I drove to the school excited but also with nerves, I now had to meet the guys and get them mentally ready for first real challenge.
When we arrived at the track I could see they were all really nervous and Ryan's mum had a quiet word with me saying he had actually thrown up earlier... I could see for the first time that this challenge really meant something to my boys!
We jogged a lap to see the conditions then headed to the changing room where their race kit was waiting - new vests hanging up like a footballers' dressing room. I then had the task of picking the team, which to be honest picked itself: Tom was injured and George was recovering from chickenpox so I had my four.... Nat to Desi to Ryan to Sonic... how fast could they go? I wanted under four minutes but more importantly I wanted committed hard runs.
I started my pep talk and perhaps it was me that had the nerves, I was tough with them, this challenge is not about me but I'm proud of these boys and want the best for them.
It was race time. We had eyed up the opposition and I knew from warm up they were good but I did not let on to my boys... 'bang' - the gun goes - Nat runs a great first leg, a 57-second split, he is strong and I have no worries about him. We are in third and Des runs off hard and gains a place within the first 50 metres yet fades a bit at end - but a good run. Onto Ryan, who I feel has let the nerves get to him, and he runs a bit slower than I had hoped. We are now in third again and Sonic needs to perform - this boy is an animal in training but tonight he just does not look himself.
Overall a good team performance but we trail in last at 3.54 minutes - the one thing I have learned is that I must remember they are teenagers who are scared. I not only need to hype them up for a race, but also be a friend, and a father figure to tell them that everything will be okay.
I have ultimate faith in their ability. I have to just realise racing is a complete different ball game to the relaxed atmosphere of training.
Not long to go now till September 6th... I still predict my boys can run at least 3.50.
Watch this space.