“Not bad for a distance donkey.”

On Wednesday I made my way out to London once again to hit the track. This time, I stepped down in distance to tackle the 3000m, or the “three bone,” as we used to call it in Markham Track Club. This race would be the shortest one I would run in over a year (unless one counts this year’s beer mile). In any case, it would be speed work compared to my 10k two weeks ago. It would be faster, more intense. In short, it was going to hurt.

Perhaps this gave me a sense of dread about my race on the morning on Wednesday, June 2nd. And it got worse. I slept in, in an attempt to get enough rest and hit my peak for the day in the evening at approximately race time, yet I woke up feeling exhausted. Thankfully, my (late) morning run managed to wake me up and shake the stiffness out of my legs. Then I found out from my doctor that my blood test results had come back and my iron levels were low. The blood test was part of my physical; I hadn’t been worried about my iron, but obviously it was a problem. This got me rather worried on race morning. I told my dad that while I was glad to have found out about the problem so that I could address it (in the past, I have been told that “everything was fine” after a blood test, only to look at the numbers months later and find out that my iron levels were on the low side for an athlete hoping to perform at a high level, just not low enough to raise to raise any concerns at the office, apparently), but I was worried that it would affect my race because I would be thinking my low iron all day and I would set myself up for failure. My dad told me to focus on what I could control today. Since my blood test was a week ago (only a week and a half after my 10,000m race), and since my iron levels couldn’t change drastically or bottom out in such a short period of time, I realized that I was working with the same tools I had when I ran my 35:17 on May 15th. There was no reason why I couldn’t put in another good effort two and a half weeks later. My dad also pointed out that I ought to look ahead too. If I could run that well with low iron, I could run faster in a few months once I get my iron levels back up. So I tried to put it out of my mind for the day and attempted to focus on doing what I could in the 3k with what I had on the day.

When we left Markham at about four, it was raining pretty hard and looking like an altogether unpleasant day to be running a track race. There were some slow stretches along the 401 where it was raining so hard that we could barely see out the windshield. Thankfully, my dad was driving, so I didn’t have to deal with the crazy weather. More importantly, I was able to nap for an hour or so in the car. I woke up just outside of London. By that time, the rainclouds had parted and it was beginning to look like a nice night for a track meet.

My race was a rather lacklustre performance. I felt decent on the warm up, but the first few laps told me that I was in for a rough race. My first lap was a 77 or so, which isn’t an absurd start to a 3k, but I was feeling it only half a lap later. My pace slipped to 80-point laps and pretty much stayed there for the rest of the race. Only three laps in, I was starting to hurt. This was pretty unfamiliar to me, since it had been over a year since my last 3k race. I didn’t realize 3:20 kms could hurt so much. I stumbled through the next few laps, keeping the pace steady but unable to pick it up. The only upside to the 3k was that it was over quickly. It wasn’t long before I was past finish line with my hands on my knees, wondering what had just happened. My time was 10:03.14, well off my personal best of 9:45.

I was rather disappointed with my race. I would like to be able to split 3k in ten minutes in a 5k race. However, it is still early in the season. I’ll need to get more speed work in so that I can run 3:20s comfortably for 2-3k. For now, while it is still early in the season and my focus is the 5k and the 10k, I realize that anything shorter will be a struggle. This has been the case whenever I run high mileage. Instead of getting discouraged over this race, it is better to focus on the fact that I’m pretty fit for the 10k distance. As my Queen’s teammate Trevor Walmsley put it, this race was “not bad for a distance donkey.”

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