They say 13 is unlucky for some and for someone who has an aversion to odd numbers, I would tend to agree. However, in 2013 I am hoping that 13 defies its superstition and proves to be a magical number after all. My athletics target for this year is not to go to the IPC World Championships or qualify for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, although both would be amazing, my aim is to simply run 100m in 13 point something seconds.
I am an athlete who at the end of the 2012 season managed to gain a legal PB of 14.61. Sceptics would say to knock over half a second off of your time is a tall order in sprinting terms, only they don’t know about the training I have been putting in. This has been the first year ever where I have had an uninterrupted winter with the same guide runner. I made the difficult decision to leave my training group in the summer, in order to get one to one coaching. This can be very isolating and heavy going at times, with your every step being analysed. I also discovered the trauma of throwing up during training sessions, where you push your body to the limit and beyond. I am not saying I have trained to my maximum yet, but if I fail to achieve my single goal this year, then I think I would begin to question my entire athletics ambitions. Only I know I won’t need to worry about doing that, I am that confident!
I am not set up to race yet, my gym sessions haven’t changed and I have only done a handful of block sessions. Nevertheless, I got itchy feet after seeing most people began their season in the first week of April. I decided I had nothing to lose and chose to run at my local open at the last minute. This was on Sunday and the day was full of drama.
I realised on the way to the track that I had forgotten my blocks, a bad start, but not too disastrous, as most meets supply a limited amount. Then I got a text from my guide runner saying he was going to be late, as an accident on the motorway meant the motorway had been closed, but he would get there as soon as he could. There was some redemption when I went to register, finding out that the 100m races were actually starting half an hour later than I thought. My guide arrived, we had a slow long warm-up, somehow misjudging the time however and not getting the chance to do a few block starts before they started to announce the races. Usually, at this open meet, I find myself in one of the first five heats running with the little kids, as races are graded on personal best performances. This time I wasn’t. This was no big deal, just made me think that lots of new people had taken up athletics, as a result of London 2012. Races six, seven and eight past and still my number hadn’t been called. We knew there was a problem at this point, as in the eighth race, the T11 British and European number one, my biggest rival had for whatever reason decided to come down to my local open, even though she lives nowhere near me and of course she is faster than me, so I should have been in an earlier race. My guide questions the announcer, my number isn’t on the list. He goes up to registration and it turns out that even though my number was 270, they had written it as 210 on the start list and I should have been in heat seven. It further turned out that three others from my old training group had been missed out too, so they put on an extra race for us.
During all of this, I was trying to stay as calm as possible. Before a race you have the opportunity to test out your blocks and I chuckled to myself inside, as I nearly face planted the track when I was trying mine out. I thought today is what it is, I have nothing to lose, lots of things are going wrong, but what can you do. Being in lanes one and two, I knew I would be able to hear where people were in the race, as my guide runs on my left, so everyone was to my right.
I got a poor start, I knew this would happen though, as it had been happening in training, so I knew what to do. I got up to speed as fast as I could, focussing on trying to overtake my guide, which is actually impossible, as he is much faster than me, but helps me to accelerate. My body felt so tight and I knew I wasn’t striding out effectively and yet I could also feel that it was a close race, so did not dare to adjust my running style. I made the best of what I was doing at the time. I crossed the line in second place and beat athletes who had better PBs than me, which I knew instantly was a positive result. My guide raced me to the line, knowing he had to pull back, but left it late as possible in order to get the best time out of me. The track official strode over, warned that it was close, but I did just cross the line first.
It was a bit of a shock then when I went to get my result and it said disqualified next to my number! I forgot things weren’t going my way that day! I went into to see the photo finish official who highlighted that my guide crossed the line first by 0.02secs ahead of me. He was able to tell me my time though, which was 14.22 with an illegal following wind of 4.3, so despite it being a PB it can’t really count for anything. I relayed how the track judge said it was ok, but accepted the disqualification. A little while later, I went back in and asked if they could verify the result anyway since the first official said it was fine and it turned out that they had already undisqualified me because of that reason! So my result stands!
To my further amazement, I found out that the British and European No.1 had also run 14.22 only she had a legal wind, so her result is effectively better than mine. Nevertheless, to run exactly the same time as her on our first race out, at the same track, within a few minutes of each other is some major achievement for me. Things are looking good! I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season.
My favourite song at the moment is On My Way by Charlie Brown. Listen to the lyrics!
Might not be on top of the world, but hey, I’m on my way...