Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Craig Pickering’s Tour of Europe – Parts 2 & 3

In my last blog post, I gave a quick run over of my races in Holland and the Czech Republic. The day after I got back from the Czech Republic I had relay practice in London in preparation for a race in Germany that weekend. Relay practice went well, and the next day we flew to Munich, then took a short coach trip to Regensburg, where I would be running the relay for Great Britain. Unfortunately we were disqualified in the race, due to a freak accident involving one of our athletes. As he was running, he accidentally hit the baton against his leg, and dropped it!

As soon as I got back from Germany, I moved house with my girlfriend up to my new training centre in Loughborough. This was a very busy time, with most of my non-training time spent packing and then unpacking.

A couple of weeks later I was off to Stockholm for the European Team Championships as part of the 4x100m relay squad for Great Britain. On the Friday night, we ran in a “B” relay, running 38.72, which ranked us second in Europe this year. It was a useful race for us, as it gave us plenty of confidence to go into the main race the next day and try to win. For me, the main race provided and individual challenge – on my leg was Christophe Lemaitre, who 90 minutes earlier had run 9.95 seconds. I think I ran a good leg, and managed to hold off Lemaitre – and, as a bonus, the team managed to win in a European leading time of 38.60.

My next race will be on July 2nd, so between now and then I will just be focusing on training (as still unpacking from my house move!). 

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Craig Pickering’s Tour of Europe – Part One

Now that the athletics season is properly underway, my annual trips to various parts of Europe has begun. I started off with two races in quick succession – Hengelo (Holland) on May 29th, and Ostrava (Czech Republic) on May 31st. Trips in and around Europe often involve lots of travel, and this was no different. To get to Hengelo, I flew to Amsterdam and had a two-hour car journey to Hengelo itself. Getting to Ostrava was much more interesting. I was supposed to fly from Düsseldorf, but, instead (and through no fault of my own) was mistakenly driven to Amsterdam airport by my driver. As it was 7am in the morning when we arrived, and I had been sleeping in the car, it took me a few minutes to realise what had happened. I remember thinking, “Why are the signs in Dutch, and not German?” And then it dawned on me! I had to pay €400 to change my flights to fly from Amsterdam to Prague, have a 6 hour stop-over in Prague airport, and then fly to Ostrava. All in all, I spent 14 hours travelling that day, leaving my first hotel at 5am and arriving in my Ostrava hotel at 7pm.

The races themselves were fairly solid. In Hengelo, I ran 10.23 (+1.1), which is my second fastest legal time since 2008. Unfortunately, I couldn’t back it up in the final, coming last in 10.38. In Ostrava, I was unfortunate to catch a race without a favourable following wind, running 10.31 (-0.2). In hindsight, this was a pretty solid run, as with a +1 wind it could have easily become a 10.24 performance. Ostrava was a very high quality race, won by Usain Bolt in 9.91 seconds. Indeed, six people in the race had run under 10 seconds in their career!

Overall, I am relatively happy with how I am running. I am having some issues relating to a lot of the training I missed due to injury, which are causing me to under-perform slightly. I am probably going to spend 3-4 weeks in June doing some proper training in order to try to rectify these issues, so hopefully come July I will be running a tenth of a second or so faster. Fingers crossed!