After my A Qualifying in Oslo, I had a really good week worth of training. PB-ing in both my Tuesday and Thursday session I knew I was in really good shape. However, our Saturday morning session was completed in weather I could only describe as the apocalypse. IT. WAS. FREEZING. Couldn’t believe the weather – along with the torrential rain – we were not a happy training squad. My session actually went well but something just wasn’t right.
These Pictures were clearly not from that day... But for some Sunday Newspapers whom came along to one of our sessions.
That night Howell mentioned he didn’t feel great and advised me to take the horrible concoction of vitamin C and zinc drink he had made up – but me, being my stubborn self, I refused. The next morning…. I woke up ill and Howell woke up totally fresh – I was not a happy bunny. Later that evening things got progressively worse. I had a really striking headache, swollen glands, red raw throat and my nose and sinuses were completely blocked! My face was all swollen and my eyes were all bloodshot, I looked like Quasimodo – not attractive.
I just couldn’t believe that the most important week of my life was happening and I had fallen ill! My one opportunity to secure my place for the Olympics was slowly starting to dwindle away from me. I got myself quite upset about it all – after such a hard winter coming back from injury – then clattering a hurdle the week before Oslo and missing more training – I then missed both my training sessions this week due to my cold. I just felt like God was single-handedly picking on me!
I think I have tried every possible cure (or more like myth) for the common cold. However after almost a full week of being ill, I went along to the Scottish Institute Doctor on Friday. I then realised it was maybe not just a normal cold and perhaps a virus – as my symptoms were not getting any better! I was prescribed some antibiotics and told to take them for the next two days. Again, me being my typical stubborn self, I was quite wary about taking them so close to such an important race – but, well… he is a qualified doctor and I’m a struggling maths student! Haha.. By Saturday, things had picked up, although my throat was still really sore. My mum persuaded me to gargle Bicarbonate Soda and water – which I can tell you tasted DISGUSTING – but it did ease the pain quite a bit. The other things I have tried and tested this week, from family, friends and Google.
1. Onion beside your bed to absorb the bacteria – Woke up in the morning and the whole room stank of onions and I felt just as groggy as I did previously. This was taken from family who claimed it was a tried and tested method – but I feel they may have been totally winding me up!
2. Gargling mouthwash to kill the bacteria that may be causing the soreness in my throat. – This actually did work slightly as it eased the pain in my throat to allow me to eat and drink a lot more comfortably!
3. Onions in my socks before going to sleep – yes, you read that correctly! My boyfriend and myself read it all over Google and when you hit desperate times you begin to use desperate measures. I definitely would NOT recommend this. It was disgusting. I woke up the next morning absolutely stinking of onion and my feet smelt like an off packet of Monster Munch crisps. It’s making me feel sick even thinking about it – I’m lucky I still have a boyfriend after seeing the state of me in the morning! Haha.
After having several discussions with my mum (coach) and with UK Athletics, they decided that the best option for me would be to wait as long as possible to make my decision as to whether I run or pull out of the Olympic Trials. However, if I were to pull out – my only final way of making the team would be to go to the European Championships in Hesinki a few days later – and to run the A time again. I knew that would be a hard feat, as the Euros are always renowned for being slow tactical races! After speaking with my mum and a few others, they decided my best option would be to race and aim for those top two ‘Automatic Qualifying’ positions. With the weather conditions in Birmingham not being ideal, I assumed it would be a slow-ish race, which would possibly help me.
The morning of my race, I was feeling a lot better and slightly more confident about the prospect of racing later that day! Getting to the track and picking up my number I did start to get more nervous about it. I have noticed that when I am calm, concentrate on other things and in a way, completely forget about my race – I usually end up running well! So I did my best to completely blank out the fact I was due to race in a few hours, despite the fact I was sitting in the indoor warm up arena seeing hundreds of athletes warm up right in front of me!
I had a bit of a panic in the call up room. I gave my mum my huge bag instead of carrying it around with me but realised as I was putting my spikes on, that I only had my really thick Asics socks. Nearly all steeplechasers wear no socks – I assume to reduce the amount of water that is absorbed and then carried around within your spikes! I, on the other hand, always wear thin socks. Last year, everyone kept saying to me, “Don’t be wearing socks”, “No-one else does”, “It’s just extra weight on your feet”, so through peer pressure – I decided to go bare feet and then broke my bloody foot! Haha. So from now on, the socks are staying firmly on!
Anyways I keep migrating from my original topic of this blog; my Olympic Trial! The race started slow as I imagined it would but the problem with slow steeplechases is that it gives me far too much time to think. I start to over think absolutely every jump, especially the water! Going up to the first one all I kept saying in my head was, “Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall”, and as you can imagine – I fell flat on my face. I jumped up on the wrong leg, mid air had a panic then landed on both feet, which completely tripped me up! Thankfully though it was only the first lap and I had another six to regain my position and move through the field. All of my barriers were also not great, I was stuttering a lot. This year my steeples have been with Kenyans etc, and they have been so far ahead of me that I’ve had a completely clear run! So it was my first proper competitive race with athletes all around me at every single barrier. With 600m to go I tried to push on and really made my final effort over the last lap. Luckily enough for me it was enough to earn me my first ever British Championship title (apart from the Cross-country back when I was Under 13!!) and pull clear by 6 seconds. It was nice to see my former training partner and close friend Emily Stewart come through to take the bronze medal. The Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games is definitely going to be a strong one for the steeplechase. More and more of the younger athletes are starting to come through and give it a go – which is great – and will only bring everyone on to quicker and better performances.
The whole weekend was extremely exciting. Scotland had some great performances. Eilidh Child and myself were the only athletes to secure our Olympic Places. But there are now some Scottish athletes fighting for those last few places. Lynsey Sharp had a phenomenal 800m victory along with Chris O’Hare’s bronze medal in the 1500m – both had me up on my feet absolutely screaming at the TV! I was almost more nervous for them rather than my own race!
Before my race I said to both Howell and my mum, ‘I bet you, I get drug tested this weekend’. Clearly I have psychic powers and was correct with my prediction! I just knew that the week where I have a list of medication to take due to my virus that, sods law, I would have to give a urine test. I spent almost 40minutes wandering around in Sainsbury’s in order to make sure that the Lemsip tablets I picked up were ones allowed! I even then checked with the Scottish Institute Doctor just to reassure me that paracetamol was Ok to take along with some other things to try and decongest my nose and head! Obviously being an athlete – you have to check these things and double check – as certain medications that are fully legal here may be different abroad etc. Thankfully I remembered to write down everything I had taken in the past week to make myself feel slightly better! After racing, the last thing you need to do is pee – as I always stop drinking about an hour before my race! You also can’t just down as much water as you possibly can as if the urine is under a certain level of dilution you then have to wait a full hour before giving a re-test. Some athletes can be there for hours and hours on end but thankfully I managed to leave within the hour. It’s always quite an embarrassing experience – but I’m sure for many of the older athletes, it’s something that you just get used to – and get on with! I was absolutely petrified the first time I did it! I didn’t realise your trousers (and underwear) have to be below your knees, with your t-shirt tucked up above your belly button – in front of a random lady you have never met, whilst she watches you wee. It’s a pretty awkward situation and I always feel the need to make really rubbish conversation, which probably just makes things more awkward! Anyways, its definitely something that you get used to doing as this time was a lot less awkward – and it looks like I’m going to have to get a lot more used to it with the up-coming Olympics – all athletes can be tested at any time.
I have now been de-selected from the Europeans this week, which means I now have a good few weeks of training before getting into some flat races. I don’t think I will do any more steeplechases between now and the games – to give myself time to recover and limit any chances of injury with my foot etc. I then have to go through the 3-hour process of picking up my Olympic kit from Loughborough in a few weeks time! I’ve seen some of the pictures – and its unbelievable the amount of kit you get given – so, so excited about it all! J I then go off to Portugal for 12 days with the Olympic camp, before spending the last final 3 days before competition in the village. It’s still all a bit surreal and I cant quite believe it’s happening. I feel like wrapping myself up in cotton wool and just lying in bed! I keep telling people that I’m not going to get myself excited about it all until I’m actually standing on the Olympic start line, fit and healthy! As I am fully aware that anything can happen! Really hoping that my luck is starting to change though. Onwards and upwards.
Next stop London! wahhhhhh!