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    1. Posted: 16 September, 2012

      Olympic Trials and Tribulations

      Two-time Olympian has a nice ring to it. Especially when it is something that four years ago seemed like a foregone conclusion, yet only 10 months ago was a goal barely glimpsed behind several jutting mountains to be climbed. At that point I didn’t have the necessary qualifying time, I had a persistent injury that had been bothering me for over a year, and both belief and enjoyment were sorely lacking.

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      Fast forward to June 23rd 2012, 3 days after my 30th birthday (celebrated by packing for the Olympic trials), and that epithet rang true. I had booked my place for Team GB at the London Olympics by winning a very slow tactical race, taking my tally of national 1500m championships to four. The overwhelming feeling was relief, mingled with excitement about the opportunity ahead. The relief was profound because of the simple fact that I had been desperate not to miss out on competing in front of a home crowd and being a part of what was dubbed #OurGreatestTeam.

      It was also a great way to wrap up the British Miler project, which had charted the ups and downs of seven of Britain’s best milers attempting to book a place on Team GB. I know that being a part of the project, and of Team New Balance, has given me some fantastic memories, and been a great way of capturing a year of training and racing (and pub quizzes). Thank you Kimbia and especially Jeremy and Alex.

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      After the trials it was back into the routine of training, whilst making final plans for the Games themselves. Unfortunately with 4 weeks to go until the big one, I somehow managed to slightly tear a quad muscle. Whilst it wasn’t too serious, it really affected a nerve in my knee which meant that even once I was back into training, my calf would spasm and cramp. Thanks to James Moore (who has seen me through a lot this year), I avoided missing too much training. I had however, missed racing in Crystal Palace which would have formed a key part of my run-in to the Olympics.

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      So I found myself 2 weeks away from the biggest stage on Earth, without having raced for 4 weeks. Not ideal. So I made a tough decision – knowing that I needed to race, but also unsure about my calf, I decided to run the BMC grand prix in Solihull. Suffice it to say, it didn’t go well (I finished 3rd in 3.41), but it did bring me on, and the next day I flew to the holding camp in Portugal with the rest of the team. Here’s my opportunity to give a big shout out to Mark Draper and Tom Bedford who came out to Portugal to run with me and to help me get my head in exactly the right place before stepping out in front of 80,000 people. A heartfelt thank you to them both. And let’s be honest, they had a holiday in the sun surrounded by bikini clad ladies. Tough life.


    2. Posted: 16 March, 2012

      Blogging, slogging and blues blazers

      It seems that while I was away in the US, I got into the habit of blogging regularly, but on returning to the UK there’s always something else demanding my attention! So here’s a new blog to fill you in on the last few weeks.

      Just after my previous post, I finished my indoor campaign at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham. I was pretty heavy legged from the 5km the week before, but despite the jetlag after 6 weeks in the US, I decided to give the 1500m a go. I did a session on the Wednesday and felt much better than I would have anticipated, and decided that I definitely wanted to get involved! The race went well, I finished just ahead of (subsequent world indoor silver medalist) Augustine Choge, running a PB of 3.37.16 to go to number 4 on the UK all-time list. This was a very positive way to finish this period of racing, but it was also a reminder of the level I need to be at in the coming months. I was as competitive as I could be in the race for the time of year, but didn’t feature near the front, something that has to change!

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      After the race, it was time to get back into the familiar training routine at home, helped by milder weather and being reunited with my training group and coach. It was also time to focus on some solid weeks of training and mileage, without worrying about travelling or racing. It’s never a chore (despite heavy legs after sessions!) to train hard in the leafy surroundings of Bushy Park and Richmond Park, not to mention the occasional foray onto Wimbledon Common.

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      So that pretty much brings us up to date. The only other thing to mention is how I spent Saturday night. Ahem, perhaps that wasn’t the best lead in, but still. I was privileged to be invited to be the guest speaker at the annual dinner for the Cambridge University Athletics Club. This meant it was one of the few opportunities where I can don the sartorial delight that is the Cambridge Blues blazer. Thankfully I don’t have a picture to post here, but suffice it to say that it is a ‘unique’ look, and no matter how traditional or prestigious, it still inevitably leaves sniggers in its wake. So, armed with my preposterous outfit, I headed to Downing College for the black tie dinner. The food was great, but it was even better to catch up with some old friends, and their presence meant that the speech went that much smoother…

      The weekend finished with a run with the Hare & Hounds, the University Cross Country team on the Sunday morning. We had glorious sunshine, and it was great to be back to see how beautiful Cambridge is without a looming deadline! Thank you to the guys for their company, I’ll be back…