Sunday, December 23, 2012
…better late than never, as they say!
It seems that like many other Olympic athletes, I have delayed writing about my Olympic experience. Ok, I could be the last person to get around to it!
Every single day for a very long time, London 2012 was the reason for every action of my daily life. Eating, napping, training, resting...whatever i was doing, was it helping me for London?
It almost became an obsession that if something wasn't helping me, then I wouldn't do it.
So fast forward to December 2012. My actions do not lead to anywhere or anything. Of course I am still training for races and the next track season, but it is different. Olympic year becomes a huge psychological event and it takes time to mentally return from such an emotional investment. Some have referred to it is "the hangover".
So, here is my bog from the London. A little late, but hopefully still an interesting read.
From point to point, my travel into the Olympic Village was smooth. I was a little concerned about getting all my luggage on the train, off the train, and walking with it through St.Pancreas international to the Javelin (the high speed train to the olympic village). As soon as I got out of the taxi at Loughborough Station a man offered to help carry one of my huge bags, and the station attendant immediately took the other. I guess that's what happens when you are all kitted out in "Team GB" gear!
When I got on the train and found my reserved seat in first class, I could see people staring at me and whispering to each other. Of course I knew that this was happening, and as a member of the public it must have been very exciting to see a Team GB athlete right in front of you.
After 7-years of build-up the London Olympic Games were finally here, and as I sat there on the train in my kit traveling to the Olympic village, it started to feel like it.
Upon arrival to London, two Team GB staff members met me off the train, grabbed my bags and
chaperoned me to the Javelin. Since the games had already started, London was crawling with peoplein Team GB clothing. I was amazed at how much home support I could see around me. People were not
afraid to yell "Go Team GB", and I felt ready to run my race there and then!
Check-in at the village HQ was very fast. All of my information had been stored ahead of time and within 5-minutes my accreditation was handed to me. I was expecting a lengthy process, as it took quite a while in Beijing.
I was very excited to see the village and our apartment as I had been seeing photos and clips of it in the social media.
There was a nice welcome pack of goodies on the bed to greet my arrival. I wanted to call Hannah
(England) and tell her about everything, but I thought I would let her see for herself. I also didn't want to get her to excited as her schedule was 2-days behind mine. Anticipation and anxiety can really damage an athletes performance. I experienced this first hand in Beijing.
We were in a great location, right at the front of the village with a view of the Olympic Stadium from our balcony. Amazing!
We watched the first morning of athletics on our TV, and decided to turn off the volume when Jessica
Ennis was introduced. We could hear the stadium roar as she was introduced and it sent chills up our
spines with excitement.
I remember standing on the startline in Beijing listening to 90,000 people cheer for the Chinese woman
as her name was introduced and thinking, that will be me in 4-years time. I have used that moment in my preparations over the past 4-years to prepare myself for my introduction. Visualising the stadium, the flags waving, people yelling my name, the sheer noise when the announcer says "Barbara Parker, Great Britain",
However, I still wasn't sure how I would respond. I don't think any experience can match the magic of the
Olympic Games. All I knew was that I was 100% ready.
The basketball stadium was the closet arena to us and you could hear the crowd in the evenings, as well as people coming back into the village at all hours who had finished competing. Ear plugs were
a must at night!
Since I arrived 2 days before Hannah, who was my room mate. Each athlete (athletics) came to the
village 3-days before their event. So it gave me some space to unpack the ridiculous amount of kit we
had been given.
I immediately "shot gunned" a bike outside the Team GB apartments and managed to borrow a lock
fromone of the cycling team mamangers. Bikes were like gold in the village. I generally don't walk anywhere during the day, so I was happy to have a bike to keep off my feet. When Hannah arrived she was driver and I sat on the bag luggage rack above the back wheel. A common theme throughout the village!
The food was fantastic. most certainly the best food I have ever eaten at any championship. I was very
happy to see the "Best of British" section when I first entered the 24 hour, 5,000 seater dining hall.
Over 60,000 meals were estimated to be dished out daily. A CNN article "dining in the Olympic Village"
reported that 25,000 loaves of bread, 75,000 litres of milk, and 330 tons of vegetables would be
consumed by the end of the games.
Casual dining was a few meters away from our block, and I thought perfect I will just pop there for a snack and a coffee before my run. The afternoons theme was a selection of desserts from around Britain
& N. Ireland. Shortbread, cakes, brownies, cheeses, you name it they had it. How amazing this would be
ifi didn't have the biggest race of my life in 2 day's time!
Hannah and I had been waking up early in Loughborough as both our heats were mid-morning, which
meant we would both need to shake-out at around 6am.
You have to be very considerate of your room
mates in a village type setting. Luckily there were only 4 of us in our apartment; myslef, Hannah, Christine Ohrugu and Abi Oyepitan. Some apartments had as many as 7 athletes, with the living room acting as a bedroom.
Whether you were still competing or not, you got to bed, and creep around to ensure you didn't wake each other. Even during the day, someone could be taking a nap.
Time rolled around quickly and before i knew it, race morning was upon me. The schedule for meeting time and kit check was put up in the lobby of each block the night before.
I felt ready. Knowing there wasn't one session or anything else I wish I had done, going into the race.
It was a good feeling.
Call time was 50-minutes before race time, so my warm-up was a little shorter than usual. First call was kit check. No electronics, medications, stretch ropes or anything else the officials felt were "contraband". You signed a form which described what had been taken, and collected it after the race with your bag.
The walk to the next call room was long. Everyone walked in silence. It seemed like eternity.
The 2nd call room had a small 50m straight which was great for a few strides. Here, you also collect hip
numbers and front numbers with a chip timing device in it.The last stop was the track. We marched in
a line to an opening in the stadium, and waited there a few
minuted before being let onto the track. People were starting to cheer already as they saw the colors of Team GB.
I had a plan to put myself in the top 4 from the gun, whether the pace was fast or slow. I was hoping the race would go out fast, as I was in amazing shape to run a good time.
The gun went off and I got off the line hard.I had been practicing this all season. Immediately I felt the pack slow. I sat on the outside of lane 1 at the front, and waited for someone to take the inside spot and lead. It felt relaxing being at the front. There was no scrambling to find a space to jump a hurdle, and the pace was consistent. I felt very good in my legs. No anxiety making them feel heavy like they did in Beijing.
My plan was to start winding up the pace about 3 laps out, to string out the field and get rid of those athletes who were relying on a last lap burn-up. I was 100% focused, following my mental thought process that i had been working on all year with my psychologist back in Atlanta, Stan Beecham.
At the 4th water jump into the race, one small event changed all that. I approached the water jump, pushed off the hurdle, one foot in the water and straight out. Only that isn't how it went. As I put my foot into the water, the athlete next to me appeared from no where and her foot landed bang on top of mine.
The feeling of sharp spikes driving into my foot, holding me down for a second, somehow didn't feel as
bad as it probably should. I held my self well, and didn't fall, and lost only a couple of strides on the
pack. but a couple of strides is crucial at this point in the race when the pace is starting to increase.
From this moment in the race, my mental focus was gone. For the next 400m I have no idea what I though about. All I know is, the gap of the pack was growing with every step and before I knew it I had 2 laps left and 4 automatic spots were racing amongst themselves ahead of me.
As soon as I crossed the line, I knew my dream of chasing a medal in the Olympic final was over.
I had hoped the 2nd and 3rd heats would go out slow and somehow I would gain one of the 3 fastest looser spots. My time of 9:32.07 was a solid qualification mark, way under the Olympic qualifying standard of 9:40.
After the race, I travelled through the mixed zone, and was met by the UKA doctor with my recovery drink.
My foot was numb with dissapointment, but I knew I needed to get it seen too. I picked up my kit and weheaded to the medical room, but I was more interested in watching the final heat to see if my time would be
good enough for one of the 3 fastest time for the final. I had missed the final by 2.01 seconds.
People consolidated me and said, what a great experience, or, you can learn from what happened today. This WAS IT, this was THE race of my life, there was no room for error, or learning. It was very dissapointing. I felt empty. I didn't know what to feel. I was in the shape of my life and because of loosing mental focus, I had missed the Olympic final by 2 seconds. I didn't cry, or make excuses about what had happened. I had another race to run. And thank god I did. It kept my head up and I had a 2nd chance to redeem myself from all the hard work i had put in. Let alone all the sacrifices and help everyone else had put into my Olympic journey.
Making the 5000m final was my next goal. The 5000m was 3-days after the steeplechase heats, so I had 2 full days to recover. I saw Paula Clayton (UKA physio) and had Graston treatment (a metal tool that assists in soft tissue mobilisation, treats scar tissue and restrictions that affect normal function). I had been getting treatment from Paula in the lead up to the Games, so I wanted to keep everything as normal
as possible. Nothing new for my body.
The next day I didn't feel tired at all. Nick McCormick and I did an easy 5miles around the perimeter of the village, about 5 laps in total. It was relaxing to go on a run and chat with someone, rather than think about my race over and over again.
Race day came around quickly again. I wasn't nervous at all. I have never been so excited to race. I even said to hannah on race morning. I keep forgetting, I have a race today!
I had been through the procedure of warm-up and call-room before, so I was very relaxed through the process. As I looked around I could see how nervous people were. I felt like I had an advantage as I knew what to expect.
I usually only run one 5000m race each year, but this would be my 3rd of 2012 (Stanford in April where i ran 15:14, and the Olympic Trials in June). Again I was ready for any type of race. I was in heat 1 (again), so I though the race may go out at a good pace, since heat 2 would have the advantage of knowing the time needed for the 5 fastest looser spots.
The race went out pretty steady, and no one followed the Japanese woman that had immediately put herself 25m ahead of everyone. So I just sat in the middle of the pack and followed. My lack of 5000m running experience showed when the pace picked up around a mile (4 laps) to go. I didn't respond to the sudden pace change and continued to sit in around 10th place trailing off the back. I just kept focus on the Irish girl in front of me and said to myself, you need to catch her. I had a strong last lap, as I usually do, mainly because i haven't committed early on. I finished 9th in a Personal best time of 15:12.81. I was very suprised at the time. I had no idea what were were running. All I knew is, our 3000m split wasn't that fast.
I had hoped again that my time would be good enough to get into the final. But, only 1 person could gofaster than me in heat 2. A time of 15:06 made it into the final, one of the toughest qualification's in history.
Obviously I was disappointed not to make the final. But I did all I could on the day. Not many people qualify for 2 events at the Olympic level, so that in itself is an acheivement. Unless of course you are Mo Farah, who won 2 Gold medals in the 5000m & 10,000m!
…to be continued. My next blog will talk about enjoying the games after I finished competing.
(Sorry about the misaligned pictures/writing. The format when posted seems to have a mind of its own!)
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Well, I haven't cooked a meal since June 19th and it is now August 1st! Matching my mums cooking would be an impossible task, so I leave it to her. My sister and I have tried to make cakes from the same recipe, and they turn out nothing like hers…I just don't understand it!
One of my favourite things about being home is all the fresh produce. Fruit and Veg is so much cheaper in England and usually comes from a field a few miles down the road. Mum went to Bircham Windmill one Sunday morning and got fresh bread, amazing!
My brother, James, lives less than half a mile from my mums house, which means most days I get to see my nephew, Jacob. He will be one this month, so it is a pretty fun time to be around him.
I got him all kitted out in his Team GB gear ready to cheer me on!…Car sponsorship
James, owns a car repair business called "Midnight Motors"
, and has sponsored me with a car to use whilst I am home. I was so happy when he told me as it meant I could freely make the 4-hour roundtrip drive to get treatment from UKA physio's, travel to Norwich for my track sessions where I can get pacing help from the club boys and to go to different places to run when ever I need to.
This is the time to be smart, get treatment regularly, put in quality track sessions, stay off the roads and get to nice flat trails with good footing.
With all the rain we have had, the farm tracks I usually run on are very wet, slippery and bumpy. Thankfully Sandringham doesn't hold much water as it is sheltered by all the trees, so I can get there in the mornings to get a good run in. I haven't seen the queen out running yet though!…Paris Diamond League
I was looking forward to a quick race in Paris and was prepared for a fast first lap to get myself in the lead
pack. Certain races are renowned for being fast and athletes go there expecting big things.
I had never been to Paris, and was excited to find out our hotel was just meters from the Eiffel tower, I could actually see it from my bedroom window!
After a heavy rain storm on my warm-up, the weather settled and conditions were near perfect as I entered the beautiful 80,000 capacity stadium. I was ready for a fast first 1000m. As soon as the gun went I got out fast to put myself among the top few runners.
Unfortunately the pacemaker was a little hasty on her pacing, and went out like an 800m runner. No one wanted to lead, and the pace was beyond pedestrian. The race became very messy over the hurdles as we were so tightly bunched. We hit the 2000m mark in 6:32. Very disappointing.
Three water jumps from the end, one of the Kenyan women in front of me took a fall, and I lost a few seconds on the lead pack. With less than 1000m to go, the pace was starting to increase which made it difficult for me to catch back up. I was quite frustrated as I was feeling good and never able to get back in it over the past 2-laps. I ended up finishing 8th in a time of 9:37.41.
Although it was disappointing to not run fast, there were positives to bring from the race. Firstly, the heats in London may be very crowded and messy. When 15 people trying to jump over each barrier at the same time, it is important to stay relaxed, but also stay on your feet. Secondly, I could practice my mental thought process when the pace was slow, staying focused and alert, ready for someone to make a move.
Paris being Paris, had the most amazing bakery's. Every night at dinner there was a huge display of
delicious desserts. I most certainly took advantage of it after my race!London Grand Prix...
After Paris, my coach and I decided to get one more steeple in before the Games.
I was extremely lucky with the weather for my race. It had absolutely poured 30-minutes before my race and again as soon as I finished. But, the weather gods were with me today, and during my race is stayed clear.
The pacer did a fantastic job and hit the first 1000m in 3:04/05 as planned. My plan was to go with it from the start. I had a good first 1000m, but during the 2nd 1000m i felt a little heavy in my quads and dropped back into 3rd place.
At the bell i was back on it, and ready to kick for the win, but my legs just wouldn't go. I ended up finishing 3rd, clocking my 2nd fastest time ever of 9:29. 22. I also gained a diamond league point, which should be enough to put me into the Final in Zurich on August 30th.
I was disappointed not to win in front of the home crowd, but to dip under 9:30 feeling a little tired, is a good sign of my fitness. …British Olympic Association holding Camp Loughborough
I arrived in Loughborough on Wednesday July 18th.
The nearest centre to get physio/massage treatment from Norfolk is Loughborough, and I needed to get treatment before my planned arrival on for the training camp on Sunday, so I decided to go a few days early and get settled.
Hannah (England) was already here, and since we are used to training/rooming together I knew I would soon get into a good routine.
The food is great here. I am a bit of a fussy eater, i like simple foods, hate tomatoes, not a fan of pasta
and love bread! I am really happy I decided to base myself here for the 2 weeks proceeding the games.There is a good choice of places to run. My favourite place to run is the canal, and the perfect grass of the cricket pitch and campus fields are great for shorter runs and warm-up/warm-down for track sessions. …Kitting out process
People had warned me that the kitting out process would be at least 3 hours…and they weren't wrong…3hrs 40mins later and I was all ready for the Games.
My first stop was the ceremony wear fitting. We had been warned not to take any pictures in this secluded room, as the outfits were to be a surprise.
Each person had their own fitting room and personal fitter. All garments were ready for us to try on as we entered. Any adjustments or size changes could be made whilst we moved on to the village and competition wear fittings.
Most items came in a long, regular and short, including training T-shirts, shorts and bottoms.
There was a nice surprise waiting for me when i picked up my stuff. A backpack full of sponsors goodies,
including an ipod nano, links of London discount card, even a rubber duck!!!
I was also happy to see all the messages from the public on the Cadury's Wall. ...finally a 1500m PB
Last time I ran a PB in the 1500m was in 2008, so it was about time I erased that record.
The weather in Solihull was fantastic, as was the quality of the field, which included 3 London bound Olympians.
The pacer was set to run 66 through the 400m, and 2:13 through the 800m, which i was happy with as it
would give me a good shot at going well under 4:10. Unfortunately we went through around 2:15 and I
was stuck on the rail behind the leader, itching to get out with 600m to go and start winding up the pace.
With 800m specialists Jemma Simpson and Emma Jackson leading, and World 1500m silver medalist
Hannah England next to me, i knew I would need to make a move early if i was in with a shot at winning.
I managed to find a gap just after the bell and made a move on Jemma's shoulder, but my flat speed was
no match for the top 2. However, I held onto 3rd and gained a new personal best of 4:11.52. …onto the Olympic Village
Training in Loughborough has been fantastic. Hannah and I got into a great routine and were very happy with the set-up the BOA had provided for us.
Although we had different track sessions, we did all of our training at the same time. I was lucky enough to get help with my sessions from Hannah pacers from Birmingham. The group came over to Loughborough for all of our sessions, along with her coach. It was a great to have help, as I am used to being paced by Sean.
I will be leaving for the Olympic Village today (August 1st). All GB athletics team members enter the village 3 days prior to their first round of competition.
My next blog will take you through my London 2012 journey!
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Following a good run at Stanford I wanted to get straight into competing against the Worlds best and the first steeplechase on the Diamond League calendar was in Shanghai.
I flew from Atlanta to Chicago, before the monster 14.5hr flight to Shanghai. The entertainment system decided to shut down after 5hrs, just what you want with 9.5hrs remaining! Luckily I had a couple of films on my computer, so I watched Hangover 2 and Bridesmaids, until my battery died.
I flew economy plus and had an aisle seat, so I could get up and walk about and stretch whenever I wanted to.
It was only a short drive from the airport to the hotel. The hotel was actually inside the stadium! You can see from the picture to the right, the upper glass windows of the rooms.
Unless you are a World or Olympic medalist, you share a room with another competitor. My old FSU house mate Susan Kuijken was competing in the 1500m, so we requested each other as roomies which was nice.
Heavy rain had set in on the morning of the meet and was predicted to stay around for the evenings events. Weather can not be controlled and I never let the conditions affect my mental approach. The goal was still the same, to "compete" and bag the Olympic-A Standard of 9:43.00.
I went out mid-pack, but never really got into the race. There are so many things that go through
yourmind in your first Steeplechase of the year; will i slip on the water barrier? how
will my hurdling be?
I must run the A-Standard......with my mind all over the place i didn't focus on any one goal.
I ran around within my comfort zone and before I knew it, the bell was ringing to mark the final lap. It was disappointing to travel half way across the world for such terrible racing conditions, and as each lap passed the rain got heavier.
I achieved my goal of gaining the Olympic A-Standard, but I was disappointed with my overall performance. I knew if i could run a lazy 9:40 in bad conditions i had a very good time in me.
Next stop in the Diamond League would be the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon in 2 weeks time.
The next day I needed to get in my Long run before catching my flight home late afternoon. With so much traffic and so many lights it would be impossible get a good run in without having to stop every few minutes.
I decided my best option would be to loop the stadium and gymnasium opposite, which made for a 7-minute figure eight loop. I did this for 90-minutes. You do the maths! It was very boring, and I dare only wear one ear of my ipod headphones as the cars and motorcycles do not seem to abide by any traffic laws, or lines on the road!...British Record!
Prefontaine Classic. Eugene, Oregon.
After a disappointing race in Shanghai, my only goal going into this race was to go with the pace for the first 1000m, no matter what.
My psychologist (Stan) and I had worked on a strategy during the week to ensure this would be my sole focus, and i was confident with what he had planned for me.
I was suprised at how good I felt running off the back of the lead pack of 5, and we headed through the first 1000m in around 3:06. The Africans tend to stutter alot going into the barriers, then sprint off each one, so i gave myself a stride or two gap so i could keep a nice rhythm going as they fought for space among themselves.
I went through the 2km in around 6:17, a mere 5 seconds behind the leading trio, the fastest I have ever split. It is difficult to know your splits when the clock stops to show the split of the leaders, but i knew i was on pace for at least 9:30. I don't always look at the clock, but in Shanghai I thought I was going a good pace and i wasn't, probably due to the weather. So I wanted to ensure i wasn't slowing down.
Over the last 3 laps I made the mistake of focusing on the athlete behind me, rather than the pack in front. So I was actually racing for 4th and not for the "W".
With 800m to go i knew I was feeling good, but waited for the bell lap to make my move. I came home very strong and held my 4th position, smashing the British record by 5 seconds.
After the race i was obviously happy to have run a big personal best and a new British Record, but I was also angry at myself for not racing the leaders. Something to work on in my next race....NYC Mini 10k
I was invited to run the New York Mini 10k by New York Road Runners. It was the 40th anniversary of the race, which was the first-ever road race exclusively for female participants.
I represented the inclusion of the Women's Steeplechase for the first time ever at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008.
The timing of the race was perfect. My coach had a longer 5/6mile tempo race set for me, so the 10k (just over 6 miles) would be a great workout, and the opportunity to be involved in such an amazing event.
The course took us around the rolling hills of Central park. The race was lined with spectators which provided a fantastic atmosphere, and a total of 6.122 women participated in the race.
I finished the race in 35:01, which calculates to 5:36 per mile.
Following the race the elite female participants and a number of invited guests gathered for an amazing 7-course Lunch at Becco on NYC's famed restaurant row. Special guests included Jacqueline Dixon, the first ever winner of the event back in 1972 as a 17-yr old and Kathrine Switzer, who challenged the all-male tradition of the Boston marathon, and became the first ever female to officially enter and run the event.
After lunch I took the opportunity to go and watch the NYC Diamond league.
On Sunday morning I meet my good friend Harry Norton who lives a few blocks from central park and enjoyed a nice tour of the bridle paths in Central park and the beautiful campus/trails through Columbia University.
A special thanks to NYRR for putting on such an amazing event.
A full story on the race can be found here http://www.nyrr.org/run-with-us/nyrr-new-york-mini-10k/race-recap
My husband and coach, Sean, was successful in getting a new position within New Balance and took the job as the sales rep for the Boston and NE area.
We have made 2 big moves over the past 4 years, so we were much more relaxed about the short move North to Boston. Previously we had the long trek across the US from Florida to California and then back east to Atlanta
I went up to Boston for 3 days to house hunt. We were successful in finding a beautiful little home with a garden. We have an 85lb/38kg dog, so it will be nice for him to have a space outside to play.
I flew straight from Boston to London on Tuesday before the trials. (with my new super lightweight New Balance spikes!)....Olympic Trials
My coach I decided it would be better for me to run the 5000m at the Olympic Trials.
Firstly, thesteeplechase comes with a high risk of picking up an injury, and secondly I could train much harder before and after the weekend if I ran the 5000m.
The race went out painfully slow. I had no idea what the plans of the other athletes were so i was ready for a blistering start or a jog in the park.
The latter barely describes how slow the first lap was. I think it was around 87 seconds. I positioned
myself on the rail behind the leader to ensure i was ready for any sudden move or change of pace.As we hit 3000m, in a pedestrian 9:59, the pace slowly began to increase and I knew as each lap passed the pack would get smaller and the pace would get faster. I felt pretty relaxed throughout the whole race, and my stride always feels better when the pace quickens.
I decided to wait until the last lap to see if anyone would make a move, and it seems this was the thought process of the other two women. Even on the back stretch with 250m to go I felt very comfortable. I was anxious to make a move and probably should have gone further out or left it until the home stretch. Instead i was a sitting duck for Jo Pavey as she followed me round the final bend before accelerating for the win over the last 50m.
It was a display of experience by Jo, and i will pocket this race as a lesson in tactics.
I am really happy the race went how it did, it was like running the heats of a championship. I have yet to run a race this year that wasn't fast from the gun, so i was able to practice my mental focus, respond to pace changes and race for the win.
My top 2 position granted me automatic selection for the 5000m at the Olympics. I hope also to be selected for my main focus, the 3000m steeplechase. Team selections will be announced next Tuesday, July 3rd.
UK followers can view my race on BBC iplayer via the following link. You can skip forward to 1:05.00. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01k9tcb/Athletics_2012_24_06_2012/
The following day I did my long run as usual. With no racing until July 6th my coach wanted me to get in a good long run as it would be one of my last 90-minute efforts. I waited until the evening as I got home quite late on Sunday night, which also meant a nice lay in!
This week I will be putting in a good block of mileage and some solid longer workouts. I will do my main track session with my Club at Norwich on Thursday night, which is great as i can get pacing help from some of the boys.
The next day i will travel to Birmingham for treatment from the UKA team, which I can access as part of my UKA lottery funding. It is important I stick with my weekly massage/physio routine to stay healthy.
My next race will be the Paris Diamond League on July 6th. I will face the complete Olympic Kenyan and Ethiopian team, plus last years World Championship Silver medalist. I will be looking to place as high as possible and hope to run a fast time.
The Olympic Torch Relay will be coming through King's Lynn next Wednesday so I hope to catch that before I head to Paris.
Don't forget you can follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/#!/BarbaraParker3
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
This blog is extremely late and way to long for one blog so i am breaking it up into 2 parts. Part 1 "Tallahassee to Stanford" and Part 2 "Shanghai to Boston".
I spent 10-days in Tallahassee during March to get some quality training in with my old FSU team mates Hannah England and Lydia Willemse. Ed Aston, Luke Gunn and Coach Bud Baldaro made it a nice small group for a mini warm weather training camp. We all stayed in a house together which was nice. Night times were filled with family dinners, a lot of laughs, me beating Ed & Luke at Bananagrams and early nights.
It was great to change scenery for a short while and get away from the extremely high pollen in Atlanta. Tallahassee is only a 5hr drive, so it was easy to bring the altitude tent with me. However, it wasn't so easy assembling it!
Firstly, I didn't realise how big it was and secondly I couldn't remember which poles went where.. Luke and I finally figured it out after a few failed attempts. I'm sure it was last thing he wanted to do after a long days travel from England!
Hannah and I had 2 great track workouts together whilst I was there. With Hannah's speed and my strength, we were a goodmatch for each other at this point in the season. Our first session was a mix of 400's and 500's, ranging from 68-63, off short recoveries. We alternated leading reps which was nice. Unfortunately it was my turn
to lead on the last rep and I had the World Championship 1500m Silver Medalist sitting on my shoulder ready to strike on the final straight!
Our next session were some pace change 1k's. It was my first
pace change workout of the year, and a session I had never done before, so I was unsure what to expect and a little nervous going into it. After the first rep I soon realised where my fitness was at and we smashed the session, running no slower than 2:53 throughout the whole session
I ran with Luke and Kevin Sullivan for most of my easy days. Tallahassee has a number of great trails, but our favourite is the Tom Brown Park trail. We saw over 10 gators in the lake there one evening. Luckily we didn't encounter any on the trail.
My season started with the Seminoles Invite in Tallahassee on April 16th . Originally, I was only going to be running the 1500m, but Sean sprung it on me the night before that I would be doing an 800m/1500m double. The 800 felt like an all out sprint, as I expected! I had an hour and 20 minutes between the two events, so it was a little long not to do a short cool down, before I had to warm up again for the 1500m!
Two of Florida States top 1500m runners were in the race too which meant we were able to share some of the pace. Amanda Winslow set a nation leading time and took the first 600m before I took on my own duty. The home straight was tough with a fairly strong wind, but I still managed to hold on for the win in 4:13.31, just short of my personal best.
Luke travelled back with me to Atlanta the following day after our long run and stayed with us for the 2 weeks leading up to Stanford.
Sean and I travelled to Stanford, California together, which was great. I had two goals going into the Stanford meet:
1. To run the Olympic A-Standard of 15:20
2. To get In N Out Burger
For those people that have been lucky enough to experience the deliciousness of In N Out burger, you definitely take advantage of the opportunity to get a "double double" when you are on the West Coast.
I am happy to say, I managed to achieve both goals!
When you go to the Payton Jordan meet you expect nothing but perfect conditions, and as usual the "Stanford Factor" did not let us down.
Going into the race I knew I had done some great sessions and anything slower than 15:20 would be a below par day.
When the gun went off I made the mistake of going straight to the rail and found myself boxed in for the first 200m. I ended up at the back of the 23 person field before I could find a gap to put myself near the front pack.
Since the field was so big it took a long time for people to spread out and establish more permanent positions
I wanted to go out and feel comfortable through the first 3000m and went through in 9:12, which is 15:20 pace.
I had hoped to get into a nice rhythm and take a ride, but that didn't really happen until the last mile
I usually negative split the last 1000m considerably, so I was ready to pick it up going into the last few laps. I think you always go into your first race a little conservative. After feeling so strong in the last mile, which i covered in 4:48 (15:00 pace) I know I have the ability to go much faster, and I am hoping to run another one and get closer to 15:00.
A video of my race can be viewed herehttp://www.flotrack.org/coverage/248561-2012-Stanford-Payton-Jordan-Cardinal-Invitational/video/632348-W-5k-H01-Kipyego-World-Leader-2012-Payton-Jordan-Invite
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
As I mentioned in my last blog, I had an indoor mile race planned. Well, the meet schedule got moved up 3.5hrs and I didn't know! Thankfully we had only been driving 10 minutes before someone at the meet called to tell us. Instead, Sean and I drove to the track and cracked out a really good session.
Since I had a race planned, we took the opportunity to test pre-race strategies, which include diet, tapering, ice-bath, altitude and the timing of other small but crucial decisions.
I took the 3 days proceeding my race out of the altitude tent. Most people complain about having trouble sleeping in an altitude tent, I seem to be the opposite! It took me 2hrs to get to sleep the first and second night, maybe I was just anxious to race. Saturday night I went back in it and slept like a baby!
I am trying to be more flexible with my diet. The people that know me well, know I am a creature of habit and routine, including my food! I am definitely a coffee snob, only Starbucks will suffice!
Over the years I have become much more adventurous, mostly because Sean Makes me try new things! Once he left me at a rest stop for 45 minutes because I wouldn't try and Pecan Log Roll!!! If it was up to Sean we would eat at places like this...
I can't believe I didn't use to eat yoghurt, cheesecake, sushi or drink Orange Juice! I am traditionally English when it comes to food. I blame it on my parents! I was raised on meat and potatoes and to my father thought pizza was foreign!
It was quite a transition when I first moved from a rural English Village to the US in 2005. No more fresh veg or eggs from the chickens in the garden, fresh milk from the milkman every morning or even fresh beef from the cows down the road!
When traveling to various races all over the world, food choices are important, but often not available. I eat quite a lot of calories as a distance runner and ensure I get enough energy and nutrition everyday to meet my energy demands.
Often food at races lacks nutritional value, especially the athlete villages at major championship events where food is made on mass, and I suffer with energy loss. I don't like tomatoes or spaghetti, which is quite commonly served at the meet hotels.
All that training goes down the drain when you do not prepare properly. So this year I promised myself to be conscious of my nutritional intake at races and ensure I can cope with different foods.
I usually pack food for races where I feel I may struggle with what is provided. This year I will sacrifice less clothes for more food!
It is also easy to opt for the free meal at the hotel, but I have come to learn that spending a little money on getting a good meal somewhere pays off.
On another note, Spring/Summer is officially here! Most days are in the 80's now, thats around 27 Degrees C, with nice cool evenings.
However, with the welcomed warm temperatures, comes the pollen! The high pollen levels combined with rapid temperature rise, leaves you feeling a little drained. So it is really important to focus on rest and sleep during this initial onset of weather change.
We hit a record here in Atlanta on March 20th. Counts soared to 9,368 particles per cubic metre of air, which surpassed the previous days record of just over 8,000. Any count over 1,500 is considered high! Many people experience EIB (exercise induced broncospasm) when pollen levels are high.
Pollen is one of many factors that triggers EIB. Running in very cold temperatures can trigger EIB, we accept the shortness of breath is a result of cold air causing this restriction of air to our lungs. However, many athletes do not recognise this same physiological reaction to high pollen levels, and tend to feel baffled as to why they feel so out of breath and tired.
Atlanta is built on a forest so there is plenty of pollen to go around. Some days it feels like you are running at altitude!
I have been meeting with my Psychologist, Stan Beecham, once a week since October. It frustrates me to think I did not benefit from our sessions in previous seasons. Our meetings have affected my training in every way. I am so excited to put my training into races.
My first race will be a 1500m on April 14th at the Seminole Invitational in Tallahassee. Then I will travel to California for a high quality 5000m at the Stanford Payton Jordan Invitational on April 29th.
I just returned from a 10-day training trip to Tallahassee, FL with Hannah England, Lydia Willemse, Luke Gunn, Ed Aston and the legendary Bud Buldaro for some quality training. Look out for my blog about my trip in the next few days.
Friday, March 02, 2012
Looking back in my training diary, there hasn't been a week that has passed where i haven't PB'd in some aspect of my training...since December!
Last Saturday I had my first mediocre session in a long time. To top it off half way through my workout the heavens opened which only added to the mood!
I did however run a PB 5-mile tempo run earlier in the this week. Sean was out of town with work, so I had help from local masters runner, Brit turned American, Malcolm Campbell. Malcolm is the 2011 Master Marathon Champion, USATF Club XC Masters (40-45) champion, and runner-up in the Half Marathon. He joined me for the last 3-miles which was nice and we got down to 5:15 pace. It makes a change for me to not hit my track times and smash my tempo splits.
Strength is something that takes a long time to build. Speed can be produced in a much shorter amount of time, so i am happy to be in this situation at this time of the year. Although it took me a couples of day to get out of my "funk" as Sean called it.
Sean suggested I wait until Sunday afternoon following my track session, to give myself a little more recovery going into the long run. It was great not to have to get up early on a Sunday, its been a while! That being said in the back of my mind all day were the 14miles i had to run! I had a great run and it seemed Saturdays workout was just an "off day".
I have really been focusing on rest this week. I caught up on 6 episodes of "Revenge", which is a series that is on at 10pm on Wednesday nights. We usually try and get in bed around 10pm, so I record it.
My order of super Epsom salts came this last week. I am really trying to do everything possible to ensure i can train as hard as possible without interruptions through injury or fatigue. I rub it into my legs like a scrub with warm water.
We decided to buy a massage table this week. I see an excellent sports & chiropractic therapist every week, but in between time Sean often massages my legs for extra recovery. We found out about a wholesale dealer nearby and the price was right!!!
I had the dreaded trip to the dentist this week. Last year i had to miss indoors because of root canal surgery. It is amazing how much your teeth can affect your health. So i en
sure i keep up with my trips to the dentist. I want to go into the Olympic Trials knowing have done everything possible to be at
Sean and i booked our flights for the Payton Jordan meet in Stanford, California which is on April 29th. I hope to go under the Olympic A standard in the 5000m. Every year the 5000m is a loaded field, and with an Olympic year i am expecting a really quality field to help me get that time.
I will be racing an indoor mile tomorrow (Saturday). Mainly to just break up training and have some fun. It is a short drive, just 2hrs to Birmingham, Alabama. I am really looking forward to racing. Plus i get to wear my "lush" new kit. New Balance has some really cool new stuff out. I am really lucky to be part of Team NB in this Olympic year.
On another note, my sister, Marie, had a winner this week at Folkestone. She works for Neil King, St Gatien Racing, in Newmarket. For those American readers, Newmarket is the Kentucky of the US. "A Little Swifter" was feeling swift on the rare Feb 29th, and stormed to victory.
Don't forget to follow me on twitter. barbaraparker3
Thursday, February 09, 2012
...a change of plan
If every athlete is training as hard as I am in the hope of making the making the Olympic Team, the Trials are going to be extremely competitive. London 2012 is in the back of my mind for every run, every session and even how I go about my day.
Training is still going very well. Over the past 5-weeks only 1-week has been below 90 miles.
This week I am enjoying a rest week, although I will still hit around 70 miles.
We have decided to skip indoors. Originally I was going to run the 3000m at the New Balance Boston Indoor Games, which was last weekend. However, my coach decided that training is going so well and cramming in track sessions for 1 or 2 indoor races isn't worth the sacrifice of the momentum we have right now. I have a mile indoor race planned for March 3rd. It is close to home and will give us a good idea of where my fitness is at as i approach a more specific period of my training cycle.
Last week i enjoyed a 2-day trip to Tallahassee. For those of you that don't know, Tallahassee is in Florida, where I went to University. The trails are a distance runners haven, and all within a close proximity to the University. The weather is warmer than it is here in Atlanta, but slightly more humid. The humidity during the early summer and summer months does make it feel a little tougher, but when you leave you feel like you just came down from altitude!
St.Marks, shown in the picture is a great place for tempo runs. It is 16miles long and is marked every 400m, it is totally flat and shaded by a canopy of tress. I took advantage of the path and ran a PB tempo run. Trails run off the path which allows you to stay off the road during warm-up/warm-down.
I will be going down to Tallahassee in March/April for 3 weeks to train. There will be a group of us for the "warm weather" training spell and will be a great period of quality training before I begin racing.
I was happy to get a break from the longer reps and enjoyed a nice "speed" session last week. Although these days speed sessions are still long! I tell my coach, I dream of nice sessions again!!!
I got my new spikes from New Balance this week, only for Sean to tell me we will not be doing a track session until next week. What? But i have new spikes!
We have the Stanford Payton Jordan 5000m on April 29th penciled in on the calendar. The weather and quality of the fields at Stanford are world class, and many other athletes will be looking to run the A-standard too.
Some of you may be depressed to hear that spring has come early, the daffodils are out....sorry for all of you stuck in snowy England!
Monday, January 16, 2012
Since my last blog, I have been putting in a lot of mileage and working on general body strength in the gym.
I always remind myself how lucky I am that I don't have to deal with the British weather here in Atlanta. However, the week before Xmas we had a cold front come through. At 8am at the trail it was 23 degrees Fahrenheit, that's -5 Celsius! Sean was away for the night with work, and my other running partner was taking some time off, so it was just me and the ipod!
Luckily it only lasted a few days and it was back to shorts and t-shirt weather by the end of the week.
We spent a week in Florida over Christmas with Sean's family. I hit my highest mileage week of 2011 the week before Xmas,
which meant i was on a down week during the holidays, which was nice.
I am starting to get into some harder workouts now, so the warm weather meant I could get in some good quality work.
I did a 7 mile progressive tempo, 9x800 and 6 sets of 300,200,100 whilst I was there.
All my sessions went well. It really makes a difference when you aren't fighting the cold and layered in clothing!
The mornings were perfect for a nice cool dip in the pool or even better, a natural salt ice bath in the ocean!
I have a couple more weeks of high mileage before indoor season. Since college, I have really progressed as each season has past with my mileage. I think if you want longevity in your career you have to be patient and look at things long term.
But now I am a that point in my career where I am hitting the peak. With London 2012 less than 200 days away I am training harder, longer and more intensely than ever before.
The past two weeks I have ran over 90 miles. I used to think 50 miles was a huge achievement in college. now even 70 miles feels like nothing!
We have just moved to a new house. We literally live less than 400m away from the river trail. We run there everyday, sometimes twice, so we are really excited to be so close now.
The river trail is the hub for all runners, cyclists and walkers, in an around Atlanta. The road into the trailhead is 2.5 miles long and each quarter is marked. The speed limit is 25mph and it is used as much for running and cycling as it is for cars.
On Sunday after my long run i was so happy just to stroll back to the house and get a big breakfast on!
Duke, enjoying the view from our back porch.
I received my first shipment from my new sponsor New Balance this week. I am proud to be a member of Team New Balance
heading into 2012!
Monday, November 07, 2011
I have gotten into a great routine with my winter training. This week my mileage was just over 80, that's 80miles not Kilometers!
Today i have a rest day. I usually take one day of every 2 weeks.
During my break and build up to normal training volume i was able to get out into the local running community. I visited a few schools around Atlanta to hand out running shoes for the "Girls on the Run" program. GOTR is a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running.
I am thrilled to have been asked to be the official starter of the GOTR 5k Atlanta race on Nov.13th.
I also visited a couple of local colleges to talk about my experiences as college and professional runner. Most mornings my husband and I meet with my massage therapist, Robin Rogers and run at the Chattahoochee river trail close to our house.
The trail is a runners dream. Soft dirt with quarter mile markers all the way, but i have my Garmin of course! We also have the option to run up in the wooded trails. I usually meet some local guys for a trail run on Friday mornings.
Currently twice a week I have weights and 4-5 afternoons a week I have a 2nd run. I had my first workout last week, and pleasantly surprised myself with my tempo pace. Tempos are my weakness, so I was really happy with my workout.
This week I had my first session with Chiropractor Dr.Josh.Glass at Georgia Sports Chiropractic. Dr Glass has served as the USA Track & Field World Championship Team Chiropractor at the last two world Championships and has been the event Chiropractor at the USA National Champs since 2004.
I get a stitch/cramp quite often, and it really held me back in the Final at the World Champs this year, so i am looking to fix this issue with the help of Dr.Glass.
My massage therapist works closely with Dr.Glass which is great as they can communicate my needs easily. I also have the use of the fantastic technology which includes the Alter G Treadmill and Pneumatic Compression sleeves. The NormaTec MVP provides pulsating compression to your legs to reduce swelling, muscle fatigue and stiffness.
We are extremely lucky to have such a good quality altitude tent. My sleep is not disturbed at all. Those of you who have experienced sleeping in an altitude tent know it can get very hot. We are currently sleeping at 12,000ft. 12hours a day at 12,000ft is said to be equivalent to 25hrs a day at 6,000ft. I am planning to get in some altitude training between January and April next year in either Kenya or Font Romeu.
This week Sean is working with New Balance at the New York Marathon, so it is just me and Duke (my dog). He enjoyed a nice bowl of Delia Smith's Yorkshire pudding recipe and gravy tonight! For those American readers Yorkshire Puddings are amazing and Delia Smith is an English Cook and the UK's best selling cookery Author.
Look out for the launch of my website this week!
Thursday, October 06, 2011
World Champs...making the final! It's been a while...sorry! I am currently working on my website and should have it up and running by the end of the week. Following on from my last blog in Daegu... My pre-meet went really well at the track in the village the day before my race. It always helps to feel good the day before, and it got me really excited about the race.
I felt really good going into the heats, my warm-up went well and I knew what I need to do to make the final. I was 100% focused on making the final and really believed I would.
I ran with confidence and stayed wide to keep myself at the front. 5 of us broke away but only 4 would qualify. Apart from getting a stitch with 600m to go, I felt great. I knew at the bell lap that my time would be good enough for a spot in the final, and I ended up less than a second off an automatic top 4 spot in my race.
Going into the final I really believed I could be top 8, which would have gained me automatic selection for London 2012. However things just didn't go well on the day. The final is still a mystery to me! 50m into the race one of the Ethiopian's fell and I had to jump over her, which caused a gap from me and the rest of the field. From that point onwards I was never in the race and simply ran. Finishing 14th was not my goal, nor was running my slowest time of the season.
I still had a week left in the village before retuning to England. Which meant another week of terrible food in the dining hall! I have never eaten so much pineapple in the space of 2-weeks in my life! Luckily I had fabulous room mates.
Since I was the first one to arrive in our apartment I managed to shotgun the ensuite! Hannah was pretty happy when she arrived. Our bathroom was the official ice-bath room! Holly Bleasdale wasn't having any of it though! I took a day off following the race and then continued my training as normal. My coach and I were undecided on wether we would run anymore races following Daegu.
Thankfully my roomie Hannah England won the silver medal in the 1500m 2 days later which lifted the mood! Being so close to someone who has just won a medal and seeing how exciting it all is, really made me want that success too. I couldn't resist a track invasion!!!
During the training camp in Ulsan my brother and his wife had a little boy, Jacob. He is the first baby amongst my brother, sister and I and was supposed to be born before I left. So I stayed home for a couple of days to see him before returning to the US of A. I was away for 3-months from husband and dog Duke, so it was great to back together again.
My last race of the season was the 5th Avenue mile in New York City. It is the second time I have ran this event, my last outing being back in 2009. The event is organized by NYRR and is one of the most enjoyable events of the summer racing season. The entry list was one of the strongest ever, including eight olympians and four 2011 world championship finalists. Headlining the women's race, Gold and Silver medalists in the 1500m Jenny Simpson and Hannah England, 4:00 flat
runner Morgan Uceny and the versatile 5000m Silver medalist Sally Kipyego. The race went out pretty steady and I was in the middle of the pack until about 600m in. The race goes uphill from 400m-800m and I didn't quite push hard enough which caused me to loose contact and the field began to string out. At around 1km I found myself reeling people in and I managed to gain a top 10 finish in a time of 4:31.7, only 1 second off my track PR (or PB, depending if you are British or American!)
Last week I had my first session with Sports Psychologist Stan Beecham. I first met Stan at Zap Fitness in Boone, North Carolina whilst I was attending a pre season camp with Florida State University. My coach and I decided my psychology during races is an aspect of training we needed to address. Both physical and psychological capabilities contribute to good performance and it is important to understand that on race day 50% of performance comes from both mental and preparatory decisions. Training this year has gone very well and we both feel I should be running a lot faster. So we are excited to see how this can help us with getting my times down going into London.
Today was my first day back from a short break. I felt really fresh and I'm really looking to getting back into some hard winter training.
Thanks to a local elite runner I have use of an altitude tent. I was really happy with my response from training in Font Romeu this year, so being able to sleep at altitude every night is something I hope to really benefit from. Thankfully we have Air Conditioning so it doesn't get hot in the tent at all. I intend to attend camps in Kenya and Font Romeu this year in preparation for the track season, so this will help a great deal in my transition to sleeping and training at altitude.
Until next time...
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Click on the link below to view the full story
"Barbara Parker ponders 5k and steeplechase pursuit"http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/14668033.stm
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Once again Aviva provided the GB team with an amazing holding camp. Our base was in Ulsan,1.5hrs South East of Daegu.
Training for mid-distance/endurance athletes in Ulsan was great. We were just a few minutes jog away from the river where we had a choice of dirt, tarmac or track surfaces. The Korean's seem to like laying track everywhere, which is great for us joggers!
The 2nd best thing about Ulsan was fact that there were two Starbucks within 200m from the hotel, closely followed by sushi everyday at lunch and dinner!
It pretty much rained the whole time in Ulsan, however the humidity was still quite high. I arrived in the village on Wednesday. We didn't leave until 2pm, so I had plenty of time to get my last pre race session in at the track in the morning. My heats are at 10:35am, so I have been doing the majority of my sessions in the morning.
The accreditation process was very fast, and I was in my apartment by 4:15pm. It was nice to have a short bus transfer rather than a flight.
Start lists for day 1 came out today and I am in heat 3 which I am happy with. Qualification is Top 3 and 3 fastest times. Usually 15 advance into the final, so I need to be on my A game to ensure a place in the final. This morning i will do some extended strides at the track with a short warm-up/cool-down. The track is only about 200m from our apartment block which is great.
Go TEAM GB!
Running the 1500 this weekend at the UK Champs this weekend was a nice change, it was also a good workout. The heat on Friday night went out steady, 2:23 through 800m. With Lisa Dobrisky, Stacey Smith and Celia Tayor in my heat, I knew I couldn't leave it down to the last 200m. I started to move through at around 600m to go and put myself right behind Lisa at the bell. It felt good to stride out, and safely make it into the final. I was surprised at my splits over the last 800m, 66 over the penultimate lap and 48 secs over the last 300m.
You never know how the final is going to go. Last year it went out very slow, however Stacey Smith had the World Championship A standard in mind. After a swift first lap of 63 seconds, I was sitting in about 6th place. I should have tucked in behind Lisa Dobriskey and Hannah England who ran a nice evenly paced first 800m, however i let them go to much over the second lap.
I have been finishing very strongly in all of my races this year, and I was able to steal a bronze medal on the home straight. Sadly, I could not catch my Font Romeu housemate Hannah England! I am hoping to run a couple more 1500's this year and get my PB down.
After the race it was important to start the recovery process asap. I warmed down with Stacey Smith and got in my recovery shake, Endurox r4. Since I was in my spikes 2 days in a row on the track I needed to make sure I went into this week without any tightness. Thanks to my lottery funding I was able to see Neil Black to ensure i got a good flush and eliminate any tight spots that may have occurred. On sunday I enjoyed a nice semi-long run around the Royal Sandringham estate. It is a short running distance from my house and very pictures. Sorry to say i didn't see Will & Kate or the Queen!
I am very to run the steeplechase at the London Diamond League on Saturday. It is a very nice feeling to go into a race thinking that you have done all the right training. My number one goal this weekend will be to go with the pace in the first 1km. If I can do that I will put myself in great contention for the win. I trust in my strength and kick over the last 800m 100% and will be looking for a big PB!
You can watch the London Diamond League on Saturday on BBC one from 13:30-16:30. (Women's Steeplechase @ 15:05pm) For timetable and Entry lists click here: http://www.diamondleague-london.com/Live-StartlistsResults/Overview/
Friday, July 29, 2011
My first steeplechase of the season, at the Birmingham diamond league was a little disappointing, however, I did manage to get 4th and most importantly run under the A standard for the World Championship. It was drizzling rain and wasn't great for steepling, but with my current fitness level, I thought I could still set a PB.
The race went out perfectly in 3:10, however I didn't! I found myself lagging in the first 1km. It could have possibly been the transition from altitude or maybe just nerves from my first steeple of the season. Once I got into my running I really felt great. I managed to run a fast last 1km which was an encouraging sign that I have a lot of strength.
The next day I returned to Font Romeu. The warm weather we had for the 3 weeks prior to Birmingham disappeared, however, Hannah England joined me in my apartment which was something I was looking forward to. We lived together when we attended Florida State University. Even though our training this time of year is very different, we always like to be at each others sessions and do our core/strength/pre-hab exercises together. The track in Font Romeu sits quite high and is a little exposed, so it can get quite blustery. As if 6000ft isn’t hard enough! They don’t mind bikes on the track, so I had Barry Fudge block the wind for me on my sessions.
Last Tuesday I left Font Romeu to run in the Spitzen Leichtathletik Meeting in luzern. Our main goal (my coach and I) for the race was to "compete" and place as high as possible.
The race was paced to 3:06 for the first 1km. I sat in at around 4th position for most of the race until I moved up in the last 1km. Just like Birmingham, my finish was very strong. However the leader managed to gap me which was something I need to focus on preventing. Especially if I want to make the final in Daegu. My time of 9:35.46 was again under the World & Olympic A standard and I was awarded with a nice 1/2 Carat diamond for winning!
The next morning US steepler Delilah DeCrescenzo and I decided to go and explore the mountains of Luzren. Note to self; don't take to many turns without leaving a paper trail! Our 80minute run included a nice 40 minute brisk walk back to the hotel! However we did get to see Luzern and its beautiful trails : ) I returned to Norfolk on Friday night and have been enjoying some good ole countryside running. My coach and I decided to get some quality sessions over the next few weeks at sea-level before heading out to the training camp in Ulsan on August 14th.
On Tuesday, Tim & Pauline Ash with City of Norwich Athletics Club, drove over to help time and support me while I ran a hard track workout. Lynnsport is renowned for being extremely windy. Even on a still day, Lynnsport will be windy! Thankfully Ruth Senior and Iona Lake came to help with wind blocking duties! I will be running the 1500m at AAA's this weekend, and then hope to run a fast time in the steeple at the London Diamond league the following Saturday. I am hoping for a performance that will attract some sponsors. I have been unable to pick up a kit sponsor for the past 2 seasons...time to step it up!
Sunday, July 03, 2011
This is my second week in Font Romeu and my training has been going great. The weather has been fantastic, although we did get a random shower of pea size hail on Wednesday afternoon!
After easing into training last week, I knew this week would be pretty tough, especially when you run with Paula Radcliffe on your recovery run! Tuesday, I hit the track for a standard 10 x 400 session. I did this session when I was here in April, so it was great be able to compare the two workouts. Previously, I had 1500m runner Stacey Smith pulling me round, but it was just me this time! The session went well and I was even up on my previous times!
Yesterday morning was my "big track session" of the week, and with the help of John Nuttall on the bike, it went great. The track is quite high in altitude here and also a little exposed to the wind, so it was good to have John in front of me to keep the pace even. Usually Sean, my husband (and coach) paces my workouts. The hardest task at running longer track workouts at altitude is consistency. Each lap gets tougher, so it really helps having someone there keeping you on pace.
This mornings’ long run was just that, A LONG RUN! It seems twice as long when at the end of a big week; 3 workout and 85 miles! Rest day tomorrow! I really look forward to my recovery days. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, my coach planned that well! So it looks like tomorrow will be a movie day : )
Our resident physio here in Font Romeu is Duncan Mason, client director at Athlete Matters in Manchester (athletematters.com). Duncan has been working with Jemma Simpson and I each day on our core, we are known as "The Core Club"! We have discovered muscles we never knew we had and weaknesses we have now conquered. We will miss Duncan when he leaves to go back to the UK on Wednesday. He has done a great job of keeping me healthy. Thanks Duncan!
Recently, people have been trickling into camp as each day passes. Lee Merrien, Chris Thompson and Ryan Mcleod have joined us. Jackie Areson and Galen Rupp of the Oregon Project arrived a few days later and few athletes from the Oregon Track Club are due to arrive anytime, so I should have plenty of people to train and explore the trails with. I am also looking forward to Hannah England and Helen Clitheroe coming out on July 11th.
Next week, I will be getting ready for my first steeplechase of the season at the Birmingham diamond league! I’m excited and ready to race!
Friday, July 01, 2011
Since arriving in Font Romeu, I've been trying do all of the little things right, core has been a focus along with my daily power naps!
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I arrived in Font Romeu on Tuesday evening, it has been 7 weeks since i was here last. Font Romeu is in the South of France and is situated at 6000ft.
My trip to Font Romeu in April was my first time at altitude so i didn't know what to expect or how i would find training. When i returned to sea level, it was clear that it was certainly beneficial. Early season personal bests in the mile (4:30.51) and 5000m (15:27.03) indicates a good season ahead.
On Friday morning I ran at the Plateau with Mo (Farah) and his training partner. I say "with", but they dropped me after 10 minutes! The Plateau is at 7000ft and has the most beautiful 360 degree views. It is amazing how different I felt on my 3rd day compared to last time. I'm not sure if it is because I knew what to expect or if i am still running off the physiological benefits of my last trip.
On our drive back down we came across Paula Radcliffe looking very strong running hill repeats. Yesterday morning I did my first session. The dam across the lake is perfect for repeats, it is almost 1000m across. There were a team of Australian Triathletes out there too, so I hopped in with one of the guys for my first rep. Shame he was on his last one, as I still had 5 more reps! It was a solid workout and i look forward to getting on the track on Tuesday.
My next race with be the Steeple at the Birmingham Diamond league. Our main goal will be the World Championship A standard. The World Championship trial is on July 31st, so in between time I will be looking to improve my times over the flat.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Last LapLap #9
Monday, June 20, 2011
As part of being a professional runner, you get to travel the world chasing your dreams. Today, I am back from Spain where I competed in the 5000m. I finished 2nd and nearly won! I set a new PB of 15:27.03! in gusty winds. Training has been going great and I was able to capitalize!