What doesn’t kill you makes You stronger and I’m still breathing!!

A couple weeks ago I had to make the toughest, most heart breaking decision of my athletics career and withdraw from the upcoming European Championships.
Running for your country is every athletes dream. It is the highest honour and privilege to wear the GB vest at a continental or global championship. When you reach that level you want to make sure that you are in a position to put in your very best performance and I know right now that I couldn’t do that. Yes, I could go and COMPLETE the distance but I couldn’t COMPETE to the very best of my ability. I couldn’t do myself, the team and my country justice.

The good news is that I am not injured! (Or at least I wasn’t when I made the decision, ironically a couple of days later I picked up a calf/achilles strain!) I am healthy and fit, just not marathon fit. To run any marathon well you need to have undergone a certain level of preparation. Solid long runs, long tempos, good speed endurance and I haven’t been able to do this.

After the Commonwealth Games I underwent a small operation on my heel to fix an inflamed bursa which had been troubling me since this time last year. I wasn’t allowed to run for 7 days after and then had to gradually build back over the next 4 weeks. As soon as I could I was in the pool, on the bike and eventually the cross trainer as I slowly built my weekly miles back up – 20, 40, 60, 80.

As much as the cross training helped me retain my aerobic fitness I knew I was in a fight against time to get marathon fit in only 8 weeks. My endurance was strong but my speed was bare. Thankfully every session was an improvement on the last, but still not where I wanted or needed it to be and that wasn’t going to change significantly in 4 weeks.

The decision to withdraw was made even tougher as feasibly this could be my last chance of representing GB. I’m 40 in September and this would have been my 14th marathon. I’m being realistic when I say I probably only have another couple left in me, so I want to make sure that they aren’t wasted and that when I next stand on a marathon start line that I am in good enough shape to challenge for a PB and hit the type of time I know I am capable of.

Good luck to the rest of the team heading out to Berlin, especially the marathon girls who are in with a great chance of winning a team medal. I’ll be cheering you all on!!

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Commonwealth Games 2018

Finally, after a mammoth 34 hours of travelling, I’m safely back home from the 2018, Commonwealth Games which was held on Gold Coast, Australia. What an amazing experience I’ve had!

Brisbane South Bank

Brisbane South Bank

This was my second Commonwealth Games and after running at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and then the World Championships in London Last year Gold Coast was really going to have to pull out all the stops to challenge the atmosphere of those two. And boy did it pull out those stops!

This was my first time in Australia and from the two week holding camp in Brisbane to a week in Gold Coast for the Games I absolutely loved every second.
I’ll be honest with you all and say that my whole preparations for these Games hadn’t gone great. In fact far from it. To the point that the week before I was due to fly out to Australia I had the Team managers number on my phone screen about to ring and say I was withdrawing from the Team.

Brisbane

Brisbane

After what happened to me in Glasgow and the way I’ve been running the last 3 years I desperately wanted a medal here. And that was my downfall. Sometimes we want things too much and we do ourselves damage trying to achieve our goals. In my quest to do the best I could at the Games I over did things. I trained really well out in Kenya and came back in good shape ready to start my marathon phase. I stupidly let myself get carried away with my mileage. I was feeling fit and sessions were going well and I got caught in the ‘just a few more miles’ trap. I ended up running a total of 256 miles in those first two weeks back.

Making friends

Making friends

The quality of my running started to suffer but at first I put it down to the freezing cold weather slowing me down. It took a trip to Seville in late February to pace the marathon for me to realise that something wasn’t right. I was knackered. I was sleeping 11-12 hours a night plus a 90 minute afternoon nap. My heart rate was ridiculously low hovering around 31-33 bpm at rest – not always a good thing. I struggled to run a pace I should be able to hit easily.

Thankfully once I got out to Brisbane things did start to pick up. Once I got used to the Hugh heat and intense humidity my runs started to feel better and I managed to do a couple of light but faster sessions. At this point I was pretty much in taper so it was a case of less is more and just concentrate on getting to the start line in a positive frame of mind and then hoping for the best. I did a final long run with some tempo efforts thrown in and thankfully that went well. It was the best I’d felt since February. Maybe I could pull this off after all?!

IMG_20180416_074129_193

Loving the crowds

Come race day and temperatures were set to sore into the mid to high 20s with humidity above 90% even with the early 7.20am start. The race set off slow, the first 5k was outside 19 minutes but then it kicked on.
There was a big group of us at the front and I started to struggle quite early on at 8 miles. I thought that was me dead and buried but I went passed my family in the crowd at Broadbeach and instantly got a second wind and managed to pull myself back up to the lead group by 11 miles. I sat comfortably in the group of 6 through to about 23k and then one of the Aussies pushed on and I knew I couldn’t go with the pace. I let 4 of them go and hoped that a couple would come back to me but that was the last I saw of them.

Athletics+Commonwealth+Games+Day+11+N8tbh2KlIYHl

Early days

The last 10k was a death march. Temperatures were still rising and despite pouring water over myself every 1.5 miles and running through the mist stations I could feel myself over heating. The lack of training was starting to catch up on me and it was just a case of keep putting one foot in front of the other. I knew I was comfortably in 6th position and had a glance round to see if I was going to be caught but there was no one in sight.
My legs only just made it to the finish line. I’d even took my 40k gel, which I never do, to give me every little help of getting there. I wasn’t in That bad a state but medical put me in a wheelchair to get me to the cool recovery tent quicker. Put an ice towel round my neck and over my head and after a bottle of coke I was up and chatting to media.

Alyson+Dixon+Athletics+Commonwealth+Games+TBFPVPJ01Oal

Concentrate!!

Initially I was disappointed with my 6th place but at the same time I was so happy and relieved to have made it to the finish. Marathons are tough when you’ve done the correct preparation but being under prepared and in those conditions was just plain brutal. It really was a war of attrition. On reflection I’m happy with 6th. I know I can’t sit here and think what if I’d been fully fit with a much better prep because I wasn’t so I’ll never know. I put to bed the ghost of Glasgow and I’ve came out of it pretty much unscathed.
What happened in the men’s race in the half hour after I had finished shows that with the marathon no matter how well prepared you are anything can happen on the day, especially in those conditions.
It was absolutely heart breaking watching poor Callum suffer the way he did. I was in the athlete tent about a mile away and we were screaming at the event staff to get someone there to help him. I was fearing the worst so much that I even tried to put my shoes back on and run down to help him myself. Thankfully someone got there before I managed to get my shoes back on. I was relieved to hear from him later on that evening saying that he was feeling much better. I can’t believe how he went from cruising along shouting encouragement to me as we passed out other in opposite directions to being in that state. He’s one tough warrior and thankfully will come back and fight another battle, as will I!

Heat and lack of prep got the better of me for a minute

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

About last Sunday…

A week on and last Sunday still feels quite surreal.  

I went into the race knowing I was in great shape, probably the best shape I’ve ever been in. The Saturday before I’d done my usual final 5k track tempo and it was 43 seconds faster then pre VLM. So I knew I was in very good shape.

A 2pm start time was totally different to what I’m usually used to for a marathon but food etc was adjusted accordingly. I’d decided it would be best to split my breakfast so that I didn’t over eat but also didn’t leave myself hungry waiting until 10.30 to eat breakfast. I saw Alex the physio to get my stiff ankle mobilised at 8am then headed down for some banana on toast and a coffee at 8.30 before having my Porridge and another coffee at 10.30. 

The race start and finish were on Tower Bridge which is about 1km from our hotel so we strolled across at about 12pm.  Warm up for a marathon is really short, 1 mile jog, change shoes, a stride then I’m ready. However with it being a championship race we had a call room to go through where we get our timing transponders so timings had to be changed accordingly to fit that in.  Call room closes 25 mins before the race starts and if you are not inside by then you miss the race. 

Call room was the usual chaos but once out on the Bridge we had time for a stride then we were ushered onto the start line. There was a bit if a rush for prime positions on the start line but I was happy to stand 2 or 3 rows back. There was 26.2 miles ahead of us, it wasn’t going to make that big a difference. When the gun went the pack moved off at quite a sedate pace. I found myself up near the front and just relaxed and waited for the pack to settle to see where I ended. Like I say, the pace was quite sedate so I found myself sitting comfortably up front. The 1st mile was only 5.44 so perfectly within my comfort zone.

My race was neither brave nor gusty. All I did was follow my pre-set race plan.  That plan was to try and run splits around the 5.35-45 zone through to 30km and then hopefully pick up a little for a strong finish and try to get a low 2.28 clocking.  Training suggested I was in around 2.27 shape so given the course 2.28 was a good target.

One Portuguese girl went off the front and opened up a sizeable lead early on but the main lead pack seemed quite happy to run around this pace and let her go so I settled in and enjoyed it.  The crowds were fantastic giving lots of vocal support and I managed to spot a few familiar voices along the way and acknowledged them when I did.

As usual feed stations were a bit chaotic but I managed to get my bottle without mishap. As we weaved through the City section of the course I took a mental note of the twists and turns and the 3 or 4 little climbs that there were. Watching the race coverage back on iPlayer someone fell on one of the corners. This was one of my big fears about running in the middle of a big pack and one of the reasons why I had gone to the front – it’s a little safer there!

Approaching 9k we caught the Portuguese girl and I thought to myself if I can just hold it here until the 10k split I will always have an official race split saying I was leading the World Championships Marathon.  Little did I know that I would go on to have 3 of these by the end of the race!!

I knew I was leading, obviously, but I thought that the rest of the pack were right on my shoulder and were going to come past and swallow me up any second. I hadn’t really increased the pace dramatically, a little surge at the feed station as usual to get a clear run at my bottle but other than that still hitting my planned splits. I was constantly checking my watch to make sure I was on pace and doing nothing silly but the rest of the field just didn’t come with me. 

By the time I got down to the bottom turn around point someone shouted I had about 30 second gap. I just laughed at that and thought they were crazy then coming round the cones I looked over and realised they weren’t!!

Still I wasn’t running anything fast. Just sub 2.29 pace, well within my capabilities and actually slower than I’d done in London Marathon back in April.  I was loving the crowd support and egging them on to get even louder. It helped me take my mind off splits etc whilst also pushing me along. All the time I was waiting for the pack to come and swallow me up.

I never for a minute thought I was going to run away from these girls, they are world class marathoners, I’m not. All I was doing was running my race plan and enjoying myself doing so. Yes, I could have sat back with them running outside 2.30 pace but I’m the type of athlete who find it’s hard to do a huge increase in pace over the last 5-10k and I knew that if I wanted to run a PB that the best way to do it, for me, was to try and run equal halfs. 

In terms of trying to finish as high up as possible, I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to live with the increase of pace of most of that pack come the last 5-10k. They were capable of lifting it to 2.24 pace or faster, I wasn’t. 

My biggest mistake of the race was when they caught me at around 30k. Instead of just sitting in the pack and going along for the ride for a few miles, I stupidly kept fighting and went back to the front of the pack. Mile 20 ended up a 5.15 Mile!! And mile 21 wasn’t much slower at 5.23.  I knew I couldn’t keep that up so eased back and hoped that I hadn’t done myself any damage but it was too late. I settled back into my pace but mile 25 the wheels came off and I dropped to 7.02! For the first time in the race my head went down and I was in survival mode. There were times during that mile when I thought my legs weren’t going to make it to the end. 

The crowds were still incredible and they knew that I’d given the race my best shot. Coming back past the Tower of London they managed to lift me, my head came up again and I was using every last bit of energy I had left to get myself to the finish line.  

Coming on to Tower Bridge someone stuck their hand out for a high 5 and I responded. Next thing I know there’s hundreds of hands sticking out! I managed to spot my sister and best mate in the crowd and they handed me a flag. I was nowhere near a medal or even the top 10 but I took the flag and proudly waved it across the line.  

I was nowhere near a medal or even the top 10 but the crowd made me feel like a champion. I’m only 5 foot tall but I felt 7 foot for those last few hundred metres.  My body was wrecked. I stumbled across the line and went down like a sack of potatoes.  The amazing Amy Cragg was still celebrating her fantastic bronze medal (inspiration right there!) Came over to check that I was ok and poured some water over my head before I was carted off in a wheelchair to medical. A medicinal can of coke and a mars bar and I was fine to make the long walk back across the Bridge to the media zone. 
The smile never left my face. My ‘A’ goal had been to finish in the top 15. I’d just missed that but considering I was ranked 23rd going into the race I still over performed to finish 18. I had wanted to run a lot faster than the 2.31 I ended up with. I know I am in far better shape than that but those fast 2 miles at mile 20 & 21 put pay to that, not the first 19 miles.

But would I change anything? Honestly, no. I stuck to my race plan and had a blast doing so. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be anywhere near leading the World Championships Marathon, Never mind being out there in front for over an hour. 

I know some people have criticised the BBC commentary team for being ‘negative’ towards me saying it was only a matter of time before I got caught and that I wouldn’t win a medal but what they were saying was completely true.  Paula and Steve know me well enough to know that I was under no illusion that I could run away from these girls and that I was just running my own race plan.  Paula has seen me train the last few weeks, she’s jumped on a bike and played waterboy on my long runs and Gary, her husband, has paced my track sessions. She knows what shape I’m in and knows how I like to run races. She was almost reading my mind when she said I would be counting down the miles waiting for them to catch me.

I firmly believe that life is about seizing the moment, taking your chances when they come as you’ll never know if you’ll get the same opportunity again.  Im 39 next month,  this was most likely my last World Championships so I wanted to give it my very best shot. I did just that. I finished knowing that I had left everything out there on the road. Not sitting back thinking what if. 

The support and messages ice received has been overwhelming. I’ve been to the stadium every night this week to cheer on my teammates and every night people have stopped me and said how brilliant it was to see a Brit out in front for so long and how I made what could have been a dull race very exciting! I appreciate each and every message I receive. But I don’t do any of this for the game and fortune, I do it because I LOVE it. I’m not an athlete who finds it a chore or a sacrifice to do what I do. I LOVE what I do. I LOVE training. I LOVE competing. And last Sunday I loved the feeling of, for 90 minutes, leading the World in the classic, icon distance…

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

A few words about Sundays race…

Thank you to everyone for the support.

Blog to follow…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The hay is in the barn…

‘The hay is in the barn, don’t create sparks to set it on fire now!’ wise words from little old me mid tempo yesterday and it really is true. I’m currently up in Font Romeu on week 6 of a 7 week training camp preparing for the forth coming IAAF World Championships in London. But first Let’s go back 13 weeks…

April 23rd Virgin Money London Marathon.
I went into the race in great shape, ready to run fast. I didn’t really have a race plan set out other than to run with the 2.28 pacemaker and see how I felt as we got into the race. The outcome is pretty much well known. I felt good and found myself with a slight gap over the other British girls at 10k so pushed on by myself. I was surprised one or two didn’t come with me as there had been whispers of a few going for sub 2.28. I felt great throughout the race. It’s so much harder to run solo, churning out 5.35-40 splits mile after mile with only the help from the very loud crowd to push you on. The girls behind me running in a group with the pacemaker definitely had the easier ride, they just had to tuck in and be dragged along but I like to do things the hard way!

IMG_20170706_204007_325

Last few strides coming down The Mall

By the time I got to mile 23 I could sense that someone was closing in on me. I wasn’t sure how far behind they were or who it was but I had a feeling that it was Charlotte and that turned out to be correct. Unbeknown to me at one point she closed me down to 7 seconds but I kept telling myself I hadn’t ran nearly 20miles by myself to be caught now and kept on pushing. Finally Buckingham Palace came into view and I knew then that I had the 1st Brit spot secured without needing a sprint finish like last year. When I watched back the BBC coverage Paula had commented on there that I was knackered as I came round the corner onto the Mall, it shows how well she knows me because she was so right!!!!

I finally saw the clock and mustered a kind of sprint finish, in my mind I was sprinting like Bolt, on the large screen I looked like a hippo wading through mud!!! I stopped the clock in a nice new PB of 2.29.06. Of course those 7 seconds are still annoying me now but at least I came away from the race knowing I could go faster and where I dropped the time, things to work on during this training cycle.

As 1st Brit and running under 2.36 I was guaranteed selection for the World Champs to be held back in London on August 6th and here I am now just 14 days away from that.

I had my usual 14 days of no running after London and then managed to fit in a nice little jog around the Sunderland Half Marathon. This was a really special day as Paula had agreed to come over and run too. Getting to run your hometown half marathon with the greatest female marathoner (and good friend) is definitely special and created some very precious memories. Of course, just because she’s the GOAT, doesn’t mean I was going to let her win. Even with the marathon still in my legs I managed to out sprint her in a tight but friendly battle to the line.

EventPhotoHandler (18)

Outsprinting the GOAT

I got back into training and suffered a slight hiccup when I picked up a random 24 hour bug. Although the symptoms were short lived I gave myself a few extra days rest just to make sure. I couldn’t afford for it to return. It meant that I was slightly under prepared going into my beloved Blaydon Race and this year I really couldn’t afford to be as I knew that my fellow Rio Olympic marathoner Sonia was also racing. I gave it my best shot but on the day my legs just didn’t have it past the 3 mile mark. I had to settle for 2nd place. I was pretty gutted as I would have loved to have earned the hat-trick but it wasn’t to be. It did however, give me the kick up the backside I needed to get back into good hard training.

So off I popped over here to Font Romeu. Since I got here my training has gone brilliant. I’ve been bashing out the miles on the stunning trails, one week a little too many when I hit 139.4 for the week…opppssss!!! But I’ve managed to average 126mpw over the 1st 5 weeks which includes some really consistent track sessions that have been faster than I’ve done up here in the past and some very strong long tempos. I’ve also been hitting PB’s in the gym too squatting a massive 55.25kg!!! (Baring in mind I currently weigh about 42kg!)

Screenshot_20170723-185551

Strava stats…

I’ve got one last biggish track session left on Wednesday and then that’s me officially on taper. This is the part I hate about marathon training. I LOVE running so having to cut back when you are feeling so fit feels alien to me. I have my tried and tested taper routine of cutting back the volume by 1/3rd in the 1st week and then cutting that volume again by another 1/3rd in the final week. I maintain frequency and intensity during this period so the body doesn’t close down completely and I start feeling lethargic.

I don’t fly into London until the Wednesday before my race. I’ve used this routine for the last 2 London Marathons and despite some freak outs in the first year it’s worked out great both times and I’ve felt amazing on race day. You have to be careful when coming down from altitude to race as you get windows where you feel absolutely horrific due to the body going through re-adaption to see level. I’ve found I can race well on pretty much day 2, 5, 10 and 21 down. But the period between 10 days and 20 days down is horrific especially when I’ve had an extended period (4-6 weeks) up here.

20170701_134202_043_01

Pounding the roads in stunning surrounds

So, another summer, another championships. I’m really looking forward to getting out there on the Streets of London and doing myself, my family and my country proud. If you are around Central London at 2pm on 6th August come down to the Tower Bridge/Embankment/St Paul’s area and give us a shout. It’s a 4 lap course so you’ll see lots of action and I can promise you it will be awesome!!

INSTAGRAM: @alydixon

TWITTER: @alydixon262

STRAVA: @aly_dixon

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A quick update

It’s been a while…
I can’t believe it’s only 2 weeks until this year’s London Marathon, where did that year go?! I bet that there are many of you wishing that you could push the date back and have another couple of weeks to get the miles in?! There will also be a few who wishes it was here this weekend. Whichever camp you are in be sensible these next few weeks, this is where most people make the mistakes. They either worry that they haven’t done enough so try to cram more in or are in great shape but instead of just consolidating this shape they try to push on more to get in better shape. Both ways can end in disaster and a not too good race day. So my advice is to just stick to what you have planned. It’s far better to get to the startline slightly undercooked than slightly overcooked or even worse, don’t even make it to the startline. Whatever you do in training now wont give you any extra fitness benefit for the marathon but it can push you over that dangerous redline of injury and or overdoing it so sit back relax and trust in the training that you have banked. These last few weeks are for practicing what you will actually do on race day. So for your last long run, get up at the same time you will on race day. Have the same breakfast at the same time. Wear the same kit – including socks, and undies!! And make sure you practice your race nutrition. If you’ve not tried lucozade sport yet, grab some and try it, race day is not the time to discover that it doesn’t agree with your stomach!!
For me, I’m once again training in my 2nd favourite place in the world – Font Romeu. I’ve been up here for a few weeks now and loving it as much as ever. Like the rest of you the hard work is already in the bank, just another week or two of some sharpening and freshening up and I’ll be ready to go.
So far training has gone really well. Since the beginning of the year I’ve averaged 111 miles a week. I spent January in Kenya again. I loved every second of it this year thanks to a great group of guys to train and hang out with. It great to see people actually training together in groups this year instead of everyone doing their own thing like last year. It made the trip so much more beneficial and enjoyable. I changed my training slightly a few times and jumped in with the middle distance girls for some sessions and once again discovered that I am never going to make a 800 or 1500m runner!! But it was fun and beneficial to get some fast 1k, and 400m, 300m, 200m reps done300m, even if I was left flat on my back after!
I’ve been left a bit frustrated with the races I’ve done so far. I know I’m in great shape but it’s just not showing itself in races. Mind, the weather isn’t helping and my glute med going into cramp at Reading wasn’t ideal. But at the end of the day I know what shape I’m in from training and fast races in the build up to a marathon don’t really mean much it’s what happens on the streets of London come the 23rd April that counts and I’d swap all the fast times in the world for a good one that day!
Thankfully it hasn’t all been hard training lately. I’ve managed to do some fun things with family too. I miss out a lot on school holiday fun with my nephew and cousin so during the February half term I York them down to Jump 360 in Stockton and had some fun bouncing around on the trampolines. It’s a brilliant place for both kids and adults – I think my sister had more fun than the kids. There’s lads of different parts to the park, not just trampolines. There’s a giant airbag, dodge ball, balance beam, foam pit, stunt beds and much much more. Unfortunately I couldn’t bounce around too much as I was worried about getting injured but the others loved it and we had to drag the two young ones off! I’ll definitely be taking them back after London so that I can join in with the fun more.

Good luck to everyone running London and also those running Brighton marathon tomorrow.  I’m

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Her name is…

20160902_212501

Cool passport stamp!

All in all if I said the whole Rio experience was beyond brilliant it would be an understatement. I know it sounds cheesy and far fetched but it was everything I had dreamed it would be and then about 100 times more. It truly blew my mind!

I had left my training base up in Font Romeu under a bit of a dark cloud having taken a tumble and spent a stressful 48 hours getting checked out. Thankfully everything was OK. My knee was a bit sore from bashing it but a day or two of rest and an aqua run session and I was back in the game. I knew I was in very good shape and all the rest of my preparations had gone very well.so an extra day or two of rest at this point would do no harm.

IMG_20160806_122656

Staying cool at the holding camp

I always said that once I got to Heathrow to fly to Brazil that everything would hit me and it would all feel real. However, checking in for our flight behind Chris Froome and having Andy Murray and Princess Anne on my flight just made the whole thing seem even more surreal than ever!!

The holding camp at Belo Horizonte was great. It was a BOA camp so we were staying with some of the other sports though because of the competition schedules it was largely athletics that was there whilst I was there. We had our own opening ceremony party in the town where we got to wear our lovely Stella McCartney outfits and watch the ceremony on a big screen in an auditorium. The cheer which went up as GB matched on was incredible.

20160815_101640(0)

Just chilling…

I moved down to Rio on the Thursday before my race. Walking into the village sent shivers down my spine. I kind of knew what to expect from staying in the village at Glasgow Commonwealth Games but this was so much more. Block after block of apartments all decked out in each teams colours. GB had a whole block to themselves and all the balconies had Union Jacks on them. The garden area outside had been decked out with artificial grass, pool table, table football and Union Jack deckchairs with large screen TV to watch BBC coverage of the games. The entrance had a giant TEAM GB rug and there was special TEAM GB Brompton bikes for us to use to get around the village. We had use of shared swimming pools which became very popular as people finished their competitions.

20160803_150604

Belo Horizonte = beautiful horizon

The food hall – the one thing that everyone asks about! – was HUGE and catered for all types of tastebuds, apart from cake, they didn’t do good cake!!! It was open 24/7 and despite catering for 11,000 athletes it never felt crowded and you could always find a seat with ease. The food was good but pretty bland which is what you need before competing but it wasn’t the best once you had finished and were looking for some good old pig out food. Luckily there was a free McDonalds in the village plaza to help with this. This was one of the things that I had been looking forward to! I’m not one to eat McDonald’s normally, I maybe have one a year. But you hear the stories of all the different athletes eating the free McDonalds at the Olympic Games and you feel that you need to take part just as part of the whole Olympic experience. Great marketing from McDonalds as thousands of athletes hit social media with photos of them tucking into McDonald feasts!! The only problem was that it was only open 9am – 9pm and as people completed their competitions the queues got bigger and bigger. Some days they were up to 3 hours long!! I didn’t want free McDonalds THAT much!!After my race I managed to enjoy the rest of the games experience. I got around to see a few different sports. I went to the velodrome for the last night of the cycling and saw Team GB win a few medals, I watched a few games of tennis and I went along to watch the hockey girls make the final. I also helped with the feed stations for the men’s marathon, no better way to get a ringside seat than stand in the pouring rain and hand out bottles to our guys!!

20160820_173424

British House 

I also visited a few of the hospitality houses, the best of which was Beats. We were really lucky to get on the guest list for this one as it was VERY popular, but luckily we made it. The house was AMAZING and we had a great chilled out afternoon and of course came away with our lovely free Union Jack Beats headphones!!

MyMam and Dad had made a late decision to come out. My Dad had always looked into coming over but finances were a big stumbling block. My Mam on the other hand had always said she was too scared to travel to the other side of the world and didn’t like the horror stories she had heard.

In the end they were very lucky to be given 4 nights free hotel accommodation from Proctor and Gamble which really eased the financial burden. It meant that both of them could come over more or less for the price my Dad was going to pay for just him.

20160815_100911

We found some rings in the village…

Once they got there they absolutely loved it. They were shouting with such pride every time I raced past. The last time I went past them my Mam shouted that she was so proud of me. I could hear her voice crack as she said it and I had to fight really hard to keep my own emotions under control because of it. Last thing I wanted with about 12km to go was to be bursting out in tears!!

Village at night

Village at night

I finally got to do some touristy stuff on the final Saturday when I went up to see Christ the Redeemer. You can’t go all the way to Rio and not see it! It was well worth the trip as the views from up the top were amazing! We had planned on doing Sugarloaf Mountain on the Monday morning before we left but when we woke up the weather was crap so we decided it wasn’t worth it plus it would have been pushing it to get back in time for our bus to the airport!!

Being tourists

Being tourists

The flight home was a perfect closing to the whole experience. We were travelling home on a special chartered BA flight – VictoRIOus – complete with gold nose cone. As with most other overnight long haul flights I’ve been on, I was expecting people to stay awake for some food and then get some sleep and not wake up until an hour or so before landing in Heathrow. This was completely different!!

We started the flight with a champagne toast from the Captain and the singing of the National Anthem. That kickstarted the party which went on until we hit a bit of turbulence and the seatbelt sign had to be switched on. I’ve never experienced a party flight like it. We managed to go through 77 bottles of champagne!!

20160821_204154

Getting soaked at the closing ceremony 

The BOA really know how to do Olympics. When you know what goes on behind the scenes it’s no surprise that the team was the most successful for a long time and we were the first Nation to ever beat the medal tally of a previous home Games. Even though I didn’t add to that medal tally, I am still immensely proud to say that I was part of that team. I played my part in its success and hopefully I have inspired someone to follow their dreams the same way I did back in 1992 watching the Barcelona Games.

It took me nearly 25 years to finally reach that dream but I did make it and now I am an Olympian and no one can ever take that away from me. I will forever be proud of what I have achieved both in Rio and my journey getting there.

The only tattoo I would ever get!

The only tattoo I will ever get!

Of course the question everyone is now asking is what’s next? Tokyo 2020? Well I certainly have no plans to retire just yet but whether my body will let me go on for another 4 years in another thing. I would love to do the World Championships in London next year but apart from that it’s just a case of taking it a year at a time. As long as I am still performing and most importantly still enjoying it then I will go on for as long as the body will allow me.

Proud parents

VERY proud parents

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments