I am not sure if words can describe the last month of my life, but I am going to try. On Wednesday 16 July, I travelled to Manchester for the England Athletics Commonwealth Games preparation camp. Looking back, I wish I was excited about the prospect. However, when you can’t see going to a new place is always daunting and even more so when you don’t really know anyone and you are unsure of what to expect. The initial plan was to keep Calvin, my Guide Dog with me throughout the experience, although I quickly found it difficult to take care of my own welfare, never mind having to worry about spending and feeding another being. I therefore had to make the extremely difficult decision to send my companion home in order to reduce my own stress levels. Guide Dogs are unbelievably helpful animals, yet in an unfamiliar environment with nobody to make it a familiar setting, achieving basic tasks such as finding a suitable spending area for your Guide Dog provides additional unnecessary challenges.
For some reason I thought the camp was going to be quite structured. However, I soon learnt that other than mealtimes, how you spent your time was completely up to you. At the start of the camp I made a trip to the team physios, as I had been running through a knee injury since last winter. It soon became apparent that the physio hub was going to become my second home. On average throughout my Commonwealth experience, I was receiving physio treatment at least twice per day whether it was being strapped, massaged or stretched. When you are not a funded athlete, it is impossible to access such an invaluable service and I am so grateful that I was able to receive specialist treatment even for a short period. Due to my injury, I had to take some time off of the track, but this didn’t mean I wasn’t training. I still did pool and gym sessions.
During the camp, we were treated to a fair few inspirational speeches. These included talks from the likes of Kelly Sotherton, Tom Parsons and Andy Turner. Each one highlighted the achievement of being selected to represent Team England, shared their lows as well as their highs and all advised that more than anything, we should all enjoy the experience. The speeches were one of my favourite elements of the preparation camp, as they always enhanced my psychological outlook.
Whilst at the camp, I turned 26. Last year I celebrated my birthday by going to Monkey World. This year I was in the process of living out my dream at the Commonwealth Games. I am not sure any birthday celebration will be able to compete again. Embarrassingly and surprisingly at dinner time that evening, I was presented with a birthday card and cake. It was a pretty special moment having the entire athletics team sing happy birthday to me.
On Tuesday 22 July, we left the preparation camp and headed to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games village...