Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The long slog.

Berlin Olympic Stadium
Berlin Wall

Brussels DL

Brussels DL
After the World Championships I decided to continue on with the remainder of my season but relax a little and get some enjoyment back into my racing, rather than chasing qualifying times. My last steeplechase of the year was in Brussels at the Diamond League Final. It was another amazing experience being in the Belgium Olympic Stadium and they really do go all out to make it an electric event. There is music on throughout the entire meet with dancers, fireworks and lights – they try to create an exciting atmosphere inside the stadium for the spectators. For me, it wasn't my best run – I came 8th but I was very heavy-legged and tired from the World Championships. I would of liked to have finished my steeplechasing season on a high but it wasn't to be! I did however, have another race – this time a 3000m flat – in Rieti only a few days later! Instead of training hard, I let my body rest and just travelled from race to race, hanging onto the small bit of fitness that remained from all the cross training over the summer! In Brussels, I was so excited about the fact Sean Paul was the guest performer with Usain Bolt DJ'ing! Throughout my last few years at school and my first year at university – Sean Paul was the KING. Haha – albeit he may not be as cool anymore... I was still way too worked up about it all and must of spoke about it/tweeted about it every few seconds. Nevertheless, things didn't really go to plan! After not touching alcohol for a whole year – I thought I could sustain a few more drinks, like I used to be able to do at university. This was not the case. I don't think I ever got to see Sean Paul – I was cosily wrapped up in bed well before the event finished. Brussels was a huge blur. I thought I had went all out – however my room-mate (who will remain nameless) didn't make it home after ending up in hospital whilst my other roomie came back without their shoes. This is a very simple, vague representation of that evening. Athletes don't get to party very often but when they do... it's hard. I'll be able to write a hilarious book at some point...
Laura and myself. 

Myself and Laura Weightman (Photo-bombed by Christian Taylor. )
Brussels After Party
Rieti - Me, Margaret, Sophie
I then struggled to get up for my 8am flight to Italy for my final track race of the season. In hindsight – it understandably wasn't the best preparation – nevertheless, after a long, gruelling, arduous season of which I have worked my little bum off – I think one night out is acceptable!! I was regretting things on my travels to Rieti – staying awake was a challenge. After one good nights slumber, 5 bottles of water and some Berocca – I was (sort-of) fit and primed ready for race day!

Weirdly enough – it was the best I have felt in a race all year. I had absolutely no expectations on myself and came away with a brand new spanking outdoor PB by 6 second personal best and a 13 second improvement from my 3000m in Rieti, 2012. I couldn't believe it! It was a great way to end my track season. I have now recorded personal best times over all three distances I competed in this year – 1500m, 3000m and the 3000m Steeplechase. I would of liked to have ran a tiny bit quicker over the steeple this year – but I can't be too excessive, considering the injury I picked up and how early on in the season it began.

Great City Games
Gateshead with some lovely GB ladies
Road mile... Eurghhhhhh
I then got a last minute slot in the Road Mile at the Great City Games in Newcastle- but after feeling ill all week – I ran absolutely horrific! Not much to say on it really, apart from the fact I thought the world was genuinely ending! My time in New York was much more pleasant! The New York 5th Avenue Mile is decidedly one of my favourite races of the year. I also got the chance to spend an extra few days out in NY with my boyfriend – doing some normal tourist things. I have had the opportunity to visit so many awesome places over the last two years but I only ever get to visit the track and the hotel - so it was lovely to get the chance to visit all the main sights of NY! 

Last spin session of the year - DEAD
I booked an apartment through AirBnB. It was a good deal cheaper than all the hotels I could find and although I was initially a bit concerned – it worked out really well. The lady whom I was renting the apartment from – asked if I could look after her cat Sterling whilst we stayed – a little weird but I agreed! It didn’t for a second enter my mind that my boyfriend is severely allergic to cats! Ooops! Cue a LOT of sneezing and living off of antihistamines! I felt so bad! We ended up stripping all the covers off the bed and tossing the mattress onto the floor whilst the cat stayed up on the bed with all the covers overflowing in it's hair! Great start Eilish.
Gateshead. Rare picture with my mum!

The NY 5th Avenue Mile didn't particularly go very well for me either. I was starting to battle against the lack of training – no track sessions or cross training in weeks – which slowly began to take it's toll on me. But I needed to take a further 2 weeks of ABSOLUTELY nothing in order to allow the bone stress on my shin to heal. And when I say nothing – I mean NADA. I genuinely didn’t move from my bed for the whole duration – apart from a slight movement to the kitchen for food or the bathroom. Even showering was very scarce. Usually, I really struggle with taking a rest period. In 2011 – I broke my foot and so was forced into a months bed rest after surgery. 2012 – I managed an active recovery – cross training/jogging every few days to keep myself sane. But this year, I knew I required the full 2 weeks and if i'm honest – it was actually pretty scary how promptly two weeks passed by and how natural lying around all day became! I didn't actually go out on my break because I was so slothful and truly couldn't be bothered – i'm such a granny. One night....a year - is my limit!

Times Square

Race Bibs
Natural History Museum
Manhattan Skyline
Central Park
Statue of Liberty
Overdosed on Twizzlers. Must of bought a 3 month supply. 
During my break – it gave me the chance to do a a couple of events and school talks. I kept myself busy at Monifeith HS, Arboath HS and Carnoustie HS - started the Kids Great Scottish Run through in Glasgow (an event I also competed in when I was a youngster!!) and a Sports Conference in which I did a small Q&A with 150 kids from all over Scotland. It definitely kept me amused! I then had a female mid-life crisis at the age of 22... I was so busy – I couldn't actually get to the hairdressers. My hair was starting to become two-tone with how long my roots were becoming – so after a rash decision -I dyed my hair back brown myself! Saved myself 4 hours of time in the hairdressers and £75 – however as soon as I stepped out the shower and caught myself in the mirror looking like a vampire off of twilight – I quickly regretted my decision! Blonde will be making an appearance again for 2014 when I have the time and effort to be a real girl!
Mid Life Crisis. BROWN HAIR :(

It was also announced that I have been selected for the 3000m Steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games next year in Glasgow! I am obviously thrilled to have been picked in the first wave of selections. Scottish athletes have really upped their game this year and fingers crossed I can make it to the start-line completely fit and healthy. This will be my first ever senior Commonwealth Games - so for it to be a home games in Glasgow - I couldn't think of anything better! I did make the Commonwealth Youth Team back in 2008. However, that was in Pune (India)... VERY different to Glasgow but still an amazing experience nonetheless. It was also my first ever international - so it will be nice to have a senior cap for Team Scotland!

Greatest of all-time!! Haile Geberselassie
Some filming for the BBC
Starting the kids race!
Another stolen - hello Emma Thompson! :D
Some of the kids from the GSR
Stolen from a young athlete's instagram!
Lynsey Sharp and myself in Loughborough 
Loughborough - my second home. (sort-of)
Guy Learmonth and myself - Loughborough
My little sister Orla. 
Resuming training again is always a challenging transition. It has to be built up very gradually in order to avoid picking up other injuries. I haven't been able to do an easy run since May – only track sessions and as you can imagine – my first week of build up was a STRUGGLE. I began jogging 3 miles every day but it was extremely difficult getting used to the time on my feet and the impact going through my legs at such a slow pace but things have gone really well in my build up. My first run....8.20 minute miles and severe chest pains.... Starting back running again always makes me realise why people who have never run before think elite athletes are insane. Running is not enjoyable when you're unfit! My initial shin/calf problem has altogether cleared... finally – and this week I have improved to running 3miles and 5miles, 6 days a week. This is just in time for jetting off to Kenya early tomorrow morning!
Nike kit drop ready for the winter!
Stride 150s. First time on the track!
Escaping Loughborough for 6 weeks :D
Lough Training

2014 training BEGINS!
I am fortunate to be heading back to Kenya again for a months training camp with the assistance of UK Athletics and The London Marathon. I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever camp in January and came back in really good shape – so fingers crossed things are positive this time around. Before heading out, I did a full DXA scan in order to see my bone density and body fat percentage. My bone density is way above the average person which is evidently a good thing – however.... my body fat was one of the highest they've seen for a female distance athlete! Oops. Does make me laugh though as I know I look tiny – and everyone i've told thinks I'm joking... but unfortunately I'm not! I clearly just have skin, bones and fat – my muscle seems to be hiding! Haha. Definitely something I need to work on over the winter months to gain some muscle mass! Next time you see me i'll be looking like The Hulk – well... maybe not.

And finally.. A few pictures from a last minute trip up to Scotland for the MOBO's Awards at The Hydro in Glasgow - it really was an amazing trip and I would like to thank Event Scotland, on behalf of myself and Lynsey Sharp for getting us VIP Table Tickets only two days prior! Thank you!

Our dates for the MOBO's
Lynsey Sharp and myself en route to the MOBO's
Had to get a picture... Gaz - MTV's Geordie Shore

Monday, 26 August 2013

From Russia, With Love...

Team GB official photo with our Bald Caps in honour of our bald Team Boss!

After the disappointment of making the World Championship team two years ago in Deagu but not being able to go due to my broken foot – it really did make Moscow that little bit more special. I did everything I possibly could in order to put myself on that start-line - albeit, still injured! At the holding camp in Barcelona, my coach (big Liz) and myself, decided to attempt to start back jogging again, every second day – as with all the lack of impact training – my leg had started to feel better. This however, was a silly decision. After not properly impacting for 6 weeks (apart from 2 track sessions a week) – I really, really struggled! I managed to do a 3mile jog, two days in a row – however, when I attempted to do my track sessions – the impact of jogging had the opposite effect. I was STRUGGLING. Genuinely like a whale trying to run around the track – my quads felt like they were triple their normal size! I was scheduled to do 4x 800m but couldn't break 2.30 for my first effort, yet a few weeks previous to this, I was running 10 reps in 2.28s! It hit my confidence pretty hard, so much so, that I was actually dreading going to my first ever World Championships. After sitting down with my coach, the doctor and the physio, we decided to take a small step backwards again and revert to doing all of my training in the pool in order to give myself the recovery and freshness back into my legs - in time for Moscow!

Monaco DL
London DL
Tired and sweaty heading homeeeee
This was definitely the issue I had which made me feel very 'heavy' and 'flat' at the London Anniversary Games and the Monaco Diamond League. For each of these races, I had trained right through them – but also tried to start incorporating 3mile jogs into my program – which was far too much for my legs to take at this stage in the season. In a way though, training through those races definitely helped me to preform better in Moscow after getting adamant recovery – my legs felt really fresh. It's just a difficult thing to do and stay positive through, when you know you should be running much quicker times than the ones you are posting - purely due to tired legs.

I realise this blog is really, long and probably relatively boring... but keep on trudging along.. It does get better... slightly :)

Barcelona Holding Camp
Barcelona Beach
Bald Caps... Myself, Jamie Bowie, Kat JT, Bianca, Dwain Chambers
GB ladieeeeez
UK Athletics managed to get an 'aqua-jogging belt' for me, which was actually a red life jacket – so I looked like a right pleb, bobbing around the pool for an hour every day – but I was extremely grateful to even be part of the team in the first place! My little sister joined in some days to keep me company but I was ready to kill her by the last day. She may be 8 year old, but she's far from innocent. I overheard her telling my mum she was going to get a motorbike when she was older – to which my mum replied, “No chance!” My little sister then hit back with, “ well... i'll just wait till you die, then i'll go out and buy the biggest motorbike I can find...” - she did have a fair point – who could stop her.
My sis Orla... rascal

Moscow 2013
Usain at the training track
Mo Farah
Moscow was a different experience altogether. It's the first place I have ever been where I genuinely haven’t been able to distinguish a single word or letter! The whole alphabet is different which makes things extremely difficult trying to manoeuvre your way through undergrounds and taxi's!
One of my favourite pictures from Moscow.
Long huuuuuuur
Water Jump Crisis
My heat was on the first day of events and to be honest – I had absolutely zero expectations on myself. I thought if I could get a season's best time or near my personal best – I would be happy. I was ranked close to last in my heat with 5 automatic spots and a further 5 fastest losers making it into the final but knew I had an outside chance of scraping through. These championships were so different to London last year. The stands were pretty empty, there wasn't a huge atmosphere or the same media presence. I was so calm and relaxed compared to London 2012 – where I genuinely thought I was either going to pass out or start hysterically crying. In hindsight, Deagu in 2011 was definitely too early for me and London 2012 probably was too – it was a huge step up in competition – whereas this year, I feel more confident competing against these girls week in week out. In 2012, I ran horribly 9.57 getting kicked out in the heats. In 2013, I have run two personal best times 9.35, made the final and came 10th with the top 6 girls being African. Fingers crossed I can build on this towards Glasgow 2014.

Another pretty sweet picture from my heat.

My heat went off pretty fast and I managed to keep myself on the back of the front pack. For once in my life, my barriers and especially the water jump were going really well. I wasn't concentrating or focusing on them at all – I was purely focused on making it into that Top 5 position. Hurdling the water jump is definitely the right thing for me – I feel much more confident doing it – knowing that my risk of over-stepping it or slipping is a lot less! I couldn't see my time at the end but I was told by Phil Jones from the BBC, seconds before my interview that I had made the final. I still wasn't 100% sure and wanted to be fully certain before I was excited about it. Running a Pb of 9.35 should have been enough to make me smile – but I just felt I could of pushed on a lot more in the middle K - had I realised I was on for a personal best!

Ice bin!
New pink Nike spikes!
Thankfully, I had 2 days to try and recover for the final. I wasn’t too sure how my leg would react to two steeplechases in such a short amount of time – because I have never raced in close succession before! In the final, I was a bit leg tired and lost concentration on the middle laps again – before picking it up over the last 300m. It was (technically – had I not ran the heats), a personal best time of 9.37 and 10th place – but I was genuinely disappointed. Eilish (circa 8 weeks ag) would of punched Eilish (now), quite forcefully in the face had she heard those comments. After the difficulties of this season, I really shouldn’t be complaining about coming 10th in the entire world – but athletes always want more – that is what makes us so competitive! I honestly feel I have a sub 9.30 in me at the moment which would move me closer to the top of the European Rankings. I managed to loose concentration on the second lap after being spiked (which has ripped my beautiful, brand new, pink Nike spikes – almost cried), very sharply on the outside of my right ankle. My ankle then started to feel slightly out of place every time I landed on that foot which meant I began to change the placement of my foot whilst I was running. I couldn’t stop focussing on my ankle rather than the fact I was in the World Championship Final! It's just one of those strange freak things that happen but maybe the thoughts in my head were intensified due to the fact I was already carrying an injury. I didn't mention this in my interview as I didn't want it to come over as an excuse – as I can assure you won't ever hear an excuse come out of my mouth!! Excuses definitely don't exist in my coaches book's! I just wasn't sure how my ankle would be the next day – but the bruised bone died down within a few days – phew! I do now have another little scar to add to my growing collection.
Mascot... I think it's an owl?

In the call up, approximately 8 minutes before we were to go out to the track, they had the Men's 800m final on the TV. Aman from Ethiopia, came through strong over the last 10m to take the win – ethiopia's first ever gold medal over an event shorter than 5000m. You would not believe the hysteria that caused in my call room – 3 ethiopian woman screaming and shouting like little girls who had just seen 1Direction – i've never seen anything like it. These girls were about to run in the World Champs Final in a few minutes, yet they were all crying, hugging each other, screaming, hi5-ing – it really was amazing to see how much it means to them. As a team, one gold medal means so much to everyone. Contrasting to this, one of the other girls from a European Country sitting on the call-room floor did one of the loudest farts I have ever heard in my life and stunk out the entire room within seconds. This World Champs was one to remember.

Red Square with Jess Judd
Red Square
After my final, I did get a few days to become a tourist and sight-see around Moscow's Red Square – which is genuinely unbelievable! It looks like something out of Alice and Wonderland... bright, colourful, swirly buildings that looked like they were edible sweeties. Everything is very expensive though – especially taxi's. In other countries I have travelled too, even without english you can work your way through things with some poorly attempted sign-language and smiling – not in russia! Smiling definitely doesn't get you very far! One of the guys on the team, put some clothes down to laundry in our hotel, they came back costing him £62!! £62 for some pants! Unreal... I quickly decided laundry wasn't for me and washed my entire wardrobe in the sink and bath with some shampoo I had. Big time.

Russian Dolls
Nike strips
Me and Jamie on our way to Nike
The Crown Plaza hotel we stayed in was, as you can imagine, pretty nice! At our Team GB holding camp in Barcelona – the food was very basic and plain.... plain pasta, plain chicken, plain rice with some melon and plain yoghurt for desert. My training camp in Kenya offered a better selection! So the food in Moscow (although it was just normal food) tasted like a 5 Michelin Star Restaurant to us! To be fair, breakfast in the morning was genuinely amazing - everything you could possibly think of was there. I decided to be sensible and wait till my race was over before devouring every single pastry you could imagine. Every morning I would continually see the American athletes with huge waffles – but couldn’t work out where they were getting these delicacies from. Typical me, on our last day in Moscow, to eventually find where the waffles were being made! Probably a good thing though, otherwise I would've had maple syrup sweating out of my pores by the end of the week and turned into a huge pancake and waffle mess.

Dai Greene's map to Nike... Beautifully drawn.
Red Square
Laura and myself at Nike
Moscow by night
With my season still in full swing, I returned aqua-jogging straight away. Motivation was definitely the lowest it's been – I did find it difficult getting back into it again after watching all the other athletes chilling out and taking it easy for a few days. Ashton Eaton (Olympic and World Champ, Decathlete, USA) and a few of the other American Athletes were all playing on the slide in the pool whilst I aqua-jogged for an hour, round and round, in the smallest part of the pool which happened to be the deep end. It was approximately 3metres by 3metres! So depressing – I was tempted to race them to the slide and sack off my training for the day but... I am a geek and so continued wasting my life away in the swimming pool. It also didn’t help matters, swimming through warm patches of water, surrounded by children in the pool – so suspect – I knew what they were up to! Rascals!
Laura, Hannah, Me
Meghan, Sophie, Me
Hannah, Ashley and myself
First 'Apple' branding shoes i've ever seen... too funny.

I would also like to take the time to thank the hundreds of people who sent me messages on Twitter and Facebook – I really do appreciate them! They were all so lovely – not one horrible message! (SUCCESS! Definitely an improvement to the grilling I had after London...). I tried to take the time to reply to every single one – so I apologise if some slipped through the net! I would not like to thank o2 for my HUGE phone bill... Absolute disaster. I definitely need to find a company with lower charges for being abroad considering i'm away for almost half the year! Nightmare.

Grand Central in Antwerp
For me, things are still all go! I raced last night in Antwerp, Belgium over 1500m. It was a last minute decision – and I mean last minute, as in, midnight the previous day!! I have trained really hard all this week so didn't have huge expectations – I just wanted to get a few shorter races in before my last big race of the season – 3000m Steeplechase at the Brussels Diamond League. I took the win but in a very slow time after some bad pace-making. However, I did beat a Kenyan girl who has beaten me over the steeplechase ALL year – 9.25 runner – so to me, that shows I should be dipping under that 9.30 barrier in the right race! Antwerp was definitely.... an experience. We were sharing a prison-like dorm with 6 other girls. With 2 showers and no towels between us – it definitely was different from other meets I have been to this year! I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to race in a smaller meet though as there are not many races left for this summer season! A few girls from a small Japanese Team that were over competing, ran up to me after my race to give me a 'present'. They handed me a small 'Japan Athletics' badge! So, so cute. I felt bad after realising I didn't have anything to give them in return! But after their coach saw 'MCCOLGAN' on my bag – he then clocked that perhaps Liz McColgan, winner at the World Champs in Tokyo 1991, was perhaps a relative of mine! He literally could not believe it was my mum! After 12 years – it is amazing that my mum still has that sort of impact on people. To this day, she still receives letters and autograph cards from people all over the world – but Japan is definitely the most prominent. I gave one of the little girls my race number and asked for a picture with the two of them!
Japanese girls 

I will make sure I take a very easy week leading into Brussels Diamond League, in order to give myself the chance to recover and (hopefully) run fast! I am also pretty excited to read that Sean Paul is DJ-ing with Usain Bolt at the after party. Eilish (circa 2005, aged 15) is disgustingly excited about this – the first ever night club I went too (sneaky little under-ager) played Sean Paul the entire night – so i'm sure it will bring back some funny memories. I also wish I was Jamaican, so hopefully i'll fit right in. I maybe need to sort out my dancing though – as what I imagine it looks like in my head – is definitely nowhere near as awful as it looks in real life. Maybe someone can teach me how to Dutty Wine. I pray i'm not as bad as this....

My season will end after the New York 5th Avenue Mile on the 23rd Sept! I will then go back to Scotland for a good 3 weeks to catch up with all my family and friends as I haven’t been home since the end of March!! It will be nice to chill out for once and not think about cross training or racing! I had tickets for Kendrick Lamar in Glasgow – who I am genuinely OBSESSED with – but had to give them up in order to continue training in Loughborough! That evening in the pool was a difficult one – but there were 9 Chinese student who joined me aqua-jogging – so if i've started a craze as big as Tamagotchi's - i'll be happy. Silver-lining an all.

Long hair... Don't care..