Following a 5.15am arrival into Melbourne from Moscow, I was fortunate to spend a special day-and-a-half with my brother Jack and my friend, Georgie Clarke. After having spent three-and-a-half weeks with some of the best athletes in the World, topped off by a few Melbourne coffees and trots around the Tan I thought I would put pen to paper on the final leg of my Moscow journey.
It always amazes me how much I learn during trips away for running and how determined I am to better myself as both an athlete and a person as a result. Despite my presumption that this effect would diminish with more experience, the 2013 World Championships affirmed that learning is an ever-lasting journey! Here is a summary of what I learnt, followed by some of many trip highlights!
Plan & Prepare but keep an open mind (especially in a foreign environment).
It is always important to prepare as well as you can for an event, with respect to physical and mental training, race-day routine, hydration, nutrition, sleep etc. however it is equally important to be prepared for those inevitable last minute changes. Arriving at the first water station during the race to find fiddly screw-top bottles is just one example but as Chris Wardlaw and I like to say… ”Just embrace it!” Some people anticipate and plan for potential hiccups whilst others are happy to ‘go with the flow’. I think I fall somewhere in between. Hearing that the temperature on race day was likely to be between 27-30 degrees, we acknowledged the importance that hydration would play. Being a minimalist drinker myself, I was determined to hydrate adequately before and during the race. I am grateful for the support that Athletics Australia’s team doctor and SASI’s nutritionist provided with this, as it played a crucial role!
The importance of mindfulness. Our team Sports Psychologist emphasized the importance of mindfulness or ‘living in the now’. I found this to be great advice. Being present in the moment and not thinking too far ahead helped me to control nerves in the lead up to race day and was also a useful strategy during the marathon. Given the challenging conditions, I concentrated on finding an appropriate pace and rhythm but not think too much about the long road ahead.
Enjoy the journey. It really occurred to me at the London Olympics that it is so important to celebrate accomplishments on the way to your major goal. After all, the journey ‘there’ makes up a big part of life!
Being a bit ‘out-of-the-know’ might not be such a bad thing. I was a keen netballer until the age of 21 and closely followed teams like the Adelaide Thunderbirds. Admittedly, I had little knowledge about the world of distance running on a global scale but have enjoyed playing catch up and learning about some of the world’s leading athletes in recent years. Whilst my coach, Adam Didyk, is proficient at researching the field and making sure I am adequately prepared for races, I avoid learning about my competitors in detail. By going into major races with less pre-conceived ideas or expectations about what others can or may do, I avoid feeling daunted on the start line. I also feel that am better able to run my own race.
Highlights of the 2013 World Championships:
The Australian ‘Flame’ team induction challenge, which ended in melted Maltesers on the floor, motivation to beat the Ferrero Rocher ‘7-in-a-minute’ World Record and a classy overall victory by Dane Bird-Smith
Jumping around in the stands and no-doubt upsetting a few locals whilst watching the 4x400m relay team storm into third position. Tristan’s face said it all in his gutsy anchor leg.
The Crowne Plaza hotel left no stone un-turned with their buffet breakfast selection – the eggs in every form and addictive crepes tested the boundaries of every athlete’s appetite!
Arriving safely in Red Square following a tumultuous taxi ride with Ben, Caitlin and Adam – Eminem at full-blast through the radio, a near miss with a pedestrian and a mid-drive cigarette break left us contemplating the 45 minute return walk home. It was worth it to watch the clock strike 12 on my birthday in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral though!
Sally, Jarrod and Kims’ medal performances and a personal best throw for the elated and much-deserved Flame Vice-Captain, Kim Mickle!
Crossing the finish line on the blue Luzhniki track in the Asics Green & Gold kit – my first stadium finish!
In summary, Moscow and the marathon race provided new challenges, taught me lessons and opened my eyes to more of the ‘one percenters’ that can be done to keep improving. I loved the opportunity to meet so many great people, strengthen friendships and share the experience with my coach, who continues to impress me with his passion and belief. I look forward to taking the Moscow experience with me into 2014 and beyond!