One of the purposes of having the Australian team camp in a warm environment like Florida is so athletes have time to adjust to the conditions. Coming from Australia I am grateful to have the week here and have a chance to run in some warmth as it’s been a little chilly back home!
The marathon in warm conditions is a challenging prospect and while it is probably going to be 20 25C on race day this will still provide significant discomfort for my event. The week in Florida has been fantastic to get familiar with the heat, uncomfortable at first owing to the high humidity but after 3 days I was ready to take on a workout.
Thursday’s workout was to be a marathon type pace effort to remind myself what I am here for. Given the travel and adjustments I made Thursday my only speed session in the 5 days at Florida. Thankfully I was not alone as Rio bound 5000m runners Brett Robinson and Sam McEntee both did similar sessions. While they ran on the grass I tapped out my 8k on some pleasant roads around IMG Academy with Aussie legend Collis Birmingham who despite closely missing 5000m selection himself had made his way to support his mates and partner Selma Kajan who is running the Olympic 800m.
I have known Collis since 2005 where I ran my last reasonable 1500m at the University of Queensland invitational meet organised by Pat Clohessy. On that night while I ran well to finish second from last in 3:47 Collis won the race in a breakthrough time of 3:41. It was a significant performance and I remember Collis waving the rest of us away on a warm down as he sat in the stand holding his head. Perhaps he had surprised himself so much he now had a headache but I think realistically he had tapped into his lactate energy system to such a degree that he was still feeling the after affects!
Collis has gone on to achieve many great feats including two Olympics in 2008 and 2012, an Australian 10000m record, Australian 15km road record and more recently the Australian half marathon record of 1:00:56. His range as a distance athlete is one of the best of any Australian runner meaning he has excelled at both middle and long distance races yet he would be largely unknown to the general sporting public. Not that this bothers him, he is a top fella and role model for many aspiring athletes around the country.
In the shadows of my final arrival into Rio I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with Collis who had experienced the Olympics before. He was able to provide some crucial advice concerning keeping a level head in amongst the craziness. It’s looks like an amazing event which I have the chance to experience but first and foremost I am marathoner with a race to run. Rio here I come!
Picture: IMG Academy Field