RLSCC 10m TT (04/08/20)
Tuesday night was pretty windy to say the least and the course was the quick one that's net downhill, starting at the top of a hill which you never go back up! I set off with the aim of trying to beat my average power from last time on this course, and it all started well until I got speed up on the descent and then cross winds started to come in, shooting my bike sideways. Since my accident my confidence isn't brilliant yet, so this did scare me a bit and so I stopped pedaling and went up onto the base bars for more stability - not where you want to be when you're trying to be fast!
Once I was back on the flat and I had calmed down a bit I knew I had some serious time to make up so pushed on fairly hard.
I got back and I was slightly disappointed as I finished 2s slower than last time and my average power was also lower... However, what I didn't realise until I got home was that I had actually managed to get myself a new 20min power PB (from the section of the course after the downhill)! So ignoring the downhill disaster, it actually turned out to be pretty good! I just hope it isn't windy next time!
Sunday was my first ever open TT and even though it was local, it wasn't a course I had done before, only elements of it so I was looking forward to a change - having done the same 2 courses on a Tuesday for the last few weeks!
To say it was warm though, is an understatement - I was melting before I even got onto my bike in the car park! Having suffered previously from a lack of electrolytes competing in the heat, I made sure that in the lead up to the race I topped them up and didn't make the mistake of over hydrating as I seem to have a habit of doing!
The course itself was a simple out and back with a downhill first half and uphill second half. Funnily enough, everyone after asking friends how they thought it had gone when they had finished had the exact same answer - the first half was great, the second was horrendous.... same here!
A combination of the descent and a slight tailwind, meant the first half was really quick - looking down at my Garmin I was thinking wow this could be a new 10m PB if I keep this up! But no, as soon as I turned around at the roundabout and hit the climb I could see my average speed begin to drop and there was nothing I could do about it - the heat was unbearable to push any harder.
No time or power PBs today, but much to our surprise (considering it was an extremely competitive event, with the National Time Trial Champ present and many other speedy ladies) we won the team competition! So a big shout out to RLSCC ladies Jade Anstis and Francis Lammyman!
I think what this means is I need more heat training - anyone want to send me to Majorca or Lanzarote for a heat training camp :)
On Tuesday (14th July) some form of racing returned (wahoo) - with my local club RLSCC hosting the first 10mile TT (Time Trial) of the year. I was ultra nervous as it was my first race back post elbow injury and I had no idea how I was going to do mentally as on recent outdoor rides I have been petrified at any moment that felt unsafe - speed, gravel, turns... So it could have gone one way or the other! I knew physically I was in good shape, so I just had to control my brain!
The route this week was my least favourite as it is essentially a hill climb, turnaround at a roundabout, and then smash back down the hill to where we started. I remember setting off and initially feeling awesome, a combination of race adrenaline (which I have missed a lot!) and a tailwind, I felt like I was flying. I was still so nervous though, my heart felt like it was going to come through my chest! Coming back down the hill was the part I was most fearful of before the race, due to the speeds you can reach there, but race adrenaline must have completely taken over and my elbow or fear didn't once enter my mind and I managed to finish with a 1 minute course PB which I was super chuffed with! Catenary training sessions definitely paying off!
It was also great to catch up with fellow Team Catenary athlete Francis, who absolutely smashed it and took the ladies win with a new course PB too! Looking forward to next week where we start at the top of the hill and never have to go back up it! Speedy! Hopefully if I can get my nerves under control a little bit more, I can be even quicker next time!
We have all been doing it - coming up with random projects to work on during lockdown to keep us occupied! Well, this is one of mine. The idea came from a combination of my t shirt blanket project (which I am still working on but will share a blog of how I made it once complete), and a panic I found myself in one evening when I couldn't find a clean sweatband before a turbo session (and anyone who has completed sweaty turbo sessions in the garage will know how crucial these are to prevent your eyes stinging when sweat begins to go in them.. gross). So this is a way I could make more sweatbands using old t-shirts that weren't going into the blanket!
Step 1 - Supplies
You will need the following:
Step 2 - cut your fabric
Take your t-shirt and cut out 5 strips about 5cm wide and 90cm long. It is better to be slightly longer than too short, as you can always cut it shorter at the end.
You don't need to be too precious about neatness - they don't need to be perfect straight lines as they will eventually be within the braid.
Step 3 - Sew the PIECES together
Place all of your 5 pieces on top of each other and sew them all together about 2.5cm in from the end. This will eventually be hidden, so again you don't need to be super neat.
Step 4 - Braid the pieces
Firstly using a weight of some kind, temporarily secure your pieces to the table (I used a couple of stone coasters).
Now onto the braiding - this isn't your standard 3 piece plait so might take a bit of time to get right.
Imagine that the pieces are labelled 1-5 from left to right....
Now repeat the pattern above with the remaining pieces until the full length of the pieces are braided. Make sure you pull it all tight from the very beginning otherwise it won't work very well.
Keeping tightly hold of the lose end, just check the length around your head. If it is a little tight, don't panic it will stretch. If it is too big, unravel the braid to just under the desired length.
Step 5 - sew ends
Once you have your desired length of braided fabric, sew the other end about 0.5cm away from the edge of the braiding, to keep the braid from unraveling. Trim off any excess fabric but leaving enough to allow you to sew the end together.
Now take the two sewn ends and sew them together. Again, this will eventually hidden so it doesn't need to be super neat.
Step 6 - add cover
Firstly, cut a 5cm by 20cm strip of the same fabric.
Wrap this strip around the seams tightly, finishing with the end of the strip on the inside of the headband.
Finally, sew the fabric strip closed.
Step 7 - wear!
Let me know if you make your own versions of this! I might attempt a multi-coloured one next time!
I don't know whether it is just me, but I am really struggling to get my hands on any normal flour at the moment (particularly when I need gluten free flour!) So this recipe is one I put together using ground oats as that is all I had in the cupboard! It turned out to be one of my favourite cookie recipes so far, so I hope you enjoy them too!
My Journey Post Fracture
Most people who have broken a bone(s) whilst out cycling usually have a pretty cool story to go with it to explain how it happened – like maybe descending down a beautiful mountain in Majorca and taking a turn too quickly, or getting caught up in a crash out racing... but that isn’t the case for me, and to this day I can’t fully recall exactly what did happen! All I can remember is I was on an easy social ride on 30th December with some friends and cycling in a straight line up a very mild gradient, going fairly slowly along a dry country lane. The next thing I know I am on my side in the middle of the road with my bike still attached – explain that one! Although a few people have said that your brain can actually erase your memories from the time of trauma, so you don’t remember how bad it actually was to protect yourself…
I was swiftly taken to Warwick A&E (via a lovely passing van man, as the ambulance was going to be up to an hour before it could get to us!) and later x-rayed and informed I had fractured and displaced my distal humerus, which required open reduction and internal fixation, and damaged my shoulder and wrist. In non-fancy terms, I had essentially sheared off the end of my humerus, managed to flip it upwards 90° which needed repositioning and reattaching with screws) – lovely! But I guess in the world of cycling, a pretty minor injury compared to the likes of Chris Froome etc. But still hurt! On my list of most painful experiences during this, the first night following the accident is probably second – not much sleep (attempting to sleep upright with a travel pillow around my neck and my cast on my pillow), lots of co-codamol and just resorting to watching Netflix on my phone. Strangely the accident itself does not take the top spot, possibly as I went into shock almost immediately. Although the journey to the hospital was pretty bad as I didn’t have any painkillers and felt every tiny bump in the road – the only downside of not being in an ambulance! The top spot is actually my first night post-surgery – I guess a lot of internal interfering made it more tender! Morphine was my friend back then that’s for sure! My first physio session is probably up there too as I almost blacked out from the pain – doh!
As an elbow fracture is slightly more complicated, I had to wait 10 days for a specialist surgeon to be available. So, in the meantime I was placed in a cast and sling and Netflix became my best friend and I embarked upon a new challenge of completing One Tree Hill (one of my childhood faves) - 9 seasons with ~20 episodes each – and I am still not finished (they now accompany me on my longer weekend endurance turbo sessions)!
What was a new experience was just before surgery they froze the nerves in my arm to act as a painkiller for when I woke up from the anaesthetic, rather than dosing me up on morphine. So, I woke up with a completely numb arm as if I had been laid on it or something. Such a strange feeling!
One thing the surgeon explained to me during my pre-op consultation was that one of the biggest potential side effects of an elbow fracture is a risk of loss of mobility if it isn’t managed effectively, due to the complicated bone structures in the elbow itself that control various movements (a lot of wrist action comes from your elbow which I never knew before!). Because of this, post-surgery I was only given a bandage around the elbow, sling and splint for my wrist – and was told I needed to get it moving ASAP. Even so it really did surprise me just how quickly you actually do lose strength and mobility. I only had the cast on for 10 days, and then begin proper mobility and rehab work with my physio 2 weeks post-surgery. The sensation of trying to move it for the first time, not long after surgery, I can only describe as like when you have been laying on your arm in a funny position for too long resulting in a dead arm that doesn’t feel like your own and you have no control over it. I could barely lift it off a cushion on my lap and certainly couldn’t bend the elbow. The most infuriating thing was not being able to do the basics such as tie up my own hair or spread butter on my toast. Fortunately, my fantastic partner was on hand to basically be my carer until I had built up enough strength and mobility to begin doing everyday tasks with two arms again (thanks Clive!)
2 weeks post-surgery, when the pain had died down a little, I started back on the turbo trainer (one armed in a sling) with the aim of completing Tour de Zwift – great timing! For the first couple of weeks, as my body was in recovery mode, I made sure I kept the HR low to try and not negatively impact any healing. But as I was meant to be competing at the ETU age group Aquabike Championships (1.9km swim, 90km bike) in Walchsee, Austria at the end of June I was keen to not lose too much fitness! Not long after, I received confirmation that I had been accepted onto the Catenary Cycling Coaching sponsorship programme, so I was really lucky that coach Tim was going to be able to assist in getting me back to where I needed to be.
After about 2 months post-surgery I was able to weight bear and as my elbow quite liked being at a 90° angle, I was able to start properly training on the turbo trainer using my TT bike with additional bubble wrap on the pads. So between now and then, persistent physio exercises and lots of time in the garage has meant I am almost back to pre-accident cycle fitness, according to my recent FTP test.
Running wise, it took a little longer to get back to and I wasn’t allowed to start again until 8th Feb, a month post-surgery. To begin with it was just really easy short jogs with a tubigrip supporting my elbow, with my first run back being parkrun – I was so happy to be back running, it was an amazing feeling even if I did feel super unfit and slow! One thing that got me going was a Strava/AfterShokz 'Be Passionate' challenge - to complete 15km in 7 days. It doesn't sound like much now as I am running at least double that in a week, but at the time this was a much needed mini challenge to keep me motivated when I felt so unfit and running was just hard work! I was then 1 of the lucky 100 finishers to win a medal!
About a month later I then began to incorporate more fitness related work in and since then I have been slowly building back my mileage and intensity. I am still not back to my pre-injury running fitness, but I am happy with the progress I have made so far.
Currently, my elbow is only a few degrees off fully straightening, I can almost touch my shoulder with my fingers again and almost fully weight bear! Shame my A race has been cancelled due to the current situation…(sad face)! But hopefully we will be able to race later on in the year.
So moral of the story, wear elbow pads even when out road cycling lol.
But on a serious note, one thing I did find to be really beneficial throughout this was to set myself mini goals to keep me focused and motivated. In the early days this was as simple as setting myself the goal of being able to tie up my own hair over the next week, ditching my sling for everyday activities, or eating with my right hand. Eventually this moved onto being able to do turbo sessions on the TT bike and gentle runs. They kept me on track and allowed me to see progression, even if a major goal such as competing at the Aquabike Championships felt out of reach at the time. Little goals are just as important as the main one.
I found out about this ‘race’ via a fellow Team Catenary athlete and couldn’t turn the opportunity down. For myself and probably all other fellow athletes, the current situation has been really difficult with most of our upcoming races being cancelled or postponed. It might not seem much on the face of it as we are still extremely lucky in this country to be able to continue some form of training within the government guidelines – particularly for those of us who have turbo trainers and home gyms. However, not having a race to aim for can heavily impact your motivation to train. So it is fantastic that virtual races such as the Castle Triathlon Series Easter virtual duathlon are popping up – and I hear they are going to be doing some more in the near future, so will be keeping an eye out!
As this ‘race’ was very last minute – I think I signed up about 4 days before it started, Tim was great and adjusted my plan accordingly. It obviously wasn’t an ‘A race’ so there was no taper and following my hardest training week to date I was certainly not going to be racing on fresh legs. But what was important to me, following my elbow fracture at the beginning of the year, was to ‘race’ and set a good baseline for where my current fitness was. I knew I wouldn’t be setting any PBs, but this would set a great benchmark to allow me to visibly see progress over the next few months – something that personally is a great motivator and will give be great for my confidence as I hopefully start seeing my times improve ready for races later on in the year (all fingers crossed that we will get some races this year).
Slightly different to a normal duathlon, to ensure it was within current government guidelines, the race was split across three days – Friday the 10k run, Saturday the 40k bike, and Sunday the 5k run. the longest transitions ever! On the Friday, we were blessed with lovely sunshine, so I made sure to get out early morning (still managed to get sun burnt though). I tried to replicate a real race as much as I could, so had the same breakfast as normal a couple of hours before I started (overnight oats with honey) and a gel (Torq) just before I set off. Frustratingly, part way through the pre-planned route, I had to start improvising as a bridleway had been shut off. This threw me a bit as I have zero sense of direction, so just had to run along random roads and hope for the best (and hope there weren’t any huge hills!). I somehow managed to not get lost and set a half decent 10k time – nowhere near PB times, but it was a great feeling to be back ‘racing’ with no elbow pain or calf and shin pain – the latter being injuries I suffered from last season. What was evident is that I need lots more threshold type runs to get me back to racing run fit (hate these sessions, but no pain no gain!)
On the Saturday it was the indoor 40k. Having only cycled indoors so far this year due to my elbow injury, I was confident that I could keep my focus staring at the Zwift screen and just concentrating on my pacing. Having looked back at my previous race power data (yes I am sad and have a spreadsheet), I knew over 40k what I could previously achieve (normalised power) so I set out to at least hit those numbers. I actually surprised myself and got a 40k PB, and a negative split! One thing that seems to be coming back quickly is my cycling fitness – thanks to Catenary sessions! 2nd fastest female bike time for the duathlon, and in the top portion of overall times too.
On Sunday it was the second run and on tired legs – not sure what is worse, going straight off the bike onto the run, or having 12 hours in between so DOMs have had time to start kicking in from the Friday run! Fortunately today, I had my partner Clive running with me. It is honestly so much harder to ‘race’ without the race atmosphere and adrenaline running through you, so having words of encouragement shouted at you every now and then did help to keep me going. Again, no record-breaking times were set but I was happy to push myself with tired legs, not suffer from any pains, and set my fastest 5k so far this year – almost 3 minutes faster than my first park run back after my elbow injury at the end of Feb. Progress!
To top off a fun weekend, I finished 3rd female overall and 2nd in the 15-39 age cat alongside fellow Catenary athlete Megan who had a great race to take the win. We even had a virtual prize giving with a virtual podium – brilliant!
So for lent, I gave up nut butter (crazy I know...) so I needed another form of sweet treat and this recipe did the trick - technically allowed too as tahini is made from seeds! ⠀⠀⠀⠀
I know it does sound strange having tahini as one of the main ingredients but trust me, they are tasty! ⠀⠀⠀
The current situation is certainly very weird and is having a huge impact on all of our lives. I keep thinking that I am just going to wake up and it's all just been a big horrid dream. Unfortunately I don't think that will be the case...
I am now having to work from home from my kitchen table (which Ellie is certainly pleased about at least) and have had events cancelled left right and centre, which when you are an athlete who has already put in so much time and effort into training (and trying my hardest to get back from my elbow fracture) does feel as though your sense of purpose has gone with your end goal being taken away.
But in the grand scheme of things I am probably one of the lucky ones, with many people I know in really difficult situations right now. So, it is more important than ever to focus on the good things that still stand, be kind, stay safe and help each other. We can get through this together.
I had this lovely email from Team Zoot this week that I think is so true and so had to share with you all:
"As we navigate these uncertain times, we want to remind our triathlon community about who we are as a tribe and why we do this. Remember, it is not about the race, it is about the journey. The triathletes, we don't need race results to validate our lifestyle or give us purpose. The journey is the purpose. We love to race because we love to train. Together, we can continue to build this community and support each other as a group of enthusiastic athletes who love to swim, bike and run. This may mean you spend more time on your trainer and less time on group rides. Or, more time on solo runs and fewer runs with your training groups. Whatever you choose, we hope that you are able to find ways to continue to take care of your mental and physical health. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Our next races may be canceled or postponed, but we won't let that slow us down. Stay safe as we navigate these times and keep training "⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
One final thing to remember is your mental and physical health. As the pandemic continues to grip the world, we may all have to succumb to working from home or a period of self isolation. During this time it may feel lonely at times, so here are a few top tips that may help you and some of which I found particularly useful when I was stuck at home for 6 weeks when I broke my elbow:
1. Plan your days
Your normal routine might be disrupted and that can be stressful. Take the time to write down how you want to spend your day and stick to it as best you can. Having a clear sense of purpose for the day really helps.
2. Create a morning routine
Your normal morning routine will most likely be very different, so try and set yourself up a new one that will help you get your day off to the best of starts. It could be as simple as a cup of tea, or a quick dog walk (mine was catching up on last nights Love Island whilst having my breakfast lol.. don't judge). Whatever it is, it will ensure you aren't tempted to work from bed!
3. Schedule breaks
Give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen, or to get some fresh air (if it is safe to do so) - even if it is just opening up a window. If you used to go for a lunchtime walk or run - continue to do it if you can.
4. Stay connected
Human contact and connection is really important. Keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues via technology such as WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype etc can really help - seeing someones face really can make a difference and make you feel less lonely. You could also encourage your teams at work to set up additional 30 minute meetings via WebEx or Skype for you to check in on each other.
5. Keep yourself entertained
Be productive. Are there any activities that you have been putting off or just haven't had time to do? Well now is your chance! Can you finish that DIY project, read a book, spring clean the house, learn a new language or sign up for that online personal development course you found ages ago? These tasks can make you feel productive and give you a sense of accomplishment.
6. Stay calm
There are loads of great free apps you can use to guide you through breathing techniques and meditation that can help ease your anxiety and clear your mind of any anxious thoughts. Headspace is used by a few people I know who love it.
7. Keep exercising
Exercise releases those important endorphins which boost our mood. If you can't leave your house and don't have access to equipment such as turbo trainers, treadmills and weights then you can still get some exercise in. There are many great workout videos on YouTube which don't need any equipment to do, or apps such as Sweat give you routines to follow too.
More guidance can be found online - Mind.org have loads of extra information that you might find useful.
The important thing is that it may feel overwhelming and out of your hands right now, but whatever the scenario is for you right now, remember that you are always in control of your response even if at first it feels like you're not. We are all in this together.
Coping calendar from Action for Happiness below
The list is endless, but here are the main ones I can think of that are used fairly commonly in the triathlon world, which I know would have helped me when I first started my multi-sport journey!
Let me know if there are any more you would like to see added to the list!
Hope this helps!
Summary of 2019
2019 was certainly a roller coaster year for me, filled with lots of highs and lows...
I could have easily started off this blog post with all the extremely frustrating things I encountered during 2019, but one thing I did learn last year is unfortunately s**t happens and you just have to deal with it and think positively. So whilst I am feeling a little sorry for myself and have time recovering from breaking my elbow at new year (doh), I thought I would remind myself that even a year that felt as thought it had many lows did have some epic moments.
Stepping Over To The Dark Side
One major highlight for me, which ultimately shaped my year, has got to be finally going over to the dull 'dark side' as the running club call it and racing various open water triathons last year.
Leeds has got to be up there with one of my favourite ever races. It was my first ever open water triathlon in my home town, the atmosphere was amazing and I had Clive and my family cheering me on from the sidelines - whats not to love!
Also Redcar as it was my first ever sea and draft legal triathlon where I battled with some pretty scary waves and somehow survived!
As a result of training for open water triathlons, it meant I got to have such fun with friends at the lakes over the summer, experiencing some beautiful sunsets too.
I was also extremely lucky to be selected to represent Zoot Sports as part of Team Zoot Europe 2020, which I am super excited about. This company represents everything I love about the triathlon community - inclusion, encouragement, and funky race gear.
I really cannot wait to be back training and racing once my arm has healed, particularly when the long summer days return back to us!
World Duathlon Championships
Of course another highlight was getting to race in my GB kit again at the World Duathlon Age Group Championships in Pontevedra. It may not have been the result I may have wanted, but the experience was unforgettable.
In 2018 my season was fairly long with my A race in Ibiza taking place at the very end of October. This wasn't the case this year, so post ankle sprain when I had lost my mojo a bit, I spent a lot of time just running with Ellie (the ultimate run buddy) with no pressure for distance or paces, to bring the fun back into running. And wow what a difference it made - I've never felt as good in myself whilst running and somehow managed to surprise myself with how fast we could both go at park runs, competing in our first official canicross league race and winning the Tunnel Vision Dawn run. Love that dog!
Firstly racing alongside my amazing mum this season has got to be another highlight. She has only just started her triathlon journey, and I am just so proud of her dedication and enthusiasm. You will smash 2020 mum!
Then really just the amazing support I have had throughout the season. From my brother coming all the way to Redcar triathlon with me as no one else could do, to Clive putting up with me being out most evenings training. I am pretty lucky - thank you!
Situations such as breaking your elbow really do make you really appreciate things in life (like being able to tie up your own hair or cut up your own food). But in all seriousness, I am just super grateful for all my wonderful friends for their support over the last year, and even moreso for their kind wishes I have received over the last couple of weeks keeping me positive and smiling. So a big thank you to you all!
As I mentioned, I hadn't had a lot of luck last year from catching the Noro-virus at the beginning of the season, to getting shin splints on the lead up to my A race, to then spraining my ankle basically wiping out all of my summer races... and therefore zero consistent training all year. And then to top it off, I go and fall off my bike at the very end of the year and break my elbow resulting in surgery (doh!).
But as I have said, s**t things happen... roll on 2020!! Where I have just one triathlon related wish - to stay injury free and healthy (once my arm has heeled), so I can actually race to my full potential (please!?).
Big thanks to everyone that has supported me last season.