Thursday, 30 July 2009

Birthday Girl

It’s been a week and a half since my all-important 21st birthday. I really don’t feel like I’m 21, but I guess I don’t do anything that 21 year olds are actually able to do. I don’t drink, gamble, haven’t had a kid or gotten married and still live at home. Wow aren’t I a bundle of fun! I said at 16, 18 and now I’ll repeat myself at 21 I really thought I’d be more mature at this age. My mum got married at 21 and I’m certainly not ready for that commitment.

The day before my birthday Jack came over and my family, Jack and me went to Spice 45 for a late buffet lunch. It was pleasant enough. The morning of my birthday I was woken up early as Jack was leaving for work and needed to be back in London for 10am. I was hyper for about 5mins and then got tired again! I was shouted to come downstairs, but refused, as I was too tired! What I didn’t know was that my mum had already got a birthday cake out!

Anyway, Jack left without cake since I was being lazy and I tried to sleep until about 8am when the phone rang and I had my uncle and aunt singing Happy Birthday full blast. Argh, I just wanted to sleep!

At 9am I was dragged out of bed kicking and screaming! My mum insisted we had to cut the cake before my brother went to the Day Centre. The cake was circular and had pretty colourful stars on it; I had candles that spelt out 21. The cake was lush, but not exactly what I’d normally eat for breakie!

Let’s get down to the presents. You already know about my diamond ring and white gold charm bracelet. I also got a variety of clothes, a monkey holding a banana saying I love you this much, monkey key cover things, hot pink computer chair, flowers, 10 thousand bottles of Lucozade don’t ask and for the life of me I can’t remember what else! Oh yeah I got a key, bit upset I only got one key, as I remember seeing my mum’s about 10years ago and harped on how beautiful they were and how I couldn’t wait until I was 21 to get my own keys! After moaning my mum did offer to give me hers!

I went for lunch and bowling with Amy and Cara from 11am. Afterwards we got a hot choc from Starbucks and browsed the shops not that I found anything I liked. It was nice spending time with them anyway, as we don’t get the chance much these days. I was meant to see the new Harry Potter film with Emma, but she cancelled on me and haven’t heard from her since!

I was pretty exhausted by the evening; you wouldn’t believe I’m only 21! I had another birthday cake, which was the head of a monkey, but couldn’t eat it, as it smelt of awful chemicals! Never mind.

The following day I got the train up to Sheffield and met up with Katie, Beth, Rachel and later in the day Michael. Us girlys went to Frankie and Benny’s for lunch where the service was appalling, but at least I got the birthday song played to me and the musical candle Beth bought for my cake failed to sing. I had another star cake since I enjoyed it so much. Beth and Katie spoilt me with gifts from a Paul Frank t-shirt and pillow, to a Lush gift set, Ferrari key ring, a little blue monkey and cup cakes.

I’ll add in here that Jack forgot my card at home, didn’t buy me a present, but my fave white and red roses arrived on the Monday from Inter Flora so can’t complain too much! He did later post my card with a balloon that after my mum and I got pumped up flew out of the car window and resulted in my mum running through a car park to catch it!

All in all a great birthday. I was in Miami for my 16th and Venice for my 18th, but although I didn’t have the sun this time I was happy to have my friends.

I know I’ve been harping on for a while now, but need to quickly tell you about my competition at Crystal Palace on Sunday. It was the biggest comp and most important of the year. The morning featured up and coming athletes like myself and the afternoon was an international Paralympic comp.

Peter Eriksson the Head Coach said hi to me along with Keith Antoine a Paralympic coach, Marie Yates from UK Athletics and Paula Dunn the Performance Manager. Most of the parents of the athletes know me now too and all stopped to wish me luck and have a chat. It was all really friendly.

Paul Dickinson from the BBC commentary team was doing all the intros in the stadium and when I was standing on the 100m-start line I was thinking wow Usane Bolt was exactly here yesterday! I got a great start, but when I came out of my drive phase I didn’t fly. I blame my guide runner Sophie as she didn’t pull me along in a sense and I felt my arms weren’t going all the way back and forward, which shortened my stride length. She’s stronger than me and so I couldn’t alter the way my arms were going. I came 3rd behind the 2 T13s bearing in mind I’m a T11 so they’re partially sighted. They both ran 15.2 and I ran 15.8. I really should have been up with them on top form. There was some wind which prevented fast times.

I was determined to do well in the 200m and advised Sophie to stay within 2 seconds of Natasha who is a T13 and I know can run 30secs. Bearing in mind my PB was 34.1secs. I ran a really good race, but typically the electronic timing system broke didn’t it! My coach clocked it as 32.8, but the time I was given was 33.66. A PB but disappointed with the time. Apparently, the other T13 only just beat me by less than half a second. I’m at such a disadvantage by not being able to see because if I had known I was that close I’m sure I could have found an extra gear to over take her.

To finish off I failed to secure any funding as apparently I need to get more muscle on me. So winter training will be delightful pumping those weights! My next comp is August 5th, the Charnwood Open.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Running and Sight Village

Race For Life:
It was last Sunday. Getting sponsorship for the event was a nightmare, but I eventually raised about £55 for Cancer Research UK. I ran the race with my mum, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. There were just so many people and you couldn’t really run since everyone was walking in front and you couldn’t get by. All the times I had to stop I didn’t feel like stopping and therefore I got quite frustrated along with others. Add in the horrible uneven ground at Western Park it wasn’t much fun tripping up! I completed it in 32mins and had an awful stitch about 100m to go so couldn’t do my legendary sprint finish. I discovered I’m fitter than my mum who nearly collapsed and died coming up the last hill! Thanks to those who made the effort to sponsor me, the money has gone to a very worthy cause.

Is now one of my favourite places, as on Tuesday I ran 15.3secs for the 100m! Dances in celebration since I finally broke through the dreaded 16-second mark and I’m now only half a second off the Paralympic B Standard for last year’s games. Woo hoo! There’s not much need for a song and dance for the 200m as I ran it in 34.9secs, but who cares I ran 15.3!

Sight Village:
Is a large exhibition of products and services for the visually impaired and is held annually, but I’ve never been before. I did get a little bored, but the highlights included seeing Jenny and collecting my birthday present and having a demo walk with a Guide Dog. Now I’ve said before I’ve never walked a dog in my life never mind a Guide Dog so this experience for me was amazing. Good old Delphie guided me around so smoothly and I felt really relaxed and comfortable with him. He was a massive lab cross retriever, but lovely and calm. I didn’t feel silly doing the doggy voice, but I think I was in a world of my own. We went around tables, chairs, people, puddles and barriers. He found doors, stopped at cables on the floor and sat on command. He just appeared really clever. I know they are, but you don’t realise until you see them in action for yourself. Of course it has made me want one even more!

They call it blind man’s fog don’t you know! In Nottingham today I’ve never known such Gail force winds! For my 100m it was a breath taking –6.2 head on wind. I managed 16.1secs, but I reckon that could have been a sub 15sec time on a good day. For the 200m it was –4.7 and I ran 34.1secs, which is a PB, but again without the wind I would have smashed my PB. There was a slight panic in the 200 as the guide rope nearly slipped out of my hand after 30m, but after a gasp I was ok!

My next race is Sunday 26th July at Crystal Palace.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Ouch! It's A Disabled Thing!

Ouch is run by the BBC and is all about disability. They have a message board that I often read and post on, but they also do a monthly podcast. This month’s podcast has a Clothes Clinic and the Ouch Team contacted me asking if I would like to participate. I obviously come across as the vein type who is obsessed with the way she looks even though she can’t even see herself in the mirror! Though it’s true I do agree I’m very much so into my fashion and believe strongly that all visually impaired people should at least take some pride in their image. Just because you can’t see yourself, doesn’t mean that nobody else can either.

They wanted me to ask a couple of questions to blind fashion columnist Claire Jennings. When I heard this I thought hey she’s got my dream job, bitch! Lol. So I wanted to ask her something really difficult and hoped she didn’t give me an obvious answer, but unfortunately she told me to wear colours like black and white that match with everything! Excuse me missy you won’t catch this blinkie in black! I’m well known for being brighter than bright! She asked me if I wore make-up and I wanted to tell her that I’m naturally beautiful, but instead I told her I have naturally long eye lashes that everyone always always tells me about! Once when I was going for an eye operation they threatened to cut them off! Thankfully, they were untouched! Oh and finally this Claire I think I’m so fashionable because I tattoo my make-up on and wear killer heals thinks that we should all be liberated and let our busts be paraded to the world! You caught on yet that I didn’t think much of her?! I’m such a cow aren’t I! Oh and it says I’m from Newcastle, but that’s because it was recorded at the same time I went up to see Boyzone.

If you want to take a listen to the podcast then you can do so here: Ouch Podcast


Monday, 6 July 2009

So They Haven't Lost My Number

I honestly thought they’d be more of a chance of the Queen calling me these days than Guide Dogs! So when the phone rang earlier I was very surprised to hear a Guide Dog Instructor at the other end of the phone. I’ve been waiting 15months for my first furry friend now, but hopefully I’m getting that little bit closer.

The Instructor didn’t tell me she had a match for me, but wanted to update my routes, which is fair enough. She said her and another instructor has 5 dogs between them at the mo and has had them for about 5 weeks now. They’re looking to match them up at the end of August, but of course she didn’t make any promises. She basically said that she doesn’t know whether one of her dogs will be a match for me, but assured me she was trying at least and said she hoped to be in touch in the near future.

So, it’s a matter of waiting for the phone to ring again now. The joys of waiting!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Run Blind Girl Run

On Wednesday night I entered my first athletics competition against mainstream runners. It was the Charnwwod Open in Loughborough so just down the road from me. My coach Joe is officially apart of Charnwood AC, but I’m not yet a proper member!

Anyway, the competition was graded so you ran against others who had a similar time to you. This made me convince myself I would be running with the under 11s, but thankfully I wasn’t!

Sophie, Joe’s daughter ran with me in the 100m, as Joe wanted to see how fast Courtney could run on her own. After a drunken zig zag start I got my rhythm, but had already lost a lot of time. I came 2nd and ran 16secs flat again! Argh when will I get into the 15s! I’m definitely more than capable.

Courtney ran 13.8secs on her own, which just goes to prove she’s very fast and there’s no chance of me pulling her along!

The 200m went amazingly well! Joe gave me a couple of tips before hand telling me to shorten my drive phase and kick at 70m to go instead of 50m. He also urged Courtney to sort of pull me a little in order to encourage me to run that little bit faster. He assured me it wasn’t cheating, as he said fully sighted people could see others ahead of them, which drives them on, so it’s the same sort of thing. I knocked 2 seconds off my PB and ran 34.3secs. My target for the 200 this year was to run sub 35secs, so now I’ve done that it’s to run sub 34secs.

I was quite nervous about running against fully sighted people, but you know everyone was really nice and I could tell that they were impressed that a blind person was giving it a go. It didn’t even come across in a patronising way. The officials were pleased that they could put what they’d learnt about disability athletics into practice, as after both races they went to my guides and said you know you can’t cross the line before the blind athlete. Erm yes of course they know that that’s why they didn’t cross the line before me maybe?

On a final note I was doing some Googling, as you do in your bored spare time and found out that for last year’s Paralympics to qualify for the T11 100m you needed to run 14.05 for the A standard or 14.8 for the B standard. I still feel I’m on course to run sub 15secs this year, which hopefully means I’ll be well inside the qualifying standards in 3 years time for 2012! Next comp is on Tuesday 14th July.