Well, that was a fun little weekend in Berlin. My last blog post was about my desire to find more fun in my running endeavors. I can safely safe mission accomplished. This weekend was definitely one of the most enjoyable experiences of my running career.
A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from brother Pete, he had been talking to Shalane Flanagan’s husband Steve and her agent Tom. The Flanagan camp was in search of some capable pacers to help Shalane at the Berlin Marathon. She would be attempting to break the American record and she was looking for some escorts to help her along the way. My name came up and Pete contacted me to see if I was interested. I pretty much accepted immediately.
I am a decent runner, but more than anything I am just a huge fan of this sport. So when the opportunity came about to be a personal pacer for one of my favourite runners, at one of the biggest marathons in the world, there was really no other choice than to pack my bags, dust off my 10th grade German skills and get on the plane.
It was a quick little trip, but man was it ever rad. I arrived in Berlin late Thursday after a long and arduous travel day. I love going to all sorts of different places, but good god, the process of getting there grinds my gears. It may be a pretty big 1st world problem, and I’m sure Louie CK would disapprove but man the travel process may be my least favourite thing in the world. Elon Musk has gotta get going on that Hyper Loop thing.
After the combination of delayed flights, a missed connection and some other snafu’s I arrived at my hotel at 10pm Berlin time. A nice little 18hr travel shit show. I was kinda wired so I snuck in a quick 45min jog to try to shake the travel. I ran through the Tiergarten, around the Brandenburg gate and down the barren Berlin streets. By the time I was done my jog I was happy, refreshed and excited to partake in this adventure.
Early Friday morning I met up with the other pacer, Ryan Vail and Coach Jerry Schumacher. We ran the last 12km of the course. It was immediately obvious as to why this course has had so many world records set on it. Sucker is flat as a pancake, the roads are smooth and the turns are gentle. It is a marathon runners dream.
The energy and atmosphere around the meet hotel was pretty electric. Berlin in one of the 6 World Marathon Majors, and it has a tendency to produce some special races. I was feeling super excited to get going, but I was also feeling a bit of pressure. There was a lot of media buzzing around, and the internet was quite active with pre-race thoughts and analysis. This race was clearly a big deal and I didn’t wanna be the knob that screws things up! It was super comforting knowing that I would have Ryan Vail right there helping as well. Dude is a stud marathoner in his own right with a 2:10:57 PB.
On Saturday I met again with Ryan and Jerry as we covered the first 10km of the course. Again, flat, fast and awesome. As the race drew closer the nerves began to increase. I knew I was fit enough to get the job done, but at the same time there was a very small tinge of doubt. To break the American record of 2:19:36 we would have to average 3:18/km, and I was committed to a minimum of 35km at that pace. As I was thinking about the numbers behind this effort I got kinda scared, holy hell this was going to be a pisser of a long run!
Sunday morning arrived and we were presented with a perfect day to do some marathon running. This was the most nervous I had been before a race in a long while. I have missed that pre-race emotion and anxiety. Man, I was fired up. Ryan and I warmed up together, reconfirmed the strategies and laced up our boots, we were ready to take our girl on a little tour of Berlin.
I have met Shalane several times before this race, and each time I have been so impressed with how down to earth and genuine she is. She is literally the sweetheart of American distance running. She has an Olympic medal, several American records and an endless list of other accolades. And now here she is on the start line of the Berlin Marathon, she has a ridiculous amount of expectation and external pressure on her, yet as the starter announces one minute to start time, she turns to Ryan and myself and expresses her sincere thanks to us for rabbiting for her. It was quite humbling.
The gun goes and it’s on.
Ryan and I immediately went to the front and established the pace. We were also joined by a Belgian runner whom was there to pace the Japanese runner. What I was not expecting was the hordes of other dudes whom decided to latch on to our pack. Fair enough, sub 2:20 is a pretty big milestone, so ya can’t fault them for getting in the pack. Still, they were kinda annoying at times. All those dudes owe Ryan and myself a beer at very least.
After the chaos and confusion of the 1st few km dissipated we were able to settle in and get to work, 33:00 at 10km, 66:00 at 20km, 69:38 for the half. The Belgian was long gone, the pack had settled, and the record attempt was on, Shalane was looking great and rolling strong.
But like it has happened to thousands of other runners, in thousands of other marathons, at around 32km the pace began taking its toll. We backed off briefly in attempts to regroup. Just as that was happening a train of Ethiopian women came streaming by. For a lot of runners this would be pretty demoralizing- Shalane was already in her own little world of hurt, then these ladies just show up and float on by. This is when Shalane showed just why she is one of the best in the world. She kept completely calm and focused, she didn’t flinch. She waited, regrouped and then she dug the hell down! she began to fight back! (I have no idea where this strength came from, when this happens to me I usually start whimpering and drooling on myself.)
Over the course of the next few km’s we caught the girl in 3rd (Bekele), then at around 38km we caught the girl in 2nd (Tadese). It was awesome man, Shalane was suffering, but she was competing so damn hard, she was even attacking. I couldn’t help but get excited, my fandom started to emerge. I was running and cheering at the same time. I have to apologize to Shalane for anything I said here, I was getting a little worked up.
Shalane and Tadese locked on to each other and for a good 2km these girls fought each other tooth and nail. Finally the toll of the early pace caught up and Shalane was bankrupt. Shalane ended up finishing 3rd overall in 2:21:14. A big PB and 2nd fastest American woman ever. It was an amazing effort. When you come into a race like this looking to do something so special it can be easy to become demoralized and give in when it starts to unravel. Shalane ran until she physically broke, but at no point did she ever mentally waver. It really was an amazing thing to see.
Ryan and I ended up taking Shalane 41km (we were strictly instructed to step off there). It was great having Ryan there, because that was a friggen hard effort. It got quite difficult at times, hell I even doubted my ability to keep going at points. At 32km I was really cursing my decision to not taper just a little for the race. Shit man, that really stung. It was so damn good to have another guy there to help monitor the pace and keep things steady.
The physical exertion was hard. but the most difficult part for myself was the mental side of the effort. Usually during long runs and long races it is nice to just shut off the brain and run. The less thinking the better. We didn’t have that luxury on Sunday, we had to be aware and alert the whole time. It was kind of exhausting, but I that was my job, so no complaints there and in the end that was a really cool experience.
Gotta give a huge thanks to Shalane, Steve, Tom and Jerry for inviting me to this event. I was honored to be given such responsibility. They are an awesome group of people, The Bowerman Track Club really has a special thing going there in Portland.
Also huge thanks to the Berlin marathon for being such great hosts.
Kudos to Ryan Vail for being a cool dude and great co-worker, best of luck to him at the NYC Marathon, hope he kills it!
Also shout out to Shalane’s Dad, Steve Flanagan and the rest of her support squad, such nice people.
Finally big ups to the fine folks at the Boston Marathon (Mary Kate), London Marathon (Dave Bedford) and Mr. Tim Hutchings for the delicious post run Pilsners. Always great to hang out with these people. One of the highlights of this trip was a heated, 4pint deep debate on the prospects of the 2hr marathon.
Okay, so that whole endeavour was awesome.
I have heard a bit of criticism, and it is apparent that a few folks had their reservations as to whether it was a good idea for me to do this 3weeks out from my own marathon in Toronto. Fair enough, but the run itself was not an issue, sure it was quite a hard effort, but got in a great long effort out there, I would have been doing something very similar back in Vancouver anyways. It also allowed for perfect practice for race day planning; I did my exact pre-race routine, experienced race day emotions (I was friggen nervous man) and was able to get to practice race fueling and get a taste of that atmosphere.
I was able to roll a couple steady runs on Monday. No worse for wear there. It was the travel that beat me up a bit. But to be honest I’ll take 3 or 4 days of heavy legs and slight fatigue in exchange for the HUGE mental and emotional shift that has occurred as a result of this weekend. I needed that and now I can’t friggen wait to line up and give it a go of my own in Toronto. Onward to STWM my friends.
So I decide to get the blog going again and then the first thing I do is run a terrible race. Lame. I could talk about the race, but that really wouldn’t be too much fun for anyone. I think I’ll just make 3 quick points and then move on;
1. Kelly Weibe, frick yeah!
2. Another great event from our friends at CRS.
3. It was hilarious being heckled by addicts and homeless folk during the race, gotta love East Van!
Ok, so that race wasn’t so awesome for myself. Actually pretty much all of 2014 has lacked a certain level of awesomeness. So what’s my deal? Why have I become a crappy runner? I’m not 100% sure why, but I have a theory. Can you lend me an ear? I have some things I wanna talk over. This may get weird, but sometimes you just gotta talk (write) things out to try to make sense of it all. I apologize in advance.
*Note before going on: This is all on me. I made all these decisions and choices on my own. Obviously there are outside opinions and such, But in the end I decide the things I do and how I do em’.
2013 was an awesome year for myself. I ran PB’s in the Marathon and Half Marathon. I placed well in big races and I had a lot (a lot!) of fun doing it. It was a spontaneous, exciting and free flowing. I did what I wanted, trusted my gut and lived in the moment. 2013 was pretty friggen rad.
After 2013 I figured I was on the verge of a big breakthrough, I figured that 2:10 was right around the corner. I just had to be more focused, more disciplined, be more “Professional”.
Coming into 2014 I changed my approach and took on this mindset of “professionalism”. I tried to do everything the “right” way. There were things that I wanted to do this past season, opportunities I wanted to take *cough, commonwealth games, cough*. But I chose not to because I thought they would interfere with my ultimate super elite goals. Fun took a back seat, but that was ok because I was being professional, and in the end I was gonna run wicked fast. Well, I have yet to run a good race in 2014. It has been frustrating because in my head I am thinking “what the hell? I’m doing this right, I’m being professional, why am I running like a ballsack?”
I’m just trying way too hard to be a proper pro. I’m doing this, that and everything else in an attempt to do things the way I think they should be done. It looks good on paper, but in reality there is a big problem. The problem is simply that it’s being forced, it’s not natural. It’s all so regimented and serious. That approach is lame. I have always run for the simple joy and love of the sport. I happen to have become decent at it, that’s pretty rad, but what’s the point of doing it if I can’t have some fun at the same time?
I have been influenced by what others say about me. You know how many times I’ve heard people say things like “Rob could be good if only he were more serious.” Or, “If Watson would just focus more on running and less on cookies and beer he could be really good…”
I read those things and I let it influence my mindset and decision making. I went against my gut and tried to conform to this industry standard of how an “elite” runner must act. I’m annoyed at myself for letting that get to me.
Everyone works differently. Everyone has different motivations, driving factors and goals. Along that same vein, there are also many different ways to approach things. Many different ways to tackle your goals. I strayed from my natural flow. I tried to force a different path. That clearly has not worked. I have to stick what has worked for me in the past. I have to stop trying to be a pro runner, and just run because it is what I love to do.
Don’t get me wrong. I work my balls off, and will continue to do so. I want to run a 2:10 marathon. That will take a lot of hard work, that will take a lot of sacrifice. But given the proper mindset, hard work is fun, sacrifice is necessary. I don’t mind being sore and tired all the time, just as long as I am doing it right, doing it on my terms and the way I want.
I will continue to chase my dreams and I’ll keep living this running life. I just have to remember, although running fast is fun, there so much more to this sport. The people I meet, the places I go and experiences I gather, these things can be just as rewarding and fulfilling as running a PB.
Okay, so that is what I’m thinking. I’m gonna right this ship. Onward my friends.
Well, hello there.
Recently I have been getting quite a bit of flack about my lack of blogging. I guess this flack is fairly well deserved. I mean, I did just pretty much quit outta the blue. No warning, no farewells, just straight stopped, went for milk and never came back.
I have thought about this blog a few times since I stopped. I like this blog, I miss this blog. I miss connecting with all you fine folks. I have come to a decision- I figure that it’s about time to pull up my boot straps and get back on this blogging horse.
So without further ado. Let’s blog this shit.
Alright, I’m not even gonna bother trying to catch y’all up with what I have been up to since my last post. Just go ahead and assume that I have been training a lot, dating tonnes of sexy ladies* and pretty much just killing it all around.
Let’s talk running. Right now I am stuck right deep in a marathon build. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is a little over 5wks away. Once again I’ll be lacing up the boots and giving it a go there on the mean streets of Hogtown.
I’m excited for STWM2014, I think this will be a good one. I am super stoked about the new course layout for this year. Last year the course was awesome…up to 36km, then it was pretty lame. There was a sharp 180degree turn at km39. Seriously, who the hell has the physical or mental capabilities to navigate such a hellacious manoeuver 39km into a marathon. It was bogus man.
This year though, this year they got it right. They got rid of the lame parts and this new course is looking right sexy. There is pretty much a straight shot home from 33km, and better yet, much of that is run coming back the opposite direction of other runners. I love when courses do that. The latter stages of a marathon can be fairly lonely. After 30ish k I often find myself in no mans land running solo, slowly dying both mentally and physically. I love seeing the other runners out there, my brothers in arms, fighting the good fight together. I pull energy from them, they pump me up. It also makes me feel better about myself when I am suffering mightily at 37km and those poor bastards on the other side of the road are only at 28km (I kid!…kinda.)
So yeah, Toronto, October 19th. New course is gonna be rad.
I am also excited to be joined in Toronto by youngblood Kelly Weibe. Now, I will never give predictions for 1st time marathoners. The race is just way too gnarly and you never know how people are gonna respond come 38km. But this kid has been preparing very well and I think he could run himself a good one. Kelly has the fire, I would know, homeboy has been scorching me on the regular out there on the roads.
Well, I’m exhausted. My writing over the last several months has been confined to 140 character bursts. I’m cramping up here, carple tunnel or something. I’m gonna stop, but this time I promise I’ll be back. I have a little race on Saturday, maybe I’ll tell ya about it next week.
*got matched with a girl whom may, or may not have been sexy on Tinder. I’ll never know because I didn’t actually attempt to talk to her…
Let’s start by talking about something awesome. Something that I am pumped as hell about. I got a new sponsor! Forerunners Running Company. This is the store that I have worked at since moving to Vancouver. They have always been amazing with their support, flexibility and encouragement. Now they have taken it to the next level. They have decided to make a commitment to become an official sponsor to myself and Dylan Wykes.
Peter Butler owns the shop, he is a 2:10 marathoner and one of the stalwarts of the Vancouver running scene, a good dude just looking for an opportunity to give back to the scene. Himself, Karen and Todd have made an amazing commitment that will go a long, long way in allowing me to continue to chase my dreams. I can’t really express my gratitude enough, and I am stoked to have this opportunity to represent a company that I already love and believe in. It is just so friggen ideal! So if you happened to find yourself in Vancouver come by and say hi! and if you are coming by feel free to bring cookies, we always love us some cookies.
Now let’s talk runnin’. I am already two races into my 2014 season. I’ve got an 8km and a Half Marathon under my belt .
Let’s talk about the 8km real quick. Raced the Pioneer 8km in Saanich on Jan 12th. I wanted to win and I wanted to run under 24:00. I did neither. Initially I was quite bummed. But after letting it simmer for a bit I got over it. I got beat by a really strong runner in Geoff Martinson, and even though I missed my time goal I was able to run pretty hard and was pretty darn close, 24:02 isn’t bad for Jan 12th. If anything this race was a nice kick in the pants, a reminder that this game ain’t easy, gotta work hard to get the desired results.
I recovered well from that 8km, put in a few good sessions and then this past weekend I headed down to Phoenix to race the PF Chang’s rock n’roll half marathon. The goal here was to see where my fitness was for this longer type stuff. Wanted to see how much fitness I managed to maintain after the holiday binge of crappy (delicious) food and beverage.
The tactics for the half were different than the 8km-there we just got off the line and gave it hell. For the half I really wanted to run a controlled and progressive race. With proper execution hopefully I could hit my goal of going Sub 65min.
Before I start let me talk real quick about this Rock n’ Roll series. There was a lot of news last year when the Rock n’ Roll races cut their elite support. There was a tonne of negative publicity, outrage and bad press thrown their way. That was warranted, because it was a horribly lame decision.
When I told people that I was doing a rock n’ roll event they were all like “why you supporting those lame wads?” well folks. Here’s the deal, after that cluster fluff and all the negative press and outrage over the lack of elite support the Competitor group (rock n’ roll’s boss) saw the error of their ways and promptly fired their two head dudes. These dudes were the knobs whom made the decision to get rid of support. So they’re gone now, and slowly but surely Rock n’ roll is re-introducing their elite program.
For example, for this race to Phoenix they paid airfare, hotel and meals. They also offered prize money and time bonuses. Oh yes, time bonuses, always love me a good time bonus; it was $1000 for a sub 65min half. Hence the sub 65min goal.
Now that we cleared this up let’s chat about the race. Race was good. It was an absolutely stunning day for a road race, I would go as far as to say it was as close to ideal conditions that I have raced in for a half. The gun went off and away we went. I got out nice and hard, I quickly realized that this would be a solo affair as I put 50m on the group in the 1st 400m.
I tried to settle in and relax during the early goings on. 1st mile was a bit quick @ 4:49, but after that I chilled and started hitting 4:56-4:58. I was feeling groovy and life was good.
At about 7miles the course started a gradual climb and I felt my first little hint of fatigue. I had to increase the effort to stay on pace, but it wasn’t too bad, I figured that I’d be fine. At 9miles we turned a corner and headed up this big, stupid hill. This hill was a grind, and it just happen to be right when things were starting to hurt anyways. I had to work quite hard on this bad boy, it hurt, but I managed to get to the top feeling decent. I was pumped when I crested that hill, because the course was all downhill for the last 3miles. I figured I would roll from there and crush 65min!
That didn’t happen, that didn’t happen at all! Instead of feeling great and crushing the downhill my body started to rebel. I started sucking. I was starting to suffer pretty good in the legs, but the most annoying thing was that my body decided that it wanted to poop. It happens to us all at one point or another. It’s part of the game, but man what a shitty feeling (lame poop pun win!).
Ask yourself this question folks; would you poop your pants in public in front of thousands of people for $1000? It is a tough question, and one that I had to ask myself at around mile 12…I decided no. No I would not poop my pants in public for $1000. Final time; 65:03. I regret nothing.
Those last three miles were so damn lame. I knew that I was right on the cusp of that 65:00 zone. I tried to relax, and I tried to run well, just didn’t happen. Oh well, win some lose some.
Huge thanks to Dan, Tracie, Jennifer and the whole RnR team for putting on a great show and having us out there. I also got to meet legendary badass Steve Scott, overall great weekend!
So that’s that for the early season. I would say that it’s been a success thus far. I didn’t reach all my goals, but I have managed to find myself in substantially better shape than last January. All systems are go to attack this upcoming season. Next stop will be the 1st Half, Half Marathon here in Vancouver on Feb 16th. Not gonna lie folks, I am super pumped about 2014, it’s gonna be an exciting year!
So here’s something else new, this is in regard to LeBlogDuRob. I am going to be moving the host of this blog over to CanadianRunning magazines website. But don’t worry they promised me that they would not edit or sensor anything I say. I can still talk about beer, girls, balls and boobs…I really should talk about boobs more, boobs are awesome.
Some may call me a sellout over this decision, and those that do would be 100% correct! CanadianRunning has offered me tens of dollars as my new host. Reality check here folks; in this life on the grind every damn cent matters! It’s gonna be cool though. The Canadian running people are my buds and they are also giving me the opportunity to write some stuff for their print magazine. I have my first article coming out in the next issue. How cool is that? Can’t wait to tell girls that I’m a pro writer, chicks dig writers.
That’s that, onwards and upwards my friends. Life is good.
Hey Folks, this weeks Post is a little different. This week I am pumped to have a guest blogger- My Dad!
Pops has always been a rock and he’s been there every step along the way. He has written up a history of my running endeavors of sorts. Hope you like it, Thanks Dad, love ya!
It Takes a Family to Raise a Marathon Runner
Robbie D has been running for less than 24 years … he didn’t start competing seriously until he was almost 7 when he successfully completed the London, Forest City 10k. The race officials were initially reluctant to let him enter until it was brought to their attention that his 2 older brothers, Peter and Michael, had been routinely winning their age categories for several years. Robin (aka Robbie D) was soon joined on the roads by his 8 year old brother Scott as they began a serious but friendly sibling rivalry that lasted for 6 wonderful spring-summer road race seasons. They had some classic head-to-heads at the Crim Races in Flint MI, the Huron House Boys Race in Sarnia, the Port Huron to Sarnia Race, the New Hamburg 8k, the London Forest 10k and one memorial battle at a July 4th 10k event in Ottawa. Somewhere in the attic or behind the furnace at the longtime family home there is a large dusty plastic container full of plaques and medals collected along the way. Somewhere buried in that collection is the medal from a race run in the pouring rain in Sarasota, Florida where Robin captured the under 12 age category – the medals that day were handed out by John, the elder, Kelley of Boston Marathon fame. The Robin-Scott rivalry came down to speed versus focus and determination – Robin became the grinder with relentless mental toughness that quite often overcame Scott’s superior speed and style.
Family Roll Models
Even before Robin joined the chaos on the pavement he had been subjected to several years of being wakened early, forced fed a quick breakfast, packed into the back seat of the family mini-van and trucked off to a Saturday and/or Sunday morning road race. Brothers Peter and Michael were veteran road warriors of considerable early success. The expectation of running hard and winning was passed on from the older brothers to the younger pair …. from a very early age Robin wanted to run and he wanted to win. Scott didn’t feel nearly as much pressure and gave up running when he discovered girls and other distractions. Upon reflection it has become a strongly held family belief (it has grown from a mere suggestion to a theory to an unassailable belief) that the most important single event leading to Robin’s continued focus and resultant success after those early formidable years can be directly attributed to the impulsive family trip to Peter’s Big East Track & Field Championship meet held at Rutgers University when Robin was about 16. The weather was warm and sunny, there was excitement and competitive energy in the air, and Robin was exposed to a joyous gathering of several hundred physically impressive track athletes (including long legged females in shorts) having a fantastic time – what could possibly be better? Immediately, as the myth/theory/belief goes he became obsessed with eventually becoming part of that lifestyle.
The Road Leads to ??
So far the supportive parents have been to – (the first 20 or so that come to mind) – Houston, Berlin, San Diego, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Washington, Eugene (very memorable) Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph, Sarnia, Windsor, Terra Haute, Minneapolis, Fort Collins, Boston, Morgantown, Storrs, Flint, New Hamburg, Columbus …. The results at these venues were mixed but always memorable. The Steve Prefontaine Classic, Eugene, Oregon, June 7, 2009 was a last minute decision, and a truly magical experience, where Rob Watson – Canada delivered his fastest career Steeplechase …. sometimes just being there was the reward for past efforts such as a World Championship meet in Berlin or an NCAA Championship meets in Sacramento or Terra Haute …. other times it was the gratifying performances at a Conference Championship in San Diego or a National Championship in Ottawa or Toronto that reinforced Robin’s will to compete, and justified the sacrifice necessary to continue. We don’t spend much time remembering the difficult days – I think Robin learned that valuable trait as an oft-struggling /slump prone goalie in his hockey and soccer days.
Coaches and Family
Coming from a family including an Olympian Aunt, a CFL uncle, a World Champion cousin, a NCAA scholarship brother and a dedicated hard running mother it can be traced to the Grandmother (aka Dodie)as having provided the athletic genes. The father provided rides to the track, some financial support and the early FFTF strategy (fade from the front) which works up until you get a real coach. And nothing can diminish the support of the family fan club lead by sister-ln-law Kristin, Aunt Jill ( of Olympic background), brothers Scott, Michael and Erik (whose lack of an in-house sibling to rival leaves him as a great natural talent as of yet untested.)
Parental evaluation of coaches and opinion about coaching strategy is of very little importance and should be avoided in the best interest of the athlete – having said that I must confess that I haven’t always (actually never) adhered to that truism …. I’ve routinely given unsolicited advice but don’t expect it to be followed …. and because I personally knew some of Robin’s excellent coaches better than others (Sean Cleary of West Virginia was very important and brother Peter, now at Virginia, coached him to his fastest 2 marathons to date) it doesn’t mean that I don’t acknowledge that Robin has obviously had quality coaching at all the stops along the route or he wouldn’t be where he is now. Great work from Dave, Paul, Del, Brian and DST. Moving forward coach Rich now is at the helm with lofty goals.
Today, December 26, 2013, Robin won the Hamilton Boxing Day 10 miler in 49:52 – a successful day’s effort … it was icy, cold with a nasty wind off the lake but a good opportunity for Robin to get in a hard run and for the parents to watch their little Robbie D run faster than all those other boys.
Hey, I’m gonna do the standard year in review here, but before I start with that let me share two quick short stories.
First off, I managed to sneak in one last race before this year came to an end. I headed up to Hamilton for the boxing day 10miler on the 26th. I have done this race twice now, and it’s safe to say it’s one of my favourites. This year was the 93rd edition, I dig all the history and tradition that this race has. I also love going back and racing on my old stomping grounds. Always fun to re-connect with old friends and to get the opportunity to meet new ones.
This race also gave me the chance to chase a win, I have run a whole whack of races this year, but I only won one of them- my first race of 2013, the Vancouver 1st half, half marathon.
So I headed up to the hammer with the moms and pops, t’was a brisk winter morning and sadly I was battling a nasty migraine (I get these bastards every so often, they are friggen terrible!) Fortunately though my legs were fine and I was ready to give it a solid roll. The goal was a hard effort and the win. Managed to accomplish both objectives. I hit 49:52 for 1st place. Hopefully within the next 12months I will be able to roll that pace for 26.2.
Thanks so much to the organizers and volunteers for providing yet another fantastic racing opportunity. Shout out to Stallion for hooking me up with a comped entry! Cheers.
This other story has nothing to do with running. It is all about beer, buds and Brian Mulroney.
I made a trip up to Guelph this past week. Plan was to catch up with my Guelph crew over a bite and some pints. Was planning on keeping it pretty low key…that didn’t happen at all…Not. Even. Close. The beers started flowing and they didn’t stop till the houselights came on and we were $526 in the hole.
There were shenanigans folks. I’ll spare the details, but a few things stick out; A guy name Lloyd owned at Karaoke. One of the dudes hit on a girl with braces. One of the dudes sang backup to Lloyd in Karaoke. And then there was Brian Mulroney.
Seriously there was a guy at the pub whom looked just like Brian Mulroney, and he was hammered! He also happened to have a walking cast on. It ws weird, I was curious. I sought out answers.
“ Hey Brian Mulroney! What happened to your leg?”
“eh? You talking to me?” Mulroney had a pretty thick French accent.
“Yeah man, you look like Brian Mulroney!”
“Yeah dude, what happened to your leg?”
French Mulroney was not impressed, not at all. He probably got this all the time and he had had enough, he snapped! “Eh, F**k you” Our belligerent ex-prime minister exclaimed as he reared back and unleashed a mighty front kick in my direction.
Despite being old as hell, drunk as a skunk and on a broken leg, I’d be damned if that kick didn’t connect! Brian Mulroney kicked me folks. He kicked me hard and he caught me flush… right in the dick. Gosh darn Brian Mulroney kicked my wiener.
The dick kick certainly hurt, but I couldn’t really be mad. It was hilarious, and I was just having too much fun with my buds. Man, what a night. When you are having good fun with good friends not even a kick to the dick can get ya down.
Okay, so anyways let’s do a year in review.
2013 was friggen rad, I loved it. I have been blogging pretty consistently, so I don’t figure that I need to go into too much detail here. Let’s just do a list of my top 5 running highlights;
5. Impromptu Ottawa Marathon; Went there to run a 10k, ended up racing the Marathon, and had a blast doing it. The Ottawa marathon is a very cool event. A world class event in one of our finest cities. Always great to win a national championship as well!
4. PB in Toronto; Great way to finish up a very busy year. I was tired heading into this one, both mentally and physically I was just holding on. Luckily we got a glorious day and I managed to hit a PB. It was a small PB, but still faster than I have ever run that distance before. And like I said before, if you complain about a PB you are an ass.
3. World Championships; Great trip overall. Team Canada was brilliant. This was my favourite national team experience to date. I also had a good race. It was a performance that I was very proud of. I ran smart, controlled and tough. My best race execution to date.
2. Vancouver scene; Stuff is coming together here. We have talent, organization and support. I can’t wait to represent my city in the coming year, things are gonna get very fast out here!
1. Boston. To this day the highlight of my running career is leading the Boston Marathon through Wellesley College. Absolutely surreal experience. Ok, ok, I blew up and finished 11th, but my time in the front, holy crap man- I can’t articulate how much fun that was, how exciting that was and how damn terrifying that was! The last 4miles of that race was absolute agony, but I regret nothing!
The events after Boston would fall as the low point of my year. The confusion, shock and fear that accompanied the attacks was terrible. But despite the tragedy, it was uplifting to see the power of the human spirit persevere in the end. It was inspiring to witness people came together in a singular effort to help and support their brothers and sisters. There will always be evil out there, but as long as we stand together, love each other and hold each up, we will never be down for long.
I could easily list another 10 highlights, but this is all in the past now. It’s time to focus on 2014. I gotta move forward and get better, I gotta get faster. 2013 was a success, and I have a feeling that 2014 is gonna be fast.
Top 3 goals for 2014;
1; 2:10:59. I gotta run a fast marathon. 2:13 is pretty good, but 2:10 is just sexy as hell. I want that!
2; 62:29. I need a faster half marathon time. I love the half distance. I wanna go to the NYC Half on March 16th and roll me a fast time.
3; Win! I gotta win more races. I race a lot, but I don’t win enough. Winning is fun. Girls dig winners.
Ok, so that’s that. No wait! Not quite. I gotta say thanks so much to all of you whom read this blog. I receive a tremendous amount of love and support from you guys. It is really friggen cool. I absolutely love this running community. It is always great to meet new people and chat with fellow runners. I dig that we can share our experience and work at this grind together. So let’s get out there folks, let’s hit the roads, let’s hit the trails and let’s own 2014! Onward to fast my friends!
Hey, It’s been a while, sorry about that. I’ve been putting this one off, but I guess it’s time to break the news.
Wait! Before I get serious let’s talk briefly about natties XC; In the slopfest down at the beach The Point Grey team defended their title, Luc pulled off the win and I came 7th. It was a good day, XC is so much fun.
The race was fun, but the weekend left me feeling kinda old. First and foremost I got beat by a whole bunch of friggen 20yr old kids. It was absurd, these young bucks were just flying around in that mud with reckless abandon, while old man Watson over here tried to find the dry spots in attempt to save my ankles and keep my shoes clean (double fail). Gotta give a quick shout out to Cassidy and his Victoria crew, great race by the kid and solid group of dudes all around.
The kids not only handled me with ease on the course, but I also got my butt kicked at the after party. I cannot handle all that beer and alcohol like I used to! I have to apologize to that one kid who bought me a shot of tequila; dude, when you took the shot I discreetly poured mine on the ground and then pretended like I took it by making that weird post shot face and eating the lime. If I had taken that shot I woulda thrown up all over ya. Sorry bud.
Overall nationals xc was a terrifically fun weekend, can’t wait till next year!
Ok, now I gotta get serious on ya.
I have very mixed feelings on this. It is exciting, yet heart breaking at the same time; I’ve switched coaches. Richard Lee is taking over my coaching duties.
In the winter of 2011/2012 I was at a cross roads in my career, I wasn’t super thrilled about this whole running things and I was floundering a bit. I was mentally shot and physically useless. This was when I left the Guelph scene. Guelph was great to me, but I needed a change, I needed to find the fire again.
This is when Pete came into the picture. Despite his full time responsibilities as an NCAA coach and himself going through some big changes (UNC-UVA) He immediately took me on as an athlete. It was a classic big brother move; The little brother was bummed and the older bro steps in to take care of his own. From the very beginning Team Watson was rad as hell. I loved working with Pete (and Kristin, she was always the heart of the team!) With Pete my career was re-vitalized, I ran PB’s, I made national teams and I got the fire back. 2013 was by far the most fun and successful year of my career, team Watson killed it.
Sounds like everything is working just fine right? Why not just keep rolling? The reason for this change has nothing to do with Pete, he is a brilliant coach and I know that under ideal conditions he could get me where I need to be, but that’s just it; conditions need to be ideal. There are two big reasons why this change had to be made; Training partners & Geography. I need to put myself in that ideal position.
Currently I am a 2:13 guy, that’s decent, but I need to be a 2:10 guy (maybe even a 2:09 guy.) To get to this level I need to get better, much better. There are many examples of people doing this on their own, just getting out there and doing the work alone. I have been on this solo grind myself for the past few years. It is fine 90% of the time. But sometimes I’m just not mentally strong enough to do it on my own.
When you’re on the 3rd lap of your 6th mile repeat you can start to crack, when you are 25km into a 30km tempo you wish to hell there was just someone there to tuck in with. I may sound like I’m going soft, maybe I am, but man oh man, It’d be nice to just not have to think so much sometimes, just tuck in with a buddy and run.
With the formation of the new BCEP group I have access to a plethora of awesome training partners. Dylan W, Kelly, Luc, Rich, Dylan G, Kevin, all these dudes are great runners and good friends, and it is nice to just roll with the boys and be part of a team again. To utilize these guys to the fullest I gotta do the same workouts as them…just follow that stream of logic to see why I ended up making my decision.
The second reason is Geography. As you may already know, I love Vancouver, I have a massive boner for this city. I will live here until I die. (I will also be renting the rest of my life! http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2013/12/vancouver-vs-beverly-hills-what-4-89-million-will-buy-in-real-estate/) Pete has a sweet gig in Charlottesville, he has a great job, nice new house, spoiled dogs and a rad wife. We are both firmly planted in our respective cities…4000km apart. I’m at the point where I need eyes on me, and Rich provides just that. He has a brilliant eye, Richard is a world class coach…once again, follow my thinking…
I should point out that despite the lamness of leaving Pete I am excited to start working with Rich. Dude is a wicked coach and I am very excited to work with him. I have total trust and faith in his abilities. He has proved himself to be top notch and we get on well. It’s gonna be fun.
This whole switch thing made me pretty sad. But in the end Pete is still my brother, I love the hell outta him. Kristin is still my favourite sister, I love her too. I won’t really miss the dogs, but I’ll miss team Watson. It was a rad ride. On to the next chapter folks.
Ok, this one is gonna be short and sweet. Well, it’s certainly gonna be short, can’t guarantee the sweetness.
1st off, huge congrats to the UVA guys and gals on some great runs at NCAA XC champs. The dudes really got their stuff together after some sketch early season performances and nailed a 13th place finish. I gave a hearty fist pump when I saw the results, great friggen job boys! Gotta send a shout out to my boy Kyle King on his 18th place finish, All American, nice.
This UVA result got me pretty pumped to get back on the grass and mud for some XC action of my own. I’m getting after it tomorrow at the Canadian XC championships here in Vancouver.
I was super excited to have the opportunity to race some cross country again, it sure has been a while. But my attitude may have slightly changed after I actually put on a pair of spikes (for the 1st time in 3 years) and did an xc workout (for the 1st time in 3yrs). Oh dear god folks, I. am. terrified! I suck at cross country. I used to be good at it, but years on the roads have spoiled me. I’m used to nice smooth surfaces with true footing. Last weekend I jumped on that course and within 100m of my first interval I was slipping and sliding all over the damn place. I might come last place, man I sure hope I don’t come last place. So here’s the race plan: get out there, give it hell and beat at least one other poor bastard.
I take solace in the fact that win or lose I’ll still have a cold beer and good friends to celebrate with afterwards. Because after all folks, it is still all about the cookies and beer. Good luck to all whom are racing tomorrow.
Oh man, I have some exciting news. Well, at least I find it to be exciting. You may be indifferent to the whole thing, but I’m right stoked. What I’m talking about here is the formation of a sexy new training group out here in Vancouver.
The British Columbia Endurance Project (BCEP), headed up by Coach Rich Lee and currently consisting of 9 athletes is up and running (pun win). I have a feeling that things are gonna get speedy out here folks.
I moved out to Vancouver for several reasons; I really dig the fact that for $5 I can get enough sushi to feed a family of 4 (or 1 distance runner in the midst of a 150mile week). I love the security knowing that I am never more than 100meters away from a coffee shop, and I greatly appreciate the fact that there is a never ending parade of cute girls walking around in yoga pants. But the biggest reason as to why I made the westward move was because in my opinion, this city provides the best training grounds in our country. Amazing trails, temperate climate and all the resources that an athlete could ever need. We even have the world’s largest ice bath right outside our door! It’s ideal!
The only thing that was lacking when I first arrived was a focused, cohesive “elite” group. There was plenty of fast people in town, but everyone was in their own groups doing their own thing. Dylan W, was a big reason why I came out here, I wanted to train with that guy, but when I got here he had jetted off to Ottawa for a year. It was lame.
Things have changed though folks. First off we got DW back. Vancouver also picked up a low stick when Kelly Weibe moved out here this summer. The scene is also benefiting by the fact that Luc B. decided to get fast and Rich Mosely has come out of his semi-retirement, and we have D. Gant and K. Friesen whom are pretty darn good once they get of their road bikes. We have all come together under this project and it is a very exciting thing.
Huge thanks to Rich Lee for inviting me to join the group even though I’m coached by Pete. If there was one thing that I have been lacking in my training over the past 18months it has most certainly been training partners. I have had lots of long, lonely workouts. No more man, no more! I can’t wait to work with these guys. Looking forward to chasing these dudes all over the trails and roads.
Huge amounts of credit to the folks at BC Athletics for organizing this initiative. Also massive thanks to Viasport for funding this stuff. A lot of people put in a lot of hard work to help this vision come to fruition. Good stuff team.
You wanna know what else is exciting? Cross country. Cross country is exciting. Nationals XC is coming up in a couple weeks. For many of us Cross Country was our first foray into the awesomeness that is long distance running. Remember being out there as a punk kid? Just running round those fields without a care in the world, having the time of our lives. Cross Country running is a beautiful thing man.
Vancouver is hosting the Canadian National XC championships on Nov 30th. Despite the fact that I don’t own a pair of spikes, and I am not particularly fit, I couldn’t resist the temptation, I’m gonna race that sucker. It’s just too much fun. I’m excited to lace em’ up and haul ass around Jericho Beach. Hopefully I can do well enough to help the team secure that team title.
Okay, so I should probably go train or something. Have a great week everyone!
Did you know that you can bake a cake in the microwave? It’s true, I’ve done it before, twice actually. It was on Sept 16th 2000. My parents had just gotten a brand new microwave, and this baby was sweet. There were the standard settings and buttons and such. But along side the popcorn, pizza and de-frost buttons there was a Cake button. A cake button? Weird right? Weird, yet intriguing.
My buddy Todd was over when the discovery of the cake button was observed; “Dude, this microwave has a cake button!”
“really? that’s amazing, wanna make a cake?”
“Yes, yes I do”
Todd and I promptly nuked up two delicious cakes. One each for my friends Eric and Brett, both of whom had just celebrated their 17th birthdays.
Todd and I delivered the cakes to the boys, needless to say Operation Nuke a Cake was a huge success. The cakes were moist and delicious, both Brett and Eric were grateful to receive such thoughtful and yummy gifts.
Cakes are always a great way to start your Saturday evening. Us four boys were all feeling pretty good about ourselves. Scrumptious cakes and good friends, what more could you want? Well, we were 17, we knew exactly what we wanted. We wanted beer and cute girls.
We were chilling out at our other buds house and we hit up ICQ in attempts to search out leads on beer and/or girls. After a little digging we caught wind of a party going on. The party was across town however, one of us would have to forgo the beer and just stick to girls. Eric agreed to drive, he had his eye on a cute little 10th grade ditty and he had to be on his game (note, none of us had any sort of game at all). We all packed into Eric’s Pontiac Sunfire and headed west.
We were rolling down Comissioners Rd. Weenus’ Teenage Dirtbag was on the radio, we were chatting about boobs and just being generally weird. The Sunfire was about 100m behind an SUV as we crossed Wonderland rd. All of a sudden off a side street came a random car, a car with a horrible driver. How do I know that said car had a horrible driver? Because this dumbass slammed the gas as he took the widest damn turn in the history of turns. Idiot car clipped the back of the SUV. The impact caused idiot car to lose control and he was now barreling right towards us. There was no time to react, bright lights, screeching tires…this was gonna suck.
I clenched my teeth as I braced for impact. Idiot car slammed into us head on. I was jerked around a bit and I slammed the hell outta my head on the head rest in front of me. I mean, I smashed that sucker hard! It was lame.
After a few moments Eric was the first to speak “oh man, I hit my head on the steering wheel so hard!” Brett then chimed in “arghhh! Get out of the car!” I had never been in a real car wreck before, but Hollywood had taught me that the car would probably explode soon. So we all piled out of the car and threw ourselves on a random lawn.
After a few seconds of rolling around and being dramatic we realized that we were all pretty much fine. Todd spoke up “I’m good guys!” I assessed my own situation “Yeah, I’m good too!” Eric; “Smashed head, but all good here!” (Eric was probably concussed, that kid used to get concussions all the time!) Brett was a little banged up; “ahhh, my shoulder…ahhh”.
Cops rolled over, an ambulance showed up and a whole lot of hoopla ensued. Brett had to be taken away with a separated shoulder or something, Brett was a wuss.
Luckily all of us had worn our seat belts, a paramedic informed us that if were were not for the seat belts he would have been “Scraping us off the road” The massive welts on my shoulder and hips could attest to that. It was the seatbelt that had caused Brett’s shoulder separation, but those things also probably saved our lives. Shout out to Ralph Nader!
One by one each of us were interviewed by the cops to take our statements. I had a nice chat with the cop, he pretty much agreed that driver of idiot car was indeed an idiot, and he had almost killed us. To end the interview the police man asked if I had anything to add, anymore comments?
“Yeah! Canada won our first gold medal today!”
Cop;“Really, which event?!”
Me; “Triathalon, it was awesome!”
Cop; “Well, that’s just fantastic”
Me; “Go Canada!”
I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember watching Simon Whitfield hammer that 10km to finish off that triathlon and win the gold. I was pumped, my friends were pumped, the whole damn country was pumped up.
Simon Whitfield became a Canadian hero on that day. That was just the beginning. Over the years he continued to be a relentless warrior, role model and overall fantastic ambassador for endurance sport in Canada. Dude could tear it up on the track and it was so cool to see him lace em’ up and get after it at the National Cross-Country Championships. His race in Beijing was one of the most inspiring and badass performances I have ever seen. He has done it all, and he did it all as a true Canadian and gentleman should. Always humble and courteous yet tough as friggen nails and ready to fight to the bitter end.
Simon retired a couple weeks back. It is always sad when one of your role models hangs em’ up, but that’s part of sport. Just wanted to say thanks to Simon for everything he has done. What an absolute beauty!
Alright folks, so in other news. I have dicked around the last couple weeks. Spent some time in the hometown of London Ont. Headed to Colorado and then jammed out with the family in Palm Springs. I am back in Vancouver now and ready to get back to work. Time to get back on the grind. I will run another marathon in the spring. But first and foremost I am going to really focus on tapping into my speed. I want to get in a pretty full track season in which I will race a few 10.000’s and 5000’s. I can’t wait let’s get at it!
Have a good one.