I left my blog in a place where I had absolutely no idea of what was going to happen over the next week. I’d begun Official Training and knew I was on a good path towards medalling at the Olympics, but as I’d already said; “Training is training, racing is racing, and I have a lot of practicing to do here. I do know one thing though – I will never give up.”
I began to get quite nervous on Wednesday 12th, the day before the race. By this point I’d done all I could, I’d tried all the different sled set-ups and had a definite lines in the corners for the biggest race of my life. I texted my best friend, “I’m feeling quite nervous about tomorrow, I have to tell you. I can’t tell anyone else.” I felt really silly for worrying and feeling so anxious. I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation now that every job had essentially been done and it was all on me to win the race- win the race I’d been wanting to win all of my life.
I packed about 6 speed suits into my track bag, my crash helmet, spare visors, scissors, tape, screwdrivers, food, water, spare clothes, chewing gum, tissues, hairbands, 2 skipping ropes, earphones, backup earphones, 2 phones, and an Ipod. What ever I could control – it was under control! I left for the track on the 13th February pretty early, so early that I’d brought my breakfast back to my room the night before to avoid the queues in the athlete food hall. I got into the bus taking us all to the track and settled down to read my book. I remember listening to Elena Nikitena’s Russian pop music blaring out, it was certainly very different to the music I listen to! Everyone around me was doing the same things as me, focus, relax…we were all there to compete and all there to win.
From this point in the race was exactly the same as any other race. I begin my warm up an hour and a half before my first run, I study the ice temperatures, decide my sled set up for the day, and watch the spur sleds exit the start spur to check it’s sending the sled straight going into the first corner. After the first run and being in first place I, as normal, put my head down for a mini nap and ate some food. For the second run a went into the same skipping warm up, putting my bib and gloves all on correctly and went to the start block and did my thing.
I left the Sanki Centre with a tidy 0.44 second lead on Noelle, some would say quite a substantial lead. Noelle had missed some training with concussion and I know from the whole World Cup season that she can be a tough athlete to beat. As well as Noelle, there was Elena joined with both other Russian women as well as Katie Uhlaender from the USA all breathing down my neck. What does one do during the over night gap between the two most important days of your life? Watch Poirot.
February 14th allowed a little lie-in for the team. I headed up to the top of the mountain with Kay and Rachel to ‘get away’, secretly just wanting to take some gorgeous pics of the snow and sunny skies and have a real good chinwag! I came back and headed into the gym to keep myself busy, and then to bed for a few hours sleep. The athletes’ life is one of purposeful practice in every part extending to the food I consume, and the amount and timing of fluid I take on all carefully orchestrated.
Run 3 went as planned, I put down another storming time and maintained the track record for a second day. I knew the others were coming down after me so I needed to wait a little while until I knew the time difference of all the competitors.
The gap had increased to 0.78 seconds.
This is when I realised that it wasn’t just any old race, I realised how much I really wanted this and how hard I had trained for such a long time for this moment. I knew one thing- I was never going to give up.