The last few weeks around here…

Someone should aggregate all the blog posts that begin with: “Sorry I haven’t blogged in so long.” It would make for interesting, or at least eclectic reading. There are a few posts that need to go up, so my apologies if the information here is slightly out of date.

First things first, I was out in Vancouver a couple weekends ago for the Canadian Cross Country Championships. It was a great, if brief, weekend. Team Quebec flew in at 10:30am Vancouver time, raced Saturday morning and afternoon, and flew out again Saturday night at 10:30pm Vancouver time. As Tony Larouche’s mom put it: “Un voyage sans chier.”

I was asked by the FQA to be the coach for the provincial group, and it was quite an honour to hang out with such talented young people. The results have been posted for a while now, but a quick summary: Jr women (136 finishers), Frédérique Latraverse was 5th. Jr men (145 finishers), Stéphane St. Martin was 15th and Nicolas Morin was 25th. Sr women (67 finishers), Meggan Franks (pictured above in mud!) was 21st and Dominique Roy was 40th. Sr men (79 finishers) was Emmannuel Boisvert 13th, Ryan Noel-Hodge 17th, Maxime Lapierre 25th, Anthony Larouche 39th, Daniel Blouin 47th. Those are solid results. The senior men missed out on the branch championship by 3 points, unfortunately.

I really appreciate that the Quebec Athletics Federation took the time to organize and fund (partially: each athlete paid $300 for a trip that included return airfare, hotel room, and race entry) this team. If this is your first time reading this blog, well, I’ll tell you a secret: I really like cross country and I think it is important for distance runners to do a xc season, either through school, or with your club. There is so much to gain: mental and physical toughness, race experience, variety in training. I think if we can encourage Quebec athletes to compete in cross country, and to extend their cross country seasons up to the Canadian championships, it will benefit them greatly.

It was also great to catch up with some old friends on the west coast, and to be able to wear the McGill colours for the first time, officially. I see people looking at me funny and I don’t know why, and then I remember…I’m getting used to it very fast. McGill has a very professional organization. They are a pleasure to work for. Old friends include Peter Cardle, Ellen Schappert and Thelma Wright. New friends include Gus Levins, the man who sired Canada’s current distance running superstar, Cam. We shared a couple bus rides and a walk down Robson street. Good man, that Gus!

That said, there are a bunch of other event groups who are itching to get going by this time of year, and so the indoor season began this Saturday at McGill. As the new race director, it was my first time hosting a track meet in Quebec. There were some hiccups, but we ran the meet on time, which is always appreciated!

Seriously though, I would like to explain the issues we had, and how we intend to solve them. There were some delays in the morning during the 60m and 60m hurdle events. These delays were due to the fact that some athletes did not check-in, and so were left off the heat sheets. In our official race document, we did not indicate that athletes had to check-in at a certain time. This was our mistake. That being said, as an athlete, I never read any meet info sheets, and I never missed a race. I showed up 2h to 90min pre-race, and the first thing I asked my coach or whoever was in charge was: where do I check-in? I am not sure how the athletes who showed up 15min before their race thought the process was going to go exactly.

There were some athletes who claimed to have checked-in, but were not placed on the heat sheets. Certainly human error is possible and these things happen. I think if the athletes who didn’t bother to check-in hadn’t been there, it would have been much easier to put in the ones who legitimately had been missed.

So, for the next meet on December 15th, it will be very clear that athletes should check-in AT LEAST 30min before their event. The first call will be 1hr before, but athletes can (and should!) check-in as soon as they arrive. This should solve the issue. This information will be in the meet package.

We did have a really great start line crew, both volunteers and officials. The sprints are notoriously problematic because there are so many heats to organize. Our crew did an excellent job of getting the runners to go where they wanted them to go, and quickly. We worked through lunch and made up time in the 300m and of course the distance events are rarely an issue for delays. The feedback I received on the field events was overall positive.

Meanwhile, one of the last performances in the Montreal Endurance singlet saw Elizabeth Mokrusa (pictured above) win the 3000m in a personal best time of 10:40.62. That’s pretty good for a marathoner. Actually, Liz will be focusing on non-marathon events in 2013, so we will see how much she can improve on her times with some specific training.

So now we gear up for the next meet on December 15th, the training has resumed for those who were taking a break after xc season, and I’m still going to coach school every Tuesday. I had planned to post much more of the great stuff I’m learning about, but, well, as the first paragraph says… But teaching has ended for the semester, so hopefully I will have time to go over my notes and share with you some interesting bits. I will say this: Olivier Trudel is a king among men. This guy might be the best coaching resource we have in Quebec. He’s an engaging speaker, an empathetic listener, and far too wise for a man of his youth! If ever you have the opportunity to work with him, do it. You will be better for it.