2015 – A bit of a batterer

Challenge Weymouth ETU Long Distance Champs

It was great to meet up with all the other elites at Challenge Weymouth: there was a fantastic pre-race atmosphere; what a lovely bunch of people.

But oh dear. From a magical 2 year comeback into triathlon to 2015 – year of the abyss. Injury and burnout have put pay to race results but behind the scenes, it has been non-stop progress. I have built a team and environment that is conducive to high-performance (and believe me that takes a while) and it’s only a matter of time before it all slots together. Reaching the standard I aspire to seems so far away sometimes but if I think about it, I’m actually pretty close. It’s all there. I just need to get the formula right.

Race-wise, I excelled in the swim and wow it felt easy! I came out with the lead girls to whom I was expecting to lose 2 minutes. Training for swimming has been entirely open water the past few months and recently, much shorter swims, nearly always high quality and long reps, with the overall distance being no more than 3km. That works! Every swim I’ve raced this year I’ve got better and better. My pool swimming hasn’t changed but who cares: it’s about specificity and being good at all the skills that the open water requires. In the sea I could sight really well (compared to Dubai in Feb when I couldn’t focus on anything), I could hold feet easily, I could surge and ease off as required, I knew where everyone was around me, and I even realised I can tolerate downing a few pints of salt water. Hurrah.

Then came the bike. Having a 10 minute lead on some rivals out the swim is the stuff of dreams, but you can’t count on anything. Straight away, my quads were dead and sore. I seem to be over-using them so this will mean adjustments are needed to both bike set up and biomechanics. I held it together mentally for a long while when crawling along on the bike with only my grandmother’s legs to play with. We had the clues. A 27 minute 10 mile TT in a training session the week before was not good, when I have been at 23.40 earlier in the year. I felt perfectly normal otherwise, although I remember being a bit unmotivated to get sessions done in the past two weeks, and leaving stuff til late in the day, which isn’t like me. But what can you do? Say ‘oh no I can’t do the race now’ or take a few more off days and go in with a positive mind? That’s what I did. But a few days weren’t enough. The wheels have come off for the time being!

I was utterly withered after 4 hr 30. Usually I have loads of energy in the races but suddenly the thought of cycling another 40 miles, let alone the marathon run which I was so looking forward to, wasn’t going to be possible. Double Snickers did nothing. ‘Sorry, you’re not even halfway yet’, said a small voice as I waddled off the course to find a suitably manly rescuer. The film crew was right there to capture my demise as I sat by the road and sniveled ‘I have no money waaah. I just wanted to go to Ibiza Closing waaah’ (I wanted to earn my #partytime and that was the first thing I was sad about!) Needless to say I won’t be tuning in the TV to see that particular moment go out to the masses, although in a way it would be good if they show it. The flip side to sport.

I left my soul on some back road in France. We hit it up in a big way for 2 weeks in August to Sep and in hindsight a few easier days would have been just the ticket.

I do wonder what other profession cuts you out completely for having worked too hard? I guess a few, but still it’s a hard concept to swallow. You’d think you’d get rewarded for a bit of overtime, but sometimes the Universe says ‘no money or glory for you, you massive loserface, you did too much and therefore deserve nothing’. Righto universe, whatevs, I hear what you say. Now watch me.

This stuff would have broken me mentally before but it’s given me clarity. I have lost the fun aspect of racing this year. I do not need to be training all the time. It is detrimental for me to do too much and it’s not healthy for mind or body to have little else. Plus I can’t afford it now. Do I quit the sport again? I did for 10 minutes. But I know I have something. I will still be a ‘full time’ athlete. But it will no longer take up all my time.

I have a small business idea in progress which I am really enjoying, which brings a lot of my strengths and passions together, and I hope that will be reflected in its success.

And what race to do next? Why, The Toadman World Championships on Weds night of course. I may be overcooked for long stuff, but this will be just the ticket to get that fun factor back. I’ll probably peak just in time for it…


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