Manx Dane Jess Draskau-Petersson’s Olympic column
AS I pen this, on Friday afternoon, we are getting close to crunch time . . . . . just hours away from the opening ceremony.
The Olympic road race is less than a day away and I’ve seen many of the cyclists out on the course preparing for their event.
I’ve excitedly been ‘Olympic spotting.’ My runs round Bushy Park are increasingly similar to an Ascot-worthy paddock, spotting seven to 10 Olympians per hour.
For me, the marathon day is also looming nearer, considering about eight weeks ago I wasn’t able to run and my being on the start line looked in doubt.
Things have gone really well. Not working full time has made a huge difference. The super league of athletes interviewed in Toby Tanser’s ‘More Fire’ [a book about how to run the Kenyan way] make it clear that to perform well at distance running it is so much more than banging in the miles. It is a lifestyle of dedication to the sport.
Many of them state they could not manage both work and running at their best. If they can’t manage it, how did I persist in believing I should be able to?
On July 23 I ran a loop of the Olympic Marathon course with my coach Noel and sports mind specialist Paul. I thought, this must be how celebrities feel when running with a bodyguard either side. It was great, the weather was lovely and all the signs and Olympic flags adorning the route of well-known landmarks was quite special.
For an interactive map of the course go to - http://www.london2012.com/athletics/event/women-marathon/competition-format/
I’ve had emails from a few people saying they are coming to London for the Games, so this site has good information about where to watch the various events from, including the marathon.
Well, training is done, time to stay quiet, focused and get the job done. I can enjoy the ‘Olympic experience’ afterwards.
I’m very conscious I would not be on the start line without the help and expertise of many people including Harambee - led by coaches Noel, Dave and Nobby - the squad of dedicated and professional mainly under-20 (years old) athletes. Stragglers Running Club especially, Clare, PG, Carys, Phil, Allan and many more who have supported me. St Mary’s - especially Rich and Paul. The body fixers Torben (Osteopath-guru), Rich and Genair massage; my Towie mates, Terry and Max, and many more, including Isle of Man, Denmark, USA and NZ. Many people I don’t even know have come forward to wish me well. I will go out there and do my best to do you proud and to say thank you for all the help and support. I wouldn’t be here without you.
l The most asked question this week: So what time am I going to run?
I had some time out after London Marathon, lost about six weeks because of multiple calf tears caused by my back issues, but boy have we been hitting it since. I have completed about 800 miles of running in seven weeks all apart from three runs have been on my own, but luckily I’ve had volunteer cyclists for company on most of the key sessions.
I suspect that at least 650 miles have been on a four-mile loop around Bushy Park, so I needed the cyclists to keep me semi-sane during the hamster-worthy challenge.
If you want to know more about my training, check out the latest episode of Marathontalk with coach Noel and I (http://www.marathontalk.com/)
l I started this journey in response to my dad’s alzheimers. As the journey went on, more and more people have encouraged and supported me. I had a lot of demons to address in terms of daring to train again, to dedicate and invest so much again, after crashing again and again on the bike. I had returned to the UK in December 2007, more than just physically broken.
I channelled every effort into work and unfortunately was assaulted by a work colleague, and so often felt I was inside a dark tunnel banging my head against the sides rather than ploughing my way through to the otherside. I vowed I was never going to be in a vulnerable position again and worked hard to establish a new career, pretty much turning my back on sport. But life is richer when you take the opportunity to go for things and I am lucky to have had this opportunity to take on a challenge again. If nothing else, when around people that are handling terminal conditions it does make you realise how precious life is and that you really should seize life’s opportunities as you never know when they will ebb away.
Now I am really keen to do sport again and take my running to the next level. I really want to break the Danish all-time record and be the fastest female Danish marathon runner in history. There is a whole world of opportunity in terms of races to do.
Whatever happens at the Olympics or beyond, I am so grateful and so lucky that I have had the opportunity to come back to sport and to love it again.
It may have been a long road with many scars and breaks along the way, but now that I am loving running again it seems easier to finally accept and let go of all the things that happened on and off pitch, and just be grateful that the path with all its ups and downs has led to this moment.
I’m not sure what will happen on the day, after all it is the marathon.
If you want to win something, run 100 metres. If you want to experience something, run a marathon. . . . Emil Zatopek.
l I’m in shape to run a PB even though this is a slow course with quite a lot of random corners and U turns.
As far as I know, the fastest performance by a Danish marathoner at Olympic Games level has been 2hr 33min back in 1984 that gained 13th place.
I think it would be great to try to match the time, although I would suspect that this time would equate to about 30th place in 2012.
The last few weeks have made me realise that I can adapt and improve much more, especially if I address lifestyle, nutrition and learn about this concept called rest.
I know now I am capable of breaking 2:30 one day, a statement that would seem incredulous 12 months ago where only a very small handful of people believed sub 2:40 was possible.
I am grateful for this opportunity, but now it has re-awakened the racing beast and I am hungry for more.
I hope I will have the opportunity to fulfil my potential as an athlete over the next couple of years.
l If you want to follow updates on race day on how I am doing, my coach will be Tweeting throughout the day - http://www.harambeerunning.org.uk
l The Olympic journey initiated because of my dad. He won’t be able to come watch the Olympics but my mum will watch it with him from their home in the Isle of Man on TV.
I found it very hard mentally to commit to training for an event having vowed never to do so again after my accident in 2007.
I lost a lot of confidence; now whatever happens at the Olympics, although this one is inspired for my dad, I will also be thinking of all the people who supported me. If I were to dedicate a mile to each of you, I would have to do several marathons.
Thank you all for sharing this journey and I hope you have enjoyed following the blog and I hope I can do you proud on the day.
l The Women’s Olympic Marathon takes place on Sunday morning, August 5, starting at 11am.
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Weather for Isle of Man
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 30 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: South