Since I never updated my blog after the Meyo mile, I’ll give a brief summary of what happened. I went into it pretty excited, came up with a race plan to put myself in a position to win, and arranged to have a former Notre Dame teammate take us through 1000m on pace. Unfortunately, things don’t always happen the way you plan. I had a bad start, found myself in last place at 1000m (which we hit in a pretty pedestrian 2:33), and had to kick hard just to run 4:01 (for third place).
With the season not going how I had initially planned, we decided to shut it down early, and start getting ready for the outdoor meets. I travelled to Spire with the Guelph crew the following weekend, paced Ross through a mile of his 3k (he ran 7:53), then took a down week. To clarify, I don’t think I was racing poorly or anything. I just didn’t feel like there was any need to race any more indoors, and figured the earlier I could take this down week, the earlier I could start training for the summer season.
Video of the Race:
In more recent news, it was announced today that Qatar’s middle distance stud, Hamza Driouch, was recently given a two-year ban for irregularities in his biological passport. While this seems to be just another day in athletics (every day it seems like a new high-profile Russian athlete gets caught), Hamza’s ban hits a little closer to home. Back in 2010, I met Hamza and a few of his training partners at World Juniors, we spent some time discussing training, and traded gear at the end of the week. I wrote a blog post (more like a diary entry since it was never posted anywhere) when I got home from Moncton that summer, and now that the news is out about Hamza, I figured it’s an appropriate time to share what I had to say.
Post-World Junior Championships Blog Entry (July, 2010)
Spending 10 days at the World Junior Championships and being a part of team Canada was some of the best days of my life. The highlight of the trip however came on the last night of the trip when JP (Malette), Mohammed (Ahmed), Anthony (Romaniw) and I spent time in Mohamed Al-Garni’s and Hamza Driouch’s(Qatar) room, picking his brain about training, racing, and competitions. The conversations brought many emotions out of me that I feel compelled to write down so that I may read this later and be reminded of the positive energy that I gained from the talk.
Throughout the week we had been talking to Al-Garni about the races, we became friends, and he promised to trade us some of his Qatar gear for Canada stuff. I knew him from before the championships because he had added me on Facebook and we had talked previously. I also knew he had run 3:36 and 1:46, so I was obviously interested in talking to this kid as much as possible. After the banquet, the four of us went to down to him and Hamza’s room. We asked him what he thought of his week, and he told us he was disappointed about coming 3rd in the 15 and 7th in the 800. He started telling us about some great workouts he had been doing that indicated he was in great shape coming in to the championships. This is where it got interesting. He pulled out his training log and was showing us some of the workouts that him, Hamza, and his training partner Abubaker Kaki ( a 1:42 guy) do together. They were UNREAL! Some that I remember off the top of my head: 6 500’s in 64 with 2min rest. Another one was 12 Hill repeats followed by an all out 800 in 1:47. And the craziest one of all was 1500, 1000, 800, 600, 400, 200 with 7min rest. He ran 3:37, 2:24, 1:48, 1:20, 52, and 25. Incredible! And it was the consistency of these hard workouts that blew our minds. I didn’t want to ask but multiple times I had to control myself not to ask where he gets his drugs from. We talked about what he does on his off days and it’s mostly easy runs at 3:50-4:10 pace which is reasonable and he generally hits 52-60 miles a week. So in general, he hammers on the track 2-3 times a week, and the rest is easy running of up to 1 hour. Anyways, after reading his logs and seeing all these ridiculous times he was running in practice, and hearing his coach (Jama Aden), who had walked into the room during one of our conversations, say that Al-Garni was at one point in 3:33 shape, it made all my accomplishments in track feel so insignificant.
The next thing Jama Aden said was that many of the Kenyans on this years team were far older than 19. He said he had spoken to the Kenyan manager who admitted that the guy that won the 1500 is 28 years old. He also said the top 3 in the 10000 were probably all too old, which is really unfortunate for Mohammed (Ahmed) who would have won without these overage cheaters. Hamza also said most of the Moroccans are doping, and both French athletes were from Morocco.
Lastly, I found Aden to be so knowledgable. He walked into the room and went “you’re the 3:42 guy, you’re the 28:57 guy, you’re the 3:45 guy and you’re the 1:49.2 guy”. He knew so much about the competition and even about US schools since he went to Farleigh Dickinson. He was listing off good Canadian distance runners from the 80’s and 90’s that I had really never even heard of. This guy seemed like such a knowledgeable and good coach. He invited us all out to Europe to train with his group for a couple weeks next summer. How Awesome would that be?!? As long as we’re running the same times or faster he said he’d be able to get us into some great meets. What an incredible experience that would be. (edit: Jesus, I was so naive)
Anyway, this all got me really excited for track to start up again, and already got me thinking about goals for next season. I now see more clearly what it takes to run at a World class level, and will do everything I can to get there. Hopefully I’ll be able to read this a couple months from now and re-ignite the fire before track starts up again!
Those who knows me and have asked my opinion about the amount of doping that happens within track and field know that I’m skeptical of the cleanliness of many of the world’s best athletes. Why? I guess it has something to do with my childhood hero stringing me along for 7 inspirational years, onto then go onto Oprah a few years later and publicly admit that he had been a doper all along. Nonetheless, it’s one thing to assume that someones taking drugs, but it’s something else entirely when they actually test positive. While I had my suspicions back in 2010 that Hamza, Mo Al-Garni, and the rest of his crew were doing something illegal, I still had a bit of hope all along that the amazing performances by that crew were a product of talent and hard work. Hamza’s 1500m win at World Juniors in 2012 was one of the most incredible performances I’ve ever seen, and when people started calling him the next El-Guerrouj, I believed it ( I tried looking for a video, but couldn’t find one. If any of you know where I can re-watch it, let me know. EDIT: Thanks Jack for finding it VIDEO). While it’s satisfying to see cheating athletes get caught, its a shame that an athlete as talented as Hamza had to go down that road.
The doping news led to an interesting conversation on my run today with Reid. When I told him that I’m often skeptical of many of the worlds best athletes, he advised me against it. He argued that if you go into a race against someone who you assume is doping, you’re mentally handicapping yourself since you’re admitting that they’ve got an advantage over you. It was an interesting perspective that I had never thought about, and one that makes sense for him given that he’s an elite marathoner, possibly racing dirty athletes in every major marathon.
The news of Hamza testing positive carries greater implications as he’s recently been photographed training with the defending Olympic 5k and 10k champ in Ethiopia. However, I won’t go any further with my accusations, seeing as how that kind of thing can get you in trouble these days (ahem, Andy Vernon).
To lighten the mood, here’s a fun photo I took of me running down the frozen Speed River last week. Getting a little tired of all the snow. It’s March next week, which means that spring’s just around the corner, right? Right?