors buzzing around with their warm ups I was brutally honest and told her I was terrified. Mostly because anything could happen, I was a part of this greatness, which meant it was my chance to stand out amongst the best! An opportunity to go for it. I couldn’t tell you what she said in return, but I felt the same sense of energy reciprocated back to me, that she too was excited and believed I was ready to have a good race. Somewhere during the day my fear switched over into excitement and I couldn’t tell you when that was. I know I finished my warm-up, call tent procedures, then raced. The rest becomes a blur with words that only seem to make sense to me.

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Reality of the results: I ran my second fastest 800m to date, and knew I ran that race to the best of my ability given the circumstances of my section. I didn’t make top two, therefore, I knew I wasn’t going to make the final. But I was still so proud that I was able to leave that race without regrets. My legs didn’t have as much speed as I would have liked in the final 80m and the other girls were smart in their tactics when I tried to make an earlier move. The aforementioned adrenaline kept the lactic somewhat at bay as I watched the remaining two heats.

I was so excited to see training partner Laurence Côté win her heat with a huge smile as she crossed the finish line. As she came around to the athlete exit I gave her the biggest hug and I was (and am) genuinely so happy for her!

In my case, there were no flowers, media, interviews or cameras. Instead I left unnoticed by most which I believe contributed to the ability to leave with a peaceful feeling knowing I had ran a good race amongst a full heat of professional runners. I gained the confidence to know I was capable of more. Yes, it was bittersweet I missed the final eight by placing ninth, but it just gave me more time to prepare for my next set of races in Europe. Besides, I was expected to place significantly less than ninth place. Instead, I went for a beautiful, long cool down jog along the Canal that runs alongside the track and appreciated the beautiful sunset that only comes after a storm. Although I left this championship with one race less than I was planning, the one race I was guaranteed rekindled confidence, and catalyzed focus to move forward to the next race with my head held high. A huge thank-you goes out to my fellow 800m ladies, your fierceness holds me accountable to be better- and I appreciate that!

Stay Tuned: Time to pack for the next stop of this tour!

Much Love,
Adrea

 

 

International Summer Tour: First Stop- Harry Jerome Track Classic

The first race of this International Summer Tour is the Harry Jerome Track Classic in Coquitlam, BC. A ferry ride and brief drive through the Mainland made travel relatively smooth and easy to navigate. An additional perk was the scenic drive over the Golden Ears Bridge into Langley. I was awestruck by the sunset views as I went across! It was absolutely stunning!

Shifting focus towards the race, I was excited at the opportunity to be in a fast race, on a fast track, with favourable weather. The circumstances were ideal, there was nothing else I could ask for! Unfortunately, despite having everything lined up, I did not race to my potential, and ran an okay 700m only to tie up at the end of the 800m distance. As soon as I crossed the finish line, the only emotions I can articulate are disappointment, frustration, and embarrassment. But mostly disappointment with myself. To be blunt, I knew I had wasted my opportunity. Accepting my shortcoming was more difficult than the race itself.

Somehow track always manages to seem more complicated than you either ran fast or you didn’t. That 800m race has already gone into archives and additionally filed away into my list of races to learn from. After expressing my honest thoughts on the race with my coach, I was instructed to go cool down, alone, so I could settle myself. This post-race cool-down was more necessary for my mind than my legs. Despite doing an extra loop of the lake, I was still fully engulfed with my disappointment. Since I was the first race of the meet, fellow teammates and friends optimistically were positive and happy to ask how it went as they arrived, and every time I tried to reciprocate their warm intentions, I failed to find the words that weren’t full of my self-defeat.

Reflecting on this race now, I realize the truly embarrassing moment of this race day was my post-race selfishness. Arguably, I think it is good to embrace the raw emotions a race can reveal to oneself, however, I also think beyond the cool down, it is no longer useful to hang on to those emotions if there is a trace of negativity within them. Instead of accepting my race for what it was, I let it burden me for the rest of the night and likely made it uncomfortable for those around me. If I could do it over, I would have changed many of my post-race actions at this meet!

First, I wish I could have seen beyond my results and celebrated with my new friend Dalanne on her big PB and let her know I am genuinely so happy and proud for her. One way I could have done this would have been to accept the race in its truth and joined her and my training partner for a friendly cool down, or at least the last few laps of the warm up field. Additionally the weather and scenery are absolutely beautiful at Percy Perry Stadium. I wish I would have fully appreciated this place track had brought me too without my glum mood. Finally, I knew the rest of my colleagues and teammates still had their pre-race nerves because they still had to race. I would also have liked to demonstrate more post-race composure and positivity to reflect my true intentions of wishing them all the best for their upcoming race.

The one thing I knew for this race from beginning to end was it was a good opportunity and I was in good, professional company. After a full evening of watching some of Canada’s best athletes go head to head, I eventually saw beyond my race and was swept into the excitement of the Harry Jerome event. To top the evening off I was able to go for a nice dinner and visit with my friend and her sister. My next days travel schedule worked out that I was able to have an additional day visiting and exploring Vancouver area, which was a first for me. I may have missed my planned ferry back home that day, but I had a n “ice” recovery day going for a swim at Deep Cove in North Vancouver and a picnic style lunch. I swear that water was top 5 for coldest I have ever swam in, but the views on the raft were worth it!

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North Vancouver – June 2017

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Deep Cove – June 2017

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Lifeguard duties – June 2017

As a concluding thought, this first race of my international tour has already taught me about post-race selfishness., and the importance of appreciating the good company and surroundings I am in. Special thanks to my friend Sarah and Mhairy for hosting me! I had a lovely time, and your generosity did not go unnoticed!

Stay tuned for the next edition:

International Summer Tour: Destination Ottawa, Ontario!!
Much love,

Adrea