Sunday, 28 May 2017

Competition Day/LUCA Outdoors Battersea Final

On the day of a competition, regardless for what it's for, you're bound to be excited albeit nervous and it's no different when it comes to athletics. Today's blog post is all about my experience of competition day.

The week before
Regarding training, the track sessions are more focused on technique, form and acceleration. I do enjoy practice block starts and if you know me, they've definitely improved from the start of the academic year where I'd swing the wrong arm! I remember someone telling me that swinging your arm back is a natural movement, but it's not! Using block starts aren't natural, but with practice it becomes a habit and soon enough the focus drifts elsewhere (like actually driving!)

For some weird coincidence, prior to the meets I've had with the King's team, I attend an open meets a few days before. On Wednesday, I had a meet at Lee Valley competing in the 100m and with the intense leg session planned the day before, I thought there was no chance that I'd PB with the sore hamstrings and quads. Shocking myself though, I managed to PB, knocking 23 hundredths off my previous time! The goal for this season was just to break the 13.9 barrier, and it looks like I smashed it! Although I did PB, I actually got to the finish line and was quite disappointed of how the race had gone, there were aspects that could've definitely been better.

Well there was once a wise man who informed the squad that nutrition is only 2% (if the effort of training is put in of course!), which had now just caused me to us it as an excuse for everything (oops!). Although to be fair, I am a little more cautious of what I eat than usual, but I don't make any drastic changes to my diet. An important thing I do make an conscious effort to do is to stay hydrated, I don't drink enough water!

The night before
I can't be the only one who has an odd routine the night before a competition, kind of like a superstition? I've always had a similar routine from the competitions in like Year 4 and all the times at sports day through secondary school. 

Packing spikes the night before is a must because without them, I might as well go home! Most recently, calf sleeves have become an essential, it soothes the shin pain and pushes back the burning sensation just that little longer during the race. Then comes the excitement. It doesn't happen as much as it did before, but it's like when you've been told you're going on an awesome school trip the following morning to a theme park or something and you're just too excited to sleep!

On the day
Waking up 
I like to get to the track early just to soak in the environment and the day ahead of me, which as a result means getting up early. On a normal day, I would definitely struggle to drag myself out of bed and jump in the shower, but for some reason, competition day changes the gear in me and I'm instantly wide awake and ready to go.

On a regular day, I often skip breakfast (most important meal of the day, I know, I'm sorry) but breakfast on race day is part of the superstition thing, I must eat, because now, it's usually lunch I skip. The nerves kick in at some point during the day I know I won't stomach anything, so whilst I can, breakfast is the one.

Review of LUCA Outdoors Battersea
The final LUCA Outdoors of the series took place yesterday at the Millenium Arena. It was a mixed emotions event of having another meet with the whole King's squad which no doubt always fun, but it was also the final one of the academic year.

The weather had been forecasted to be super sunny at around 27 degrees all week with the prime conditions of minimal wind, but checking the weather the night before, it didn't look good. After a little drizzle for the morning, the conditions were good enough for the rest of the day.

Arriving at the track, I could feel the excitement and the first event for me today was going to be long jump. I'm not actually a jumper at all, not even average, but since it was the last competition of the series, I thought why not just jump for the lols.

I have learnt from experience to start my warmup earlier. There was the one time at an open meet, the weather conditions were not ideal and I wanted to push back the warmup a little. Assuming that races were going to be faster to slowest, I thought I would be in one of the last races and the call room time would be later, well apparently not. I had to spike up, just about get one stride in and then off to call room. It just felt so rushed and I was not physically nor mentally prepared. So now, even if it means I have spare time before the race, I'll be sure to know that I've done my drills and strides and ready to race in a good, relaxed mindset.

In the past, when I wasn't as comfortable using blocks, I'd think too much about the start and not about the rest of the race. Now, I'm able to still clear my mind right until setbut as soon as the gun goes, my mind erases and I forget to drive. I find the sportsmanship at the end of the race really cute, regardless of the result of each individual, just shaking hands and congratulating each other is adorable.

Our new mascot!

I felt like this race wasn't executed as well as it should have been, but I came out with the time of 13.78. Looking at the time now, it's not too bad, seeing that I'd only just broke the 13.9 barrier on Wednesday after struggling for ages and it's staying somewhat consistent!

Lane draws? Lane 8, not ideal. Yet, the race felt amazing, the bend being my strongest point, I didn't see anyone until a little after the straight and I managed not to die out until around the 160m mark, which is a definitely improvement. But, I PB'd! 29.14 to 28.76, making sub 29, which means I'd made my season goals within a week!

Relays are the best parts of the meet, I have always loved team sports and athletics is an individual sport, but relays just enables that teamwork to be shown.

After losing the relay at the first LUCA to UCL and then tying with them at the second LUCA, it all came down to the final one. Except, this last one had more of an atmosphere with six other teams racing and it was definitely an intense one, but ultimately, WE WON! 

Running 3rd leg with Chloe in 2nd, once I received the baton, all I heard was "RUN AMY, SHE'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU", oh my, I've never been so scared. Later to be revealed that the team in 2nd place was at least 30m behind, but it gave me that extra push because I didn't want to be the one who let down the team (thanks Chloe!). I most certainly prefer running bends since my knees refuse to pick up on a straight! This meant I was passing the baton to our anchor Ruth and the change over was smoooooth. Also happened that we came out with the 2nd quickest time with 52.66!

Anyone reading this that knows of my abilities, I refuse to run 400m. But what do I do? Sign up for the 4x400m relay. Have I gone mad? Maybe. But over the last few weeks, I feel the ease of running my warmup laps and have found running 400m so much easier than I had before. I was very much chilling on my lap but reached the 300m mark and from somewhere on earth, I still had the energy to sprint down the last straight and then promptly just fell onto the grass.

Each LUCA has a special event, and the final one had the medley relay. It was my first time ever running in something like this. Final event of the day, absolutely drained. 2x200, 2x400 and 2x800, 1 male and 1 female for each leg. I ran the 200m of course because I doubt anyone seeing me run any distance above it (excluding the 4x400m relay), and it was definitely different starting with the baton (since I run 3rd leg or anchor for 4x100m) on a crazy stagger. That 200m was no doubt the toughest one I've EVER run. I mean after Chloe, you are my hero for running the 400m, stepping up to take on the role of the sprints captain before the official handover. It was a close 2nd place but well done King's!

Race number
After the meet, I always make sure to keep my race number and am now creating a number wall inspired by Dr. Dan. It's a cool way to be able to look back for memories and see the progress made. It's also quite fun to look at the numbers side by side and take into consideration how many competitors were actually at a race. 

Post-race meal 
I love how it's become a thing for a post-race meal as a squad (shoutout to social sec Harry B, soon-to-be president) and most often it's also been with our rivals, but it's something about the sport of athletics that brings everyone together, even if they are our competition. It's just eating without guilt (2%) and just relaxing as a group, which we don't get to do as often which is all so cute.

A few days after the meet, results are officially published onto Powerof10 and the best thing to see is 'PB' or even 'SB' (although PB is always going to be better) right next to your name. I find it intriguing to compare races and times across the competition and just seeing how well everyone had done in all events. With this comes the criticism of my own race (which often happens right after the race anyway) of what I should have done to maybe cut off that hundredth of a second. This definitely happened during LUCA Indoors in November, where I'd missed out on competing in the 200m final by one hundredth of a second, but only finding this out a few days later when I had been scrolling through Pof10.

Trying to keep to the Sunday posting time, the majority of the blog was written throughout the week (with a cheeky prediction of winning the 4x100m), but I had actually attended the AGM for LUCA today. I ran for the role of Athletics Entries Secretary, and I was elected for it! I'm looking forward to see what this role brings me next year.

That's all today folks, enjoy the weather we are known for (forecasted to rain!) this week.


Song recommendation is Jump by Lupe Fiasco ft. Gizzle! To be honest, Lupe's whole album 'DROGAS Light' is awesome, so be sure to check it out!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

University Life

Prior to my Grade 5 Piano exam a while back!

Aloha, everyone! It’s Amy again, back with another blog post. Today's topic will be based around university life from the perspective of my own.

Prior to university, most students in the UK take A-Levels as a qualification to be considered to certain universities, but I on the other hand, went down the IB (International Baccalaureate) route. This is a whole different story that will feature in a later post. But on the basics of the IB, it consists of six subjects, plus a logical reasoning and thinking subject and I took: English Lit, Maths, Chemistry, Spanish, Geography and Music. Exams were early compared to those taking A-Levels, which also meant that results day was early too. I'd actually missed the requirements for the Music course at King's by one point, ONE, but admissions seemed nice enough to let me in.

The note reads 'A natural' for those who can't read sheet music out there!

I'm currently an Undergrad Music student in my 1st year, enjoying the whole course and the uni life to some extent. Although, the final decision was to study Music at university, it was certainly not an easy one.

Prior to applying to courses through UCAS, I had my mind set to do Music and/or Chemistry so I could teach it in the future, but I soon realised that I only really enjoyed learning Chemistry and was not prepared to teach it, so I threw that idea out the window. When the deadline for UCAS was looming in the second year of sixth form, I now had a conflicting mind to choose between Geography and Music; both that I could do well in and have fun learning about for the next three years. After a long discussion with varied opinions from those that I looked up to (shout out to the music department!), I ended up applying for my passion, Music.

Since I studied the IB, we started our exams a month earlier compared to those taking A-Levels and therefore results day was early too. Sure this meant an extended summer break before the start of university, but once again, I was questioning my choice of Music. An attempt to transfer to Geography during the first week failed, but I could always transfer after 1st year.

Now 8 months on, I'm still on the music course and definitely won't be moving over to Geography, I've found my part of music that I want to pursue: Music and the Brain/Arts and Health, which I would love to go in depth with.

Defying the Asian stereotype

It's funny when people ask what I read at Uni, and when I tell them Music, commonly, the reply is: do you play an instrument? or what do you even do in Music, just play instruments and stuff? More than often though, I can sense the judgement of why I would chose a supposedly useless course; most aren't openly throwing their opinions at me but family members are a bit more mouthy. On the plus side, I'm not conforming to the Asian stereotype (which shouldn't even be in place) of studying something that's directly helpful to society like Medicine, Law, Dentistry or something along those lines.

Exams and Assignments
Oh the dreadful exams, they were to be expected so it wasn't much of a surprise. January exams were something that I was definitely not used to; exams right through GCSE were all at the end of the year and IB had exams at the end of the 2 years. It felt so rushed from a long break, followed by 10 weeks of lectures and seminars and suddenly being bombarded by exams. It was just a shock to the system and one of the most stressful points in life so far.

This time round with May exams, I'm much more relaxed, maybe it's because it was on a module that I want to specialise in, maybe I felt more prepared or even just because they're not back to back! I have my final one in 2 days, and then I'm free for the summer, and I couldn't be happier! Assignments was another aspect of the course that was pretty much anticipated for because it usually just balances out the grade but there's also parts of the Music course that just cannot be examined by exams!

OH GOD, THIS WAS DEFINITELY NOT EXPECTED, NOT EXPECTED OKAY. I used to be a regular reader at a younger age, especially reading fiction where it was a form of escapism to experience another's life or even a dystopian universe.  But the readings assigned for music? My life. I can't completely say that I dreaded reading, especially if it was for Music and the Brain because I loved that module, readings for something like Medieval music, I can't deny that it was an absolute bore.

It always just seems easier when you look back at the previous level of education because I vividly remember the pain during IB. Trying to balance six subjects, struggling to meet deadlines and failing to get 8 hours sleep before the whole cycle begins again the next day. Whittling down to one focus from six must be a breeze...what was I thinking? By the looks of it, it's only going to be rough.

Dealing with stress?
King's offered a puppy therapy session for a few hours to help you destress, which I thought was a brilliant idea and so did everyone else for that fact since the queue went on for ages. But I mean who doesn't love puppies? (if you said yourself here, sorry, but we can't be friends).

Trampolining was one of those off-days, but eating a full meal half an hour beforehand was definitely a bad idea.

Going from a period of studying here and there to long intense periods of revision is a huge contrast and in my opinion adjusting to it is difficult (hence the procrastination!). I made sure to take regular breaks and to fit in off-days to just have fun with friends to relieve myself of the pressure of revising (although I did take a few too many days off). But all in all, definitely make sure to reward yourself from time to time!

During the first week of lectures, I didn't bond at first thinking that I wouldn't be in the course and even when I eventually learned that transferring to Geography wasn't an option, I still wasn't too social. Maybe because I wasn't much of a party person, I didn't live up to the stereotype of a 1st year during fresher's week and go to the events. A major factor being that I don't drink and not living in student halls meant that I didn't have instant introductions to students. Here I can't stress enough about joining societies or sports clubs, yeah to enjoy those hobbies but it's a way to meet people from across different years and courses. It hasn't been too long but I'm sure that I've made some friends for life. After difficult personal circumstances and happenings, I've basically left all my trust and love with them. Lots of love guys!

(Pretty much one of our most normal selfies we've taken together, WITH FLOWER CROWNS) 
Llama the Randall (haha), thanks for being on the other end when I rant about anything and everything, for tagging me in the most banterous memes and getting super excited with me at the mention of Nandos. Maybe one day you won't leave Tesco with a cart full of nonsense (salmon's good you know)

Dr. Dan, I can't thank you enough for everything from being an absolute inspiration (that Africa story oh my) to just being there to create memories for the lols (that race number is still my favourite). I love our long-winded discussions testing our way of thinking within our own strengths or even those odd ones with the billboard and the arrow. One day I will prove to you the importance of Arts and Health! 
Much love.

That's it from me today, hope it gives a bit more of insight of my current education situation, until next time.


Whilst studying, many listen to songs to help them revise; ever since Music GCSE and music analysis, songs with lyrics or instrumentals are too distracting. Desperate to block out background noise, I searched on YouTube for some study music and this is what I found, works wonders for me!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Love for Athletics

The King's Team!

Welcome back guys! I suppose it only seems right to kick off the first actual post with some athletics. As I mentioned in the previous post, I was basically the little kid in the playground just running everywhere, challenging people to races and playing the much-loved but forbidden on school grounds game of 'bulldog'. We always got round it and just named it something else, thinking teachers wouldn't notice!
First contact
My first experience of an athletics competition was probably in year 6, organised with the local primary schools on grass with dodgy spray painted track outlines. After coming first in my race (must've been 60m outdoor or something) and standing on a makeshift podium, I knew that I wanted to continue this and experience the feeling over and over again of the achievement of winning a gold medal.
Sports day
For most sports lovers like myself, this was the one day of the year that I looked forward to the most where you could show off your speed and win races where the whole school is watching you. Starting new in year 7 and then being a top sprinter puts you in the spotlight which was a great feeling. I mean, I was used to the primary school sports days with egg and spoon races and those shenanigans but then the upgrade to an actual track, young Amy was amazed.
Our attempted human pyramid, little me smiling away at the top whilst everyone else is suffering
Starting university I knew that I wanted to join an athletics club, not just for the sport but also a way to meet people outside of my course, from different years and campuses. I saw that the uni club was holding a freshers taster session and it was an unexpected nostalgic day of reminiscing the younger years with sports-day like activities. Definitely a great opportunity for me to mingle since I hadn't attended anything during freshers the week before! Training sessions began the following week and it was most certainly tough at first but believe me, I don’t regret joining one bit; and if anything it’s what’s powered me through 1st year and a somewhat relaxing (questionable?) way to destress after lectures. The group is like a second family, so lots of love King’s!
Find out more about us:
LUCA Indoors
This was my first meet after beginning real training and I entered into the 60m, 200m and long jump. I was definitely super nervous because I hadn't competed since like sports day and I had only experienced an indoor track the week before for block training. My events didn't go too bad considering I had never run with blocks, electronic timing or a start gun. Ending the day was the relays and I love a good relay because it's a teamwork thing and the end result is because of the teamwork, so coming 1st in our heat was pretty heart-warming. But the biggest downside here was the realisation of the dream of another gold medal was slipping away. *heartbroken*

Mid-race of the 100m, those knees refuse to come up!

Open Meets
After first competition, I was hyped up to compete more so I entered myself in a 60m open at Newham and it turned out that I didn't do so well, but had great support from the few that came from King's to compete too. I’d also competed in another open meet just last week back at Newham and it was my first time running the distance of 150m which was so different but it felt awesome to run the bend.
The ultimate battle of KCL and UCL
The English weather was definitely not on our side with the winter winds still hanging about, it was time for the women's 4x100m relay. I ran the 3rd leg for the team, and because the stadium set up was so odd, I ran away from the crowd behind the temporary stands to complete silence and thinking back on it, it was hilarious. BUT WE WON OUR RELAY WOO!

BUCS Indoors during the 200m race, oh my..
Credits: Dr. Dan

The Women's 4x100m relay team at BUCs Outdoors
Credits: J. Findon
Nationals against all university in the UK? There I was when I experienced my first competition thinking it was all intimidating and official, oh, was I wrong. Running round the track after the gun goes, I get a picture captured of myself and another athlete, and there's little me against a pro. I mean, at least it gave me the motivation to sign up for the gym to feel and be stronger (even if I don't get to the point of looking strong physique-wise).

Credits: LondonReignSports
I first got introduced to the likes of Powerof10 by Dr. Dan (PhD in Google maps) and boy, I haven't looked back (I'm making it sound like a life-changing moment but believe me, it is!). I remember during the first semester of 1st year, walking to the uni library hoping to catch up on some work but end up spending my 3 hour breaks before the next lecture just analysing people's profiles on Pof10! I did suffer a little of where I could have used the time productively, but Pof10 and watching videos of people run? It was worth it. It's just so interesting to see the progress people had made and are making over the years with actual proof.
Here's a cheeky little link to my Powerof10 profile:
PBs and Goals
As an aspiring athlete, I constantly want to be improving and getting better times, and smashing PBs is a way to prove this. So the current PBs I want to reach by the end of this season are:
100: sub 13.9
200: sub 29

One step at a time!
Regarding goals aside from PBs, I would like to just build up my fitness levels in general and not bail out after the 3rd lap (okay..sometimes the 2nd) during warm-up before a training session. Also to gain some muscle mass and power to be able to push out of blocks with more aggression! Most definitely like most of my fellow athletes know is to get my knees up, they have a mind of their own and have a strong bond with the ground! Finally, I do want to keep the gym attendance at regular, even if I'm not lifting heavy weights and running miles on a treadmill, just being in the environment among others with similar goals is motivating enough for me to keep pushing. Shoutout to Randall the Llama for being my gym buddy and bugging me to start going gym in the first place (although now it's exam season, it's now me bugging you!), always racing me on the bike and basically being my PT.

Credits: Buzzfeed

Although I haven't been in the track and field game for long, I've experienced my own round of injuries. First, a quad strain from explosive work, being extremely susceptible to tight hamstrings, followed by a calf strain from a mad cramp that led to subsequent (short-term, thank god) injuries and then finally the oh-so- loved shin splints (although I feel kinda cool running in calf sleeves). Let's pray that this is the end of it.
Sure athletics is a sport and it contributes to the 30 minutes of exercise you're recommended to do every day but most of all, it’s doing what you enjoy and having fun! It should be a hobby at the very least and not something you're obligated to do, it's not homework!
Enough of me going on about athletics, I hope you enjoyed this post and have an amazing week!
Today's recommended songs are Gecko (Overdrive) by Oliver Heldens X Becky Hill, but the Matrix & Futurebound remix version and Kaleidoscope by Delta Heavy; they're usually my go-to songs for a great way to get you pumped before a track session or workout at the gym!

A Dip into Athletics

Hey guys, a general update on the progress of Athletics and just how the day progressed for LUCA Indoors this year! 25th of November ro...