Friday, 30 July 2010

The Shite Of Icarus

It can be windy, rainy; I can be hungry, tired or sore; workouts could have been awesomely quick or depressingly slow. None of said conditions can be reliably used to predict how a race might go. There's only one reliable indicator - and that's the log index.

I'm not going to race well if I do fewer than 4 poos on race day and, ideally, by the fourth they'll be the texture of one of Delia Smith's discards. So it was somewhat concerning that nothing passed my cheeks in the 10 hours prior to Wednesday's race at Watford - even more so that there was none of the pre-race respiratory tightness.

Lining up for the 1500m race I was curiously detached - I'd either tapped into the elusive zen-like pre-race calm or I shouldn't have been racing. Hoping it was due to sky-high confidence I decided to embrace the novel pre-race feeling.......and proceeded to run like shit. There are some performances that should be analysed and some that should just be consigned to the lesson learnt bin. Nothing there to really put your finger on - I was flat, never comfortable, incurred lactic acid a lap earlier than I should have and ended up coasting the last 150m to a relatively poor 4:10 clocking.

A race too many or too soon after Hungary? I'm hoping I managed to minimise any damage by backing off as we are journey to Glasgow tomorrow morning for the 3rd British League match and I'm pulling treble duty again.

In the meantime, whilst the athlete runs poorly the shameless self-promotion is just getting rolling.....

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A Trip Down Larruping Lane

The last visit to the physio resulted in a vicious battering - or in the physio's words - a larruping of my hamstring. Either way it felt like open-battlefield surgery in 1815. This time I was cunningly armed with the forewarning that I was racing the following evening - the torturer's crestfallen face almost qualified as revenge.

I've been struggling with a tight right hamstring for about a year and a sore achilles for about 7 years now - so these were next on the agenda. The news is (almost) universally good - the achilles pain being related to the achilles paratendon (which sounds like a body part invading Goose Green in 1982) which is 'sticking' to an otherwise healthy achilles. The hamstring tightness is due to the muscle protecting the nerve - which because of prior trauma isn't moving freely along the muscle (which is otherwise fine).

Typically the achilles is pain-free during races with the day's biggest challenge being the negotiation of the stairs first thing in the morning. The hamstring tightness / pain is noticeable at 400m pace or quicker and is resulting in a noticeable lack of power. The solution is stretching, painful massage and what is being billed as an end of season larruping which promises to bring tears to the eyes.

I have 24 days remaning in the season and I've decided to compete in the 1500m at Watford this evening, despite a little residual soreness which can be blamed on Saturday's 4 * 100m relay. The fact is that it's racing time and there aren't that many competitive competitive (duplication deliberate) opportunities between now and then. Best make hay while the sun shines.....

Saturday, 24 July 2010

It's Relay Day - Hungary Day 9

Being on the medal podium at a slightly higher elevation due to my silver didn't provide much consolation - particularly as this defeat was particularly galling. I was pleased my tactics, execution and levels of effort but, like a failed prospector at Sutter's Mill, all I found was silver. I vowed to keep digging.....

The medal presenter was the Vice President of the European Vets (if I remember correctly) and regaled me with his version of "congratulations". This was cringeworthy and I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd just been presented with a medal by a paedo for the rest of the day.

Due to a dearth of young old folk our 4 * 100m and 4 * 400m relay teams were identical. It also meant that I was running the 4 * 100m for the first time since 1993. After some semi-vigorous early morning practice we took to the track with the feeling that we'd at least get the baton round and in the process do a much better job than the professional athletes from the USA have managed in recent years. As the third leg runner I took the baton very smoothly but passing it on to our 4th runner was a bit of an abortion with my hamstring complaning loudly - which was good enough for a silver medal.

By this time I was tantalisingly close to the full medal collection and, on paper, we had the best squad for the 4 * 400m. The race went to plan as we remorsely disposed of the Italians and Germans for a gold medal. The British over 35 record was missed by 0.17 of a second which we blamed on the soft track - with some justification indicentally.

(One caveat to the relay medals in the interests of full disclosure is that it would have been tough not to at least medal due to the paucity of entries. Not for the first time the oft-used phrase "you've got to be in it to win it" was wheeled out in it's, by now, fully rusted barrow).

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Agony Without The Ecstacy - Hungary Day 8

Days 6 and 7 passed in a whirl of reused underwear, nut sweat and excruciatingly long waits in restaurants. It transpired that a sufficient number of athletes hadn't made the trip so as to warrant a straight final for the 800m. Like a hand-cuffed man watching porn I was at bursting point by the time the final came around.

Being an only child I was horrified at the prospect of having to actually share a lane - something 8 of the 12 competitors would have to do given the size of the field. So it was with some relief that I drew lane 7 on my own with the Hungarian organisers completely ignoring seeding protocol in the process.

In a race of 12 runners position is paramount, so I was determined to be up with the pace - something that I sometimes don't do as I look to use my kick. That necessitated consideration of leading the race, in which case I'd try and make the pace as slow as possible.

The expected fast pace didn't materialise and I did indeed find myself disputing the lead 200m into the race. At this point I slowed the pace down significantly resulting in much shoving in the back and general frustration. Completing the first lap in 63.1 in a good position was absolutely perfect given my speed, but it was at this point the race changed considerably with the Dutch runner taking it up. (It later transpired the Dutch runner was worried that times under 2:00 don't get a medal - you need to be sub 2:00 and in the top 3 to do so).

I was feeling fantastic at this point and was happy to sit on his shoulder for the next 180m. This is how the race looked at that point:

From this stage I took the race up, quickening up the pace and extending a lead. The trademark final kick happened with 90m to go with me sailing into an apparently unassailable lead......but being chased by a constipated German.....:

Unfortunately the German sprouted bloody wings and pipped me close to the line prompting comments of "he came from nowhere", "he seemed inspired", "we all thought you'd won it" along with the inevitable "two world wars and one world cup". My splits were 63.1 / 55.17 for a silver medal - he must have closed in 54.?? which is unheard of at this level. Fuck!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Convertibles - Hungary Day 5

I've decided that medal ceremonies are a bit like convertible cars. You think people look a bit ridiculous in them, would feel self-conscious in one yourself and no doubt if someone were to post a picture on facebook of themselves in one you'd think they were a fuckin' helmet - but when you're driving along with the wind in your hair it doesn't feel too bad at all.

The only downside of a medal ceremony (when you came 3rd) is the lower podium makes you feel as though you're the lesser man in a Two Ronnies sketch and you have to listen to the Spanish national anthem. I vow to be back and "looking down on him" later in the week.

The atmosphere at the Championships is pretty good - although it is almost entirely reliant on the participants becoming the spectators and vice versa. Despite this slightly false feel the enthusiasm is genuine and as you get to meet people the camararderie increases.

As a competitor you have a pass, your uniform and a number and are required to declare your intention to run at least 2 and half hours before the start of the race. Once confirmed you report to the call room 20 minutes before and are lead out to the track 10 minutes prior to your race. At this point there's no turning back and, as I found out, no toilet paper. I'm ashamed to admit I had to pick a napkin off the ground and wipe the old bullethole with the edges because there was a piece of chewing gum stuck in the middle (of the napkin not my arse!).

After the race there's time to warm down before the medal ceremony where your arrival is accompanied by some cheesy music and a relatively good looking bird (nice cheeks but retaining a bit of fluid in the ankle area). You receive your medal, certificate and cheque for 1000 euros for coming third and are sent on your way.

There'll be no Day 6 blog because the non-racing days really seem to drag on. However I have changed my flight to will be competing in the 4 * 400m and, probably, the 4 * 100m relays on Saturday.

(..and yes, of course, there was no prize money)

Monday, 19 July 2010

1500m Final - Hungary Day 4

Fortunately it was a little cooler on the day of the final and whilst bricking myself early on in the day I was relatively relaxed at the start line.

There was some last minute annoyance upon discovering they'd shoehorned a couple of over 30 vets in our race. Why? It's a Vets championships - why not add a donkey or racehorse to the field as well? They were given bright pink '30' stickers for their backs (so that was alright then). Anyway there's no mileage in worrying about things you can't control so I ignored that along with global warming, farts after beans and people chewing gum with their mouths open. (Although having hoped for a slow race I must admit I was hacked off when the 30 set the pace!).

I had a reasonable position throughout the race - close enough, although it always felt like an uphill battle as I always seemed to be closing as the pace was increasing. In future I'll have to be a little more aggressive but given the speed endurance sessionjs I've had to miss due to injury this strategy was appropriate for attaining the best position.

The splits of the winner were as follows:

400m: 67.9
800m: 2:13.3 (65.4)
1k: 2:45 (31.7)
1200m: 3:17.9 (32.9)
1500m: 4:00.96 (43.06)

I came 3rd in 4:03.74, pleasing as it was a PB of 3.5 seconds and I also beat a few sub-4:00 guys.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Look Ahead From Behind - Hungary Day 3

Here is the list of entrants for the 1500m, although a few are missing:

In fact what appears to have been happened is many of the runners with PBs in the middle of the range are missing from the event which makes things a little interesting. Races run on paper are utterly pointless; however developing a race plan is infinitely preferable to having none at all - even if said plan is based on hearsay and unreliable foreigners!

There's obviously the potential for the race to split fairly early on and I absolutely cannot afford to be in the second group - if I do so my race will be over. What I'm really hoping for is a very slow pace and if this occurs I will either tuck in behind the leaders or get to the front and try and slow it down even further.

Actually this post is so half hearted I don't think I'll bother anymore. The truth is I have already run the race and the effort to try and accurately capture my pre-race strategy is just too much effort. Report to follow.....