Saturday, August 28, 2010

A slap of irony and realism

So there is a famous German author by the name of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; he wrote a very well known (in German circles, anyway) book called Faust about a century ago which I read last year and he became a fav of mine as well as lots of other kick-arse guys that I like reading. Faust is the story of a man who sold his soul to the devil and then goes though hell (literally, in a sense) to get it back. I guess we can all liken ourselves in someway to this story but the basis of me telling you this is simply that I really like Goethe. I found a quote of his early last week and have been trying to use it as a little bit of a motto as sometimes I lack the confidence I need to perform as well as I can.

"In order to achieve all that is demanded of us we must regard ourselves as greater than we are."


This somehow sat well with me and gave me an air of playful confidence that I thought I might take onto the track. I've been training well and should be confident, and I thought this idea in my head may take me closer to what my normal limitations and barriers of confidence limit me to do. I would never ever say I am arrogant and never plan to be, but I would say I tried to hold my head high this week and enjoy being in great shape and look forward to seeing the results speak for themselves on the track.

And then I raced.

Oh, 400m hurdles! You humbler of false hope. You cruel mistress of irony and devilish humor. I've once again fallen victim (as I tend to do, more than others its seems!) to the swift strike of this event's blade of realism. All very dramatic, I know ;-) But I simply have to look at such an event with an air of theatrical lightness. I can get drawn in very easily to thinking about this kind of thing way too much and submersing myself beneath a sea of doubt, so I need to keep my wits about me and realise how trivial what I do over here can be!

So here are the facts:
I came 4th in a very disappointing 51.7 seconds. I've not run that slow in a very long time. I really really really hate making excuses for poor performances; I don't like being around people who tell me that little things like the weather and the track are why I ran shit. My coach Matty is not too happy with me and justifiably told me via text after the race that all things considered that I have enough experience to be able to not run that slow, not matter what the circumstances. But I simply must tell you what happened in the warm up...

The weather wasn't great. It was cold, windy and wet. Pretty much like Canberra has been with maybe a few extra mm of red on the thermometer. As I started warming up I found out that the meet was running 45 mins late, so I stopped and assessed how long it would be till I ran. I adjusted my warm up accordingly as the events rolled out. What I have been trying to do recently is be really diligent with the process of my warm up lately. Making sure I have focus and investment into preparing my body for the race. Good intention with all aspects of the warm up, and going through the process in full that I need to be ready to run fast. Knowing what I need in this regard has taken me the full 10 years my athletics career.

I'd like to think of myself as an adaptable person to most aspects of my life. Maybe not, its seems. As I went to the toilet and get into my racing bodysuit during my warm up, I expected from the timetable that I had about another 20 mins before my race. When I got back, the first heat (mine) was setting up blocks and getting ready to go! I had no idea this was happening and from all reports previously I understood the race was a fair way  off. I would normally have 4 runs over hurdles and another flat run before I raced. As it panned out I did one short run over 3 hurdles and a short start out of blocks. This may not sound much of an issue, but it is by far the most important part of my warm up. This freaked me out more than I'd like to admit and meant that I was really really lacking confidence that I was ready to race. I had a super positive mindset, however, and tried to calm myself enough to get round the track well.

Technically (for those who know what the shit I am talking about) I ran 14 strides to hurdle 5, cut down to 15s a hurdle early which put me on my non-preferred lead leg. I then cut down again too early, doing 16 strides from hurdle 7-10. This is pretty much the stride pattern of my female training partner, Loz. And no offense to her, but it's f*&^ing disgraceful for an elite male 400m hurdler. I got beaten by guys I shouldn't have, and I missed out on an opportunity to run in what ended up being quite a reasonable standard competition.

But, these are the trials and tribulations of subjecting myself to the torment of the 400m hurdles, coupled with a head that thinks too much and that needs a good slapping every now and then. It's not done wonders to my confidence, but as I have continued saying; I know i am in great shape and I'm still ready to run really bloody fast. I head off to Croatia on Tuesday, this is a big race on Wednesday and a bigger one on the weekend. No fucking around with this trip. I need to find my balls and show the world that I am ready to take them on and beat them. This is what I have believed in and what I have sacrificed so many things for.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Deep breaths...

Well after finishing a book and a half (I'll send you the copy, Sam ;-), sleeping an embarrassing amount and finally working out how to master the art of an excellent cafe latte from the confines of an ill-quip hotel room, I'd say I'm ready to race now! Tomorrow I head off with fellow Australian 400m hurdler Felipe De Castro Cruz (he is here training with Ben Offerins) to Belgium to kick off the 2010 campaign in Europe. We are driving there and back in the day, which was as easy option in a car with Ben, who is running tonight in Brussles.

Without trying to cut myself short or sabotage anything, I am not expecting amazing results first race tomorrow. It's a small meet with a not amazing field, and the first race is usually a bit of a builder for me over here. Having said that, I am certainly going to have a really big crack at this race and not leave the blocks with any hint of conservative thoughts to weigh me down. It will be a learning race, as well as a chance to sharpen my blade for the following races. The meet record is 50.66 and I don't think I have any meet records, so I'll hopefully take that down and maybe get a win, too :-)

Nothing else to report, really. Training has been as good as I could hope for. Feeling great, running fast and hurdling well. Highlights today have included the rain outside, a visit from Charlotte, a girl from the desk to bring us some better pillows, a walk to get some lunch, reading about the economic relationship between China and India, and Loz and Mel leaving this morning for Italy. They compete on Sunday in Rieti, which is a fantastic meet with a good track and nice warm weather. Good luck girls for some solid times and some better sun-baking.

Will update tomorrow when I get back on how I went... Thanks for everyone's support back home. I'm pretty sure the race tomorrow won't be on Eurosport ;-)

peace

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Getting closer

On a positive note, there has been some good developments on the races front! I am not left wondering anymore with what is happening, which is great. Unfortunately I missed out on the meet in Lille, France due to a very poorly organised meet director, which is a little frustrating. The meet is today and I am still in Cologne, but I am not too fussed. I am now confirmed for the meet this Saturday in Antwerp, Belgium and Zagreb, Croatia on the 1st Sept. This means I'll have a good 7-9 days in Croatia with 3 great races of a VERY high standard! See details on the races thingy to the right...

Otherwise I am doing really well overall. Some great days of training and I am relaxed about everything here in Germany. It's funny how quickly you get used to not working and just filling your days with the most mundane tasks and adventures! I'm getting some solid reading done, though, and I had a great catch up last night with my very good pole vaulting friends Steve Hooker, Steve Lewis (from UK), Katya (Steve H's GF) and physio and great mate Shane Kelly. Games and laughs-a-plenty. It's really good to have those types of evenings I think when on the road. I am especially susceptible to thinking too much and get a little to caught up in my own shit. I am yet to fall into this habit this year, which is good I think. It seems not taking yourself too seriously can take you a long way in this sport... ;-)

I have an important race-specific session today which has been worked into my program if the race in Lille didn't turn out. This is a session that replicates the energy and mental requirements of a race, so should be a good tester to see if I am ready to go and adjusted well. Fingers crossed this is the case, but I am feeling super-dooper, and it's just awesome to run  around when I am in good shape and hurdling well!

The next 2 weeks are going to be pretty hectic with races and travel so I am making the most of keeping low and relaxing for the moment. 

love to all back home


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blue skies...


I think from my memory this is the first year I have come to Europe and the weather has been turned on instantly! The last couple of days have been absolutely stunning! Apparently this is the best it has been in weeks, so we are trying to make the most of it; I can tell you that there is a pretty big lack of shirts at training.

I have settled in really nicely, as have the girls, Mel and Loz. A few good nights sleep, good food and company and I am feeling like I’m fairly adapted into the time zone, which is early for me. Experts (or just some guy wearing a hat) have told me it’s takes about a day to adjust for every hour difference in time, so I reckon I am doing really well. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have lovely warm sunny weather outside. It’s very uplifting! Joel and I have set up a little music studio to make some music on and we bought a lavender plant to give the place a little love. I have also used my MacGyver skills and turned a ethanol gel burner from downstairs in the restaurant and a grate from the fridge into a mini hotplate for my stovetop coffee maker. The next step is milk, which I am almost ready for. I will show photos later. Don't worry Mum, the gel in non combustible and there is no smoke for the fire alarms. 

On the downside, however, I'm still not sure on what is happening with my meets over the next couple of weeks. The good news is there is a meet in Milan AFTER Continental Cup which I may be running in, but only a flat 400m, and again... not confirmed. We are all being told that there is pretty much nothing on as far as comps go during September after C. Cup so we are trying to make the most of any opportunity to race. I may even get my disgraceful 400m PB down a smidge! I have been selected for the relay for Continental Cup 4 x 400 with Joel, Ben Offerins, and Kevin Moore which is fantastic news for me and a very very big race. This will mean I'll run on both days of C.Cup - a great conditioning weekend for the Comm Games a month later.

There are a few more athletes here now with the sprinters back from Zurich and a more coming every day from Oz so it's getting a little more like a team atmosphere which is exciting. Good luck to Joel, Loz,  Aaron (Rouge-Serrett), Steve (Hooker), and Sally (Pearson) who are all competing this weekend. 

Love to all back home from sunny Germany!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One small step for man... One long trip for me!

Well... we have all arrived safe and sound in Cologne, Germany; the base camp for our European adventures and where Matty, I and the girls (Loz and Mel) will be preparing for the Games in October. Supercoach Matty's skills are currently needed in Singapore for the Youth Olympics at the moment but will be meet us with open arms in a couple of weeks in Italy. By all reports, this competition is going well as it is the first time a youth Olympics has been held! Good luck to the small but quality team in Singapore having a crack at gold!

The journey was as painless as can be expected, I guess. Both flights from Sydney to Singapore and from Sing to Frankfurt were really full so there was no stretching out over a number of seats like has been done before on some long flights! Loz and I did not, unfortunately, get upgraded like last year (much to our dismay!) even if I tried some flirting with the check-in lady. But I could certainly have done a lot worse than sit next to the lovelies at my side, and we seemed to have synchro-ed our pee breaks and exercise sessions at the back of the plane, so it was an easy 24 hours or so in transit.

It was bloody great to get into the hotel and see my boy and roommate Joel Milburn, finally! This meant a) I was finally in Europe and at the training camp which means I get really get this season under way, b) I had at last finished the uncomfortable long trip from Oz to Europe, and c) I get to hang out and listen to music with Joel! Joely is a very old friend with a similar passion to both athletics and all things musical; he's also a funny bastard and a very easy going roomie. All these things mean the next couple of months are going to be good fun in room 304.

Physically I feel pretty good. I've learnt that the big issue for me with long travel is usually the mental fatigue and messing around with sleep rhythms, so I have a bit of a headache, I can't really think, and I am pretty damn tired, but all to be expected!

So... last weekend was my last race in Australia before I left. Again it was wet and cold conditions (8 degrees, up to 5m winds), and despite Loz doing an amazing job in the conditions to run a 56-low, I struggled with stride patterns and my warm up a little and ran a slow 51.2. I was pretty disappointed with the time as I really wanted to better my race 2 weeks ago in the Nation's Capital, but there was some really obvious and fixable mistakes on my behalf so I have been trying not to let the race get me down too much. As Matty has said, I'm ready to go and really get this campaign under way; I've done the hard work and am in fantastic shape. I was just really keen to get on the plane and start racing properly.

My first couple of meets in Europe are still unsure. My manager Brian has no confirmations yet other than the Continental (World) Cup so I am really hoping that changes in the next couple of days. Unfortunately, it can be the game you play over here; waiting to see if you are in a meet or not. If you are top 10 in the world, you can pretty much run anywhere, but at around 24 I am not a super-high priority in the better meets so will see what happens...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Welcome!

Greetings family and friends! 
I have set up this blog to keep those interested in the loop with regard to my travels and competitions leading up to the Commonwealth Games. I am sorry for this being impersonal, but sometimes I don't have time or the internet connection to do lots of emailing whilst on tour. If you have accidentally stumbled across this blog and have no idea who 'BJ' or 'Brendan Cole' are, then read to the side 'about me' or feel free to move on :-)

I was never a fan of doing a blog for myself. I find it a little self important and self indulgent, both of which I don't feel I wear too well, but a number of people have said it has been hard to follow my movements when I am overseas so the result is this blog!

I shall try and upload whatever I can as far as pictures and videos of racing go, and I will do the same with results as much as is possible. I suppose I can also use it as a bit of a diary of the trials and tribulations leading up towards Comm Games as it can be interesting to see what goes on in the heads of us absurd athletes on the quest for glory!

I leave for Europe in 2 weeks (17th Aug) to be based in Cologne (or if you are German; Koln), Germany. From here, we travel to various meets in Europe which will prepare us for Delhi (see sidebar for meets). Generally speaking, I am feeling fantastic and have had an amazing last 3 months of preparation and training building up to now.

I had my first race since May last weekend in probably the worst conditions I have ever run in. Cold, wet and very windy! My training partner Mel Breen made use of the wind in the 100m (10.9 hand held!), but it was causing much grief for us 4 hurdlers as it gusted and changed constantly! I was really happy with the run and even though it was a slow 50.8, all things considered it was a great result and a confidence building race. I will race again here in Canberra on the 15th Aug before I head off.

There will be more posts to come soon and feel free to post back or ask me anything! Things can get a little emotional and crazy overseas and at this time of the year so I apologise for any profanities or offensive language in future posts. It can be the price of being honest and I am fairly happy to say what I think. Maybe an M15+ rating it appropriate ;-)

Bye for now
BJ