Wednesday, 27 August 2014

62. High Jump

Event: High Jump
Date: 24th August 2014
Location: Colchester Harriers, Arena Sports and Leisure Centre, Colchester 
Cost: Free
Rules: Competitors may begin jumping at any height announced by the chief judge, or may pass, at their own discretion. Jumpers must take off on one foot, and have three attempts at each height. A successful jump is one in which the crossbar remains in place when the jumper has left the landing area. Three consecutive missed jumps will eliminate the jumper from competition. The victory goes to the jumper who clears the greatest height during the final. If two or more jumpers tie for first place, the tie-breakers are: 1) The fewest misses at the height at which the tie occurred; and 2) The fewest misses throughout the competition.

The Event:

80cm     85cm     90cm
o            xo          xxx

80cm     85cm     90cm
xxo         xxo        xxx

London 2012 Olympic Gold Medal: 2.05m. Anna Chicerova, Russia  

Sarah: Our lesson started with Chris showing us the women's world record jump height, which perhaps lulled me into a false sense of security. I may be short, but for some reason, I thought I was going to be quite good at high jump! Reality hit when we started with scissor jumps and I failed to clear even the most weedy heights. Luckily, we quickly moved on to the Fosbury Flop, which was far more successful. Not learning, I really thought we were going to sail over 1m, but it was still far more tricky than I expected. Despite failing the 90cm, our technique definitely improved each time we jumped, and I really worked on trying to power upwards, though clearly not enough! I'm glad we get to return to the high jump as part of the Heptathlon, as we both definitely have more cms in us! Surprisingly, high jump has been one of the events where I've had the most aches and pains afterwards. Unused muscles in my neck and shoulder definitely woke up for this one.

Ellie: I was really pleased to see the sun on Sunday morning; as I write this on Tuesday it is pouring with rain and being soggy whilst forcing my body to (try and) contort over the bar would have been zero fun. As it was a fine and dry day it was, actually, very much fun.We had a great couple of hours with the Colchester Harriers coach, Chris Akehurst, and his protege, Mia, showing us the ropes. We worked through the warm ups and the practice exercises, through to scissor jumping and to our own version of the Fosbury Flop. It was so rewarding to clear the bar and to make little tweaks and see them make a difference. I could have carried on jumping and I'm pleased that we are able to return to the High Jump when we take on the Heptathlon at some point in the future. The 1m height is calling us both and until then I can continue to practice by flopping on my bed and sofa like a proper armchair athlete!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

61. Beach Volleyball

Event: Beach Volleyball
Date: 5th August 2014
Location: Tendring Volleyball Club, Clacton Beach Volleyball Courts
Cost: Free
Rules: There are two teams of two players competing over a 2.24m high net. After the service, each team is allowed three touches of the ball before it must cross the net. The game is played over the best of three sets, with 21 points needed to win a set in the first two; 15 points in the third and deciding set. All sets must be won with at least a two point advantage.

The Event:


Set 1: Ellie & Gemma - 14 v 21 - Sarah & Lottie
Set 2: Ellie & Gemma - 11 v 21 - Sarah & Lottie  

London 2012 Olympic Winners: USA  

Sarah: We had planned to complete our beach volleyball event last summer after we'd been to several practices, but the weather kept working against us each time we arranged the match and we had to postpone a whole year! A year-long break from a sport probably isn't the wisest training strategy, so we returned to the beach courts for a practice ahead of the big match. We were more than a little rusty, and our unconditioned arms soon remembered the familiar sting of the ball. The match was really fun, but fairly short and concise. We could try to blame the wind for the shocking lack of any real volleys during the match, but we should probably step up and claim responsibility for our own lack of volleying talent! If we'd got round to a few more practice sessions, it would definitely have improved the fluidness of the match, and helped us remember how to move more accurately through the sand. On the flip-side of our bad form, it was great to return to the club and catch up with everyone after a year away.

Ellie: I've really enjoyed our involvement in volleyball. I had played at school and enjoyed it then too so it was good to go back to it after (Oh Dear God) 20 years... Beach Volleyball is something else; trying to move in the sand is like trying to run through custard - it's really difficult and slow and er...very yellow? Our match was a little one sided and Gemma really was carrying our team. I took pleasure in the little things I could get right like a good serve, reaching the ball before it reached the sand or the times I was able to actually 'pass' the ball on to Gemma! 
Any skill I'd built up last year has been lost which is a shame as I feel we'd learnt a lot in a short time. 
Volleyball is firmly on my list to return to once our project is finished. Tendring Volleyball Club have been a great example of a friendly, welcoming and highly skilled, all-ages club which is exactly what we hoped to find.

A huge thanks to Gemma, Lottie and John for helping us out, especially with their sore bodies and heads after their big tournament the previous weekend!

L-R: Sarah, Lottie, John, Gemma, Ellie

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

60. Road Cycling: Road Race

Event: Road Cycling: Road Race
Date: 3rd August 2014 (Sarah), 19th August 2016 (Ellie)
Location: The Essex Countryside (Sarah), Aquatic Centre Gym, Stratford (Ellie)
Cost: Free 
Rules:  Riders compete with each other on regular roads to complete the course in the fastest time. All competitors start together for this long-distance race where tactics and stamina are vital. Due to the length of the race, competitors are allowed to consume food and drink and receive technical assistance in the event of medical problems. The women's course in London 2012 was 140.3km, or 87.2 miles.

The Event:


London 2012 Olympic Gold: 3:35.29, Marianne Vos, Netherlands - (87.2miles). 
Sarah: 6:54.29 (without breaks) / 8:35.23 (with breaks) - (87.2miles) 
Ellie: 5:50.00 - (100km)

Sarah: I've spent the past few months since my Time Trial event, training hard on my new bike. I've been really lucky that a few of my good friends have also caught the cycling bug lately and we've been out for some brilliant rides together. We've been gradually increasing our distances, and even purposely doing a bit of hill training (seriously, what's wrong with me?!). I can't quite describe what it is about cycling that's so addictive, but I'm amongst thousands of recent converts to this amazing sport. For me, it's the freedom, the effort, the achievement, the fact you can get somewhere (anywhere) under your own steam, and travel through some beautiful countryside along the way, seeing things you would normally miss (for us, on one cycle, a giant fibreglass gorilla).

The week before I tackled the Olympic distance, some friends and I took part in the Essex Castle event; 75 miles of constant, horrible, painful hills. It gave me some confidence that I could pull off a longer, flatter ride, so I hit the road at the start of my Road Race feeling good. I had decided to time myself over the Olympic distance of 87.2 miles, but actually ride a century. I mean, I would be so close, it'd be silly not to do the 100 miles, right?! Greg kept me company for the first half of the route, and it was an absolute delight. We left early, so the roads were quiet and the Essex/Suffolk countryside was stunning. I felt really good for the first 50 miles; fresh legs and only marginal bum pain. I had decided to break the distance down into 10 mile chunks in the hope of not getting daunted by the overall huge number and that seemed to work well, giving me lots of little targets and benchmarks. However, as the miles crept up to 70 I started to really feel it, and everything was much harder. My back and hands were starting to hurt, and I began to mentally struggle. I couldn't quite understand how I still had 30 miles to go?! I forced myself to keep my legs turning, and slowly started to approach the Olympic distance. Reaching that target of 87.2 miles was a relief, but I also felt really despondent. Over the last ten miles, I had convinced myself to call it a day at 90; I just didn't think I could go any further. Although I'd achieved the Olympic distance I felt like I'd failed as I made my way back as I hadn't reached the full 100. But, luckily, I misjudged my route, and as the odometer clicked over to 91 I just couldn't quit! Looking back on it now, it's crazy how it was all in my mind- my body could always do it, but it was my mind that was struggling and had given up. As soon as I'd got my head in gear and set on finishing the 100, everything was so much easier; the last nine miles sailed by and were so much fun! I felt giddy (that might have been due to dehydration) and euphoric watching the distance creeping closer and closer to 100!

Two days later, the achievement is just about sinking in and I feel incredibly proud to have tackled 100 miles, and with over half the distance on my own. I had a little picture of my Dad stuck to my crossbar and the thought of him helped me through so many of the harder moments. I just dearly wish I could tell him all about it. I can safely say I will never attempt that distance again, and I'm so glad it's behind me. I can now go back to cycling for fun! I think around 50 miles is my perfect long-distance cycle!    

Ellie:  I elected to do my long cycle in the gym as I don't have a light weight bike. Both the velodrome and the triathlon cycling events proved to me that without one I'd probably be struggling to make the distance in one day the way I cycle! The upside of this is that I had access to TV, music and to WiFi throughout my event, the downside, and ultimately why I only managed 100km was that I was thoroughly bored. I just didn't have the mental stamina to keep going and once I thought about the fact that I didn't have to keep going I stopped. The distance that I managed was good for me and achievable under the circumstances, I'd be really interested to see if I could manage a similar amount out on the roads.