Tuesday, 19 July 2011

One Vision, 2012!

Three days of racing in one week and thankfully some positive results, but lack of consistency and qualification standards is frustrating.

Last Wednesday was my local club’s open and I did both sprint events. I was pretty disappointed to only get 15.72secs over 100m, as I had been working on my drive phase and managed to stay down for the full 30m. However, my stride length lacked length! It was such a long wait until the 200m and it wasn’t until 9.45pm that I ended up racing. Because I am eternally jinxed, on the first stride my new guide rope snapped! I wasn’t actually aware of this until my guide runner told me to stop, as it was her side that had broken. I was allowed to run in the next heat, but had to use my old guide rope that just let’s me run in the wrong direction. Surprisingly I ran a season’s best of 33.67secs.

At the weekend it was the English and Parallel Success Championships held in Bedford. I had never raced there before, but had heard about the windy conditions that hovered over the track! Long jump was up first and it was absolutely pouring it down with rain. Feeling cold, wet and miserable in my vest and shorts I couldn’t wait for it to be over. My practice jumps were a disaster; I found it impossible to concentrate with the weather and commentator talking about the track events. To be fair, the officials acknowledged that this was an issue for me and a flag system was used, so when the flag was up the commentator had to stop speaking for my jump. They also had to move the board forward, as it was 2m from the pit and effectively I could jump from 3m away and not even make the pit, this wasn’t just for me though, as the other disabled jumpers would have also had a similar problem. After my awful warm-up jumps, I really went for it on my first jump, just to commit and definitely get one in, though it petrifies me every time jumping into the obis! I veered left and only one foot made the pit, with the other leg hitting the safety mat and grazing my knee. This was still measured, as I made the sand and because I was a little shaken afterwards and trying to regain my focus for the next five jumps, I didn’t hear the distance. I wish I did hear the distance, as it turned out to be my best jump and I would have gone in straight away! My next 3 jumps were no jumps; getting more confident and stretching out my stride length I went over the board marginally on 2 and just ran through one, as I felt rushed with a race about to start on the track and commentator waiting for me. My final two jumps were around the 2 and a half metre mark and I was utterly disgusted with my performance! Then the results came up and it turns out my first jump was 3.21m 9cm short of the B standard for the Paralympics next year. I was awarded a shiny good quality gold medal, as I was the closest to my classification’s world record.

Thankfully, the rain stopped for my 100m where I was faced with a pretty strong field. The number one Great Britain T11 sprinter, Tracey Hinton was drawn in the lane to my left and double world junior champion in the T37 category was drawn in the lane to my right. Sandwiched by world class athletes, my aim was to try and keep with Tracey for as long as possible, as I’m only able to gage athletes to my left with my guide runner being on my right. However, I was a little star struck when the gun went off and Tracey was gone within the first stride. I maintained my composure and raced on with no idea where I was in the race and was pleased to discover that I finished third behind the two world class athletes and beat the other three athletes, two of which have run around the 15.5secs mark this year. To demonstrate the difference between Tracey and me, her being the number one Brit and I number two, she ran a phenomenal 13.43secs and I ran 15.30secs! After the points were worked out I remained in third place and got a nice quality bronze medal to accompany my gold. I really don’t know where I’m going to find half a second from by the end of August though!

The 200m took place on the Sunday and I was up against the same athletes. This time I knew I would struggle to finish third, as four out of the five other athletes had run quicker than me over the distance this year. Drawn in lanes one and two, I had no chance of knowing where I was in the race. I knew I had taken the bend far too slowly, but for once we sustained a good arm rhythm and I desperately didn’t want to mess that up, as it feels so awkward when it goes wrong. Coming off of the bend I picked up the speed and the arm rhythm was lost for a couple of strides, but regained again and I stormed down the home straight, knowing that I must be a million miles behind. My guide runner confirmed to me afterwards that I was dead last coming on to the home straight, but I made up two places and was quickly closing down for third place, but ran out of metres. I clocked 32.93secs a good seven tenths quicker than the Wednesday before and creeping closer towards my PB of 32.35secs. I’m pleased I’m progressing in the event, but know much more improvement is needed.

Good points to take forward:
1. I’m only 9cm short of the B standard in the long jump
2. My 200m time is rapidly improving
3. I am now able to sustain a longer drive phase
4. I’m getting better at running around the bend
5. I didn’t let the fact that I was left for dead by Tracey impact on my performance
My next race is in Stoke Mandevil on 30/31 July.

Who needs 20:20 vision when you’ve got 2012 vision!

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