Weekend at the stadium

This past weekend I had the pleasure of competing on each day at the Olympic Stadium.

Day 1 was a 5 mile route around the olympic village that finished inside the stadium on the finish line of the track.

We had set off from doncaster at 5am in order to drive down and arrive in London. I had read there would not be changing facilities so thought I would just go down in my running gear as it wouldn’t be to cold. I also seemed to forget to pack any normal clothes for the weekend break, so literally just had running gear, no coat, no jumpers nothing.

Arriving in London; after spending a large amount of time being lost! I soon realised how cold it actually was. My wife and I were not prepared for this weather. Everyone else seemed to realise it would be freezing and was wrapped up warm. Being northerns we decided to grin and bare it. However 3 hours later this tactic was no longer working. So we had to resort to buying official Olympic jumpers. I was worried my son might get cold so I donated mine to him and used my tough northerner training to get through the shaking.

As race time approached we headed to our holding gate and all the issues of being cold were forgotten. We were position at the back of the second wave as we had no intentions of making this a fast run. Then over the loudspeaker came an announcement “the visually impaired runners are due to set off next”. What?? there was a special section we were supposed to be in? we dashed to the front and missed the start, we quickly joined in around a minute or so after once they realised the majority of the visually impaired also had no idea there was a special section as they all begin to gather behind us.

The run took a scenic tour around the park and we were able to run around the freshly built arenas. My wife had never run further than 3 miles and never run faster than a 10:30 mile. So we pushed it a little and ran slightly faster than that. Sian was struggling a little around the course but the idea of finishing in the stadium spurred her on.

As we entered the stadium we ran in the service tunnels and the adrenaline really kicked in. Our pace quickly increased to 9 minute miles and we shot out into the stadium. Running on the track felt fantastic and the stadium seemed huge. Crossing the finish line was a great feeling and we even received a really hefty medal.

The next day we returned to the stadium for the 100m sprint. This is certainly not my preferred running distance and I am not a fan of sprinting. The full range of motion and the intensity just has injury waiting to happen written all over it.

We Hund around the stadium for a while watching the other races and took advantage of the polar opposite weather of the previous day. After a couple of hours me and Neil Bacon headed down to our holding area to get ready for the sprint.

(Get ready for the excuses) We entered the warmup facility where I did a few warmups before heading out to the track. Once we arrived outside and walked out onto the track itself I realised I couldn’t see the lines defining the lanes. I asked for assistance from the staff but it was to late, I was told to go for it!

So unable to see the lines or even how far I should be running; on the sound of the gun I went for it. I apparently took an early lead but I felt myself drifting into another lane, so I eased off and concentrated on trying to stay straight. This apparently was my downfall as I was overtaken by not one but two people!

I finished the race 3rd and felt a little disappointed. But then took splice in the fact I had just done a 100m sprint in the Olympic stadium so who cares what position I finished in.

The weekend was fantastic and I managed to walk away with 2 medals to remind me of the events and some great memories to take away with me. I also managed to tear up my muscles; sprinting just aint for me.

Olympic Stadium

This weekend I have the pleasure of not only competing once at the Olympic Stadium but twice!

Late last year I received a tweet from The National Lottery about entering their Olympic Park Run that would give me the opportunity to be one of the first people to cross the finish line at the stadium. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and quickly entered. I was lucky enough to receive a slot in the event.

It also marks the first time my wife Sian will be acting as my guide runner. It would of been better if Sian had trained a little but hey the adrenaline on the day will get her beyond the finish line easily.

The second event on the Sunday was even more out of the blue. Again thanks to twitter I saw a tweet from the RNIB about the chance to compete in a 100m sprint at the stadium. Without a doubt the one event I would LOVE to run, but frankly am terrible at. I cannot sprint at all, so will be the one limping over the finish line last!

So this weekend should be a great opportunity and rather strangely I have an incredibly low bib number. (9) so they appear to be under the misconception that I am fast! This will definitely not be the case.

Once in a lifetime

Once in a lifetime is a saying that gets easily used. When my wife and I travelled America we lauded how it was once in a lifetime. In reality we will no doubt repeat that trip in a decades time. We often use the saying when the task in actuality is easily repeated.

For once though I believe I have a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have been giving a condition place to be a London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer. The condition being I pass the security and background checks, pretty sure I will pass this easy enough!

So I am truly honoured to have been chosen. It is without a doubt the greatest reward for the past year of hard training and running. I would even rank it higher than my TV commercial!

Like most things in life there was a long string of interwoven events that led to me being nominated.

Disregarding all the training for a while, the timeline went a little like this:

I wrote a blog post about my experiences with RunKeeper and how it enabled me to train solo outdoors. This was quickly picked up by the RunKeeper team and appeared on their blog.

The Daily in New York found the story and ran an article on me.

This was quickly followed by Wired and CNN. Resulting in me filming a short for CNN that aired earlier this year. The Wired featured blog ran for a number of months and brought in lots more attention.

During the time I was writing for Wired I lost my pacing team. So I began a search for a new pacing team and perhaps the most instrumental people in the timeline were introduced.

I contacted UP & Running in the hopes they could help me piece together a pacing team. They went above and beyond and ran a small in store campaign and mentioned it on Twitter. This brought in the initial point of contact James Clay, along with James came Matt Puddy and Charlie Baxter.

Matt and Charlie took up the reigns and began to put together a team. Matt ran all the logistics, planning and organising. He was incredibly instrumental in allowing me to run my first ultra run.

With the run complete the next event was the ASICS call. They wanted a blind runner for a TV commercial and I didn’t really fit the bill. I had a quick chat and mentioned what I was doing alone and with my pacers was a better story than the one they were on the look out for. They agreed and the TV commercial was created.

These interwoven events created my running journey of the past year and were the basis of my nomination. I was kindle nominated by Charlie and Matt and was chosen. But without all those other people my story wouldn’t have got out there and the opportunity would never have presented itself.

So to all those people Thank you.

There is however one last mention. For my wife, she was there through all the difficulties of training, the time I was passed out on the bathroom floor, when my legs failed during training, when my water was stolen and most importantly she had the faith that when I said I could run alone she believed it.