Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Now what....

It's 730am, I'm driving down the Gardiner and there are tears streaming down my face.  I zone back in and immediately think 'get it together Ese!'.  I don't know why it hit me then, there was nothing special about that day.  It was a regular Thursday.  I was heading to the job that I love.  But that's when it hit me.

For 13 odd years I had one goal in life.  Every choice I made from the moment my eyes open, to the last thought I had before I fell asleep was to reach that goal.  

Over a decade later, hundreds of thousands of hours later, and I hadn't met my goal. And it hit me.  

What really got me though, was the feeling that I had let so many people down.  And this was a common thread that I found with posts I had read from other athletes who had fallen short of their Olympic dream.  That thought that, them not making it was letting everyone who had cheered them on down.  What I've learned though, is that is the furthest from the truth.  Those that have been along this journey with you are just as proud as if you had made it.  They are proud that you put yourself out there to do something that many would never dare to do.  They are proud and inspired by your perseverance and dedication.  They are proud to say they know you and of who you are, outside of just being an athlete.  These are the things that I tell myself to make the tears stop.  These are the things that I tell myself, and I know them to be true.  My family and friends aren't ashamed or let down by me.  They love me regardless of where I was August 5th to 21st, 2016.  They are proud that I went after it, that I put my heart into it, that I gave it my all.

The games are now done. The questions of 'why aren't you in Rio?' surely are to stop. Now the big question is...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nothing Before Its Time

'Nothing Before Its Time'  I literally read this quote everyday on my arm, and it's such a good little reminder of everything I've been working for.
I remember in 2012 when I didn't make the Olympics this was a phrase my mom said to me to help ease the pain.  At first I didn't understand.  I was devastated, and all she would say is 'Nothing before its time Ese' (insert sweet Trini accent).  I thought she was saying it because she didn't know what else to say.  But turns out it was because she is a sweet Yoda Jedi and knew exactly what to tell me, without having to say it.
Track is full of ups and downs, good workouts and bad, injuries and victories.  Great athletes learn how to take these all in stride, not letting one effect you more than another.  Learning how to lose with grace, and win with humility, because all it takes is one flap of a butterflies wings to send everything in the opposite direction.
Those words my mom was telling me, was reassurance.  Reassurance that I was on the right track, but 2012 just wasn't my time to shine.  And in reflection to who I was two years ago, she was absolutely right. As an athlete, as a Christian, just me on a whole, I was not ready to step on that big stage.

Bring us to today, and this is really when I'm starting to understand.

In the past I was training hard, but not neccesarily smart.  I was getting quicker, but running the 400m is way more than just being quick.  Everytime I tell someone what race I run, I get 'that look'.  The look of understanding that the 400m is a hard @$$ race.  It's not just about who can run full out for as long as they can and see what happens.  The 400m is a race of maturity, a race of understanding and tactics.

And in order to run that race, you have to train smart.

I've successfully completed the smartest base season as a 400m runner to date.  It has been the hardest physically, mentally and emotionally and I made it through.  Now that we are transitioning into higher intensity workouts, my mom's words are ringing in more than ever.  Without a proper base, this next phase would be impossible.  'Nothing before its time'.  Without proper planning and programing, come outdoors reaching my goals would be impossible 'Nothing before its time'.

What my mom was say is that you can't move on before its time.  You must prepare properly in order to perform perfectly.
There is no rushing through the phases.  Things won't come unless you take you time and do it right.  You can't run before you walk.  And right now I'm laying down those baby steps needed, so I can fly come this summer!

I've started working on a little campaign to help make this next season possible.  With Pan Ams coming up next year in Toronto, that is a really big goal of mine.  The games would be an awesome opportunity for those people who have supported me so much over the years to see me run, right here at home.  I'm hoping to raise a little money to help with training this year to make this possible.  With winter creeping in, getting away to some warm weather training would be key right now.  Not just the warm weather, but really being able to train on a 400m track would be great.
Check out my video, and please help me spread the word!

'Nothing before its time', 2015 is finally the time.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Other Side of The Coin

Well I'm 5 weeks in on another base season and I can comfortably say, I feel great!  Now don't get me wrong, workouts have been killer and there are days when I'm so exhausted I pass out with my backpack and jacket still on.  But with all that being said, I still feel great.
There is something about track athletes that we find comfort in that pain.  That soreness and achiness that comes hand in hand with base season.  There's that part in the workout where you feel like you can't take another step, let alone do two more 300s, but you make it through.  Through the power of self talk, but more importantly (well to me at least), the push of a training partner,  you remember what its all about.

Base to me is like an internal competition between, 'off season Ethel' who's been eating everything and anything she wants, and 'let's get this Ese' who wants to succeed more than anything.

Five weeks in people, and Ethel is officially dead!

In other news, I've started coaching!

In preparation for life after competition, I've started working with an amazing group of young athletes. Twice a week I'm challenged to take off my athlete cape, and don a new chapeau.  This new experience has definitely given me a newfound respect for coaches.

Don't get me wrong, I've always respected my coaches.  The amount of time and love that I've been given by all of them, can never be truly expressed.  And in that, I've now realized how hard it is to coach! I know personally it can take me a while to understand, and 'get' a drill per se. And I know for a fact some of coaches probably wanted to pull their hair out working with me!

Hahaha, so I guess this new venture in coaching will be karma at it's finest.  I'm up for the challenge though, and really excited to see how it goes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

If You're Not Writing, You're Reading

Photo Courtesy of @cardedbykashani 

I've taken some time away from writing... ya I know, again!  But this time wasn't just out of sheer laziness.

I believe any good writer should take some time reading.  So that's what I've been doing.  Devouring books to not only exercise my mind, but also develop myself as a writer.  I find reading the works of others helps shapes the flow of my own.  So over the last two months I've been reading and re-reading some classics, like War of the Worlds, Slaughterhouse Five, and Cat's Cradle to name a few. Two very different types of written works, but also two very good authors to reference.  I've recently started reading Endure By Ian Warner, and even though I've just started I know it's going to be an amazing read.

A lot people don't realize that in order to get better at something, sometimes you have to take step back and work at it from a different angle.  I knew my writing needed some work, so I took to seeing how the greats did it to help make mine stronger.

Just like with writing, I feel like I did that this year with track.

I chose a new path this year.  Which meant breaking everything thing down and building it all back up again.  And boy was it hard!!

I met a lot of challenges this year, on and off the track.  I knew it was going to be tough though and just stuck through it.  I wasn't able to do it all alone though.  I had an AMAZING crew behind me.

My coach, Bob Westman, who even though he had the hardest time reading me, never gave up and pushed and put up with me everyday.
My training partners, Alicia, Natalie, Maggie, and Brenna. The 800m girls that kicked my butt EVER Tuesday, Rachel and Fiona.  Hayley who took the brunt of my smack talk on speed days.  And the boys Greg, Ray-Ray and Isiah.  They all made ever training session enjoyable and pushed me when I thought I had nothing left.
The staff at Omega Health and Fitness, I don't even know where to start with them.  Through two hamstring injuries, a back strain and calf issues, they made it happen.  Working with me to get and keep me healthy.

And last but not least my families.  I say families because I've been blessed to have the support of not just my blood, but my supplanted family here in Toronto.  I have the most amazing siblings, that know exactly what to say and when to keep that fire burning inside me.  The Warner's and the George's have taken me in as their own, and make being 2100km away from home so much easier.

My mom.  Every day at 1030 I'm guaranteed a call from this amazing woman with words of encouragement and a reminder that 'the podium is where you want to be'.

So as this year winds up, I'm preparing to take that step back and get refocused for next year.  This year was hard, and the next two years are going to be harder.  I'm prepared for it though.  I'm surrounded by people who love and believe in me.

Now it's time for me to do the same

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Finding Success in Failure

Feels like just yesterday I was on my way down to California, and now I'm heading home. The last 16 days have been amazing to say the least.

It is always easiest to post after good races, and to hide and disappear after not so good ones. This time around I had 5 sub par races in California, however my first instinct was not to hide, but instead share how this experience was probably the best thing to happen to me for this season.

After my first round of competitions at Mount Sac, and Azusa, I thought for sure I knew exactly what I needed to do to drop some sick times the next time around. In all actuality, mentally I knew exactly what needed to be done, physically though was another thing.

I had three amazing workouts before the meet at UC San Diego. Things were firing, and my speed was coming back, I felt like I was ready to make some big moves. The day before the meet at my pre-race workouts I felt like a bag of garbage. My glutes were exhausted, hips were tight and legs were heavy, all the things I LOVE to feel the day before my race. Some may find it strange, but I actually enjoy feeling beat up the day before my race, because in my mind, that is my day to feel like garbage instead of actually on race day. I made it through the pre-race well and was more than ready to run the next day.

Race day at UC San Diego was beautiful. The sun was out and there was a slight breeze. The forecast called for rain, but coming from Toronto I knew there wasn't anything the golden state could throw at me I couldn't handle. I no longer felt like garbage, and worked through my warm up with confidence that things were about to go down. There were slight nerves, but mostly excitement, I was amped to roll out and make my mark. My race tactics from the previous week were perfect, so I just replayed that over and over in my head. If I just raced that same way with fresh legs this week, things should come together.

I attacked the first 200m aggressively and in control, coming around the corner I just focused on staying tall and keeping my hips up. I came off the final bend feeling good, I felt like I had ran wisely and maybe, just maybe this time around that 100lbs gorilla would decided to jump on some other poor quarter milers back today. For two to three strides off the corner I felt like I was on top of the world, then perfectly, on cue, that great silver back came out. I had not escaped, he got me.  But I told him 'NO!' and fought through. I pumped my arms, pumped like there was no tomorrow. I could tell it was working, I felt myself closing on the girls beside me. With 50 meters left the quarter miler rigger was kicking in with full force, but the fight was real, I was not giving up.

My time was a tad faster than the week before, but once again nothing to really feeling amazing about.

The Triton Invitation at UC San Diego was a good way to end this block of competition for the season. On and off the track California was overall a great experience. 

Being new to my training group this trip gave me an opportunity to really get to know my coach, my program and the people I train with. I find myself at a new level of comfort with my new surrounding, and a better understanding of how this change is going to make me better in the long run. I was able open up and have some solid heart to hearts with my training partners. And, I was able visit some family and have the opportunity spend some good time with my best friend.

Physically I know I have a lot of work to do before nationals, but mentally I am exactly where I want to be. Determination and motivation are built through struggle, and I am more driven then ever before. 

California gave me the opportunity to fail so I now know what I need to do to succeed.

before anyone ran fast, they were slow” ~A.Henry

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Where Did That Gorilla Come From!?!

Three races, and a million hours of sun later I've come to the end of my opening weekend.  My times were nothing to celebrate, but I find myself surprisingly positive about how this season is going to play out.

Race one this weekend was the 400m at Mount Sac, in Walnut, California.  My week of training leading up felt really good, and I was feeling ready to go.  After my pre-race the day before, I was so sure I was gonna roll out come race day.  When it came to the next day though, things didn't exactly fall into place.  I was quiet, concerned, introvert, just not myself.  I probably looked like someone had shot my dog, and all that showed in my race, and I ran a very dismal time.  For like 15 minutes afterwards I was ready to quit track all together.  Then something awesome happened. My training partners came to me, and brought me back up.  My doubts fleeting my mind with no haste.
The assurance of someone who cares about you, in a time when you're down, can do you wonders.

I left Walnut, and traveled to Azusa to run my second race.  My attitude and demeanor was night and day from my first race of the day.  I was excited once again, and ready to have some fun.  I ran the 200m at Azusa. I ran the race not caring about the time per se, but more for a feeling.  I ran for that feeling, that reminds you why you love track, and as a quarter miler, running a 200m is the perfect race to get that.

Friday was a long day, very early morning and pretty late night.  I got home and was exhausted, but knew that my race on Saturday was going to be great.

Third race of the weekend was the 400m at the Long Beach Invitational.  I was lucky enough to get in the invitational section later in the day so I got to sleep in a bit which my body definitely needed. I thought I would have been really drained coming into my last race, but I was feeling surprising well. After my 200m I was feeling mentally better, and given how bad my first 400m went, I now knew what not to do this time around.

My race execution was perfect.  I came through the 200 and 300 right on point, but then I came around the corner and it hit me!  The wind, the two previous races, and a whole lot of sun from the day before, all took form of a giant gorilla hopping on my back for the last leg of my race.  For 50m I had succumb to the  beast of lactic and fatigue.  It felt like I was doing running A's with a 100lbs weighted vest up a hill with a 45 degree incline.  With 50m left I told myself the faster I finish this, the sooner the pain will stop, so I went to my arms and pumped as hard as I could, and it worked!

Needless to say, none of my times this weekend were anything to write home about.  But given that, I'm extremely happy with how everything went.  You can't enjoy the sun without snow, you can't appreciate success without failure.  Through these three races I've learned a lot it usually takes a whole season to realize.  I'm extremely excited for this season to play out.  I'm ready to apply what I've learned and have some fun while doing it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Prose and Cons

So as I mentioned in my last post, I'm going to use this blog as an opportunity for me to express more than just the athletic side of me.
I'd like to use this as a platform for some creative writing, opinion pieces along side some blogs about how the track side of my life is going.
I'm a fan of feedback, so feel free to let me know what you think of anything I write.

With that being said, I'm going to be working on some revamping of my blog to make it easier to segment off the different categories of writing I'll be putting out.  For now everything will still show up on the regular feed of posts.   Over the next little while some changes will be made to help with the flow of writing that I'll be putting out.

Until then, here is a little something I've been working on.