Tuesday, 24 July 2012

British Masters Track and Field Championships 2012

I was in Derby again this weekend, taking part in the British Masters Track and Field Championships. It served as a great reminder as to why I rarely take part in track and field events these days. Don’t get me wrong, the volunteer staff did an excellent job in very hot conditions, but I’m just not one for hanging around doing nothing waiting for my event to happen. Mind you I do have one complaint, though I’ll admit I’m a smidgen to blame for the outcome, but more of that later.

First let me tell you about the strange occurrence that happened on Saturday, I went to Pennington Flash Parkrun, and didn’t run. The reason’s fairly obvious, I was running the BMAF 5000m on the Sunday and a tough 5k over Pennington’s hilly trail circuit would not be the best preparation for me, but because Carole wanted to run I decided to volunteer. I’ll admit I’m not great at volunteering, not that I’m shy of it it’s just that when I normally go I want to run, in fact when I arrived on Saturday the weather was so nice I did want to run, but common sense prevailed. This was the second time I’ve volunteered, though on the first occasion I was actually volunteered to hand out number tags by Bill, after I’d finished my run. Now Bill you know I’m always happy to do that, as long as you give me 10 seconds to catch my breath. This time I’d warned Bill I was after a job and was sent to the far flung corner to marshall.

Because I wasn’t running I walked off to my position, surprised at how far it was, normally I run it in not much more than a minute but it took a fair while to walk. I’d been sensible, on this sunny day, and had my hat, sunglasses a newspaper and my ipod, though I’d forgotten the deckchair. As I waited for the athletes to arrive I enjoyed the view, it’s quite picturesque but I’ve never really noticed it before, when I’m running. After a longish wait, I can only assume Bill was waiting for people to turn up due to the Ironman preparation in the car park, the athletes started up the hill towards me. I was surprised at how many of them were walking on this first lap, but it is a pretty tough course. I think sometimes we fit people forget how unfortunate it is for those who have yet to discover real fitness, but don’t despair as it’s my job to get people fit and it’s so rewarding when people make their goal, irrespective of how big or small it is. But that’s another story.

Having almost finished my newspaper, listened to a fantastic album and cheered on all the runners/walkers I headed back to the finish with Les and Val, the final two athletes. Les was helping Val to get to the end without stopping and she looked great as she strode alongside Les at her own pace. She even kept up a conversation with me as she pootled along so there’s more to come there Val. And this is a classic case of perseverance paying off, Val hasn’t been running that long but has worked hard, with Bill, to push her boundaries and today was a reward for all their hard work. Many of the people who take part at Pennington, and know me, may find it hard to believe, that I was once in that position. I went a whole summer in my first year of running, going out for 2 miles then having to stop and walk before I could run the 2 miles home. I even remember how difficult it felt. But perseverance meant that eventually it became more comfortable and I was able to run the whole way, without stopping, by the start of autumn. Had I given up I would have been just another failed runner, as it was I kept pushing myself and eventually became a British Champion, so if I can do it, so can you.

Then it was back home, a bit of gardening and preparation for Sunday’s race. I’d been sent details of the timetable but the 800m and 5000m, being held on Sunday afternoon, were down as TBC. Note: this is where my complaint is about to start. Why rough timings couldn’t be given I don’t know, but then I’ve never organised a track and field event. I’d been led to believe that the race would occur around 14:00, though I was prepared for delays to take it nearer to 15:00, but for some reason we had to report by 13:00, whereas all other events could report up to 1 hour before their event.

With this in mind, and thinking that I would be racing at 14:00, I had my pre-race meal at 09:30 and then we set off. On arrival at the stadium we had to wait until 13:15, when we were told we were the last event of the day, at 16:30. By now I was hungry and there was nothing for it but to eat my post race nutrition, which wasn’t actually suitable as my pre race nutrition. I didn’t eat much and by 16:00 I was starving again, so lesson learnt, make sure I have effective pre-race nutrition available, in case of delays, and eat nearer to the start time.

On paper, out of all the M45s listed I had the 5th fastest time and there were 3 guys I’d never beaten, though admittedly two of them I’d only raced once. So I wasn’t 100% confident I’d get a medal. Actually I wasn’t at all confident, my confidence had taken a bit of a battering lately. Since the bronze medal I’d picked up at the road 5k champs my 5k times had gone to 16:48 and 17:08, yes there were reasons but it still bothered me that maybe I’d reached my peak at Horwich. To compound this I’d done a track session with Lee Riley on Monday and I was absolutely rubbish, in fact I just managed to sneak a mile rep under the 6 minute mark, hardly inspiring training for a fast 5k. However I kept telling myself that I’d done the work and you don’t turn into a rubbish athlete overnight, I’d been tired before that session so it was understandable. I also tried not to worry about my opposition as it could be their bad day today.

Anyway without going into minute details about the race, Gordon Lee ran away with the M45 title, I had a rather interesting and enjoyably tactical race with Simon Wright (who won in Horwich), he finally got the better of me in the last 500m. I ran the race partially astute but I also made a couple of schoolboy errors, which possibly cost me the silver. I ended up with bronze in a season’s best 16:19.68, and it was the fastest track 5000m I’d run in 3 years. So I was actually happy with that. Now to go away and think about what I can refine in the next 4 weeks, how to keep my confidence on the rise and how the hell I can beat Gordon Lee, who’s currently on another level. That’s going to take some work, but I don’t actually see why it can’t be achievable. Whilst at Derby it was nice to catch up with some of the people I’ve become friendly with over the years, particularly my Scottish friends who always seem to get to these events.

I’ve been doing some other thinking about my future in sport lately. I’ve made a decision that I think will make me a better athlete and make competing more fun, but more of that another week.
After a tour around the beautiful Derbyshire countryside and a meal out, I’d taken my mum and dad and Carole along too, we finally got home at 20:30 and then had to catch up with the Formula 1 and the Tour de France. Fantastic result for Cav, Wiggo and Team Sky, what a brilliant lead up to the Olympics.

I was actually going to devote this blog to a review of Gabby’s book, but for two reasons I changed my mind. Firstly, I believe it’s being reviewed in Athletics Weekly this week, secondly, I’ve been so busy I’ve only read 4 chapters. Despite the fact that it’s the sort of book that once you pick it up you want to keep reading it, I’m too strong willed and my work and training take up too much time, so I’ve been snatching reads when I can.

What I can say though is that if anybody has a fascination (Richard Meade) with the marathon in the way that Bradley Wiggins had for the Tour de France, then this is a great book to add to your library. People like me, who ran during the 80’s and 90’s will enjoy reading the comments made by those that were winning the races we were running in or watching. You get a great insight into how people approached marathons and training for them and find out that the carbo loading/depletion diet isn’t for everyone.

I noted an interesting comment from Steve Brace, around dehydration. He felt that many of the marathon runners of the day were permanently dehydrated as they failed to take into account their hydration during everyday living. Something I’m sure many of us still do. And I did find Sheila Catford, possibly the only person in the book I don’t really know anything about, a little intense. But that’s my interpretation. If you’d like to find out more about the book it’s on http://www.gabriellecollison.com/

Written by Roger Alsop

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