It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog and a fair amount has happened! I’ll try once again to keep it short, but let’s be realistic that’s probably not going to happen. My 2014 race season is now over, it’s unfortunately ended a littler earlier than anticipated but I’m looking forward to a good winter training ready to hit 2015 fit and strong.
Back in mid-July I raced at the Shock Absorber Women Only Triathlon at Dorney Lake, this event has been running for a while but it was the first time they had an elite female wave. I really enjoyed the race and had a good swim coming out of the water first with Kim Bell on my toes. After probably the worst and most embarrassing mount onto my bike it was pretty non eventful with no one really wanting to do much work and a group of 7 of us made our way round a few laps of Dorney. I really enjoyed the run picking off a few girls to finish strongly in 4th place.
Shortly after this problems began starting with my left foot, more specifically the heel. I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis after an MRI and seeing my doctor, consultant and numerous physios etc. The amount of running I could do gradually got less and less as the painkillers got stronger and stronger. Massage, physio, stretching, foam rollering, taping, ice, rolling my foot on a golf ball/frozen bottle, Strasburg sock etc etc you name it I’ve probably tried it!
Back to the start of August, first up was the London Triathlon. This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, triathlon in the world. I was looking forward to racing at the Excel and again had a good swim exiting the water after 1500m in third place. I was in the front pack of 6 for the majority of the ride until we were caught by 4 other riders and I didn’t seem to be able to hack the pace or get round the corners quick enough and managed to get dropped, something after Blenheim I had told myself I would never let happen again! I had a lonely ride up to T2 before heading out for the 10k run. Having not been able to run for what seemed like forever I wasn’t entirely sure if I would run at all, run for a bit or manage to get round the whole course. I felt alright and relatively pain free beginning the run until I got terrible blisters under both my arches – note to self don’t wear new orthotics that you’ve never even ran in for a race…stupid or what?! My heel was relatively pain free and I aimed to get round, I managed to pick off a couple of girls to finish in 9th place but in agony with my feet. An average result with a few lessons learnt.
Again I couldn’t run before heading to Liverpool the following weekend for the British Elite Sprint Tri Champs. The weather was great the day before and the course looked fab. Race day was completely different with the most horrific wind and rain I’ve ever seen for a race. I was somehow ranked third going into the race and ended up next to the current World Champion from the USA Gwen Jorgensen. After a messy swim with a few jelly fish (and probably one of my worst this season) I came out of the water in about 13th, struggled to get my helmet on with a slow transition (as was shown on Channel 4!) and just missed the main bike pack. I can’t say I enjoyed the bike at all, the wind was horrific and I was struggling to stay with anyone. I realised something was wrong with my bike just before hitting a cobbled corner section and quickly stopped to find my front tyre was completely flat. Another race finishing in tears, I was pretty gutted to say the least as I had desperately wanted to run. However I was well down in the race, the weather was awful and it was probably for the best that I didn’t run with my foot. So after the initial upset and disappointment of having a DNF, especially with over ten hours driving there and back, at least I managed to get a bit of racing in which was more than the elite men as their race was cancelled following ours due to the weather.
Several more weeks no running, led to a cortisone injection in my plantar facia and endless nights in a night splint, in the hope to get me through the rest of the season. Things we’re slowly getting somewhere, slowly being the key word. But after a few swim races including a new 1500m personal best at one of the openwaterswim.co.uk swim races at Little Marlow it was soon time to head to Canada.
I’d been pretty hopeful of racing in Canada, so much so that I booked my flights in February in the hope that I would qualify, (nothing like a bit of pressure) and it involved my two main races of the year. I was to be racing as a Senior Elite for GBR, in the ITU Elite World Aquathlon Championships and as an age grouper in the ITU World Standard Distance Triathlon Championships (which I had qualified for in May at the Shropshire Tri). After unnecessary stress with Air Canada about taking the bike, it was packed up into a super ‘velovault’ bike box from Bike Box Online and we arrived in Edmonton on the 23rd August. I had a few days to get some light training in, get over the jetlag, find my bearings, find the essential foods (peanut butter, bananas, oats and chia seeds!) and suss Edmonton out. It was great to be able to swim in an outdoor pool and I generally just enjoyed being somewhere different and getting ready to race. I managed a few pain free ‘jogs’ pre-race which was promising. I went into the aquathlon with high expectations but you’ve got to aim high. After ‘perfecting’ beach starts with Jess (thanks!) the day before, I had a good swim in the beautiful lake coming out of the water in first as the two girls I had been following for most of it didn’t seem to have a clue what they were doing or where the swim exit was…oh well! I quickly got my Snugg wetsuit over the huge timing chip on my ankle, and was soon heading out for a very hot run. I knew the girls behind me were strong runners; all the senior girls were racing the elite Grand Final race at the weekend, and not really having any run shape at all I tried to focus on my technique and concentrate. I was quickly caught by a Kiwi followed by a Ukrainian; I didn’t have much chance to stay with them but was desperate to hang on for a medal and made it round to pick up the bronze, along with some Alberta wheat we were presented with! It’s frustrating that there was such a small field, it’s the world champs, I want to race the best in the world not just a few competitors. Thankfully the juniors, under 23s and seniors all race together but it’s a shame that most nations didn’t bother to send anyone, not even the Canadians on home soil. There was a decent size field in London last year for the aquathlon, but you can only race who’s there on the day and at the end of the day a world title is up for grabs and it was pretty cool to be up on the podium – I just would prefer to be at the top next time!
My foot didn’t bother me too much in the aquathlon but it certainly let me know about it the next day. I chose to race the standard distance over the sprint earlier in the year as it gave me a few more days to recover between. After several days of light training, bike reccis, swim and run familiarisations it was soon time to race again. It was an early 4.30am start, before heading down to transition in the dark to set up. After waiting around on the pontoon forever and starting to freeze it was soon time to go. We had a large wave of 64 girls with the 18-19 age group going with us, the 20-24 age group. I decided to risk starting in the middle of the pontoon for the shortest line to the first buoy in the hope I would be able to get away quickly and not get caught up in the washing machine of open water swimming. I quickly settled into the lead by the first buoy, trying not to swim over the slower men from the wave before and enjoyed the swim to come out first with a 30 second lead over the next girls. The bike course was great but I was caught as my inability to ride a bike, especially downhill, uphill and round corners or turns (i.e. the whole thing) became pretty apparent. Non-drafting age group racing is tough, there’s no place for hiding on the bike (not that I find drafting racing any easier at all, in fact it’s probably worse!). I left T2 in fourth place always keeping positive and telling myself that I could catch the girls in front with the leader being 1.45min up on me. I got round the run course with no change in position to cross the line in 4th beaten by three Canadians. An improvement on last year’s DNF, not the position I was hoping for but considering the preparation a result that I was ‘relatively’ happy with and if it wasn’t already it was now pretty clear what I need to spend the winter working on!
I really enjoyed my time in Canada and had a few days in the Rockies afterwards before heading home. I had planned to continue my race season onto October, and was set to have my first European Cup race in Madrid, but my foot has definitely not been happy with running two races in the space of a week and running will be out of the question for a little while longer. It’s more important that I get myself fixed, fit and strong and ready for 2015 with a solid winter of work..
It’s been my first year racing as an elite and whilst there have been lots of frustrating times and disappointment, I have learnt a huge amount and have to be pleased with my results – including a silver medal at the European Aquathlon, a bronze medal at the World Aquathlon and finishing 7th overall in the British Super Series. My swimming has been going really well, thanks to my new Snugg wetsuit and spending hours in the pool with HBEST and in the lake at Little Marlow with Richard. I’ve only been swimming with a club for less than a year and still think there are massive improvements to be made. My biking still needs a LOT of work and if I can stay injury free and get some consistency with my running it will continue to improve.
Thank you to Snugg, Bonk Triathlon, openwaterswim.co.uk, Sense of Nutrition, Marco at Evolved Clinic, elete electrolytes, Bounce Balls and Better You for all the support this year. Thanks to my physios, massage therapist and osteopath who I all run to when I’m in a huge panic with an injury! Thanks to my coach Richard (and Jas!) for teaching me so much and letting me borrow so much kit including race wheels, turbo, power tap and numerous other bits which I couldn’t do without! Thanks to my boyfriend, friends and family who all offer me endless amounts of support and put up with my endless tiredness, lack of free time, huge appetite, foul moods (when I’m hungry!) and ridiculously early swims.
It’s tough at times, but the highs make it worth it. I’ll be back stronger, fitter and prepared for 2015.
I’m looking forward to getting back into winter training, living on the bike and in the pool and hitting the muddy cross country courses when I can run again.
Until next time.
I said it would be short…Who was I kidding!