Leading up to the race
It was a slightly challenging journey leading up to this race. My official training plan started the second week in January to allow time off to enjoy Christmas and New Year before getting stuck back in again (needless to say I still sneaked in a couple of races during the festive period, both of which involved fancy dress - of course!)
Training did start off really well. I had a good solid month of training and felt as though it was all coming together, with my running pace and bike power improving.
However, at the end of Jan I caught the Norovirus and was pretty much in bed for a week, eating very little, and then needing a further week to slowly bring myself back into training again. A couple of weeks later and I was fortunately well enough to race Anglian Water mid Feb and was 3rd AG, with the fastest bike split in my cat, and qualifying for the 2020 World Duathlon Champs - phew!
I then had a very wet and windy (40mph headwinds) Bedford Duathlon, where I felt super strong and finished 5th lady and 3rd in AG, qualifying me for the 2020 European Duathlon Champs – things looked promising for Pontevedra!
Unfortunately, it all then went a little pear shaped and I started suffering from calf cramp and shin splints, resulting in significant time off from running totally. Nightmare… However, I continued to work on the bike and was happy to see my average power improve throughout the new TT season. If I can't run, at least I could try and get my bike as strong as I could!
“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. So, when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming”.
Onto the big race itself...
And what a race it was. I knew I wasn’t overly ‘run fit’, so tried to play it safe on the first run and run my own race, keeping to a steady pace. This more or less happened, although it still felt tough! As always, the atmosphere was absolutely incredible, with GB supporters lining the streets and shouting your name – nothing can beat that feeling!
Then it was onto the bike, and it was the most brutal bike leg I have ever done during a duathlon and that is not an exaggeration! It had lots of steep climbs and technical descents, resulting in me hitting my best ever top speed of 65kph! But it was also one of the most beautiful, as we weaved through the Spanish countryside - I am so lucky to be able to do race in such amazing locations. Knowing I didn’t have the run legs, I tried to push and make up some time on my stronger discipline.
Then onto the final run and frustratingly, my recent injury returned resulting in painful cramps only a km or so in. So much so, they stopped me in my tracks and I did at one point wonder if I would even make it to the finish line as I could barely bend my legs, let alone run! With the awesome support of the crowd I did complete, and it did make the blue carpet finish even more of a relief than normal that is for sure!
Post race reflections
When people ask you how you got on at your 'A' race, it is so easy to go straight to the negatives - which is exactly what I began doing after this race. I was disappointed with my performance and felt I could have done so much better.
Unlike my race in Ibiza for the European Duathlon Champs last October were I spent far too long dwelling on 'what could have been', it wasn't long until I saw a little bit of sense this time around thanks to my awesome friends and family! Yes we need to identify areas of improvement and learn from them - it is healthy to analyse and pick things out otherwise you won’t remain competitive. But why dwell on them – particularly those aspects that might be out of your control and probably couldn’t prepare for. I (and probably many others) really need to stop being so hard on ourselves. What you often forget is the bigger picture, and end up focusing only on how the race itself went.
In my case, within the 4 weeks leading up to the World Champs, I had run a total of 9.4k due to my injury… and I wonder why I didn’t race well as I potentially could have. So really, getting to the start line and completing the 2019 World Championships is an achievement in itself...
Things don’t always go to plan, and what is really important is how you respond to that. How you adapt, both physically and mentally, and make the best of the situation. As long as you did your best on the day and under the circumstances, that is all you can ask for!
Remember, focus on the controllables! And in the words of my coach ‘Sport is a journey, not a destination’ - there will be many other opportunities, so make the most of every single one and
These are a perfect pre-training snack. The added turmeric is also a natural anti-inflammatory - bonus!
"What is health without illness? You have to experience each if you are to appreciate the other. There is always going to be suffering. It's how you look at your suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you". Mark Twain
Just under 2 weeks ago I was out running with the pooch and about 2km down a bridleway I rolled by ankle on some uneven ground. The sound it made was pretty horrific and I instantly could not put any weight on it. Fortunately I had my phone with me so my partner could come and help me get back home. I instantly burst into tears - tears as a result of the pain, but also tears as realisation hit - what impact is this going to have...
Following a slightly unsuccessful race at the ITU World Duathlon Championships in Pontevedra in April (I will do a blog post on this one soon) as a result of injury in the lead up to it, my aim for the rest of the 2019 season was to qualify for the 2020 ETU European Standard Distance Triathlon Championships at Brighton Triathlon at the end of September. My swimming and cycling had been going well, and was just building back my running fitness after my time out with shin splints.
So to roll my ankle on an 'easy' run was pretty frustrating to say the least. For the first few days I think I was hoping it was just a mild sprain and I'd be back on my feet (literally) in a few days. However, 10 days passed and I was still hobbling around with a black and blue puffed up ankle and so I finally succumb to friends advice and went to get it checked by my GP. They looked at it and sent me straight for an x-ray. Fortunately, it wasn't broken but when I asked if I'd be racing in a few weeks time they just looked at me... (silly athlete I am sure they were thinking).
Obviously I was immediately disappointed - a natural reaction to adversity I suppose. However, I'm very lucky to have a great support network, so having spoken to a few close friends, rather than mope (which I and many other people could have easily have done, and I have done in the past), I soon realised that you can take a positive out of your 'suffering', and focus on what you can control and do rather than what is out of you hands.
Extra time when I cannot currently train, meant I can finally start this blog! I can still swim (with a pull bouy) so I am going to try get that nailed, and I can also try to improve my core and upper body whilst I am unable to cycle and run.
Ultimately acceptance of what is your situation, no matter how bad, is the first step. Thinking about what you can positively do in your situation and acting on these thoughts is next (easier said than done, I agree). Nothing really can be achieved with the alternative - dwelling negatively on your situation for long periods of time and feeling sorry for yourself can be counterproductive and harmful.
Focus on the controllable.
PS arnica gel works wonders on bruises!!