Journey to Gold Coast: Last race before Commonwealth

20 March 2018

By Nikki Emerson

Nikki before the raceIt’s been a busy couple of weeks of planes, trains and automobiles since my last blog. Last weekend I raced for the last time before Commonwealth Games in the Lisbon Half Marathon. It was another tough race (this time the wind did its best to bring us to complete stop with gusts up to 80kph), and another bronze for me. 

The best thing is camaraderie

The best thing about racing abroad is the camaraderie with the other athletes, both British and international.

There’s a lot of downtime in the couple of days before a race as training tapers off, so it’s great to have people in a similar state of anticipation to spend time with in the race hotel.

Nikki at the startline

In Lisbon the organisers are particularly nice to us, and we stay in gorgeous accommodation with a pool, jacuzzi and sauna that I took full advantage of (it’s important to acclimatise ready for Australia of course!).

We’re also allowed to bring our partners with us for this race, which definitely helps remove the pre-race nerves from the group atmosphere and forces us to think about conversation topics other than whether it might rain during the race (it did) and whether the starting grid is fair (it never is). 

The difference friends make

After landing back from Lisbon I got to enjoy eight whole hours at home before jumping on a train to the north to see my coach, Ian Thompson, and my friends and teammates Jade Jones-Hall and Callum Hall.

Nikki mid-race at Lisbon

Despite extreme tiredness and muscle ache from the half marathon it was a great few days of training.

My usual setup can be quite lonely, particularly at the moment when I’m stuck indoors with my racing chair on rollers because of the snow so I don’t even see friends in Richmond Park after our training sessions are finished.

It therefore makes a huge difference to me having Callum to chase out on the road, Jade to gossip with in the gym, and of course Buddy their sausage dog to cuddle up with in recovery time.

Hoping the hard work will pay off

Ian is a phenomenal coach who notices bad habits I’ve pick up in my technique within seconds and is brilliant at adapting training and equipment to help me to use every unparalysed muscle I have, so we made a lot of changes which I hope will pay off on the Gold Coast.

I only have two more weeks off work to focus on training before I fly out to Australia so the nerves are definitely building!

Nikki is a Team England athlete and Can Do Sport ambassador. She is documenting her journey to next month’s Commonwealth Games: Nikki will be racing in the T54 1500m and T54 marathon at Gold Coast 2018.

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