Friday, August 10, 2012

Canada’s Olympic Marathon Team

What could possibly be more inspiring as an athlete than watching the world’s greatest athletes competing at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London?! I have not been able to catch much of the action, but try to at every opportunity I can get. It doesn’t matter what sport I am watching during the Games, but seeing the determination, strength, speed, grace, and all-round amazingness is a reminder of just what is possible when you put your mind and body to work. Greatness indeed can be achieved.

So naturally all running events I find particularly interesting, but I am eagerly anticipating watching an Olympic Marathon. Unfortunately, I missed the women’s marathon event that took place this past Sunday as I was out of town and remiss to program the PVR. But I have already programmed it to record the men’s marathon event this coming Sunday, August 12th – one of the final and signature events of the Olympic Games.

 Now I know what you’re thinking….isn’t watching people running for two hours boring? My response is, absolutely not. I think anyone can appreciate athletic greatness. Anyone who’s ever ran can appreciate running greatness. But someone in love with running as much as I am, can truly appreciate just how spectacular marathon greatness is. Marathon greatness combines speed, endurance, drive, determination and grace into an amazing just-over-two-hour package. As someone who recently completed a marathon, is training for her next, and has completed several half marathons, I cannot fathom the strength it requires these athletes to complete a marathon in the way they do. They can run a marathon in just a bit more than it takes me to run half the distance. It’s incredible in the purest meaning of the word – it is absolutely not believable for my body which works hard to train to do what it does, nor is it believable for my mind as it understands just how long 26.2 miles really is. But it is true indeed. And this truth must be witnessed.

It’s for the same reason that I love participating in races that involve looping around, rather than being point to point. Some people don’t like looping, because it means at some point in the race, you are going to see hundreds, if not thousands, or runners who are faster than you pass you. It can be disheartening and can mess with your mind. But for me, I love it. I want to know who’s ahead of me. I want to see them. Knowing that I’ve raced with greats such as Kip Kangogo and Reid Coolsaet feels good. While I was in no way competition for these athletes, knowing that they trained to race just as I did is another reminder of my own athleticism. We all love running for the same reasons. Whether we are great or not at our sport, our dedication, pride, and passion for lacing up and racing are something we share too. And there’s nothing like witnessing the elite runners passing you, larger than life, graceful, strong, fast, making going almost twice my speed look absolutely effortless.

So yes, this Sunday’s marathon, I’m eager to watch. In a race I see in person, I usually just see them pass for a few seconds. I don’t get to see the whole race. I want to see the whole race, their approach, pacing strategies, hydration strategies, mental focus, everything. To me this will be the ultimate running clinic.
And knowing we have three amazing athletes on the Canadian men’s marathon team makes it even more exciting to watch:

All three are incredible athletes, but of course I’m going to be most excited to watch Reid Coolsaet because I recently met him, and was so thrilled with his humility and kindness, acknowledging and congratulating me on my accomplishment at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. I achieved a personal best at this race, while Coolsaet won the race, finishing almost exactly 1 hour before I did. Not that there is any possibility that he will read this post here, but regardless I want to put it out to the blogospere that I think he’s a class act, and wish him and his teammates, Wykes and Gillis, every success in London this coming Sunday.

Go Canada!

  • Dylan Wykes (29), Hometown: Kingston, Ont., PB: 2:10:47
  • Reid Coolsaet (32), Hometown: Hamilton, Ont., PB: 2:10:55 
  • Eric Gillis (31), Hometown: Antigonish, N.S., PB: 2:11:28.

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