© Copyright – 2011 – Athletics Illustrated
Canada’s fastest marathon runner, Reid Coolsaet, finished first Canadian and tenth overall at the 2010 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon after struggling through two years of sub-par fitness due to injury. Although his personal best marathon time at Toronto was expected by everyone, Toronto was a comeback of sorts and definitely a breakout at that distance. He was due.
Until those injuries derailed Coolsaet, he focused mostly in the 5,000 metre distance, twice meeting the Athletics Canada Olympic ‘B’ standard and running a 27:56 10,000m.
Twice before I have asked Coolsaet for an interview however, both times he was recovering or dealing with an injury and was likely not in an accommodating state-of-mind. After Toronto things changed and below is the long, original chronicle of our interview. A truncated version, taken from this one, ran in the pages of Canadian Running Magazine. Thanks to CRM’s now former Editor, Michal Kapral the entire interview is below.
Christopher Kelsall: Congratulations on your 2:11 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Having being injured off and on for the past two years, did this result provide a greater sense of relief over and above the the normal sense of accomplishment, because you are now truly fit and completely healthy?
Reid Coolsaet: Thanks. This result did give me a greater sense of relief because it had been a few years since I had any result at this level. Going into the race I felt I hadn’t been this prepared for a race since the summer of 2007 and that gave me a lot of confidence. As much as I knew I could get back to high level performances there were many doubts in my head because it had been so long. I often questioned myself if I was ever going to get back to a certain level but I think deep down I believed I could and that is what kept me going through the injuries.
CK: A picture is worth a thousand words, so your finish photo at Toronto was pretty telling. Did you feel the same with your sub-28, 10,000m that you ran a couple years ago?
RC: Not even close. When I ran 27:56 that wasn’t my peak race for the season as I was gearing up for the 5000m. Whereas with my marathon result that was my aim for the year and it had been much longer since I was really happy with a time.
CK: Training partner Eric Gillis ran very well too. You mentioned that there were 3, 180 degree turns on the course. With the suffering going on in the final few kilometers were you thinking that perhaps if Eric doesn’t suffer too much, he might be able to gain on you?
RC: At the first turn-around (23km) Eric looked really comfortable but still seemed too far behind to catch up. And then at the next turn-around (29km) Eric was much closer, running very fast and I figured he was going to catch me in a few kilometers. Since we both were running alone I thought it would have been great if we could have worked together, just like in practice. At the last turn-around (32.5km) I could tell that I was pulling away from him and that it was likely going to be a lonely 10km to the finish.
CK: I understand you were running up to 140 miles per week.
RC: I only had one week at 227km (140 miles) and four weeks above 200km. I planned on a little more but I had a little injury and got sick in July. It was the highest mileage block that I have ever run and, in general, I felt as if I handled it well. I hope to be a little more consistent with my mileage in my next marathon build-up.
CK: What did your typical week look like through the spring and summer, versus the final 10 – 12 weeks?
RC: When I’m training for 10,000m or cross-country races I max out around 200km and run three workouts in a week plus a long run around 30km. During marathon training my workouts are longer so I only do two specific sessions per week and my long run got up to 40km.
CK: How far off of race pace or race effort were you in those long runs?
RC: My long runs during marathon training include a workout. When I ran 40km I did 30 minutes at 3:08/km and 30 minutes at 3:07/km, the warm-up and cool-down were run around 4:15/km. If I’m just doing a long run I usually run those about 1 minute per kilometer slower than marathon race pace.
CK: What do you think you may need to do differently, to limit the late race suffering?
RC: My 5km split from 35-40km was about 30 seconds slower than any other 5km segment. I was able to handle the last 12.2km of the marathon much better than last year and I think with more experience and more training I’ll be able to clean up the last 7.2km some more. Running more mileage seems to be a big factor and I plan to continue my weekly mileage progression.
CK: How long is a complete marathon cycle for you?
RC: We tried a 14 week build-up for Scotiabank although I was racing a little at the beginning because I wasn’t able to race in the spring so the mileage wasn’t as high as if I was purely training. We’re still playing with the length of the build-up seeing as last year I had a 6 week and then a 10 week build-up. I hear some people like 12 weeks and some prefer 16 weeks so I went with 14. Towards the end I tried to get a sense if I wanted to race before September 26th or after. I felt as if 14 weeks worked out well.
CK: Because you have run within the “A” standard set by Athletics Canada for the 2012 London Olympics so far in advance you have quite some time to pursue other personal bests, is your 10,000 m personal best the next target?
RC: I would love to get my 10,000m PB down a bit because I think I can run faster. However, I need to make sure I don’t take my eyes off my big goal, which is to run well at the 2012 Olympic Games marathon. It’s not hard to fit in a decent block of 10,000m training between marathons but, it has to coincide with a good racing opportunity over 10,000m and that becomes the logistical issue. There are not many opportunities to run a fast 10,000m and those opportunities usually conflict with a Spring marathon.
CK: So is that it for what was previously your main distance to compete at, the 5,000m?
RC: I think it might be. I feel that I could train a lot for the 5,000m and maybe get below 13:20 but I’m pretty happy with 13:21 as my PB. It could be a lot of work to end up with a SB of 13:25 or something. If I put in the same focus for the 10,000m or the marathon I think the rewards will be much better. I’ll still run some 5,000m races but they won’t likely be the focus or the peak of the season.
CK: As we discussed on the phone the other day, your 10,000m personal best came off of focused training for what was your main event, the 5,000m – do you have a sense at this point how much faster you can go in the spring? Are we talking about challenging the Bairu’s Canadian record?
RC: I always thought I could run under 27:40 and perhaps challenge Schiebler’s record. I can’t even think about Bairu’s record until I have at least run under 27:40 and at this point the plan is to run a marathon in April. The fast 10,000m races are typically in April and May.
CK: Virgin London Marathon?
RC: Right now we would like to run the Virgin London Marathon but we need to make sure we have a group (or pacer) to run with so we’re also looking at Rotterdam.
Skateboarding and the Beer Mile
CK: Each of your updates for your blog have headlines which are song titles. Even the blog is called Float On – a popular song from a few years ago. Do you have a song title for this interview yet?
RC: I’ve been waiting so long to sing my song.
CK: Really? I’m honored: My reply: ‘This is It’. Do you still skateboard?
RC: I just bought a new skateboard last week and I figure I’m the only person to ever run a sub-2:12 marathon and do a 360 flip in the same week. I didn’t really skateboard all summer and even now I keep it very low-key. I’ve had enough injuries in the past three years, I don’t need to twist an ankle skateboarding.
CK: My goodness, I bet Dave Scott-Thomas will cringe when he reads this. You have the skateboard world record time for the mile. Is there a skateboard sanctioning body to ratify the time?
RC: I’ve hurt myself way worse running than skateboarding and I don’t think DST cringes when I go running. My skateboard mile was done on a 400m track with the extra 9 meters however, there is no official result. And frankly it was just for fun so I don’t care if the time is ratified.
CK: Do you skateboard at the Ward Skateboard Park or do you stick to the roads?
RC: I pretty much just stick to flat ground and Beasley Park. I don’t need to mess around with anything gnarly anymore.
CK: Would you compare your skateboard mile world record to Jim Finlayson’s beer mile record of 5:09?
RC: Not at all. The beer mile is a contested event that has seen many a great athlete and beer drinker go for a fast time. I can’t imagine many people have bothered skateboarding a fast mile. I’m confident I could skateboard a faster mile and if someone used a long-board it could go a lot faster.
CK: Perhaps you can attempt a beer mile, how about bringing that action to Victoria and face Jim Finlayson?
RC: I’ve never done a beer mile so I would have to at least try one out before I could even think of doing it under 7 or 8 minutes. Low 5 minutes for a beer mile seems ridiculously fast.
Back to training
CK: You have trained at elevation on at least two different occasions, one for sure in Flagstaff, Arizona. Now that you are healthy, any chance you will take advantage of training at altitude?
RC: I’ve been to Flagstaff a couple of times and the training was very good. The second time there I fell on ice and that is what screwed up my back so I never got to race off of that altitude stint. I’m planning a trip to Kenya this January and I’m about to book everything I just need to figure out which race I’ll do at the end of the trip.
CK: In a recent interview with Garry McKay with thespec.com, you talked about everything including the weather coming together on the day, in fact if the Toronto Marathon was run on the day before or the day after, the Olympic qualifying time that you did achieved would have been, “out the window”. Saying that, the Olympic Marathon happens during the summer. Have you had strong race results in the heat?
RC: I did well at FISU 5000m in Turkey (2005, 2nd place) which was run in 28C. Berlin WC last year went pretty well and that was 22C. Which really isn’t too hot but far from ideal for a marathon.
CK: Rob Watson, who paced you through halfway in Toronto just ran Houston in his debut finishing with a 2:16, Dylan Wykes ran a 2:12 in Sacramento at the California International Marathon, currently everyone is talking about Simon Bairu, Eric Gillis (2:12) and yourself, but by the time spring comes around, there is the inevitability that not only will the Canadian record by Jerome Drayton be history, but you could be 4th fastest and fighting for a spot all over again. Any chance you would go for the 10,000 if you could get around 27:30 or better?
RC: For many reasons, I really want to lower my marathon time before 2012. One of those reasons is to solidify a spot on the Olympic team. I’m mostly motivated with the marathon right now so I will concentrate on that. If I find myself out of the top three by April of 2012 I would definitely consider the 5,000m or 10,000m.