Over halfway through 2016, we’ve had first day of summer (and the last) and the triathlon race season is well underway, something that back in February seemed such a long way off… Last time I blogged in the New Year I had just returned to Loughborough after a year away from training post-crash. It doesn’t really feel like I ever left, 2015 seems like a lifetime ago, but I couldn’t be happier to be back.
Let’s get the worst bit over and done with; swimming, and I'll give some an idea of the deficit I was in in January at the start of my return to the pool after ten months out and the work that has gone in since. The minimum swim requirement for the performance squad is a sub 5” 400m, and in January upon my return I went 5.01 (at an effort level and BPM that was certainly not sustainable for a 1500m race). Standards are standards, and I was told to retrial when I was ready. Six weeks later I came back and went 4.54, six weeks after that I went 4.48 (insert an “impossible is possible” quote here). So to all those non-swim-club-‘swimmers’ like me, it can be done. I mean I wouldn’t recommend it, but just in case you too want to see how late you can leave a serious swim schedule before it really is too late, you’re looking at around 23 (though do let me know if you find out its older and I’ll take a break).
So after the time trials and a ‘re-entry’ process onto the performance squad, I have been back training with the group for a while now. The majority of our sessions are done as a squad (of around 15 athletes), which creates quite a tight knit and naturally competitive environment. Whilst there are photos a plenty of café rides and spins in the sunshine, this isn't a reflection of daily training, truth is that the majority of sessions don’t leave us looking quite so camera ready.
In March I went out to Portugal for the first European Cup of the year, punctured half way round the bike, considered a second and final retirement, then flew home. There was then a massive gap in racing which meant a solid training block before Blenheim, the first and one of the biggest domestic races in the elite calendar. I knew from training I was in good bike/run shape going into Blenheim (the swim I generally just hope for the best), but was disappointed when my run legs didn’t make an appearance and I failed somewhat to run myself into a podium spot from our chase pack. I settled for 5th which equalled my position in 2014. I was genuinely quite emotional and tearful crossing the finish line. Pathetic? Whatever! To be racing again, on a start line and over a finish line two years later was really overwhelming. Enormous work and support from a lot of people had gone into getting me there, Mum and Dad to name the biggest ones, were there watching and it meant a huge amount to have them there.
A few days after Blenheim I flew out to France for the first D2 French Grand Prix race of the year in La Rochelle with my team CRV Lyon. The race was at 7pm (PM…what is that about) on Saturday, so the daytime involved eating, napping then waking up and trying to trick myself it was breakfast time and the day was only just beginning. I biked (I say ‘I’ because no one else helped) our group of 6 up to a group of 3 girls who had a 25sec lead out the swim, then we (sorry but again ‘we’ is a term used loosely) put 1”40 into the chase pack. I had a better run off the bike than at Blenheim which was a relief, held the lead for 3km then held onto 3rd. Our team also won the race overall which was great news!
Flew home, started trying to train hard to soon and landed myself in bed for three days (yes, you’ve definitely read that on my blog before, will I ever learn though, probably not). Now I have a two week block until I back off for my next European Cup in Tartu (Estonia, its next to Russia don’t worry I had to look at a map too). This involves flying to Latvia (next to Estonia, your welcome) and a drive across the border. Thankfully Mum, Dad and little sis none of whom are as academically challenged as me are coming too so this will be a very smooth trip. THEN we fly to Italy for three weeks on a British training camp at altitude. We fly back a few days before Liverpool (British Sprint Champs) so that will definitely go one way or the other (!) depending on how we cope with oxygen again.
In non swim-bike-run news, Mum and Dad have moved house again (is this even news any more though) and my car HASN’T been vandalised recently can I get a WOOP (but I did get my first speeding ticket, eurgh this was totally unjustified).
So there you have it, the first six months back in Loughborough! I was such a planner before my crash, had a little life plan thing going on, and everything was on schedule. Its definitely made me a bit more gung ho about life, if something's out of my control a) is it possible/do I need to gain control and how, or b) sod it. This approach has definitely led to a far more chilled kinda living which I think has been a good thing! Things don't always work out the way they were meant too, or how you thought they should do. Hell most of the time it works out in ways you never even imagined, which certainly shouldn't be seen as a bad thing. Roll with it, life definitely isn't about avoiding the bruises, collect them and prove you showed up for it!
Hope everyone is enjoying the shoddy British weather; I’ve worked out that to make it rain…plan a BBQ or long cycle ride. Your welcome, here all week. X