It’s been on the cards for many months- I now live in Glasgow.
Having felt like I struck it lucky having London Heathside as my local club down South, I’ve been very apprehensive about finding a new club in Glasgow which I’ll love as much.
During a visit last November, not knowing exactly where I would end up living, I tried a session with Victoria Park City Of Glasgow, based in the West of the city. Since deciding to move to the Glasgow’s Southside, I’ve been in touch with a more local club- Giffnock North AAC.
Giffnock North’s website showed groups of adults in the team kit, so I felt confident that it would be a similar set-up to Heathside. The club train at several school tracks during the summer season, having just come out from indoor training at Emirates Stadium over the winter.
This Tuesday, I arrived at Hutcheson’s Grammar School to an empty track. I had a bit of a bounce on the new and pristine surface before the coaches began arriving. Head coach, the aptly named Billy Glasgow, introduced me to the others- who in turn, assumed that I was there to become a coach. As the squad turned up, I realised why- I was the only adult there to train.
All the same, I began warming up with a gossiping gaggle of girls, mainly under 15s. When we were ready to run, I was introduced to the oldest pair in the group- both under 17s. I was to run with them.
2 x 4 x 200m.
“Around 85%, so coming in at 30 or 31 seconds,” Christine called.
30 seconds is my race-pace.
I began running with the older girls, but they quickly eased away from me. They seemed to find it so easy, and recover so quickly, whilst I gasped for air. After the third rep, I realised all was not so smooth for the youngsters after all, as one of them left to throw up.
On my fourth and final 200, I ran the bend smoothly, but as soon as I was on the straight, it felt like it would never end. I closed my eyes, willing the time away, but when I reopened them it was as if I’d gone nowhere. Aeons later, I struggled over the line and lay on the infield, exhausted. Billy came over to check I was ok- I felt that I had to remind him that I was double the age of these girls.
I was glad to have declared myself a multi-eventer, and had already planned to go to work on throws after the first set of sprints. Phew. In a 10 minute break, I lay on the floor in the school corridor, wondering how I was going to summon the power of both brain and body to change from spikes to trainers, let alone coordinate by body parts to throw a javelin. As I dragged myself upright, the girl who had just vomited skipped off for her second set of 200s.
James, a former softball player turned throws-coach, welcomed me and offered a choice of throwing implements. I took a javelin- 500g, rather than the 600g weight for senior women. I threw it, and as ever, it landed tail first.
James patiently worked through some techniques with me, resulting in quite a few legal throws- something I’ve barely managed in competition. It was great just to have the time and space to throw things- something which I haven’t had much of a chance to do in London. Throwing is where I hope the least amount of time/ training will result in the biggest jump in points in the Tetradecathlon- I see skinny girls throwing twice as far, so I’m hopeful that with a coach (and all the weights I plan to do now I live round the corner from the gym), I can double my distances.
Thursday- I headed down to Williamwood School track for the second session with GNAAC. Having to haul myself out of bed from an afternoon nap (or more accurately, Arron did the hauling), I felt more sprightly by the time I arrived. The session was to be:
4 x 100m
4 x 4 x 100m relays
The shape of the session, I realised, was very cunning. There were 8 of us. Placing the relay runs last meant there was no option of bailing early. I went for a true sprint finish as I ran the anchor leg on the final relay, and felt the joyous whoosh of the air passing my ears as I ran through the line.
I can’t say that I’m not sad that there’s not a thriving community of adults doing track & field at the club, but the younger girls have pace and endurance which will push me; and having the opportunity to work on one of my weaker events is a real draw. So I’ll see how things go over the next few weeks and months. I’ll also be travelling back to London every month, competing with Heathside at the Southern Athletics League meets once again.
Glasgow- I have arrived.