Hello hello, Beginning of week two in Italy and I'm feeling like the Italian way of life is definitely for me. Living as a full time athlete is so addictive, when there's nothing else to do but train..all you want to do is train! We're so immersed in athletics and sport here that I constantly find myself at lunch thinking about what extra training I can do in the afternoon.
I have been working hard in the gym and on the track to make use of the great facilities we have here. Also, due to a bit of a sore shin I've been introduced to the ways of training in the pool. Although this may sound relaxing and of no comparison to running on the track, pool running is hard! Basically, you wear a flotation belt and attach a rope from you onto the edge of the pool. Then you run, with the resistance against the water and the rope, as fast as you can with short recoveries in between repetitions to get your heart rate up really quickly. It's such a good way to continue training while injured, or if you just want to lay off the track because it works your arms and legs without the harsh impact on your body every time you strike the ground.
I have been training really well on the track too. Pretty much every session I've done here so far has been in personal best (pb) times. I ran a second quicker than my best 300m time in a time trial last weekend! So this has given me lots of confidence in preparation for my first European race this weekend, and shows I'm on track for the World University Games in a month.
I am running a 400m in a town called Pergine (pronounced per-jhen-ey) on the 23rd. This is just near Verona, and if you take a bit of a detour you can go past Venice. Luckily, we are only living about 2 or 3 hours away from this town so on Friday a couple of other athletes and I will jump in a car and travel across Italy. One of the other athletes, being the girl I am training with here, who is an Irish athlete called Jo Cuddihy. She has a personal best of 50.73, and is very experienced as she has been to the Olympics and World Championships! So yes, she's pretty good...I'll be racing her in Pergine, and this means fierce competition!
Outside of training I have been having lots of fun. I'm staying with 8 other athletes and each night we take turns in cooking dinner. It was my turn on Friday and I decided to cook a chicken, potato and leek pie which was a success and went down very well with everyone. The coach here now calls me 'Rocky' after the wrestler 'The Rock,' who apparently has the catch phrase "can you smell what The Rock is cooking?" and he likes cooking pie, not quite sure about that connection though...I like to think of it as Rocky Balboa.
We've been shopping in Milan (which was amazing), and had dinner in a hidden restaurant a bit off the beaten path which is set in and around an original and very rustic, horse stable from the 1500's, (even more amazing). We also took a day trip to some of our surrounding areas, one of them being Lugano in Switzerland which is only 20 minutes away, and the other being Bellagio on Lake Como, (yes the real Bellagio where George Clooney lives!) All have been great experiences and I am loving every minute of it.
So for now I will leave you with photos of the last week and will be sure to let you know how I go this weekend in my first European race!