Watching spring marathons from the sidelines

Since Around the Bay, I was able to get my hamstring under control but somehow hurt my heel/Achilles tendon and now I’ve gone from scratching the Toledo marathon off my list, to cancelling my backup plan to run the Ottawa marathon, and now I’m wondering if I’ll even be able to run the Ottawa 10K in 5 weeks. No running for a week and my heel is still bothering me. There doesn’t seem to be a specific movement or point that is painful so I hope that means there’s no fracture. Seems more likely to be some kind of tendon issue where it attaches to the heel. Maybe some tearing? Hard to know and, unfortunately, going through the x-ray process seems pointless since it takes so long to hear the results and half the time the results don’t show anything. So, I’m resting until it feels normal again. Oh well. I’m happy enough with my race at the Chilly Half to call that the end of my spring racing season and shift my focus to some summer 10Ks.

Fortunately, while I’ve been sidelined there have been a bunch of spring races to follow. The Boston Marathon was fun to watch. Jordan Hasay won the day after running 2:23 (fastest debut by an American woman) off a 1:07-high half marathon in Prague. Our Canadians had a rough day out there with Rejean Chiasson running 2:31:57 after splitting the half in 1:10:55, John Parrott running 2:34:30 after splitting 1:11:02, and Christian Mercier running 2:44:34 after splitting 1:15:27. I heard conditions were pretty tough on the day with some wind and warmer than usual temps. Would’ve liked to see what those guys could’ve done if things worked out in their favour.

Thomas Toth ran the Hamburg marathon under the radar and managed to dip under the IAAF qualifying mark of 2:19 when he finished in 2:18:58. That adds him to the list of Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis, and Rob Watson who have run a qualifying time for the 2017 Marathon World Championship race in London this August. I imagine we’ll see a few more guys take a crack at this mark over the next month. (Tristan Woodfine? Sami Jibril?) We already know three guys lining up on May 7: Blair Morgan in Prague, Kip Kangogo in Vancouver, and Seth Marcaccio in Pittsburgh. Good luck to each of those guys!

The Sunday following Boston was packed with good races – The Montreal Half, Vancouver Sun Run 10K, and London Marathon. Tristan Woodfine and Kevin Coffey ran around the 30-minute mark on Vancouver’s downhill course. (Kevin followed that up with a blistering 5000m in 14:07 a week or so later!)
John Mason set a PB in Montreal with a 1:07:40, while Jeff Costen and Josh Bolton ran 1:09-low. Check out John’s interview on The Terminal Mile podcast.

The London Marathon lived up to the hype again with Mary Keitany taking nearly a minute off the women-only world record, running 2:17:01 after a suicidal first half where at one point, she was on pace for 2:10! The men’s race was pretty good too watching Bekele claw his way back into contention but eventually coming up short.

Lots of marathoning I’ll be following next weekend. Good luck to everyone running Mississauga! Watch for fast Canadians in Vancouver, Pittsburgh, and Prague, too!

Advertisements

The hamstring injury that wouldn’t quit

Following the Chilly Half, I made it through one run before my hamstring seized up out of nowhere during an easy run. That injury, which I suspect was some kind of strain, took about two weeks to heal. I got back into a training groove for a week before running Around the Bay 30K (since I was already registered), knowing my legs were feeling heavy and that I probably wouldn’t be in prime condition. I didn’t expect any miracles but hoped to get in a good long run effort at marathon pace or if things didn’t feel great, I’d slow up and just check out the course for future racing opportunities. Fortunately, my hamstring had been feeling 100% all week and had no issues during the race.


I ran beside Josh Bolton for nearly the entire race and having him to work with made the kilometres pass quickly. Thanks for the help out there, Josh!

We started off around 12th place and began picking off guys who were falling off the lead pace. Eventually, we ended up in 7th and 8th positions without being overtaken by anyone behind us.

I was happy to make it through that hard effort without any hint of the hamstring issue, but four days after it struck again during a short marathon-paced tempo. I immediately pulled the plug and began the slow jog home. Last time I tried heat packs, ice packs, massage, and stretching and I think that maybe aggravated the injury a bit. This time I’m resting immediately and trying compression.

I could've sworn it felt like summer a few days ago…

A post shared by Aaron Cooper (@cooperaa) on

The timing of this second round of hamstring issues means I probably can’t get anymore quality workouts in before Toledo (3 weeks away) as I expect I’ll have another week or so letting the hamstring heal before just getting back into running regularly as the taper would begin. If I’m going to run Toledo, it will be on whatever fitness I’ll have managed to hang onto since Chilly 4 weeks ago. That’s not how I wanted to head into this race…

I can’t help but look ahead to the Ottawa 10K which is 5 weeks after Toledo. As the Canadian 10K road championship race, I really wanted to run a good one there and see how I stack up against that field. Part of me wonders (and was wondering a few weeks ago when this hamstring issue first came up) if pushing through with my plans to run Toledo will result in two mediocre race results instead of resting now, forgoing Toledo, and possibly running a better race in Ottawa. Hard to know. I’ll have to think on that this week as I nurse this hamstring back to health.

Chilly Half 2017

I wrote a couple weeks ago that my goals for the Chilly Half were A) 1:07:xx, B) 1:08:xx, and C) a PB (better than 1:09:30). I was pretty confident that I was back carving out new levels of fitness which is why I wanted a PB. My long tempo and threshold interval workouts were faster than ever. When I looked back on my training before the last half marathon I raced (Chilly Half, 2015), every workout I’ve run this winter blew them away. My mileage had been consistent and just a little higher than ever before. I’d encountered only a couple deviations from my plan this winter and I’d been able to correct-course quickly. Things had been going very well. I was primed for a good race after a couple disappointing marathons, a bunch of injuries and missed races, and—finally—a lengthy stretch of consistent training.

Chilly Half recap

I had all my gear packed the night before so all I had to do in the morning was get dressed and throw my bags in the car. The 2 hour drive to Burlington was a piece of cake as the 402 and 401 were deserted and I had the tunes pumping. Once I arrived, I met up with Mitch Free to get my race kit/bib and we found the hospitality area for the elites/VIPs. Having a warm place to hang out before the race was a huge perk and it was great to meet up with some other hard working runners like the GRE folks and to meet and chat with Canadian Olympian and marathon champion, Krista DuChene!

The big question on everyone’s mind was whether to wear shorts or tights as the forecast said -6°C with ~20 km/h wind bringing it down to -14ish. I decided on shorts after my warmup and I’m glad I did because I was sweating pretty good for the last 3 km of the race.

After the gun went and everyone found their place in the field, I think I was in roughly 10th or so. Over the first two km, Paul Rochus and I joined up and managed to pick a few guys off early. Around the first hairpin turn (~3 km), we rolled up on John Parrott and he joined us as we eventually reeled in Kevin Blackney around 5 km. John started to fall off our pack around 7 km and the rest of us remaining kept clicking away the kilometres, fighting the wind and averaging 3:13/km.

"A burden shared is a burden halved." [📷Edison Yao]

A post shared by Aaron Cooper (@cooperaa) on

We crossed the 10 km marker at 32:01 and finally made it to the second hairpin turn (~13 km), where we were ready for the tailwind all the way to the finish. Somewhere around 14 km, our pack started to fall apart as I found myself briefly in third after pulling away from Kevin and Paul. At this point in the race, I could still see Blair Morgan in second a long way up the road so I just tried to draw whatever motivation I could from the fact that there was someone in front of me. I could hear the crowds cheering “Rejean” and soon figured out that Rejean Chiassion had been gaining on me and he flew by me like I was standing still at 17 km. I told myself he must’ve been just trying to mentally crush me with that move and to just keep digging and chasing him down in case he slowed after passing me. I never caught him, but he sure helped me draw some extra effort from myself. For the final 4 kilometres, I was counting down the minutes… “3 km, that’s like 10 minutes tops – keep going!”

As I made it to the turn off Lakeshore Rd towards the finish line, I looked at my watch and it had just clicked over to 1:07. I could see the finish line and started hammering, almost sure that 1:07:xx ‘A’ goal was mine. I crossed the line with a fist-pump in a time of 1:07:46.

Thanks to Edison Yao for sharing this pic.

Post-race, I enjoyed talking with the other runners who I usually only interact with online (Strava), hearing about how their races went and what their upcoming plans are. Congrats and kudos all around – especially to Eric Bang on his new PB (1:10:55) and Mitch Free on being a few seconds shy of his PB after a few weeks of issues. Good luck to everyone tackling a spring marathon at Boston, Mississauga, or elsewhere!

What’s next?

I’m now officially signed up for the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH on April 23 – it’s only six weeks away now. Unfortunately, my body has kind of fallen apart on me after the Chilly Half. My immune system must have taken a big hit as I was sick the next day and I’m still dealing with a cold a week later. Also, my hamstring has been hurting since the day after the race so I haven’t done much running this week. I’ve been trying to use heat, massage, ice packs… really anything I can think of to help this hamstring heal but as it stands right now, I’m resigned to taking a few days completely off running after three days of minimal jogging.

My first thought when the hamstring issue appeared was that I’d bail on the marathon plans, take a week or two off to recover and absorb this good training I’ve put in up to Chilly, and then put in 8-10 weeks of focused training for the Ottawa 10K (Canadian Championship race). After a lot of thought and weighing options, I think I’m still going to give Toledo a shot. I’ve had good marathon results off really poor/inconsistent training in the past so I’m working to convince myself that the build-up doesn’t need to go perfectly to have a good race. I have some base fitness and I just need to bring that to the starting line and I believe I can improve on my 2:28:12 PB from Ottawa last May.

Time to wrap this post up. Hopefully I’ll have some good training to write about next time!  Thanks for following along.