Sunday, 29 March 2009

World XC Results & diary...

Well I'm back from my first World Cross Champs, with mixed feelings about the trip but on a whole it still been a very positive experience. Admittedly before the trip I was aiming for a top 60 and I think looking at a few the names that finish in or around that, a top 60 wasn't out of the question but it didn't quite go to plan. Finishing 91st in what is considered the most competitve foot race in the world has only give me a taste for more believe it or not and I'm sure on another day I would have achieved a better placing.

It's been a few days since my last post, so below you'll find an updated diary of the trip after my last entry in Heathrow....

Tuesday 24th March

Land in Amman about midnight as expected, I don't feel good after the flight. Started feeling a bit off colour into the last 20mins of the flight. After collected our bags we are met at the airport by Spencer Barden (who is looking after the organisation of the trip) plus our 2 security guards! who will be looking after us during our time here. During the 30min drive to the Hotel we are handed our room keys ( I'm rooming with Phil Nichols) and get a security briefing. Whilst Jordan is currently considered a low risk UK Athletics have decided to take no chances, unfortuntately it means we only allowed out of our hotel to go to the training venue (by bus) and to the supermarket (across the street - which we are escorted to as a group). We go straight to bed on arrive at the hotel.

Wed 25th March

After breakfast we have a team meeting and then kill time socialises in the hotel. In the afternoon we all get the coach to the secure training venue which is a 2k offroad loop policed by arm guards. I get in an easy 45minute run but breathing is a little heavier than normal today as Amman is at a slight altitude of 3000feet (I didn't know that until we got here, its not a problem though as we have sufficient time to adapt and its not particular high altitude). Haven't feel good today though, stomach has been playing up since last night.

Thurs 26th March

After breakfast we head over to the training venue, its just an easy 30mins this morning but I have stomach cramps which makes for an uncomfortable run. I see the team doctor later on who gives me something to help matters. Decide against running again later in the afternoon so stomach can settle down. End up going to bed early tonight as feel worse in the evening, don't sleep well either.

Friday 27th March

See the Doc. first thing, no sign of an infection so thats good news. ts decided that I should buy food from the supermarket rather eat the hotels though as precausion. After breakfast we get bus to the course, it looks far from being ready to run on! plus to say this is a gold course there's no grass to be found! Sorry, we do find some for the last 100m, its espicially laid out turf, unfortunately the remaining 11900m of running will be hard solid compact stoney ground. They are also putting a large steam roller over it today! The lap is 2000m long with essentially 3 similar length sections a long uphill, a fast downhill and particular hard flat section along the bottam of the course. The course is also very narrow, it's going to be an interesting race. Some of the others get an easy run out on the course but my stomach still hasn't settled so I decide to sit this out. Later in the day the stomach does seem to settle down a bit which is promising. Evening is spent discussing the tomorrows race, order in the starting pen and what length spikes to wear, some of the others are considering racign flats due to the hard underfoot conditions. I decide on 9mm spikes and arrange my kit and bag for race day before bed.

Sat 28th March

I get up early for a light breakfast (own food again), mid morning we get a bus to the training venue and most do a short easy jog and strides to loosen up the legs. My stomach seems to feel ok which is reassuring. Have light lunch before getting bus to the course. On arrival we find it is heavily armed with guards that look like something out of robo-cop! Weather is a bit cooler today, its patchy cloud and a bit windy too. Warm up area is small (approx 200m loop on not very good ground) which makes a train of running traffic when there are around 150+ athletes all warming up in the same location, its does the trick though. Last call closing 25mins before race so we go through early as a team and complete our warm up in the last call area which is immediately behind the starting pens. Again a small area for 150 runners but it good enough. I feel ok in warm up with signs of the stomach problems of the last few days. 10mins to go I decide to remove my tracksuit and gets some strides in (we only have the start straight which is uphill to do this on) i get a good 4 or 5 strides in and feel ok. with still over 5mins they close off the start area so no more strides, Im ok but a couple of the other lads haven't completed there warm up but can't do much about it now. We line up in the pen and try to stay warm ( the wind makes it a bit chilly, air temp is recorded at 12c) I am in the second row in the pen, which suits me fine. They make sure we are all lined up correctly in our pens we await the starters orders. When the guns goes its a fast start as expected up the hill (approx 200m long) to the first corner where the course narrows to only 3 or 4metres wide, traffic is a bit crazy here as people jossle for position after the bend the course is then downhill for 600m - with hard stoney ground underneath and unable to see my feet due to 100m other athletes immediately in front of me I just try to stay on my feet and hold my position. After the first lap the pace settles down and we end up packing close together as a team. It stay like this for the first 3 laps where we work our way through from outside the top 100 to into the 80th to 90th. I find that I'm struggling on the hill and regularly seem to loose ground to people here and then close the gap on the fast downhill. After 3 to 4 laps of this though I loose touch with a group containing 4 of the other GB lads running much of the remainder of the race in small groups just behind. Whilst the hills is tough the atmosphere is electric, the banks alongside are packed with hundreds of noisy supports from around the world with speakers blaring out old school music from chariots of fire to Peters Kays Amerillo! The speakers are right next to the course and help to blank out the pain in a strange kind of way! I hear a lot of support from english supports out on the course which helps and in particular the last 200m finish section I here a scottish chat shout my name and tells me to finish like I did at Nottingham (that wasn't a pretty sight that race though!) I finish strong and close on the guys in front but don't quite catch the French men in front of me.

We finish 14th and I'm 91st from 137 finish. Check out full results and further info and stats on the link below.

After the race my calves are in pieces, a get a short warm down in but don't do much as my calves and achilles are sore. I get brief and painful massage on my calves - Mike Skinner the git take a photo of me during this. The pain is etched all over my face - I might try and get hold of that one from him and post up for a laugh!

I will post some pictures up later in the week if I get chance.

In the meantime below is a link to a few pics of the us during the race...

Cheers for now


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Last update before Jordan...


Currently in Heathrow airport killing a bit of time, we fly out later this afternoon and will be arriving at our Hotel in Amman about midnight all being well. I'm having a rest day today but yesterday was my last session which was a 10min controlled effort followed by 2 x 5min efforts and then 10 x 1min efforts to finish off (all on the grass), the 10 and the 2 x 5 were fairly controlled as were the minutes to be honest, although they were a bit faster. Generally felt pretty good, although my right calf/achilles is a little tight - but nothing an easy week won't fix i'm sure. Last night we had a send off meal at the officers mess with some of the soldiers from the block we are staying in, before sorting out the packing in advance.

That's pretty much it from the UK, if internet at the Hotel in Jordan will post again later in the week.



Sunday, 22 March 2009

Inside the Training Camp...


Just thought I'd provide a brief low down from inside the training camp...

Home for the past few days and until Tuesday is Keogh Army Medical base in Aldershot. It's excellent venue for what we need, great places to run whether it be the nearby woods, the canal and a short drive to the track and large grass fields. Rooms are large, although very warm! as my radiator broke and is stuck on max, so I have the window wide open! not very energy efficent I know! The food is also pretty good with 3 meal laid on everyday in the offices mess, where we need to wear full GB kit, their is normally a strick dress code but have dispensation to where GB kit. Our barracks are basic but have everything we need, with small kitchen for snacks and drinks and washing facilities onsite too.

Check out the picture of our barracks below, its a great setting...

Here's brief run down of the past few days...

Friday 20th Feb

I arrived in the evening so not a lot to mention. Got my security pass at the gates and settled into my room (everyone has there own room) and then went to dinner with the others. A few others arrived tonight but most of the seniors arrive tomorrow, juniors have been around since Wednesday.

Sat 21st Feb

Track session in the morning with a few of the others seniors... Phil Nichols, Andy Vernon, Keith Gerrard. Sessions was 5 x 800 (200jog) 400 (200jog) then after 2 lap jog 6 x 200 again with 200 jog recovery. 3 of the junior men also did session in part with Simon, Tom and Nick doing either 3 or 4 sets of the 800/400 and then rejoined for some of the 200's at the end. Weather was great, felt more like summer!

Times of session varied but 800's were generally 2.13 getting down to 2.08 by the last set. 400's were 62's getting down to 60's by the end. The 200's were quicker than planned at around 28/27secs, the competitive nature kicking in no doubt :-) 200m jog between reps was generally 70-80secs throughout. Check out the pic of the guys that were involved below....

After the warm down we drove back to base for some lunch. I managed to get some physio later on to loosen up my calves as in try school boy style only had spikes to wear for the session and Aldershot track turned out to be quite hard. Some massage seemed to help and I didn't feel too bad on the evening run later. After watching some of the rugby we headed over for dinner, where Vernon (Andy Vernon) proved to be an eating machine by polishing 2 large main courses and 2 desserts. We spent some of the evening killing time with a games social games, Vernon made US! pay for his eating spree but exposing us to the worst possible smells produced by man!

Sunday 22nd...

Had a bit of lye in for me (8.15am) then headed over for breakfast in the officers mess. Txt my mum happy mothers day before meeting up with a group at 10.30am for a long run. My calves were tight to start with but after 10mins they loosened up and enjoyed the rest of the run. Myself and Mike Skinner were doing pretty much the same amount of time (70 to 75mins) so ended up running together. Weather great again, was a nice run. Again brief stretch and shower before heading to lunch. Chilled out around my room and the tv room for most of the afternoon a team meeting followed by brief chat with John (my coach) about the summer season. Evening was dinner and social time.

Monday 23rd. So far...

Early morning run before breakfast. Spoke to wife this morning... Thomas has started rolling right over onto his front, he's also teething at the moment so didn't sound a happy little man this morning. I'm Currently typing this out but later the afternoon a few of us are doing a Q&A after lunch with some of the soldier then mid afternoon I will be doing my last training session of note other some easy running and strides, we travel out tomorrow afternoon.

Not sure if we will have internet access in Jordon, although the hotel is meant to be quite nice so hopefully there will be. Weather in Jordon at the moment is raining but its meant to be sunny and temps of 17c by the weekend, so not much different to here.

All for now,



Thursday, 19 March 2009

Training camp here I come...

Just a very quick post before I hit the hay...

I leave for the holding camp tomorrow afternoon, which is at the Aldershot army base. Had a call this evening from the team manager and the facilities sound excellent so should be great for training without any distractions. This week has been a bit manic with work, family, training and getting everything organised for the trip. On top of that after returning from Jordan I'm only home for 4 days before I head out for a short break with the family before then heading to Portugal for another pre track season training camp with a Loughborough crowd. It's all good stuff though and thoroughly looking forward to this weekend and next weeks race. The World XC is without doubt the biggest event I will have competed in thus far and after my first taste of running in a GB vest at the Europeans back in December I can't wait to do it again. Although I must admit I think I will find being away from home more difficult now in that other than a few weekend races it will be longest time away from home with Thomas now on the scene.

Oh one other thing that's kept me busy is the HealthChek Running Group which we are launching on May 4th, aim is to help others of all levels of ability with their running. Check out the link

We are also offering free training sessions during April and May in the build up to the race for life. As you can see there's been plenty going on!

Anyway that's all for now, if we have internet access in Aldershot I will post more, I also plan to start putting a few more details of my training sessions (track sessions, weights sessions etc) will try get some pics and video's linked in too.

All for now



Monday, 9 March 2009

Photo's from the weekend...

Lining up for the start...

Just before the gun goes...

The early stages (i'm hidden in the group, you need to look closely, check out the Guernsey contingence in the background)...

The first move at the front of the race starts to spread the field out...

Working to hold a top 5 place...

Mid race battle ....

The Closing stages....

I make my move with 400 to go....

The podium (3rd place for me and automatic selection for World XC)...

For more pictures (including some of the Guernsey Junior athletes chekc out the link below...

Sunday, 8 March 2009

World Cross Trials Report....

Race went really well! I finished third winning a bronze medal and most importantly gaining the third automatic qualification spot for the Great Britain team at the World Cross Country Championships, these will be held in Amman, Jordan on Saturday 28th march....

The race yesterday was tough as you'd probably expect, for those who watched I'm sure could see that from the look on my face in the sprint for home! watched the highlights this morning on which was painful in itself! Whilst this is probably my best achievement in a domestic cross country race to date, it's certainly wasn't my best look in front of a camera! and i've had some bad ones :-)

here's a link if you fancy watching it

I also did a post race interview which can be found here on the same site

After getting myself into a good early position off the start line I soon found myself having to work back an early break made by the front of the lead pack. I almost lost contact at around half way into the race but after working back to the lead group I had a good tussle with Phil Nichols and Keith Gerrard which seemed to pull us clear from the others and also meant we caught and passed the Eritrean guy running for Scotland West County who held 3rd for first half of the race. At least I thought we'd got clear as whilst I made my move on the 4th and final lap going into the long stretch for home drawing clear of Nichols and Gerrard, Tom Lancashire came through strongly finish just 2 seconds behind me for 4th.

There were some very good performances from Guernsey athletes too which bodes well for the future...

Seniors Womens: Louise Perrio 92nd
U20 Women: Sarah Mercier 28th (Sarah won Team silver for Hampshire)
U15 Girls: Nicola Petit 139th
U13 Boys: George Mason 54th / 294
U13 Girls: Katie Rowe 17th (with 2 years left in the age group!) Claire Heaume was also 98th
(Katie won team bronze for Hampshire and was the first scorer over the line)

Should have some more pictures of the race up tomorrow.

Cheers for now


Thursday, 5 March 2009

World Cross Trials Pre event post

Inter Counties / World Cross Country trials are only 2 days away and the body is starting to freshen up nicely, which is exactly what you want going into an important race. I've put the bad run from 2 weeks ago behind me now but on quick reflection and to use someone else's words... it was a different sport! (in describing the underfoot conditions & terrain of my last race). I guess that's the unique thing with cross country running in that every course/race is different and you can't change that so you just have to give yourself the best chance of success by focusing on what you can.

I would be lying if I said that the result from 2 weeks ago hadn't effected me a little bit at the time, as training had been going so well, but I've looked upon it as a blessing as its removed any danger of complacency I might have had this weekend. I still remain confident in the knowledge that I'm in good shap though, better than ever infact. Plus if anything I go into the race in a very similar position to that of the European Trials back in November, as an underdog to make the team. I know that I need be on the top of my game in order to qualify for the team and suits me fine as it adds pressure, which you need to bring the best out of yourself.

All the races will be shown live on Sky sports this saturday, my race will be just after 2.30pm but there are junior athletes from Guernsey running through out the day, first event starts at 11am. Whilst the event is also the Inter Counties (hence you would normally be running in your county vest - Hampshire for me!) I will be running in a club vest, I didn't manage to get hold of the Hampshire team manager until last week and the team was already arranged, thankfully someone sorted me out with a guest spot! As I'm first claim Newham & Essex Beagles for road and cross country look out for a black vest with a yellow horizontal stripe through the middle.

For those that miss the race live, check out my twitter for updates.

All for now.