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by Val Baxter

May 4, 2014

BUCS Championships By Adrian Bailes

So. Almost exactly a year on from becoming massively disheartened after not making the cut to qualify for English schools track and field, I was about to head off for my first taste of competitive action in the BUCS (British University and College Sport) track and field championships. BUCS is pretty much the university equivalent of English schools. Although there isn’t a specific qualifying time that needs to be achieved to enter, (unless the university has 3 or 4 athletes all wanting to compete in the same event) it does attract athletes of exceptional standard, notably Adam Gemili this year competing in the 100m.

This was my first taste of national standard track competition. The biggest track event that I have competed in prior to this was the Northern championships in 2010 as a 14 year old. Lets just say that wasn’t one of my better days. Second last in my heat, 33 seconds slower than my pb, and if I remember correctly sprint finishing with a lap to go, just to hold off the leaders so I never got lapped!! Onto the next lap I go.

I am a bit sad when it comes to this sort of thing, and before I travelled down, I had watched the videos from all of the heats and semi finals of the 800m to give myself some sort of idea what to expect. If there was a degree in studying the power of 10, I’d be pretty confident of a first, unfortunately though, I haven’t yet seen one for this (although looking at some of the courses available, it mightn’t be long!). Having watched all of these and looked at last years qualifying times, I was hopeful, but not certain I would make the Semi’s.

I have probably had my best ever winter, despite missing 7 weeks from the North Easterns until the signals relays due to an undiagnosed adductor injury. I had a real solid block from July coming back from my holiday until the North Easterns in December pretty much uninterrupted which is very unlike myself. Normally I manage about 3 weeks then need a few days rest. I am a big believer in consistency and quality over quantity and junk mileage, and during this period I missed very few sessions and did some quality training, knocking 26 seconds off my 5k pb and running my first ever 10k. I was pleased with my performance at the north Easterns cross country but then the following week I started getting niggles. It started off as just an ache but then over the week I sort of went from, running through it, starting and dropping out the session, starting and not managing the warm up, then not managing to even get started. Just as everything was starting to come together it seemed to just fade away. Another confidence blow!!

However I have come out of this injury a lot better than I had expected. I was going to a spinning class once a week (thanks Michael!) which I think massively helped keep my general fitness up and was regularly going to the gym for some strength work and sessions on the bike. In February I seemed to go from unable to start training to perfectly fine within a week. This was a blessing as I was starting to doubt myself, I distinctly remember a wet glum monday night at the riverside thinking I was ready to start training again. I managed 200m that night. I was talking to Tommy after my 200m about pulling out of the intercounties cross country as I wasn’t showing any signs of improvement with the injury and was preparing for the worst, but he kept his confidence in me and told me I would be ready. Anyway, I got through that, had a decent run at the intercounties and told Tommy I wanted to be fully fit for BUCS track again. He said ‘Dont worry you’ll be ready’.

Since then I have had a good block of training (touch wood) and ran a big 1500 pb last Wednesday, after the annual shocker at Shildon’s Anne Marie Readshaw meet. This pb gave me a lot of confidence coming down to BUCS. I knew that I was training well and feeling good during sessions so was optimistic as usual. I’d never run on this track before but I have to say, I really like it!! It is a fairly new mondo track – the same as the one used in the Olympic stadium! ( here is a link to about this type of surface for anyone as sad as me who might be interested in the technology behind the surface, yeah I know, I did say I was sad like this!)

The atmosphere at the event is fantastic. Everyone is so patriotic towards their institution. I have seen lots of people I know from all over the country and received lots of support. My phone was buzzing all morning and afternoon asking when I was racing and wishing me good luck. This support was massively appreciated. I felt a bit of a minnow in the warm up area warming up around the likes of Jake Wightman (that fast kid who won the heat before me in 1:48; he’s also the European junior 1500m champion) so all that support from home was greatly appreciated, thanks everyone! I’m still just a fresher, so have at least two more years left in this competition. With it being my first year for this competition, I wasn’t sure what to do in terms of call up and registration etc. but I managed to find Kieran who is in his second year at Uni and he explained the procedure to me and told me what to expect.

Anyway, about an hour before my race the heats were displayed and I saw who I was running against. I only recognised one name so I was pretty pleased about that, however I didn’t recognise one participant in my heat who was actually runner up in the final of last years event. Not like me to not know a big timers name eh! Anyway, I soon realised during the race that he was pretty decent as he went storming to the front and ran from gun to tape in the lead, going through the first lap himself in a low 55 so I think I was roughly 56. I was happy about this, being in a late heat I was aware of what sort of times the fastest losers had been running, a faster race meant I was more likely to qualify for the semi.

After the first lap I think I was sat in 4th place and with 300 to go I pushed on and took up 3rd. I felt pretty good and with 110m left I could hear Kieran screaming at me saying I could qualify if I kept working hard. I tried to, and I saw the winning time of 1:53 and counted myself over the line in about 1:55/56. Job done, just need to watch the last two heats now and hope that 6 of the fastest losers don’t run quicker than that.

I felt good running this. Last year when I ran my pb I sort of lay on the floor for 5 minutes (literally) and couldn’t stand up until I’d foam rolled for a further 5. After my heat yesterday I jogged straight off the track after shaking hands, got some food and drink to avoid the customary migraine I often earn and went for a warm down. Thankfully, this time I didn’t get the migraine. Also I WASN’T SICK! Again, not like me. Mustn’t have tried hard enough eh, never mind will try again today.

I’m expecting this to hurt a lot. Having watched last years races, they seem to follow the pattern of slow first lap and a big burn up on the last lap. I know every race is different though so I’m looking forward to having a good go at this. I have nothing to lose, just going to go and try to run a pb and see what happens.

So anyway, here I am awake at 6:47 writing this as I get ready to prepare for my semi final later on this morning. Semi final 3 of 4, the first one is at 11:26, I’ll try to let you all know how I get on.

Posted in Race report 4 years ago Permalink


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