British Masters Championships 2017
This weekend saw me make my annual pilgrimige to Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, the home of British Athletics. I had entered two races for this competiton, the 400Hurdles and the 800metres. I usually do 400hurdles and 3000m steeplechase combination however I have found that getting my body to wake up ready to race the Chase event at 09:30 on a Sunday morning just doesnt work so i opted for the 800M which is run mid afternoon.
My first race was at 14:50 Saturday afternoon, after a good drive to Birmingham it was nice to grab a coffee and catch up with other Masters Athletes, most of whom I only see once a year at this event. After a good warm up and hurdle drills inside the 'High Performance Centre' it was time to head to the 'Call Room' to be given lane draws etc. We are then paraded out onto the track to the start line to prepare our blocks and get a couple of runs done over the first hurdle. I was given lane 3 which is great as I can track the other athletes and gauge pace.
With a strong and swirly wind within the stadium I found myself arriving at the first hurdle half a stride earlier than I had anticipated so a quick chop of stride and I was over hurlde 1 clean and driving hard. I must mention that this is my first 400Hurdles race since September 2016 so it was never going to be a smooth and rythmical ride. The wind felt gale force down the back straight so hurdles 2-5 were a struggle to hit on my usual pattern so I opted to switch lead legs to reduce stuttering.
Coming off hurdle 8 I was starting to close a little on 2nd place athlete and then the 'Lactic Sniper' hit me and I entered the usual world of pain going into hurdles 9 &10 thankfully all the steeplechase work i've done has given me the enduarance and strength to keep my cool and form tidy over the final barriers meaning I managed to hang on to 3rd place and pick up my first British medal in this event. The time wasnt the greatest nor was my hurdling the prettiest however it was great to run the 'Man Killer' event again and pick up a national medal along the way.
Racing 24 hours later was always going to be a big ask of the body, but if you dont put your body on the line you will never know your limits. Warming up my right quad/hip felt a little tight but bizarrely it eased when I put my spikes on and did some strides. I was pleasantly surprised that my calves felt as good as they did as they have hampered me the last couple of months.
Again I was given a good lane draw, lane 2, this meant I could watch the guys ahead of me and make sure I slottted on to the back of them as we hit the wind on the back straight. Going through 200M in 32 was a little quick for me but I knew the others were also running out of their skins, through the bell in 65 felt surpsingly good. Going down the back straight the others grabbed a couple of metres on me and then I started to tie up, I did everything I could to stay relaxed but my body was filling up with lactic acid and I started to tread treacle for the final 150metres.
I was happy to come away with a respectable 5th place and an Outdoor Seasons best, and most importantly I was injury free so I can get back on the training quick ready for when I turn 40 in just under a months time.
With one, maybe two more races left as an M35 Im going to knuckle down on the training ready to start my M40 career with a bang. I start with a Mile just a few days after my birhtday followed by the Eastern Masters Champs. Key thing now is keep to keep looking after my body, listening to it so it will serve me well come race day.
By Andrew Cohen-Wray
M35 400Hurdles Bronze medal winner
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