Recently, I have been pretty busy with racing – more specifically 1500m track racing. Over the last week, I have competed four times and each race was a completely different experience than all the others…well, at least as different as you can get with track races. That was definitely a good thing though because it has left me feeling pretty ready and excited for the rest of the season! WARNING: this is a pretty long blog post.
Race one was last Saturday and it was the Lily B League Match One in Carshalton (for the third time this season which, bearing in mind I had only ran one other race and attended another, that was pretty impressive). The day didn’t have a great start as I broke down with nerves almost as soon as I got there and claimed that I no longer wanted to do it. Nevertheless, I picked myself up and forced myself get into my usual warm-up. We soon discovered that they were very behind schedule so my race didn’t start until 40 minutes after my it was meant to. This also meant that they didn’t have time to run two heats…fair enough…apart from the fact that there were 27 people competing in my age group alone!!! A bit of a step up from the 5 I competed against last time I must say.
Anyway, the race started and I soon found myself tucked into a nice group. The laps flew by with minimal pain – this turned out to be because we were going quite a lot slower than I had realised. In order to make up for this, I had to pull out a speedy last lap – which, I am happy to report, I did. My last lap was in about 1:15 and I over took a lot of people – unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough for a PB but it was still a pretty decent run and I was happy with my position of 8/27.
Next-up was the Lewisham School’s competition. The pressure was definitely on for this event: we had taken a whole day off school, it was at my home training track and I had won both Lewisham events last year – so, naturally, I was desperate to win again. Thankfully, I was one of the first events of the day and was soon lined up and ready to go. As soon as the gun goes off, it’s havoc. A few of the field take off in a blistering sprint and, unfortunately, I’m too nervous to simply let them go so I try and stick with them. Fortunately, by the 300m mark, they have faded immensely but, unfortunately, I now find myself alone in the lead with 3 laps to go -my nightmare!
The rest of the run was definitely the most painful one of the season so far. It was just me against the wind and I was incredibly tense and not composed at all…just like old times! Thankfully, though I was unaware of this, I had a big lead and was able to win pretty comfortably. As I suspected, my time was not great at all so really, I put the pain entirely down to nerves. But all that mattered was that I won and I got automatic qualification for London School’s. The rest of the day was lovely as I was able to watch all my friends compete and my little brother! Plus, as a bonus, my school won the event overall!
And finally, definitely my favourite race out of the four, the Surrey County Championships Day One. I was really nervous leading up to this race as I knew it was a big deal and I had never competed in such a big race. Much to my surprise and relief, by the time we got there, the stadium seemed very subdued as my race was so late. This helped calm me down a bit – but I was still very anxious whilst warming up and seeing all my competitors. By 4:30, we were at the start-line and they split us into 2 heats of 12. I knew I had a very fast heat and, as usual, I found myself at the back for the first 300m. After lap one, I managed to pick up the pace and start overtaking people. Twice I had to go wide to run around people running side by side which was a bit annoying and lead me straight into the wind. Nevertheless, I found myself in a good position going into the last lap and I was feeling incredibly calm and not really that tired! I kicked as soon as we hit 400m to go and was able to over-take another girl. The last 100m were hard as it was just me against the wind but I made it over the line with a PB of 5:13!
I was incredibly happy because the conditions were a lot harder than my previous PB and I was very proud of my race. After the second heat, which turned out to be significantly slower, I soon found out that I had just made it into the final! Because Surrey is such a strong county, I never thought I would actually be able to qualify for the final and I knew that if I had any chance in doing so, I would have to run a PB in the heats and if so, I wasn’t even planning on running in the final. But, I was so excited and happy about my race that I decided I would have to run again.
Upon the decision, we rushed home. We didn’t get back until seven and by then, I was pretty exhausted. I wasn’t feeling great at all and I couldn’t get much dinner down me and I my sleep wasn’t great due to my nerves but I was also pretty excited as I finally felt like a “good runner.”
The next day wasn’t so great. We had to leave early meaning I had less than 24 hours between my races. On the start line, the anxiety suddenly began to pour in when I realised that my PB was quite a lot slower than the next slowest competitor. I had planned to attempt to stay with the slightly slower runners and just have a mini battle with them but, as soon as the gun went off, I found myself struggling. For the next 3 and 3/4 laps, I just wanted it to stop. I had no spring, no calm, no motivation – it was hard! I got into the last lap and couldn’t even muster a sprint. As soon as I crossed the line, I was absolutely devastated. It really crushed me that I was so confident and happy about myself as a runner the day before but that had now all been taken away. I was very upset for a long while after my race and I would be lying if I said that I was completely okay with it now but, looking back, I am proud of what I achieved at least on the first day. I beat a lot of good runners who didn’t even qualify for the final. Plus, this was my first ever race that actually even had heats and finals and I qualified – which I am pretty proud of since Surrey is perhaps the most notoriously difficult counties. I had never ran back to back races before -which definitely showed- and all the girls who I was racing in that final had all been running for 5+ years (making my 1 and a half years look a little bit measly).
I am going to try and focus on the positive: Saturday was undoubtedly one of the best races I have ever ran – if not the best! I am excited to see if I can whittle that PB down even more! However, I now don’t have a race for a while so it’s finally back to hard training (yay!) – maybe even chuck in parkrun or too!
I hope you all enjoyed reading! I apologise that it was so long but I just had a lot to talk about! Well done everyone who raced this weekend and good luck for everyone taking exams!