It is shockingly easy for me to become fixated on a single event or outcome and to lose sight of the processes that will elicit the result I'm after. It is over 6 months until the Canadian Olympic Trials in Montréal and while my mind constantly directs my focus onto that decisive event, there are still many weeks of training and racing that separate the version of myself writing this entry from the one toeing the line . . . To that end, I am truly enjoying the process of training and excited about the opportunities before me in the nearer future.
I wrote those words on January 8th, 2020, prior to my indoor season debut (a mile) and my first of two scheduled stints at altitude in the lead up to the outdoor track season. Fast forward to the present and I am once again preparing for a mile on the track and that second training camp at altitude. However, while much of the routine I find myself in now is familiar, there is the feeling that everything has changed.
Like everyone, everywhere, the rhythm of life has taken an unexpected turn over the past several weeks. I've grown accustomed to the predictability of a training and competition plan that lays out the order of my life for several months at a time. While I discussed in my last post the enjoyment of the process and a commitment to the individual day, the motivation for maintaining that commitment came from the natural building of intensity and emotion as key milestones drew near. With competition all but written off for the 2020 season and any international travel plans for training camps postponed indefinitely, it felt in recent days as if all the wind had been taken from my sails. Fortunately, I'm blessed to be surrounded (metaphorically, these days) by an incredible support network that remains committed to striving for excellence, even under the ever changing and unpredictable circumstances we're now dealing with. Yesterday, the International Olympic Committee announced the revised dates for the Tokyo Olympics, now set to take place July 23rd-August 8th, 2021. While the timeline has changed, the goals have not.
The new realities of adjusting training in our socially-distanced world for goals that are now likely over a year away have been cause for creativity. What was an electronically-timed mile on an indoor track in January is now an ad hoc time trial on my hometown track in Kelowna. The month-long trip to Arizona has been replaced with 4 weeks of willful self-isolation at my family's ski cabin in BC's interior (1750m above sea level). Under normal circumstances, these changes would have seemed ludicrous, and indeed they've taken me some time to come to terms with and accept as my new reality. Nevertheless, I'm excited to be taking chances I would never otherwise have had the opportunity, much less have been willing, to take.
My excitement for this journey into the unknown is buoyed by the momentum I feel I generated through the months leading into this current pandemic-era. The aforementioned mile race indoors (4:05) served as a great catalyst for a 25 day stint in Flagstaff, accompanied by Kieran Lumb, who took the camp as an opportunity for a quantum leap from an almost-sub-4 miler (4:00.03) to U23 record holder in the 3000m (7:45!). The two of us were graciously hosted by Rory Linkletter (the third in our trio of doppelgängers), his lovely wife Jill, and their wonderful dog/vacuum Kota. During altitude camp we gained a whole new appreciation for Vancouver's cool, wet air, ate plenty of Mexican food and continued our quest to know what, in fact, hard work is (inconclusive). What made Flagstaff all the more special was that Rory, Kieran, myself and a whole host of fellow Flagstaff transplants were gearing up for the same indoor 3000m in Boston on February 15th. A bunch of guys working together for a whole month to make the best Valentines Day weekend plans ever, what could be better?
The 3000 in Boston was my first foray onto a 200m banked track and I can confidently say it won't be my last! The anticipation for a fast race that had built over the preceding month coupled with the aura of BU's fast track created a perfect racing opportunity and I was thrilled to come away with a new PB of 7:48. After returning to Vancouver I switched gears to ramp back up for the Pan American XC championships. Any opportunity to compete for Canada in front of a home crowd is one I won't pass up and the organizing committee in Victoria put on a truly world class event. The course at Bear Mountain was a rollercoaster and racing purely off of feel was a great way to juxtapose the hyper-focused, lap counting and split calculating nature of an indoor race. While my racing season is shaping up to be an abbreviated one, I'm grateful for the few opportunities I've had thus far and know they'll serve as motivation as I prepare for the next race, whenever that may come.
As I mentioned above, I've returned home with my Fiancée (!) Camille to the Okanagan for the foreseeable future. While a month in Kelowna is not the way I (nor my parents) had pictured the beginning of our engagement going, it is just another example of embracing the unpredictability of the current situation. Beginning tomorrow, post time trial, is the altitude camp portion of our stay which I believe is the best of both worlds. After our great success as training camp partners in Flagstaff, Kieran Lumb has gamely opted to join my social-distancing-circle and hunker down (up?) with us at the Cabin for the tenure of our stay. We'll be able to live and train at 5700ft with trips to the sun and warmth of the valley floor in Kelowna (~1000ft) for key workouts. None of this is anywhere within the realm of what I'd imagined my 2020 season would look like. Circumstances change and with them plans and expectations. With new steps in place, I've felt a resurgence of focus and motivation. The metrics will be different than I'd anticipated, but I know I'm up for the challenge. For now, I'm ready to control what I can, do my part to flatten the curve, and take this for what it is, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast."