Still Running in Circles

 

Life has taken some crazy twists and turns recently. Running has been one constant. I’ve been consistently running around 50 miles (80 km) per week and trying to do two workouts, mostly tempos, or kilometre repeats at 10k pace, things like that. A lot of it has been on the treadmill. Josh and I had done a couple of light track workouts. A friend who I work with, Shera and I, ran together in the Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon on May 29, which was so much fun despite the hot conditions; we adjusted our pacing and worked together and were able to finish strong. The night before, Josh and I ran together in the Ottawa Race Weekend 10k, more to participate because we really hadn’t trained for it. Several of our Achilles athletes ran also, and a good friend who I knew from university at Guelph completed her first ever 10k, having just taken up running a few months ago. She did an amazing job, far exceeding her goal time, supported by a small entourage, all of whom sported tutus … why not!!

A poignant memory from that race for me is from the last few hundred metres. Josh has been injured and was not feeling good at that point. The crowd support along the course was fantastic and as we approached the finish, we found ourselves with a little spring in our strides, but because of the noise I couldn’t hear a thing. As we approached the line though, I could feel Josh’s arm, right there beside me. I knew that if I had sprinted, or if I’d been hurting and had to slow down, he would have still been there, and even without being able to hear, I could have counted on it. We’ve run hundreds of miles together over the last six years, through ups and downs, ebbs and flows. It was an emotional moment, a beat in time echoed back across the years, the measure of someone you know to be dependable, who is there for you no matter what … the best kind of friend you could have.

Having retired last year from competitive international running as it were, I’ve been trying to figure out where running still fits in my life. I’ve kept running, simply because I enjoy training, although it really hasn’t been hard training, nothing like before, and it wasn’t fueled by any clear competitive aspirations.

Then, right out of the blue, last weekend, I received an email from Athletics Canada, our governing body for athletics, asking if I had any interest in being considered for selection to the IPC Athletics Worlds team this summer. Because the qualification window extends back to January 2016, they told us that Josh and I were technically eligible based on 1500m times we ran last year.

Josh has been dealing with injuries throughout the year and hasn’t been able to train a lot, but another former training partner, Jérémie is back here in Ottawa over the summer – he is on a track scholarship in Pennsylvania – and was super excited when I mentioned this to him as a possibility and asked him if he might be interested in pursuing it together. We asked Josh, who coaches a group of high school athletes with our Ottawa Lions club, if he might consider coaching us also. Josh agreed to work with us; I’m really happy that he’s involved in this way.

To make a long story short, I hadn’t competed in a 1500 metre race this year, not since Rio in fact. Bruce Deacon, the distance coach for the IPC Worlds team asked Jérémie and I to prove our fitness this past Wednesday in a 1500 metre race; we needed to run 4:18.5 to be considered for selection, or just under 69 second per lap pace.

On Monday evening, Josh had Jérémie and I run a short 1500 metre pace workout, just 4 x 400m at 68 second pace together, my first time running at that pace this year. Aerobically it felt great, but going into the race on Wednesday, I was still feeling it in my legs, which just aren’t used to that kind of running.

In the end though, I think that workout made a crucial difference just in terms of getting refamiliarized with the faster pace. Jérémie and I ended up coming fourth in the race, running 4:14.5. Even doing strides beforehand, we were both feeling good; you know intuitively when things are working well. We ran our first lap in about 66 seconds, feeling relaxed, and got to 800 in 2:14, and I knew then that we were going to be ok. I felt good and was able to attack the third lap. We were 3:05 or 3:06 with a lap to go. I knew I was in new territory but it felt familiar also; old memories from past races die hard I suppose. It really wasn’t until about 200 metres to go that I started to feel the lactic acid. I just told myself to stay relaxed. Jérémie did a great job of pushing me but not pushing too hard. He had been nervous during our warm-up, but in what was his first time guiding in a race, he did an amazing job. We kept it together and had a good finish.

We were really fortunate to have good weather, the right kind of race, to be feeling good, to have the stars align. Its interesting … almost exactly a year ago, at a time when Josh and I were training hard, we ran 4:13 in a 1500 metre race together, just a second faster than last night.

I had told myself that no matter what happened, I would be ok with the outcome. Having been so fortunate to have had the long athletic career I’ve had, running owes me nothing. But that said, when it came down to it, I was determined to try as hard as I could to make this team once the door was open. Those who know me well know that Rio wasn’t the race I wanted to end my track running on. Most of us don’t get to choose the perfect ending. To have this chance to be a part of one more Canadian team along with Jérémie, and with Joshès coaching support is an amazing opportunity, one I certainly didn’t count on. A week ago, I was running primarily for fitness, and mental sanity. I still am, but there is a little more purpose to it now to be sure.

The Games will be taking place in London in mid July, so we’ll have about six weeks to do specific 1500m preparation, and there’s so much room for us to improve and to build on the training we’ve been doing to this point. We’re super excited to embrace this adventure together, to make the very most of it, to work hard, have fun, and leave it all on the track.

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Running for its own Sake

I’m writing this on a train heading to Toronto, on my way down to visit my parents in Hamilton. It’s a beautiful sunny Friday morning, headed towards the low 20’s … the kind of morning which really lifts your spirits. At this time of year, everything feels new and fresh and vital and alive. The birds sound happier in the mornings. You become aware of the push-pull around you as the seasons collide. Many of the mornings begin close to zero but even when it is cold now, there’s a different feeling in the air.

This past Sunday morning, I met up for a long run with a runner named Gilles who often runs with my brother. It was about 2 degrees when we started running at 8 am but we both wore shorts and a long sleeve, and sure enough, things warmed up quickly so that by the time we finished, the sun was strong and even the wind had warmed. It felt great to be outside and to be moving. We saw so many people running, walking, cycling … taking advantage of the outdoors, just as we were doing.

Life inevitably brings with it inertia at times. The sky may not always be clear blue. Like the push-pull around us, we have our own contradictions to try to make sense of. Running is one of the ways I find myself being able to do that. It’s when I’m running that I feel a sense of greater clarity. This is what compels me to get up at 5 am to run on a day like today. It’s running which helps me to feel connected with what is important.

Around me, I see friends who are developing their own unique relationships with running. I see them taking steps forward, defying gravity, going beyond their comfort zone and discovering themselves in new ways. Its these intangible things which make being able to train from day to day such a privilege. In as much as running is measured by seconds and distance, I’m coming to realize more and more that it’s what running gives us in and of itself which brings energy and meaning to the experience. Last year when I was training to try to qualify for the Rio Paralympics, I lost sight of this crucial part.

Over the past week I’ve been on three separate runs with guides who were working very hard because they wanted me to get the most out of the workout. I want those guides to know how much it means when somebody is willing to go beyond their own comfort zone for another person. I want to say thank you to each of them; and I want them to know that truly, their support in enabling me to be out there, working hard and chasing clarity is such a special gift.

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Language, Limits and Loopholes

When people ask me if I’m still running, my answer has been that following the Rio Paralympics last September, I officially retired from international competition. While this is technically true, it implies that I’ve called it an athletic career. The disclaimer which I usually add is that I’m hoping to continue to compete in some local races and that I’m still doing a little running.

 

When people ask how much running is a little running, I answer five or six times a week; in truth, six days would be more accurate. I’ve even run twice a day here or there. The first few times, I was surprised when people would say, that’s a lot for somebody who’s supposedly retired. And, well, I guess it is.

 

When I was training in the lead-up to Rio for example, I typically ran 6 days a week, although I would run twice on two or three of the days and our training was more systematic and targeted. I ran more than I do now. But the basic weekly structure both then and now is pretty much the same.

 

Last week for example, I ran 50 miles for the first time since starting back into running again in late January. I did two workouts – a tempo run on one day and a series of 1000m intervals and hill repeats on another – with easy steady running on the other four days. Almost all of it was on our treadmill at home. I’m hoping to get outside for more guided runs as the conditions improve.

 

So why do I continue to say I’ve retired when people ask? I do need to come up with a better way of explaining it because … because retirement implies that you’re finished. I tried to adopt that way of thinking back in the fall and it just didn’t feel right. Sometimes, we become trapped by our own language. To say I’m finished would be disingenuous.

 

Inevitably there are lines which we must draw, or which are drawn for us in life. I’m no longer part of the national Para Athletics program, and so I’m not trying to make an international team, do not have to provide my daily whereabouts to the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport anti-doping program, and no longer receive funding to help with living and training costs through Sport Canada’s Athlete Assistance Program. I’m learning, little by little to deconstruct the sense of identity which you derive from pouring your heart and soul into being the best athlete you can. You realize that life has more than one dimension. I’m home on Saturday mornings now and on most nights before 6 pm, compared to many nights when I’d be lucky to get home from the track before 9.

 

Previously, I would put running first and look for jobs which could fit around it. Now I’m trying to fit running in where I can. But to the extent to which my relationship with running has changed, in as much as it has a different tone within the music of my life than it did before, it still resonates with me at a deep level.

 

I may have fewer miles in my legs than I did a year ago, but there’s a new spring in my step. I’m enjoying running more than I have in a long time. There isn’t the pressure of trying to make a team or performing on demand as a national team athlete – it was an incredible privilege to have the opportunity to do so however. I’m running now truly because I want to, because it helps me to feel better, because it grounds me, and because it sets me free.

 

Next time I’ll write about the three, maybe four main races which I’m hoping to compete in this spring and summer. In the meantime, wishing everybody healthy and happy training. I also wanted to congratulate the Canadian Para triathletes who just returned from their season-opening ITU (International Triathlon Union) race held in Sarasota, Florida this past weekend. Each of them made the podium … fantastic job!

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Here’s to Glad

I was trying to think of a title for this blog and this is what came to me. It’s a line from a song I wrote recently about the idea of moving on. I think everybody encounters moments in life where they are trying to work through something, to come to terms with what has been and to move forward in the best way they know how.

The past year has brought with it some big changes. I started working at Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), previously Industry Canada, in April 2016. In March of last year, another athlete and I had been invited to ISED to speak about sport for athletes with a disability as part of a diversity and inclusion event. I met a Director General at the presentation who mentioned that she might have some work for me. It has been my experience that conversations such as this often do not go very far, but a month later, I found myself beginning a casual contract at ISED, working in the Corporate Facilities and Security Branch. Subsequently I was offered a permanent position within the Corporate Planning and Governance team in November. The timing, post Rio could not have been better. I was very fortunate.

Over the same time period, Josh my guide runner, Ian our coach, and I were attempting to navigate the process of qualification for the Rio Paralympics in the 5000 metre event for blind (T11) runners. It’s fair to say that the route we took was a circuitus one. Sport has its moments of poetry, and its moments of dissonance. The process became a grind. There was no element of joy in what we were doing. The tiny nuances of conversation, laughter, empathy and trust so critical to unity and forward momentum were in short supply. It was physically and emotionally draining. In the end, Josh and I barely squeaked onto the team after months of subpar training and racing, and not in the 5000 metres which we had been aiming for, but in the 1500, after things began to finally turn around in July, in the nick of time.

Rio seemed to come and go in a blurr. We would go on to finish fifth in a near personal best time of 4:07.98. At 39, after five Paralympics and 18 years as a member of the national team, it seemed a fitting moment to hang up my spikes.

Except that when the dust finally settled, my restless spirit awakened to a new, undeniable truth: that I was unhappy about the way things had ended, that it felt hollow and empty to walk away from competitive sport with the sense that I had still more to give.

I’ve spent time individually with both Josh and Ian since Rio. They are both friends, both good people who poured their time and energy into our shared project. I’m eternally grateful to each of them. I have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for the support and guidance, both literally and figuratively which each of them gave me in pursuing my athletic journey in recent years.

There has been considerable push-pull for me over the past several months in terms of retiring. There have been moments when I’ve been at piece with the idea, and others when I’ve felt haunted by the “what iff’s”. Through it all, Colleen has been incredibly patient, supportive and kind. I have some close friends whose lived experience of athletic retirement has been a valuable source of strength also.

A few months ago, a coach who is working with the Para triathlon group here in Ottawa approached me about the idea of trying Para triathlon. At first I was completely against it. I had just retired from track and in addition, as I told him, I “sink like a stone” in the water. He has continued to work on me though; evidently he isn’t one to take no for an answer.

At the end of January, I found myself as an unlikely participant in a mini Para triathlon training camp here in Ottawa, working out on a stationary bike alongside several athletes with aspirations of representing Canada in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games; these included Jon my brother, who himself competed on the track in the Beijing and London Paralympics, and Jessica Tuomela who is pursuing a second athletic career after representing Canada in swimming at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games.

This past weekend, I participated once more in a Para triathlon mini camp here in Ottawa. After a brick workout involving stationary bike intervals interspersed with 800 metre repetitions which I ran with local triathlon guru Rick Hellard, we trekked from the indoor track over to the Nepean Sportsplex for a swim workout. Here I was completely out of my element – it was my first time in the pool in years. I spent the session working on kicking with a flutterboard while the rest of the group undertook a series of 100 metre intervals.

Following the workout I found myself feeling a bit discouraged. The question which people have been asking me recently reverberated in my head: why would I put myself through something so foreign? After so many years of hard training, why bother?

An answer has begun to crystalize in my mind since Saturday. It has to do with embracing the opportunities which life presents us with, without judging them or weighing them against the past. Sport enables us to become remade, or to paraphrase Gilles Deleuze, it deterritorializes and reterritorializes us. We may never be able to revise the narrative of our sport experiences such that we feel a sense of perfect closure. For better or worse, we bear witness to the emotional footprints of our time as athletes; we study their contours in an attempt to understand where to place our feet in the journey forward, as athletes and as human beings.

To be healthy, to feel vital and alive, and to nurture a new “I am” in relation to sport that is informed by past experience yet free of any baggage is special in and of itself. So, here’s to new horizons, wherever they ultimately lead. Here’s to hope. Here’s to glad. Here’s to sport’s unique ability to recreate us.

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Racing Through the Base

It’s been a few months since my last post, and since we have the extra day of February 29 this year, I thought I’d really better get around to writing an update. Training has been going well over the past few months, with a steady build-up in mileage. I had just one small hiccup when I picked up a flu at the beginning of February which set me back a few days, but otherwise have been able to remain consistent. Beginning in early December I was at around 50 miles a week and since then, have worked up to consecutive 80-mile weeks. Last winter I ran just one week of 80 miles, so this is uncharted territory in a way. Over the past three weeks I ran 79, 80 and 82 miles. I’ll back off and probably run around 55 to 60 miles this week, and then go back up into the 80’s. The majority of it has been easy steady running, mostly around 7 minute to 7:30 pace done outside or on the treadmill, with some hills, strides, and the occasional tempo run. I’ve done one track workout, threshold mile repeats, on a day when temperatures were in the minus 40’s with windchill. I raced once also in a 3000 here at the Dome last weekend, running a slow time of 9:19.97 in what really was a rust buster. It was surprising how quickly Josh and I were dropped from the main pack in that race. With next to no track workouts, I just didn’t have any gears, but all in all it served its purpose as a hard effort coming from the strength end of things. I hope to go a little faster this coming Saturday when I plan to take another stab at a 3000.
Our approach to things this year has been quite different than what we’ve done in the past. In previous years, I would have been on the indoor track two or three times a week and would have been doing some hard sessions. We’ve found that every season inevitably seems to have ebbs and flows. I would do some very good workouts but then go through periods of staleness. This year with the ultimate objective to make it to the Rio Paralympics in September feeling fit, strong and motivated, we are really trying to have a linear progression as much as possible. Ian proposed that we stay away from the indoor track this winter and focus on developing a strong base, which to his mind would help to make me more resistant to injury and support the intensity and improved recovery when the time comes for harder training. Approaching things in this way made a lot of sense to me.
Running 80 miles a week without workouts can be on the monotonous side although I’m getting used to it. A typical week involves three double days where I might run 12 miles in the morning and 6 in the evening. Josh and I will run 13 to 15 miles on another day, and then I’ll have two days of running 6 to 8 easy miles, and generally take a day off. I’m feeling great and am adapting well to the mileage. The plan is to transition into a little more intensity beginning in April. We’re going to travel to the San Francisco State Distance Carnival to compete in a 5000m on April 2, where Josh and I hope to get the Paralympic T11 5000m A standard which is 16:30. Once again we will not have done anything too anaerobic prior to that race so will be going on our strength. After that we’ll spend the following week training in and around Berkeley which is our coach Ian’s alma mator, and where there are apparently some great trails and hills also, so it should be a good spell to begin to work into the next phase of our training.

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A New Season, A New Reason

As the nights grow longer and the approaching holiday season signals that another year is nearing its end, you become aware of the passage of time. Its difficult to believe that we’ve nearly completed another cycle. From a running standpoint, this was a fairly big one! Josh and I competed in two major championships. The first was the Para Pan Am Games in Toronto where we came away with second in the 1500 metres and first in the 5000 (albeit because of a disqualification). The second was the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar in October, where we survived a 5000 metre race of attrition to come away with second (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8JVDnyTsIc).
Having extended our season into late October means that I’m only now getting back into regular training after having taken a much-needed two week break. Following the high point of Para PanAms, where I felt Josh and I ran well but which I came away from with a lingering “what if” feeling, it was difficult to pick up where we had left off. We are used to having a break at the end of the summer and with Worlds looming, we just couldn’t afford to shut it down as we normally would. Things certainly did not progress in a linear way as we continued training into September. Having backed off a little right after Para Pan Ams, it was difficult to get going again and I felt rusty, with motivation at a fairly low ebb. I had even contemplated whether to go to Qatar, but in the end resolved that any opportunity to face our international competition would be more than worthwhile, given how infrequently we get to do so.
As part of our build-up, Josh and I ran in the Army Run 5k road race on September 20, finishing 10th in a slow 16:46. At one point in the race, I remember thinking that I would be ok with whatever time I ran or whoever beat me because I didn’t have any fight. This was not the competitive mindset which I am almost always able to draw on – I’m sure it was a symptom of a long season.
Three weeks later Josh and I were heading with the team to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, where we would spend five days acclimatizing to the heat and eight-hour time change before taking the short flight over the Gulf to Doha, Qatar. I had picked up a cold at the end of September and it had curtailed our training such that I had missed some key workouts. As Ian put it before we left, I would be short on race fitness but we would have our experience to draw upon.
We were able to fit in a couple of small track sessions touching on 5k pace– one in Sharjah and a second in Doha four days before the 5000 final. These were fairly critical workouts given the training I had missed and getting refamiliarized with race pace. They were probably too close to our race to have a lot of physiological benefit however. I went into it with little real sense of my true fitness which is unusual going into a championship race, and coupled with this I hadn’t been able to shake off the cold.
In terms of race strategy, we had envisioned trying to be near the front but not leading, and conserving energy and covering any moves as the race developed.
Early evening race temperatures in Doha were in the mid thirties, which we expected would temper the pace, but this was not the case as the Brazilian, Odair Santos and his guide took out the first kilometre in a speedy 2:57. Although they did not run aggressively like this at Para Pan Ams, this style of running isn’t unusual for them. Cristiano Valenzuela, the 2012 Paralympic 5000 champion, and his guide from Chile, followed them closely, and the Turkish team went out hard also, so that Josh and I found ourselves in a distant fourth place despite running 3:06 for our first kilometre. I was basically flat out and despite Josh’s encouragement, for me it was a matter of minimizing the slow-down, as opposed to picking up the pace.
After about 2000m, we caught up to the Turkish team and started edging away from them. A lap or so later, they would drop out. For most of the way from here on, Josh and I sat in nomansland in third place. Santos and his guide had opened a big lead over the Chileans, who in turn had a significant margin over us; we had no one behind us within 50 metres. At one point we closed the gap on the Chileans a little I think, but then the Chileans picked it up and got away on us again. I remember hearing the bell as Santos and his guide started their final lap while Josh and I were running the curve prior to entering the home straight – we were probably 150 metres back. At this point I had slowed to 79 and 80 second laps – “Dead pace” as my friend Matt Stacy calls it when you’re just surviving in a 5k.
As Josh and I ran down the backstretch for the last time, there was a collective gasp in the stadium and the announcer screamed in English that Santos had gone down. Josh instantly yelled, “Jay we’ve gotta go now!” There wasn’t much energy in my tank but I put everything into it, fully expecting that Santos was too far ahead to catch. However as it turned out, he was exhausted and unable to stay on his feet. He would stagger and crawl his way to the finish line with help from his guiderunner to place fourth, only to be later disqualified because his guide had aided him. It was a sad thing to run past the two of them on the home stretch and to hear the desperation in his guide’s voice – poignant even in a foreign language. It had been a race with eight starters and only five finishers, run in brutally hot conditions. Even Josh, who is a big fan of heat, would complain about it throughout our time in the Middle East.
Running 16:11 for 5000m, and finishing a distant second to Valenzuela and his guide, who improved a lot over the ensuing two months since Toronto, is not at all the result I had wanted but in retrospect given our less than ideal preparation, illness and the conditions, I know we gave it our best shot and came away with a result that we can build on. Although as I have said above, progression in running isn’t always linear, I think the lessons of running are. Over time we learn how to keep going and to dig deep even when we’re up against it. I think by trying to remain positive, doing what you can do and not giving up, things can sometimes change in ways you would never expect.
Now that the dust has settled and having had a good rest, I’m excited to get back into the regular rhythm of training again and together with Josh and Ian, begin to plan for the year ahead – the Paralympic year. I think this may well be my final competitive season on the track, so perhaps more than at any other point in my running career, I’m hoping to get it right. When I look back at the past year, there were many positives – notably a personal best over 10 km on the road at the Ottawa Race Weekend, our success at Para Pan Ams and Worlds, and getting back to within 5 seconds of my 5000 metre personal best from 2012. At 38 now, I’m still at the top of my game and still believe I can run even better. But I also found myself working through periods of extreme fatigue at certain points this year, particularly after our stint at altitude in Flagstaff, as well as leading into Para Pan Ams, and during our build-up for Worlds. I picked up a cold which seriously impacted our Worlds preparation and which persisted for six weeks. In retrospect, there were a few points where I probably pushed the envelope a little too much and this is something I really need to be careful about. I may try to incorporate some planned rest or down periods over the season, take it a little easier on recovery days and recovery runs, and really focus on good nutrition as well as sleep to try to keep on the right side of good health. It is consistent, steady training over time which will lay the groundwork for good racing. If we do this well then I believe the results will inevitably come and there can be no regrets. So as the temperatures drop outside and we turn inside to examine what has been and to envision a new way forward, I’m excited to build on our progress from this past year, to learn from the mistakes, and to put my best foot forward every day.

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Looking Back

Its been a strange, rollercoaster of a summer. From a training and competitive standpoint, it went pretty well. We came away with Para PanAm gold over 5000, running my third-fastest 5k in a race where we actually finished second to our Brazilian rival Odair Santos, only to see he and his guide get disqualified because of an obscure technicality (they had registered two guide runners prior to the race but only used one). We also won 1500m silver, losing out in a close race to Santos and his guide. I’ll try to post the race videos – the site where these are hosted seems to be down at the moment.

Our Para PanAm preparations went well. After a couple of fairly mediocre races – a 28:33 run in the Achilles Hope and Possibility 5-miler in Central Park, New York City, and a 16:20 5000m at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in early July, things turned around fairly dramatically. This happened in large part I think because I switched back to running on Josh’s outside. For about two years now, we’ve been working on having me running on the inside and hence, covering less distance on the track. Although this should in theory give us an advantage, it simply hasn’t translated. I guess its difficult to break old habits which have been engrained for years – much to our coach Ian’s frustration I think. Josh and I have raced a few 1500’s with me on his outside during the past two years and the difference in terms of level of comfort, and my ability to push through fatigue and dig deep is significant. Its not that I’m especially uncomfortable running on Josh’s inside – its that I feel automatically so much more comfortable running on his outside.

We took an important step forward at a Twilight meet on July 15 by running 15:39.74 in a 5000m race where we got dragged along. The following week, we ran a 4:11 over 1500m and followed that a week later with a 4:10.

Away from the track, I found out on July 21 that I would need additional documentation in order to undergo the process of classification necessary to be eligible to compete at Para PanAms (this is the process where your disability is assessed so as to be matched against athletes with a comparable disability). I had been told that obtaining a letter from my family doctor explaining my disability would be enough, and I had done this. Now, obtaining the medical diagnostic information which I apparently needed was going to be difficult. To make a long story short, I visited an optometrist who referred me to an ophthalmologist, who in turn told me that it wouldn’t be possible to have some of the required testing completed in Ottawa on short notice. I was very lucky as I was able to get two appointments in Toronto to have the necessary testing completed due to some cancelations. I travelled three times to Toronto within the space of eight days and in the end, was classifiable …!

I think the back and fourth travelling, coupled with hard training, had me going into the Games a little more tired than I would have liked. I also slightly tweaked my right Achilles the week before we moved into the Para PanAm Village. What was supposed to be an incredible experience and amazing opportunity to compete at home was starting to feel like an uphill battle in terms of just getting there.

I’m happy to say that our Games experience was positive. We raced well and although I think there’s always room to work on race tactics, and room to work on some different things in training to be even more prepared, we competed well against some of our top competition. It was nice to have so much support behind us and to have family and friends in the stands cheering us on. I also want to thank everybody who supported us from afar and who sent messages, Josh and I greatly appreciated it. The Games received a lot of great coverage and Josh and I found ourselves in the spotlight also, particularly after our gold medal win.

The Games, perhaps the pre-Games, took a lot out of the tank however and I was glad when all was said and done to come home, and to have had these past couple of weeks to wind down. I had a birthday last weekend – #38. My parents came up to visit and we had a nice weekend. I took nine days with very little running, and spent last week building back into some consistent runs. Its been exciting watching the IAAF World Championships and especially seeing Canadian athletes performing at such an unprecedented level. We have our own IPC Athletics World Championships coming up in Doha, Qatar in late October – a fairly quick turnaround from one championship to the next.

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