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!

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