How could a person fit enough to run 32:14 for 10K run the pedestrian time of 2:19.4 in an 800m?
Was this a warning sign that my chronic injuries and hard training were doing me in?
Actually, no. If you look at the workout I did the day before the 800m, it’s not surprising my legs had no juice. I didn’t rest before competing because this meet was just a local one that Paul and I participated in with our Brussels club team, Ixelles. We needed to belong to a Belgian club in order to participate in some of the bigger races that we wanted to run. However, we never trained with the club because the location and timing of their workouts didn’t fit in with Paul’s schedule. We were a pretty self-sufficient training pair.
We were quite friendly with one of the more elderly members of the club, a coach named Milou Blavier, because he occasionally drove us to cross-country races in Belgium. Those trips with Milou were the only times we were ever in a car during our five years in Brussels. Paul enjoyed hearing Milou tell his stories about suffering through World War II. Milou liked hearing about my competitive adventures at World Cross Country Championships and other big running events. For me, the trips with Milou provided an opportunity to hear French spoken with a strong Belgian accent. I tried to follow Milou and Paul in conversation—and attempted to squeeze in a comment or two of my own. Milou spoke no English.
It was fun being part of a club, even if we only joined the other members at a rare cross country or track meet and for the annual club dinner. Being part of a team was always an important part of running to me. I started out as a runner with my high school cross country team. Only the team’s energy, enthusiasm and victories kept me in the sport during the initial early months of training when my unfit body protested that running just made me feel sick!
Then, in my last two years of high school, I became fast enough to be a member of my high school’s 4 x 400m relay team. There was a lot of running talent at George S. Henry S.S., and everyone on the team, including our subs, was capable of running about 60 seconds or faster for 400m. In 1978, our team placed third at OFSAA [the Ontario high school championships]. I was a mediocre third leg runner that day; the relay final came only 20 minutes after my 3,000m race. However our other runners, (anonymous), Kathie Knox and Lisa Van Lammers, were fresh and ran outstandingly well.
Forward again 10 years to 1988. It was now April; five months until the Seoul Olympics. I was preselected for the team based on my 16th place finish in Rome at the World Championships in 1987. But would I make it there? My training log notes the worsening of my heel bursitis; I was beginning to have to miss running workouts and substitute cycling or weights. The bursitis was in my left foot, but now my right Achilles tendon was also injured. My training log also makes it clear that I was frequently exhausted. Was I training too hard?
On April 24 I was scheduled to run another 10K road race, this time in Oslo. Would I be able to prove the outstanding fitness that some of my workouts indicated? I had just run a “best time ever” for the 10-mile forest course that I repeated every week.
Or would I crash this weekend, injuring myself to the point that even my Olympic participation would be in jeopardy?
Olympic Training Log
April 16, 1988
AM: Did track workout by myself (Paul injured). 6 x 4½ laps with 2 min recovery (after 2 miles warmup + strides). Times 5:30, 5:23, 5:25, 5:22, 5:24, 5:23. Very pleased considering I was by myself, legs still tired from Thursday. Hardly felt heel. Did 6 x 100m fast, jogged home. 9½ miles.
April 17, 1988
PM: Competed in track meet with Ixelles team. 800m 2:19.4—by myself, poor warmup. 400m in relay—don’t know split but felt better than the 800. Felt OK today, ran in flats because heel very painful. About 4½ miles counting jogging.
April 18, 1988
AM: Swim 50 lengths 38:20. Felt good but kids slowed me down at end.
AM-2: Weights—“push-endurance” plus back leg extension on Universal, abdominals on Universal, hypers, side leg-raises. Up to strength today. 64 min. Heel still very sore.
April 19, 1988
AM: Did 10-mile course at Von Karman—Paul with me for 18 min. Felt good—ran really fast 1st half, finished in record 62:08! Perfect conditions—warm. Heel sore at start, but warmed up—sore after. Biked to and from Institute.
PM: Rode bike through forest (hilly route), about 75 min, because heel too sore for me to run.
April 20, 1988
AM: Swim 50 lengths 38:00—felt good.
AM-2: Weights—“pull-strength-endurance” plus situps, several leg exercises with bar, leg press. Worked hard 60 min. Very tired today, heel very sore.
April 21, 1988
AM: Rode bike to Von Karman. Did 40-min warmup run with Paul at good pace. Then 10x 500m on path—times 1:50 (up), 1:40 (down), 1:49, 1:39, 1:49, 1:40, 1:50, 1:40, 1:49, 1:40. Felt very exhausted in sprints—nothing left in legs—still tired from Tuesday. Jogged back to Von Karman. About 11 miles. Heel sore but warmed up, Achilles a bit sore at first too.
PM: Did weight workout because heel very sore. Did easy unstructured “push” workout, but pushed hard on bench press (bar and Universal), was dead at end. 61 min.
April 22, 1988
AM: Swim 50 lengths 38:15. Felt good. Heel very sore.
This week: 35 miles running, 3 weight workouts, 3 swims, 1 bike workout, 2 Von Karman bike rides.