Monday, 18 May 2009

Ultra Squad Weekend

I was at the England Athletics Ultra Distance Squad Weekend in Gloucester on Saturday and Sunday.  I wasn't particularly looking forward to the five hour journey involving two buses and two trains. It could have been worse though.

Everything was fine until we reached Birmingham a bit late. The train was supposed to arrive at 1107 but arrived at 1128. My next train was supposed to leave Birmingham at 1130 so I was beginning to panic a bit until I found that it was due to leave from the same platform I had just arrived at ... but it was going to be 10 minutes late.  We all got on and a few minutes later heard the following message over the public address system:  "this train will now leave at 1200 because there's no driver available."

Arrived in Gloucester half an hour late and not too happy.

Got to the hotel at two o'clock, on the early side but it would give me time to meet everyone before proceedings began at three.  Never been invited to one of these before - never considered myself 'elite' before and that's still an unfamiliar tag.  Chris Finill, Vicky Skelton, Ramona Thevenet-Smith, Andy Smith, Jez Bragg, Dominic Croft, Matthew Lynas, Brian Cole and the other runners I spoke to were great at making me feel very welcome and I'm very grateful to them for that (particularly Chris and Ramona - you were both fantastic).

I always find these type of get togethers rather awkward, mainly because I'm a shy and introverted person by nature - mainly because of my medical history.  Apart from cancer as an adult I had recurring major throat problems as a child and I spent three or four weeks in hospital every 18 months or so having throat surgery and not being able to talk for a couple of months afterwards.

Had less than four hours sleep before going for a run on Sunday morning with Jez Bragg, Chris Finill, Matthew Lynas and Dominic Croft.  I found that quite a surreal experience ... running down the road with a group of international runners, chatting away and covering well over nine miles in 70 minutes or less before breakfast.

Then came a long relaxed breakfast before the rain started.  That wasn't good as I had to walk back into Gloucester to the train station [no buses there on a Sunday].  Journey home was uneventful except that we left Sheffield seven minutes late and arrived in Leeds two minutes early !!! The scheduled journey of 48 minutes actually took 37 minutes - very strange.

Overall a good weekend.  I picked up a few tips from Chris Finill, Andy Smith and Hilary Walker and learned about the forthcoming Commonwealth Championships. It still rankles a bit that I haven't been officially selected yet even though I exceeded the tough qualification criteria easily in my last 24 hr race ... all this waiting makes planning and training a bit difficult.

Oh yes, less than four hours sleep.  Well, the bloke I was sharing a room with snores, loudly.  Very loudly at times.  So loudly that, a couple of hours after getting into bed I decided to try using my MP3 earphones as makeshift earplugs.  Not much better but I eventually drifted off to sleep ... sort of.

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