Upcoming events –

Napa-Sonoma Half Marathon, July 20, 2014
Noble Canyon 50km Trail, September 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Report from Couran Cove!

Today was great. I woke up feeling tired and sore. My muscles were still achy and not completely recovered from Saturday's 30K workout here on the island. I knew that I had a real tough track session ahead of me, though, so I put all the fatigue out of my mind and simply thought about walking fast and relaxed. I knew that a positive attitude was the only thing that would get me through.

We got a later start than usual because we had to take a 30 minute ferry ride to the mainland and the brand new "Super Sports Centre". The four of us American walkers and Ecuador's Jefferson Perez were joined by a large support staff that helped by encouraging us, giving us water, and reading us splits.. Andrew, Curt and I, who are competing at the 50 kilometer distance, were faced with the challenge of 5,000 meter intervals, four of them with five minutes of rest in between each. Tim and Jefferson, who are "only" racing 20 kilometers, had 8 x 2k with slightly less rest.

Before every workout that I do, Coach Pena gives each of us a specific goal to focus on during the training session. A few days before we left the US for Australia, I had done a similar speed workout on our Chula Vista Marina 2.5k loop course. My pace had been about 4:30/km or 22:30 for each 5k.

Right before today's workout, coach asked how my legs were feeling and I told him, "Tired. I feel as though I have already done the first three 5ks and this is my last one instead of my first." With that in mind, coach suggested that I walk the same splits I had walked two weeks ago. "You may still be tired from your travels and the hard workout two days ago, but you can do this workout." I replied, "Okay coach, I'll try. I'll do my best." And then, with a chuckle, but sternly, he said, "No, Philip. You don't try, you will do it. You have no choice. Okay, go." (For a second, I thought I was Luke Skywalker listening to Yoda's words of wisdom.) That was when I knew, despite how I felt, that I would have a good workout. Now I just had to go out and see how good it would be.

During the first interval, for the entire 12 1/2 laps around the 400 meter track, I felt the fatigue and soreness creeping in on me. I had to tell myself to relax, let it pass. And it did. Slowly the fatigue and heaviness in my legs lifted like a fog. My legs felt stronger, my movements more coordinated and smoother. It never felt effortless as it does some days, but over the next two intervals I was able to pick up my pace just a little bit.

At one point, Jefferson, who was resting between his 2k intervals, yelled at me, "Just a little bit more, give just a little more," and when I asked my legs if they had more to give, they just went a little faster. My first 5k was 22:44, just getting loose. The second was under coach's goal pace for me, barely, 22:25. By the third I was over halfway and still alive so I figured I'd go a bit faster, 22:08. And on the last one I decided to just go for it and see how much I could take, see how long my tired legs would last at 4:20/km (6:56/mile), and I came through in 21:35. It wasn't a PR, and last year I may have even done 4x5k faster, but it was the best I have done this year and gave me a lot of confidence. Coach asked me, as I was starting my cooldown, "If you can do that when you feel tired, what will you do when you feel great?" Good question. I have another four weeks to get some answers.

That's all for now. We leave the island tomorrow on the 10:30 ferry for the Marriott in town. We've got a bit of a scandal/problem with Jefferson training with our group. The head coach got a bit wacky this evening about not permitting support staff, use of U.S.A. facilities, etc. We may have a bit of a crisis in the next day or two. I'll let you know more.


Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Report from Couran Cove!


I'm here at the business centre at Couran Cove, the island resort a few miles from Brisbane, Australia. It's awful nice here with so much to do and see and we've had quite a good time already. Coach Pena, Jefferson Perez and Tim Seaman arrive today, sometime this afternoon, so perhaps it won't be quite as relaxing as it has been thus far. The training has been going well, though, as we become adjusted to the new time zone and weather conditions.

When we stepped on to the island from the Big Cat ferry ride, there were "agile" wallabies there to greet us. The island is just off shore from southern Brisbane, about an hour's drive from the airport, but it feels like it's in the middle of the tropics somewhere.

On our first full day here, I got up early for one of the resort's "Guided Nature Walks". We were bird watching... and there were so many birds. The coolest named bird was the Willy Wagtail, a small black and white bird with a long black tail that it wags back and forth in order to stir up insects. The resort mascot, a large bird of prey called a Whistling Kite, was sitting on a big dead tree overlooking the mangrove swamps that encircle two-thirds of the island. It then took off and soared over the gum trees to a more secluded spot. Then there was the pair of sulfur-crested cockatoos that are huge and noisy. While we were walking, we also saw a Golden Swamp Wallaby, larger and more scarce than the ubiquitous Agile Wallaby that can be seen all over the island, even next to the swimming pool.

But the coolest things I saw yesterday were during our two training walks. Just as we started the first walk, we saw a large white king-fisher... except it wasn't really a king fisher because it was HUGE. When we got back to the room, we looked it up and it's a Kookabura, one of the Olympic mascots.

Then while we were wandering off the main trail, we heard a large rustling in the bushes and saw a huge, and I mean six-feet long, scaly and split-tongue flicking all over, LIZARD! It's called a Goanna and looks like an over-sized iguana. It was a bit startled and climbed straight up a tree, straight up like a squirrel, until it was ten or fifteen feet off the ground. Very cool.

During the afternoon workout, we heard more rustling in the bushes and stopped to dig around a bit and found a little spiny anteater, also known as an Echidnea, our second Olympic mascot of the day. It looked just like a porcupine with long quills all over its back. Now all we have to find is the duck-billed platypus.

The weather has been great, sunny and mild. In the mornings, the sun rises around 5:30am or so and it sets quite early at 6pm. I'm adjusting to the jet lag pretty quickly, partly because it is easy to stay up during the day with all of the activities around the resort.

They have a sports center with basketball hoops, shuffle board, lawn bowling, ping pong, and numerous other fun stuffs. There is also a watersports area that offers kayaking, sailing, and hydrobiking. We have yet to try most of the activities, but they offer rental bikes that make getting around the island or out to the ocean side very easy. The food is also excellent. The rooms are large, clean, and offer gorgeous views of either the mangrove swamps or the open bay between the island and the mainland.

Perhaps today I will see a duck-billed platypus, if I keep my eyes open.

Talk to you soon,


Saturday, August 19, 2000

Enroute from San Diego to Sydney

When I was in grade school, I remember reading about Australia's exotic animals, like koalas and kangaroos. I remember finding Australia on a map of the world and thinking how far away it must be. I'm on the plane right now from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, about to discover just how long it takes to fly to the other side of the world.

My Olympic Track and Field teammates and I boarded a plane in San Diego earlier this evening. We are all wearing the same gray sweatpants and white polo shirts, so we are very easily recognized as a team. On the first flight, the captain of the plane announced that the Olympic Track and Field Team was on the flight and everyone cheered and asked us lots of questions. It's great being a member of the 2000 Olympic Team and I am so excited now that the journey has begun. It's suddenly very real. "I'm going to the Olympics." I've been telling myself that since I finished third at the 50km racewalk trials in February, but now I'm actually on the plane to Australia. I'm wearing my official Olympic clothes. I'm surrounded by my Olympic teammates and coaches. I'm really going to the Olympics. Wow!

It began to sink in a few days ago when I went through Team Processing. All of the Olympic sponsors gave us clothes and luggage and other goodies to take along. Adidas gave all of us shirts, shorts, shoes and workout clothes. Nike gave us a bunch of clothes, too. I hardly had to pack any other clothes! It's fun being treated so well. They even offered free haircuts and manicures before our long trip. I suppose they want us looking our best. The flight ahead of me is very long. We were told it would be nearly fifteen hours of continuous flight. They'll show us three movies, serve two meals, and there will still be time to spare. Right now I'm going to get some rest.

It's already been a long day. I raced 20 kilometers this morning with Jefferson Perez, 1996 Olympic champion in the 20km racewalk, and my U.S. Olympic walking teammates. Then I finished packing and began morning with Jefferson Perez, 1996 Olympic champion in the 20km racewalk, and my U.S. Olympic walking teammates. Then I finished packing and began my journey. Now it's time to take a short nap and dream about kangaroos and platypus. (What's the plural of platypus?)