Upcoming events –

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

Friday, September 1, 2000


Oh my goodness, what a long day it has been! And what an adventuresome day, too.

To tell the story properly, though, I need to give a little bit of background. For the past two years, I have trained with Enrique Pena, former coach of the Columbian and Ecuadorian National Racewalk Teams, and current coach of 1996 Olympic 20K Champion, Jefferson Perez of Ecuador.

In the fall of 1998, Enrique began coaching the US Racewalking Team that lives in residence at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA (I've been a resident athlete since January of 1997). In February of 1999, Jefferson joined us to continue training with Enrique and to be a part of our team. Since that time, he has been an integral part of our program and has served at times as our assistant coach by giving us technique advice and helping with our training programs. He has also been an incredible role model for all of us. He is not only a champion in his sport, he is one of the kindest, most generous people I know.

At the beginning of this year, Jefferson was allowed to live at the Olympic Training Center as our assistant coach. His residency is part of an Olympic Solidarity program, an agreement between the US Olympic Committee and countries like Ecuador that can't always provide the best facilities for their athletes.

When we decided as a team to attend the pre-Olympic camps at Couran Cove and here in Brisbane at the Marriott, we included Jefferson in all of our plans. We informed the staff of the US Olympic Track & Field Team and they had no problems... until Jefferson arrived into Australia.

Olympic solidarity suddenly took a backseat to our Olympic coach's xenophobia and isolationist attitude. The thinking of the US coaching staff is that Jefferson is our competition and can not also be our assistant coach, training partner, and friend. We were told that if we wanted to continue training with him, we would have to find another training venue. Jefferson can not train with the US athletes at the track reserved for the US team. He can not ride on the bus with us. Initially, they even wanted him to find another hotel and eat meals in another restaurant. Of course we were outraged, but they stood their ground claiming that everyone would want to train with the US Team if we made any exceptions.

So, when Coach Pena decided that today we would do speedwork on the track, we had to look for a track besides the one being used by the rest of our non-racewalking US teammates. Thankfully, racewalkers stick together around the world and we had a contact at the University of Queensland who was happy to help.

After a nice breakfast here at the Marriott, we all walked down to the river and caught the CityCat ferry, Brisbane's river transportation.

The CityCat ferry is the way to travel around Brisbane. It runs up and down the river, crisscrossing from the north to the south bank all the way from one end of town to the otherr. Students at the local universities and professionals who work in town use the CityCat as part of their daily commute.

When we arrived at the track on the university campus, we were surprised to see about 400 high school kids arriving at the same time. We hadn't been told that a high school track meet was being held at the exact same time as our practice session. We had to improvise. Instead of doing speedwork on the track, we did our workout on the road adjacent to the track. Coach measured out a course (we had brought our measuring wheel with us for just such an emergency) and we were off.

The 20k guys, Tim and Jefferson, did 15 x 1 kilometer with just over 2 minutes rest. The 50k guys, Curt, Andrew and myself, did 7 x 3 kilometer with 3 minutes rest.

It was an extremely tough workout both mentally and physically. There are so many things that can distract you if you allow them to do so. Because we had planned to do the workout on a track instead of the road, we could have let that bother us. We could have let all the traffic on the campus ring road bother us. We could have let the long ferry ride and long wait before the workout bother us. But everyone did real well and focused on the task at hand.

It wasn't easy, but it was a good test in many ways. When we get to Sydney and are in the BIG race, we will have even more distractions. Perhaps it was better that we did have to face all of those obstacles today; it was good practice.

We didn't arrive back to the hotel until lunch time. After lunch I took a nap because I was so tired. Then at 5pm coach had us go out for an easy 30 minute walk along the river. This evening the whole US Team was invited to a local sports bar for free food and drinks. The local news cameras showed up and filmed some of the long jumpers and staff out on the dance floor. If they had filmed the racewalkers, we would have been the ones sitting over in the corner trying to stay awake.

Coach has promised us that tomorrow will be an easy day. We even get to sleep in a bit and start our workout at 9am instead of 8am! I'm going to get cozy with my pillow now and dream about walking fast and gold medals.

G'day, mates!


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