Yesterday marked a year to go until the Paralympic Games in Rio. Scarily, I remember blogging when it was a year to go until London 2012. How time ticks on, yet my goals and ambitions remain the same.
This landmark provides the perfect opportunity for me to look back on my season. After the euphoria of competing at the 2014 Commonwealth games, I was revved up for winter training and ready to progress. However, I just ran into one barrier after another. After starting back at training for a couple of weeks, I got ill and spent a month feeling dreadful and constantly coughing. This meant I immediately fell behind in training. In November I already had a holiday booked to Mauritius to visit my Grandma, which forced me to miss more training. Then in December, I needed an eye operation, which led to further disruptions. Nevertheless, January arrived and although four months behind, it was a fresh start. I planned to start racing in June. In April I began a part-time job, which tested my energy levels and by May the fatigue caught up resulting in another virus with a terrible cough. Racing in June went out of the window. I thought my season would be over by my birthday in July, so didn’t think a holiday for my birthday would be a big deal. Annoyingly, I was wrong. However, all was not lost, I could race in August. So within the space of twelve days, I competed four times. Nowhere near as prepared as I wanted to be, I had no choice, but to go for it.
Race 1 – Watford Open
The last time I had raced was in front of forty-four thousand people. I would be lucky to have a crowd of forty-four in Watford. Despite this, my nerves were worse than ever and definitely contributed to my poor opener. 14.57 with legs that felt like jelly all the way down the track. Far from impressive.
Races 2 and 3 – Lee Valley Sprints Evening
Thankfully, I had raced the nerves out of my system in Watford. I had two chances in Lee Valley, which is a rare opportunity. My start wasn’t brilliant, but I managed to sprint to an illegal 14.04 on my first run. The wind was +3.7 and the legal limit is +2.0. On my second run, I executed the start and was flying until 50m in where I hit a wall and struggled the rest of the way. This is where the lack of winter training showed, as my speed endurance was seriously lacking. On a positive my second run was legal with a time of 14.28, the same time I ran at the Commonwealths.
Race 4 – Godiva Classic
This race was the big one, as it was not only my final chance to clock a decent time, but I would be racing other para-athletes. Generally, I executed the race fairly well. The only area I was disappointed with was my pick-up, which again relates back to my issues with winter training. I finished third in the race behind partially sighted athletes and ahead of those with CP, which is where I hoped to place. I clocked 14.25, a modest time, but it was into a minus 2.6 head wind. Therefore, I was satisfied, as I truly believe I would have dipped under fourteen seconds if the wind was in my favour.
In short, I failed to run a PB for a second year in a row. It really hit home how essential winter training is and the ability to stay fit and healthy. I am currently ranked 4th in Europe, which is ok, but I genuinely believe I can top the rankings. Hence, I resigned from my job and whilst I am young and able, I’m going to concentrate on trying to challenge the world in athletics. These days being a para-athlete can’t be a part-time job. The standards are exceptional. I want to be exceptional.