So the Commonwealth Games have been and gone. Myself and Mrs pacepusher certainly made the most of the opportunity they presented to watch some top class sport (as anybody who is friends with us on Facebook will testify – selfie anyone?) and we succeeded in seeing the Triathlon, Rugby 7’s (x2), the Marathon, Swimming, Boxing, Badminton, Road Cycling, Hockey and Athletics (x2). We were lucky enough to witness some great contests and some great individual performances (more on that later) as well as seeing our home city really come to life. From the spinning Tunnock’s tea cakes at their opening ceremony, to the scantily clad Kylie Minogue at their close, in Irn-Bru terms, I thought the Games were truly PHENOMENAL!
In terms of performance, you can’t fail to admire the dominance of the Brownlees in the triathlon, the Kenyan’s in the Athletics, or the Southern Hemisphere sides in the Rugby 7’s. These are individuals and Teams at the top of their game. They expect, and are expected, to win – you’ve only got to see the New Zealand players and fans reaction to defeat in the Rugby 7’s final to know this is true.
Secondly, there were the inspiring, and gutsy performances of those that came away with perhaps unexpected medals, such as Scotland’s Lyndsey Sharp and Ross Murdoch, England’s Jo Pavey and Australian’s Michael Shelley and Jess Trengove – I’m sure there’s many more.
Thirdly, there are those who did pretty much what they were ‘supposed’ to do – Scotland’s Eilidh Child and England’s Steve Way for example. If this sounds unfair, I don’t intend it to. I think these athletes are to be celebrated as much as the aforementioned. Child delivered what was expected of her under the immense pressure of being Scotland’s poster girl. The Hampden roar was always going to struggle to lift her to the level of the Jamaican Gold medalist, but she delivered the silver which was what Scotland expected.
At 41, Steve Way survived the media’s overhype to come home in 10th place and second Brit – although some would have you believe otherwise. His time being a new PB, adds to the fact that this is all that could really be expected of him, likewise Scot, Derek Hawkins who WAS the first Brit home, despite vomiting with effort.
Steve Way met the pacepusher’s at Tollcross parkrun – less than a week after his Marathon performance.
Finally, there are those for whom being at the Games was an achievement in itself – those that travelled into the unknown. The cyclist that had never cycled in a velodrome before, for example, or the triathlete who dived enthusiastically into open water for the first time before proceeding to swim breath stroke! Both individuals are brave and inspiring.
Ultimately they were all ‘the best they could be’ on the day, and seized their opportunities with both hands – brilliant!
What about the flip side? Those that failed to deliver. Like Eilidh Child, poster boy Michael Jamieson walked away with a silver medal. The difference is that he should have had gold. He wasn’t happy. The brilliant David Rudisha also walked away with silver when many expected him to take gold. He was delighted.
The reactions of these two athletes to their silvers is perhaps understandable. Jamieson was embarrassed by an unexpected defeat to a fellow Scot (Ross ‘F**k Me’ Murdoch) and showed his displeasure throughout the medal ceremony. Rudisha, returning from injury, did what Mo and Bolt didn’t. He turned up and gave his best, beaten only by Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos from Botswana. He was delighted for his rival and for himself.
So, back to real life, I am now into week 4 of 12 training weeks leading up to the Yorkshire Marathon on October 12th. I’m making my schedule up as I go along this time, but it will have all the key elements (long runs, intervals, hills, medium long runs and tempo efforts). I’m including more speed sessions than before the Manchester Marathon because, well, I was 2 minutes and 37 seconds too slow in Manchester! I’m also doing more races in the build up, including a 10 mile race and a half marathon.
The Commonwealth Games has given me a certain motivation, but I’ve struggled to get going a bit. Planning this post however, got me thinking.
What do I want from, and how will I perceive, my performance in this Marathon?
Obviously, I’m still desperately seeking my first sub 3 hour marathon, but realistically what am I expecting from myself on the day?
Unlike the Brownlee Brothers, I don’t expect to win. More to the point, like the breath stroking triathlete, I KNOW I won’t win, but I’m going to do my best. I will beat as many people as I can, but ultimately, I’m only racing the clock.
Friends and family are right behind me, I know that. They hope that I will, but they do not EXPECT me to, achieve a sub 3. Nor am I the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon’s poster boy – although with these looks maybe I should be! There will not be an entire nation screaming me on. In fact on the grand scale of things, the only person that REALLY cares if I break 3 hours is me. The only pressure is that which I exert upon myself, and after recent disappointing 10k races, I know it’s a pressure I could do without.
So on the day I will strive to be ‘the best I can be’. I will remind myself that actually, there is no pressure, not compared to the stars of the Commonwealth, relax and run as well as I can. If that isn’t good enough, then I’ll remember this…
Many of the athletes at the games arrived in Glasgow with inappropriate, or in some cases, no kit! Bikes were donated to the Malawi cycle team, a female boxer had kit bought for her by a local club and a female marathon runner removed her shoes on the second lap as they were hurting her feet – they were trashed and didn’t even have an innersole! (See below). Whatever the outcome in the Yorkshire Marathon, I will be fortunate enough to have had my own running clothes, gels and suitable footwear – for that at least, I will be thankful!
Photo courtesy of Paul Clawson.