There were some problems with my entry into the KBC Nacht 5000 in Heusden, and I spent a day wondering if I'd even be racing before I was placed in the "C" heat. I begged my case to the entries judge: "You have 27 guys in the "B" section field, can't you make it an even 28?" To which he replied "I am so sorry, we have field size limits." At which I thought Limits? 27? Might as well make it 30 or 40. I wasn't so cheeky out loud. The C heat turned out to be faster anyway, as the Americans made it honest in 81 degrees. Eric Finan and John Peterson shared the lead after the rabbit took us through 2k on 65 seconds / lap. Joe Bosshard had some balls in the final mile, leading until the last lap, which produced an exciting finish. I went around him with 350 to go but he re-passed coming into the back straight. I answered again on the final curve, and coming into the home stretch I thought I had it won until Finan blew by to win in 13:37 to my 13:38. Another 5k in the 13:30's, but in the conditions and given my effort I was at least content with it.
Just two nights later George and I were back on the track in Gent for a windy 3k. I got the win but was pulled right into drug testing. I got a bottle of champagne for winning so it wasn't all bad (I like to keep the cup half full...) When that was over with we "lite jogged" about a mile in street clothes into downtown Gent for Gentse Feesten, which was especially impressive since it was Belgian National Day. In short, we enjoyed a massive outdoor music festival set in amazing seventeenth century building - studded downtown Gent. My loyal readers know I sometimes use dancing as a recovery method, and the house music on the main stage provided the impetus.
|The 3000 at Flanders Cup Gent|
Living in Leuven where so many American, Canadian, and European runners base camp, I saw how other professional groups train and carry themselves. In one small Belgian town, a large part of our country's distance running strength was assembled. With the very athletes we compete against in the big meets and national championships, we took the train to meets, cooked, watched movies, shared gossip within the sport, and ran. The opportunity to run fast in a foreign land fostered community amongst rivals and friends, which was definitely my favorite aspect of the trip. Talking with everyone each day at the practice track and over dinner I learned everything from the training methodologies of various groups to who is happy where to what it takes to improve steadily through your twenties only to shave your beautiful beard.
|The scene at Gentse Feesten 2014|
I won two races and was second in two others during my tour in Europe. Racing near the front and winning builds experience and confidence. I ran tough, but the truth is that I didn't quite accomplish everything I wanted to overseas. The breakthrough I've been patiently working for did not happen. My performances were right on par with how I've been running for the past two years. I place high expectations on myself, and results I once would be elated with simply aren't enough anymore. That being said, I understand that I'm still adding water behind the dam. I was talking with team mate Cole Atkins yesterday, and he suggested that I've been working out too hard. More specifically, my pain tolerance has become so high that I don't realize I'm taking away from the races during workouts. That could definitely be part of the issue, as my workouts indicate I'm ready to run 13:15 to 13:20 in the 5k. The positive is that all that work is Stilin my body and it's not going anywhere. I can still use it in the coming years.
We added one more race to the end of the season, and I'm very excited about it. It's a new event called the Sir Walter Miler at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. It's a perfect opportunity to run one more fast mile before shutting it down for a few weeks in August. The event organizers are doing an amazing job of promoting and setting the event up to be spectator friendly and fun. They'll have food trucks, live music, and an after party at a brewery in Raleigh. These are the kinds of events we need in the US! They improve the popularity of the sport immensely. Stay tuned for a recap!