The NIA Live events are held in winter through spring each year and offer a great variety of standards and distances for everyone to dip their toe into on the indoor track in Abbotstown. Race director and founder Dave Matthews sums up what to expect much more eloquently than I ever could “The Nia live nights are fun, fast and as competitive as you want, Our aim is to provide a best in class athletic experience for the competitors… Whether you are a fit4Life runner and want to try out a 1 mile indoors or an Olympic athlete there’s run or race for you on the programme”. On the menu last Wednesday evening was the 60m, 200m Masters, 400m, 800m and 1500m along with some Pole Vault and Shotput.
I signed up for the event after Michael recently encouraged me to give it a go. I was initially hoping to do the 800m but when I saw this was sold out half an hour after entries opened I settled for the 400m. I guess it’s the athletics equivalent of trying to get a Garth Brooks ticket and having to settle for a James Blunt one instead. Currently, the next event is waiting on Government Guidance which will (hopefully) mean that the evening can run until 9.30pm instead of 8pm. This will allow for an extra 125 athletes to run which will help alleviate some of the demand for entries.
The facilities in Abbotstown are really brilliant. The campus is a top-class outlet for Irish Sports and seeing it for the first time was very cool. I quite apprehensive in the run up to the race about how my own run might go. I spent the weekend before watching Youtube videos on how to use the blocks and trying to figure out what footwear was appropriate. Gareth had also told me about a metallic burning my lungs might feel from the indoor air (learned quickly enough this is a thing!). I was placed in Heat 2 and lane 3 of the 400m race. On the initial sign up, you enter a predicted time and entrants in this particular heat reckoned we would all be around the 60 second mark for 400m. We got about 2 minutes to set our blocks up on the track and the nice chap in the lane next to me gave me a quick crash course in how to do this and also how to use them. Once we were ready to go we were instructed to stand behind our blocks and then before we knew it we got the nod to settle down and wait for the gun.
I am not sure I got the block technique fully right but was happy to get up and not fall over. Once I found my feet there was a bend immediately in front of me which turned out to be tricky enough to navigate. On the first straight I managed to drive on and got myself into the lead before we met another bend. After this bend we met the tennisballs which indicate you can cut in to lane one with 250m left to run. This all felt a bit hectic but once this part was done things started to hurt a little and I had to dig in. I was happy to not feel my legs get too heavy as it meant I could keep my pace going before making a push for the line which I was happy to cross in 57.75s having set a goal of sub60 prior to the start of the race. The cross-country season has definitely helped me get a bit of strength in my legs.
The race was a great first experience on the indoor track for me. There was a very friendly community buzz. It was also great to see a couple of sub-elite athletes racing in the events after mine. For anyone thinking of giving it a go I cannot recommend the event enough and even getting the chance to run on the facility is a great opportunity but make sure to get your entry in early.