Monday, February 6, 2012

The January round up (with a scorch of Feb)

WARNING: Technical jargon and potentially boring athletic related content below. Proceed with caution, and feigned interest is discouraged.

I was thinking back to the start of the year with my first blog back that I may have been talking things up a little bit. It's not my style to big note myself, so to talk so confidently about my form and expectations for the year was a bit like wearing someone else suit. Sure, it might look good. But it's just not me.

Fortunately I felt like I have backed up my words of self assurance this last month, despite a run that I wasn't happy with this weekend. But I'll get to that. As mentioned, I was very surprised and super happy with my new years day form, taking out the Burnie Gift. I had to postpone my first first scheduled 400m hurdles a week later due to my hamstrings going on strike for a week after running faster than they were supposed to (fair enough, I reckon).

This meant my first 400m hurdles was to be at the Hunter Track Classic in Newcastle. I was welcomed by the Neauvacastrians (I just really wanted to use that word; its the name for people from Newcastle), and ran what I thought was a really solid first race. From memory, it was the fastest season opener for me and I had some work to do on my stride pattern, taking 16 strides between hurdles 8 and 9, and 9 and 10. It was windy, but that kind of stride pattern shenanigans is not on for a potential Olympic finalist. Nonetheless, solid. And heaps in the tank. A little conservative so keen as for my next chance to jump some fences.

Some super excellent training sessions and a boosted confidence then saw me head to Albury the following weekend for a handicapped 400m. My mark was 7m and in the final my next competitor was 15m in front of me. I think this worked in my favour as I was able to run the first 150m or so without trying to run around anyone. I had spoken to my coach Matty before the race talking about tactics, seeing if he thought holding off on the first 200m might be a good idea to stay clear of traffic. "Mate," he replied. "Just run those bastards down as quick as you can, and deal with anyone that gets in your way when you get to them." Thanks coach.

Turns out it was good advice. I ran hard for the first 200m, hit the front with 60m to go and some string, a sash, a paycheck and a bum grab from a local councilwoman later, and I had my second gift win for 2012. Sweet.

I must mention here another reason for my confident approach and headspace to the year so far. Around Christmas I started meditating again. It was an invaluable and rather specific skill I learnt back in Melbourne from a Buddhist monk and I come back to it when I feel I need to. I won't bore you with any transcendent details, but it has centered me and given me a settled feeling in the work I have done and the ability I have more than I can explain in a blog or a book.

We traveled to Hobart then for hurdles round 2. Training with Papua New Guinea national record holder Mowen Boeno for the past couple of weeks had me on my toes so despite my good form, I knew it wouldn't be a walk in the park. Plus, I really wanted to make some good headway towards this pesky 'A' qualifying standard, and although Hobart is notoriously a bad place to run fast, if I could edge under 50 seconds it really would confirm my suspicions of being in lifetime best form.

An out-of-character lovely night greeted us last Saturday in the Tasmanian capital, which made my stomach a little excited at the prospect of running fast. I don like paying too much attention to the wind, as I feel you can get way too caught up in what's it's doing and forget to just run the race. Think it may have been a bit windy, but only running 50.6 in otherwise lovely conditions was quite disappointing for me. Riding the good and the bad runs is certainly what makes or breaks a 4-hurdler, but I just know I am in better shape than the time indicated. This has been somewhat annoying, but the plan is now to focus on the next 3 big meets (as I write this on the plane out west) in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. I plan to do this carrying through the confidence I have earned, and firmly supported by the training I have done and the exciting form I am feeling is ready to unleash.

I am joined this weekend in Perth by 2 Americans that have run well under 49 seconds, one of them an Olympian and World Championship representative from the best athletic country in the world. If these guys are in good shape, it will be the perfect stimulus and competition for fast races and qualifiers for the big 'O'. Plus, I haven't lost any races this year yet, and I've got a bet going with my training partner, Lauren Boden to run an A qualifier before she does. I hate losing to girls.