As I mentioned I my last post, I made it through to the bootcamp stage of the Asics 26.2 target experience and that happened yesterday! After hearing the news I got through to bootcamp I have spent all week reading up on previous bootcamp experiences from blogs, Twitter and the Runners World forum and the excitement just grew and grew with every read. I also spent the week talking to other bootcampers and hearing their stories and excitement too which was really great as everyone has been super friendly and equally as excited as me.
As the bootcamp day grew closer I decided to book a hotel, drive up after work on Thursday and stay over night which would save the super early morning drive I’d be facing if I drive up on Friday morning. I’m not sure it saved me much time as I didn’t end up getting to the hotel until gone midnight! The room was great, I had a 6ft wide bed all to myself! Not that it did me any good as I woke up every hour fearing I’d overslept and feeling excited. It felt a bit like I was waking up on Christmas morning!
The hotel was a short drive away from the Alexander Stadium so I arrived nice and early and joined the other bootcampers that had already arrived. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and it wasn’t long before the room was full of excited runners. I then queued up to register and receive my bootcamp shirt, I was bootcamper number 33. If I get through then 33 may very well become my new lucky number! After a quick individual photo it was time for introduction where we met the Asics Pro Team and watched the video of last years final 5’s journey to the Paris Marathon. I had already watched the video online a couple times. The runners are so inspiring, thinking that could be me next year was so exciting!
Then it was on to the first of today’s sessions which there were 4 of and we would do these in groups. I was in group 4, the sub 4:30 marathon time Andy a few first timers. The first session was a Q&A with Holly Rush who is a very inspiring ultra runner. I have just finished reading ‘Eat and Run’ by Scott Jurek, another ultra runner who’s story is incredible so I was very excited to meet Holly. Ultra runners push their body’s to the extreme and getting to ask questions and hear a female runners story, tips and advice was absolutely awesome. I felt very privileged to have this opportunity.
Next up was gait analysis. I felt pretty confident that I was in the right trainers as I’ve had my gait looked at twice over the past 2 years and both times I’ve been told I over pronate. The Asics Pro team confirmed this again but recommended the next shoe up in my range. Will definitely be trying them out when I next need a new pair which I’m sure won’t be long! As this session could only be done one at a time it gave everyone else in the group a good chance to mingle and also to talk to Sarah and Malcs, who were part of the final 5 from the past 2 years. It was great speaking to them and hearing their experiences. It was good to pick their brains about the running and got some really good insights about the competition.
It was then time for a bit of lunch before heading out for a group photo shoot on the track. We then went to our third session, physio with Sarah Conners. She talked to us about common injuries and how to do our best to prevent them. I do a bit of stretching but after this session I’ll be adding a lot more stretching to my routine. I’ve just switched gyms so I’ll be going to the yoga and Pilates classes from now on!
Next it was time for the fourth and final session: the track. This was the session I was most nervous about as it’s been 6 weeks since my marathon, 4 of those weeks I only ran twice (read my other posts for why) and the last two weeks I haven’t been running that great (well, that fast anyway). I’ve never run on a track before so I was quite excited about it, even though I’m not a huge fan of running loops. After a couple warm up laps it was time for test 1, run a mile at marathon pace which for us was 10:15 minutes per mile. We set off and I was running with the front of the pack at a fairly decent pace, it didn’t feel that fast, I didn’t think I’d be running to fast a pace as my runs recently had been around 10:15-10:30 and this felt like the same speed. maybe it was the excitement or the nerves, or the ease of the track but I ended up doing a 9:40 something mile, a lot faster than marathon pace. Bit disappointed about it as I bought I was running ok and was on pace. Next up was the 5k time trail, another nervous run as my PB is just under 26 minutes (which I put on the form) but this was back in my peak running period during marathon training. I knew I could run a decent time but didn’t think it would be that close to my PB. The 5k was split into 400m (1 lap) fast pace followed by a 200m (half a lap) slow/recovery pace and then repeated followed by a 200m sprint. I think I set out a bit fast but after the disappointing first task I wanted to run a good time. I really pushed myself during the fast parts and tried to not to slow down too much during the recovery. I pushed really hard for the last 200m sprint and my watched told me I completed the 5k in 27 minutes exactly. Not too bad! Fairly happy with that run. We the. Had to run another half mile at marathon pace. After going out to fast last time I knew I needed to slow my pace but after running a fast 5k I didn’t think I’d run it fast anyway! We all ended up doing a slower than marathon pace but the coaches seemed ok with that! All in all I know I did the best I could in this run and although I failed on a couple points I hope I’ve done enough to get through to the next stage.
After the final session we then had a debrief and collected our goody bags. Sadly the day had come to an end and it was time to head home. As soon as I got to the car I opened up the Asics bag to discover a lot of great stuff, the snacks I ate on the way home but the rest is all shown in the photo below.
We find out on Tuesday if we have made it through to the next stage. I’m not feeling overly confident but I know I gave my best shot; running the best I could, being involved in conversations with the Pro team and other runners and trying to get my personality as well as trying to show my enthusiasm, love and passion of running. I don’t know what the team are looking for, I hope it’s someone like me but if it’s not then I know that I’ve been very fortunate and fell privileged to have got to this stage of the competition. Over 3,700 applicants applied and I managed to be one of the lucky 50 bootcampers, I never once thought I would be lucky enough to get noticed! I had a fantastic day, I doubt I will ever experience something so special again in running and no doubt I will be talking about it for weeks, months and years to come!