Over the last two weeks, I have competed in three more track races. The first was another Lily B League in Croydon. I was anxious about this race as my last race beforehand had been three weeks ago and I didn’t know how this would go. Thankfully, the journey was mercifully short and I arrived at the arena feeling pretty good…not for long! I warmed up very tense as the nerves started building. As usual, I decided I no longer wanted to run but, somehow, I managed to force myself on to the start line.
For all my other races, I have been lucky with start line positioning but this time, I was right on the outside which added to my fear. Suddenly, the gun went off and the initial rush began. My coach had instructed me to abandon my usual race strategy and actually get a fast start for once – so that’s what I did. Much to my surprise, I was actually able to sustain this fast pace and began to pick off lots of people going into the second lap. I soon found myself trapped behind two girls running alongside each other – again! I kept trying to overtake them but I just couldn’t fight past them! Eventually I decided it was probably a good idea to settle behind them for the middle laps because they were providing a pretty handy blocker for the wind.
Going into the last lap, I was on a much quicker time than usual. I tried to convince myself to do my usual 300m sprint but I couldn’t quite manage it. Thankfully, I put on a bit of a burst with 200 to go and manage to overtake the two girls and another girl in the last 100. I crossed the line with a 1 second PB which, I can’t deny, was slightly disappointing as I felt I could have pushed a bit more but, a PB is still a PB.
The next race was the big one: London School’s. I had feared this race as soon as I knew I’d qualified. Ever. It was going to be the “who’s who” of London athletes and it was a school event which usually makes me the most nervous! My race was scheduled at the awkward time of 3:15 and I spent the morning wandering around with my mum and my dog. We took the train up to Battersea and arrived exactly an hour before. It took quite a while for us to locate everything so my warm-up ended up consisting of one lap around the outside of the arena, a few drills and strides – plus about three unnecessary toilet trips.
I almost ducked out at the last minute due to nerves. One look at the line-up told me that there wasn’t much point battling for positions – it was going to have to be about time which was not ideal at all considering the dreadful wind and heat! Nevertheless, I started at a good pace and picked it up a bit around the second lap finding myself comfortably in the middle of the pack. Unexpectedly, I was actually able to calm my nerves and just focus on the race. Much to my annoyance, coming in to the last lap, I just couldn’t get myself to sprint. I was convinced that I was going too fast and that I would burn out before the end. It was only when I reached the 100m mark when I realised that I wasn’t actually particularly tired…and by then, it was too late!
I was gutted to finish 1 second behind two other girls who I believe I might have caught if I had trusted myself to kick a little harder. I was also annoyed to just miss out on sub 5:10 but, focusing on the positives, I did still get another PB of 5:10.2 which I am pretty proud of – especially considering the bad conditions! It definitely made the goal of sub 5:00 seem a lot more achievable!
The final race was a school’s event. After having to wake up at five and then taking a four hour coach journey to Bath and arriving half an hour before my race was due to start (marginally better than my friend who’s race was scheduled in 10 minutes)!!! We hopped off the coach earlier than everyone else and ran to the toilets before putting on our spikes immediately and jogging to the back straight where we started a rushed warm-up.
However, we needn’t have worried because it was already delayed (despite being the first event). I was still jogging around the start area by 11:10 (it was meant to start at 10:45). Then, they decided to change the order and run the year 10s before us! By this point, I was not amused. Finally, we were called to the start line. I was a little bit nervous as I didn’t recognise anyone and, as everyone has a habit of talking themselves down, I had no idea who was going to be what pace. I decided that my best chance of doing well would be to go off at a good pace and sit in behind someone to block me from the awful wind.
As soon as the gun went off, I managed to fight my way into around 3rd place. I was a little worried that the pace was too fast but, after about 200m I realised that I didn’t feel bad so I decided to move up to second. Suddenly, I realised that the girl in first was slipping back and I soon found myself in front. This was not part of the plan. I was now head on against the wind and had no clue how far behind the rest of the field was.
Thankfully, I managed to hang on and actually stretch my lead! It certainly wasn’t my best run but I managed to secure a solid win and I even got a gold medal! (Besides, the results don’t go on power of 10 so it would probably be annoying if I got a PB).
As my race was so early, it meant that I could spend the rest of the day chilling out and supporting my friends which was really nice…until the super long journey back which was not fun in the heat – particularly as we were all afraid to drink water due to the most revolting toilet we had ever seen.
I now don’t have another race for nearly a month which I am quite excited about because it means I can actually do some proper training – for example, this Thursday I did my first hill session in ages! I can’t express how much I missed the hills after months of running pretty much completely on the track! I also have the opportunity for a lot more parkruns now so hopefully, I can finally take down the sub 20 goal!
I even got to try out jumping over a steeple-chase barrier at training which was very fun (I doubt it is quite as amusing on the 4th lap of 1500m though but I guess I’ll have to impatiently wait until I’m U17 to find out!)