New years resolution: be awesomer.

I have a confession to make.
I am scared. Scared shitless. This is a big year.

Luckily for my housemate (who has to put up with all my shit) and I though, my fear of what will happen this year is completely outweighed by an excited apprehension that can be likened to the waiting on Christmas morning when we were six to opening our presents from Santa.

I’m planning to retire at the end of this Olympic cycle (I think!) and so there is, without really being able to avoid it, a certain awareness and dare I say pressure that ‘this is it’. No turning back or flirting with regretful nostalgia. No wishing I had made some changes earlier or that I shouldn’t have made the ones I did. These words almost lose their meaning with how cliché they sound, but they bounce round my head on silent nights like the original ‘tennis’ game on an Atari 64.

The good thing, sportsfans, is that I freaking love it. I once had a great chat with ex-Carlton coach David Parkin and he made me very aware of the want, neigh need of stress for athletes and non-athletes alike. Basically, Parks has the strong worded opinion that unless there is a certain level of stress driving someone’s motives, things just don’t get done very well. Take your average student with a large assignment due in three months time; they spend 2.5 months thinking about how much time they have to do it, maybe even get a little reading or research done, but that last two weeks is when things really get any momentum. Not to mention the last two days for some of us!

Of course, there is a fine line to balance on here. I see many athletes around me fall and get injured due to too much stress on and off the sporting field. The body’s response to high levels of stress is not conjusive to the optimal athletic state. But this is not exactly what I am talking about.

The challenges this year put in front of me are stresses that are met with confidence, vigour and an understanding that this year is realistically the culmination of my entire athletic career. If there is anything that I have learnt over the ten years I’ve spent running in circles over planks of wood, it’s the unpredictable nature of athletics, and how important it is to not get drowned in expectation from others and from yourself. You can always find reasons to doubt yourself (which I have been guilty of time and time again), but there are always much better reasons to back yourself that you are well prepared, happy, fit, and ready to go.

New years eve sunset in Tassie: Magic.
I have been very lucky this season to start with some good performances and some great training. It has been the best and hardest I have ever trained in the ‘winter’ months, and without injury. I ran two PB’s in my first two weeks of competition, including a 400 meters (albeit not that impressive), and I have had a very successful last week in Tasmania at three handicapped gift meets. Ten races in six days, 4 x 400, 3 x 200, and 3 x 120. Exhausted doesn’t come close to covering it.

400m at Devenport

The last day was quite the event though. It was the Burnie Gift, a well recognised gift on the professional circuit, and an amazing day of athletics, cycling, and woodchopping! Perfect weather and a fantastic crowd had me pretty excited despite my aching legs and weary head. After a chat with my coach Matt, we decided last minute to run the 120m gift instead of the 400m (my planned distance). To be quite honest, this was almost purely because I couldn’t be bothered doing a full lap; I was really tired. The sprint would give me a chance to do some speed work and hopefully get out of the heats and get a second run if I ran well.

It turned out I did more than that, I somehow scraped through a win in the heat and semi-final and get through to the last 6! I really thought my body had had enough, but I had a couple of hours to regroup, so put my feet up for a while. The final was awesome, really fast and although I didn’t think I ran that well as I tightened up in the last 30 meters, I actually got close to winning! Or so I thought…

My training group and coach rushed over with looks of disbelief on their faces. “Dude. I think you might have won!”
“Bullshit.” I replied. “Really?”
So I waited for a good ten minutes before I was announced the winner by three thousandths of a second!
I did not expect that.

I’ve been involved in pro running in some way for over 10 years now, and this was my first win! Needless to say I wore my sash for the rest of the evening and drunk champagne out of the massive cup I won to celebrate. I very, very nice way to start the year off.

This weekend I head to Brisbane with my baton in hand and camaraderie hat on as we try and qualify the 4 x 400m relay team for the Olympics. We need to have an average between our top two times in the top 16 in the world to qualify. We have one at the moment from last year’s world championships in Deagu. The plan is to all be wearing split shorts so I have no doubt we will be fine.


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