Pro-cessing it all…

It has taken a while for me to sit down and write this blog as it took me some time to process everything that has happened over the last few years and where I have finally arrived – plus it is me so I needed my thinking time!

However, I thought no better time to sit down and get typing then today as I find myself sofa bound this morning trying to keep my eyes open due to a sudden onset of “atopic dermatitis” (AKA I have a very attractive swollen face and skin rash!) so please apologise if there are any typos or even more lack of sense that usual, but here goes…

All my life I had dreamed of being a professional athlete as I used to run around the garden till I quite literally passed out – a relief for my parents, the easiest self-inflicted child calmer. At a young age I had a clear obsession with sport which found me glued to the Olympics every four years and cutting out pictures of my favourite athletes – yes I was one cool kid! As the years progressed so did the sports. At the age of ten I was so cross to not be able to jump any higher in high jump with the “scissor technique” I decided to teach myself the Fosbury Flop over google print outs as no one else knew how to do it at my primary school! Where was youtube then, it would have saved a broken shoulder as “bright spark” me thought no better way to perfect the motion pre-season than onto grass. Yes of course ironically this meant I was out for the whole of the summer high jump season – shooting myself in the foot for being stubborn, over committed and bloody-minded about my goals wasn’t going to be a one time thing it soon became clear… but hey I did get a few HJ records!

Lax

The first day I played lacrosse something clicked and this new game just excited me – what I can run wild around a field with my friends, be myself and be competitive; incredible! I would always turn up to practise eager to learn, have fun and get stuck in – sometimes too stuck as I found myself once again head first in the mud as I had 100% miscalculated an interception, YOLO!
I still remember the day my lacrosse coach, still one of my biggest inspirations, sat me and a few others down in the pavilion changing rooms and gave us the chance to trial for the England junior squad. The idea I was going to be able to prove myself against the best in the country inspired me further, let alone the thought I may be able to make the national squad – eek!

However, despite making the squad and then a few years later making the first few cuts for the Junior World Cup team the reality was that the continual drive for perfection and excellence in sport had once again shot me in the foot. Struggling with anorexia not only meant I missed the first round of trials, how that wasn’t a big enough motive to sort my **** out still amazes me, but also led to missing valuable playing time, match practise and selections which ultimately meant I was not good enough and probably never would be. I have written about my past before and how losing my dream to such a destructive illness emotionally hurt whilst created a world of what-ifs, regrets and self-hatred – and its true, when I decided to hang up my stick early on in my gap-year despite finally being mentally recovered from anorexia I cried for weeks about what I had done to my dream and the little girl who just loved to play and see what was possible.

So what is with the reminiscing and divergence Eloise?
Well, like I have also said before finding out about triathlon in a London office full of tax accountants (obvious right!) and then relishing under this new challenge, I just felt lucky that I could once again enjoy a sport, set some (un)realistic Eloise type goals and just press play. From early on it felt as if I had been given a second chance at living my life to the full again – free, happy and just being me (i.e. yes competitive, stubborn, mad etc. but a tad more controlled!), something I will always be grateful for and thankful to the people who helped me get back on track and smiling.

Wow – the first few years of triathlon were a dream, I couldn’t believe what I achieved barely being able to swim, being Bambi on a bike and then just praying I could run at the end of it. But like most dreams you wake up and boy did I. For the next two years reality checks from my past, current and future soon came hard and fast – often too hard. This pain (literal and mental) became my reality once again and despite still knowing what I wanted and could achieve I was wasn’t getting closer, in fact I was getting further away the more I tried to hold on to it – yup common theme!

Still reminiscing Eloise… yawn!?
Well, all of the above chat (if you stayed with me!) is why I have taken so long to process the last six months and understand/come to grips with the final result that I have recently been granted my Professional licence as a middle-distance triathlete.

20170629_115647Just reading the email made me burst into tears and then had to check the attachment about 100 times to make sure it had my name written on the ‘Pro Letter’ – and to my sheer surprise every time it did read Eloise du Luart.

It was bitter sweet to be honest, as like I said to my Coach in my mind I did not achieve it how I believed I would. In Luxembourg despite the swim and bike being bang on point my run wasn’t even close to where I am at, whether heat induced or not, which left me disappointed, deflated and wondering if once again I had just missed out. This meant despite the relief, excitement and sense of pride of receiving the one thing that drove me daily to claw myself back more than once over the last 20 months, I needed time to process the result, feel I am worthy and ready to race alongside the best in the World.

I am even emotional writing this blog (not just the weeping eyes!) as yes I have finally come to grips with it and I am excited to start this new chapter in my athletic career. I am ready to get stuck in and see what is possible, just like that girl who picked up her lacrosse stick and played for the love of the game.

My first Professional Ironman 70.3 will be Dublin on 20th August, followed by Weymouth on 17th September – so better put my head back down and get on with the day job!

All I can say is a massive thank you to everyone who has been a part of this ‘journey’ – sure I kept you all guessing and head scratching, however I am grateful to each one of you as you helped me rekindle the dream – so now lets just live everyday of it.

“Even Alice had to fall before she found her Wonderland”

Lots of love and always keep smiling,

Elo xxx

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Ironman 70.3 Luxembourg

Since I raced Ironman 70.3 Luxembourg in 2015 I have wanted to return; however unfortunately it wasn’t that simple – life right!? 2016 was not meant to be due to a sacral fracture – so I just saw the event come and go, like too many races last year. But at the start of 2017 I told my Coach I wanted to be ready to race my first 70.3 in over 20 months back in Luxembourg. This was all very much still words at the time as I had barely started running and cycling again after another series of injuries, but it was a goal and I was going to give everything to try and make it happen and be proud of arriving on the start line in one piece…20170618_090903

Before I knew it I was giving Mum and Coach Dave a massive hug before scuttling off with Amy (so glad you came and raced with me) to find our places in this rolling start, swim business. In the sea of neoprene I gave another massive hug to Amy and then continued wading through to find myself a convenient spot about ten rows back.

It wasn’t long before the lines of four were being set off in five second intervals, then I was waiting at the front just looking down the ramp into the Moselle. Those five seconds felt so long – felt I could had a cup of tea in that time! But enough of that it was GO and we were off…

As I scampered to the ramp I realised I was going to have to dive/plop in. “You got this Eloise, simples – arms over head and go.” Well would have been “simples” if I hadn’t bottled it and lifted my head too early so my goggles started filling with water – smooth one Elo! After a solid 100m of “SWIM, GIRL SWIM!” I realised I really could not see anything and still had a considerable distance to swim so made the executive decision to sort the goggle situation.20170618_091724 “Arrr a whole new world” – I was back on route and flapping away. To my surprise within a few more 100 metres I started going past quite a few people – this doesn’t happen to my very non fish self, but I wasn’t going to object so just kept pushing. Swerving round the last buoy I knew it was about 400 metres to go so I pushed on.

Wetsuit down, pick up bag (hop over flower bed as obviously slightly in the wrong place), unpack bag, strip wetsuit off, helmet and number on, wetsuit in bag and GO FIND YOUR BIKE ELOISE! That was it – I was off running down the carpet to grab my wheels (always useful) and ready to get “on meh bike.”

The first 12 miles of the bike felt great and smooth along the Moselle river to the turn around point, just loving life and pedalling away. However, after the turn to return back down the river to the first climb, it became anything but enjoyable.
Suddenly I was overtaken by a pack of drafting cyclists, forcing me to drop back 12 metres. Yes, I tried passing them legally numerous times, but most attempts failed or where short lived as this “peloton” was working together making the effort too much for me to pass/hold, only forcing me to drop back out of the draft zone and cycle below race intensity.20170618_0942320.jpg
Even though it is ILLEGAL and WRONG I have seen drafting in races and would be naïve to believe it doesn’t happen. However, I have never seen it on this scale and the openness. I was truly shocked that even when the “draft busters” came by they did nothing but just wave at the 20 or so cyclists.
Sorry to dampen the mood but I try to pride myself on LEGAL and FAIR racing, drafting is not only cheating but also ruins it for others around trying to race fairly and strongly. So these few miles were anything but enjoyable, hugely frustrating and I just longed to arrive at first the climb to sort this out – good luck drafting up that guys!

So as I turned onto the climb that was it – I channelled my frustration and slight anger to start picking off those cyclists, got back to riding at the race intensity I wanted to and put it/them behind me (literally) once and for all #YOLO.

The next few miles felt great, stunning rolling scenery and loving life again both frustration and “congestion” free. So much so that before I knew it bikey and I were coming over the last hill, gracing France with our presence and hitting the river road for the last eight miles. These miles seemed to pass (as they do!) and before I knew it I was unplugging my bike legs and ready to locate my running ones…

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Helmet off, shoes on and gels grabbed (yes dropped and picked up again – never lose food!) it was time to hit the now very toasty run course and bring it home. Easier said than done – despite being in the strongest run form I have been in for over two years… even if that isn’t too hard!

From the first few kilometres my legs felt heavy and life less however hard I tried pushing or downing gels – well hello very asthmatic and waddling penguin-esque thing! Every lap I had to focus on just getting to the next feed station, grab all the water I could and shuffle on to the next. Both my Coach and Mum were great at keeping me going and making me focus on each lap as they came, even if they were not coming fast! However somehow, not sure how, I was picking up my last cup of water just two kilometres from the finish line and heading for home – miracle. The last few kilometres I gave everything; tried to increase the pace a bit and just focused on numbing out all the pain and heat. Not sure why I went for this pro+ kamikaze plan but I think I wanted to finish knowing that despite this run not being near my goal race pace, least I knew on that day I had given 100% and controlled everything I could have – so I did… pretty dumb to be honest but oh well – life!IMG_1497800324571

But WOW I had finished a 70.3 again, was 2nd overall coming out of T2 (yes historically my weaker 2/3s of the race) and despite the run/lack of I was 14th overall and 2nd in my Age Group. Given the journey back to Luxembourg I cannot be anything but pleased, emotional and ready to relocate those ex-runner legs, sort out my thermostat (tips welcome!) and get back out there fighting. It was even more special to share this race and the pre/post celebrations with my great friend Amy.

All I can say is a massive thank you to everyone who has helped me become stronger both mentally and physically – to Coach Dave for not only kicking me round the run on Sunday but also for everyday giving me confidence that I can be stronger, faster and better despite the hurdles and Eloise moments…! To my amazing Mum for coming with me to Luxembourg, putting up with the emotional pre and post race tears and always making me smile whatever happens – love Mum.
To Renee, Ben and all for always believing in me and kept me fighting – thank you so much.

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Lastly a massive thank you to my sponsors; Kenilworth Chiropractic Clinic for MOTing the body, The Cycle Studio for always ensuring my machine flies, Science in Sport for keeping me fuelled and fighting, Take3 for ensuring I’m “aero as”, HUUB for the wetsuit that has helped me become more fish like and also to BLIZ for keeping the eyes happy – thanks so much.

And for now… well I am not sure yet but will focus on recovering properly from Sunday, regroup and build back to my next start line still smiling and ready to give everything #thedream.

“Never, ever give up and SMILE”

Lots of love,

Elo xxx

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St.Neots Triathlon (1500m/45k/10k)

After the slight mishaps of the previous weekend at the Volcano Triathlon both Dave (Coach) and I agreed I needed some more practise to correct my fuelling mistakes and confirm that training is in fact on track before pushing on. Thankfully NiceTri allowed me a late entry into the St.Neots Standard Triathlon to set the date for this “re-run” in seven days time… Simples!

20170507_141831Well, we should have known better – Eloise doesn’t by default mean simple! Since the Volcano’s “infamous waddle” I had still been suffering from the stitch in my right side and chest tightness. Most of the week we kept the intensity very low to reduce stress to my diaphragm (delicate flower!) whilst prioritising deep massage, Chiro appointments and mobility work to promote recovery and relaxation throughout the body. By Saturday I was able to complete some intensity in the pool and on the track to fire up the old bod ready to race the next day. However we still were not entirely sure if it had gone, so the race plan was just go out, nail the controllables (nutrition) and just see how it goes…

From the first toe into the river I remembered why I like racing abroad, 13 degrees is anything but enticing. By just looking around at everyones’ facial expressions it confirmed we were all thinking the same – **** its cold!

BOOM – we were off… splash, splash, gasp, splash, think “cold, cold, cold!” Somehow despite my spluttering I had arrived at the first buoy in third with the two lead girls just in front. Right time to get into a rhythm and get this freezathon done!  By the time I had completed the first lap I had caught up some of the green hatters from the wave before, so back to playing dodgems and keeping it together… which surprisingly for me I did!
For the remainder of the swim I was in third with the lead girls still in sight and entered into T2 about a minute down. 20170507_141721

Amazingly T1 went pretty smoothly and I overtook one girl just through stripping faster – good skill to have! But then had to negotiate the flying mount… nice work Eloise nailed it in one… Damn why can’t I get my feet in, get in, you shouldn’t have got cocky, get in damn it! It seems that trying to locate your feet let alone get them into a bike shoe while handling a moving vehicle with numb hands is not so simple! Finally by the first roundabout I was plugged in and trying to power up for the two lap, 45k ride. And yes before you ask, thanks to my new, very stylish bento box all gels were still firmly stored and ready for action – phew! Within a few 100 metres I had taken the lead and had my head down focusing on the task in hand – pedal, pedal etc. etc (even I can’t mess that plan up!).

IMG_20170508_055128_853Despite feeling in control and passing quite a few men I couldn’t help but notice this strong, cold wind blasting in my face – did someone turn on the air con? To be honest I didn’t really notice when we had the tailwind; if we did, as it just felt like I was cycling through mud 95% of the time despite the power being higher than last week – remind me never to take up cross! I just hoped this wasn’t just me and my lazy legs so plan “just keep pushing” had to be employed, whilst (yes of course) executing the nutrition plan – you got this!

After the second whirl wind (literally) of a lap I found myself leaping off my bike and on the hunt for my racking spot in T2 – look for the fourth red flag, boom thats us, via left, throw bike on, helmet off, glasses on, shoes on, grab gel and GO GO GO!

As I was running, yes running, not waddling, miracle I know, on to the first lap of four I gave a little smile and thumbs up to my Mum – right now to finish this off. The laps were pretty open and wiggled through the park so you could see quite a bit of the action. I know I don’t have the best eye sight, no hawk, but I couldn’t see any girls around – oh well, just keep running and stay relaxed.
With one lap down Mum shouted to me that I had around eight minutes on second place – right Eloise stay strong and don’t be an idiot – yes I do need constant reminders.
The second and third lap went pretty much the same, I just ran.

Turning on to the last lap I knew I still had at least eight minutes on second place however I just stayed focused as nothing is over till its over, especially if the wheezing, asthmatic, overweight penguin episode of last week were to make a comeback. Thankfully I must have left him sunbathing in Lanzarote as before I knew it I was running the last 200 metres, just smiling and happy to have finished strong -amazing what an anti-penguin run can do, ten minutes faster over the same distance – I will never pack him again, well try not to! IMG-20170507-WA0013

I was really pleased to take the win by over nine minutes – such an amazing event, thank you NiceTri and great racing by everyone in anything but easy or nice conditions, I just hope you have all warmed up again. Now to get back to work – a week defrosting in Mallorca should help, then to double this thing… hmmm about that…

So the moral of the story: stay fuelled and hang on to those gels. You would think me of all people would have known that by now as when has under fuelling ever got me anything…?!!!

As always a massive thank you to my Coach for helping me return to racing mentally and physically stronger, Ben (S&C) for de-pretzeling me after last weekend and Renee (Dietician) for not letting me live it down that “yes nutrition does help!”

Finally, thank you Bex at Kenilworth Chiropractic Clinic for stepping in this week to sort the Lanzarote battered body out, The Cycle Studio for making my racing machine fast again, Science in Sport for, of course, those gels #rocketfuel, and to the rest of my sponsors that make this all possible everyday – thank you all.

Lots of love

Elo xxx

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We are THRĒO

I first came across the brand THRĒO after a heated discussion with a friend about the lack of high quality and well fitting triathlon apparel for women. We can all admit most of the suits out there have seams in the wrong places, ill fitting to our figures and don’t even get me started on where the white is! This look is anything but flattering let alone when you have finished a race…

IMG_20170405_185338_559So when I came across THRĒO on social media it was not only a revelation seeing their kit had been designed specifically for women but also refreshing to see how they promote their passion for women in sport. THRĒO was set up due to the same frustrations by two athletes Rhian and Laura, there was just nothing out there that was one high quality and two flattering.

As you can imagine my first reaction was that I needed to try this kit and see for myself. Thankfully I was luckily enough to get my hands on some cycling kit to try – “Richmond Park” shorts and jersey.
After the first ride it was noticeable this kit was high performance and would see me through quite a good few miles. The team at THRĒO have thought of everything from earphone holes to a zip pocket in the jersey and shorts – what more does a woman want?! Even after a few washes the kit looks brand new, still comfy and every logo is exactly where it should be – thank goodness.

But enough of my chat, I thought the best way to find out about this brand and spread the word was to hear from the girls themselves…

1. Tell us a bit about yourselves and how THRĒO came about?
Rhian: Both Laura and I have a long background in sport, with over 30 years between us – spanning everything from racing 800m & 1500m on the track, cross country, triathlons, ironman, marathons and open water swimming.
We met through a mutual friend and both had the same frustration with kit and sportswear brands, we felt they didn’t cater for women like us – who loved training and racing, but didn’t want to compromise on style of kit. We also needed high quality kit which would last the distance, ironman, and regular washing for our daily sessions. We didn’t think this was out there, so we set out to make it. We went from sketching the kit, to visiting factories in Italy, to designing our now second collection! Our kit solves the problems we had with existing kit, and we’re now proud to train in it.

2. What personally motivates you to get out of bed every morning?20170425_180632
R: The thought that I just want to go out and have a good day – after all, every day has potential to be a great one. Now I have a baby girl, I want to make her proud and feel inspired to find something she loves as much as I have after a lifetime in sport. 

Laura: That I want to go out and be the best I can that day, whether I am at work, training or working on THREO. I always just want to get out there and give it a shot.

3. What philosophy does THRĒO aim to promote for women in sport?
That endurance sport is for everyone. We want to encourage women into triathlon, and sport in general, by making kit they feel comfortable and strong in. The triathlon and endurance communities are incredibly friendly, where the emphasis is on getting involved and not solely on winning – that’s the message that we would love to get out there.
Anyone can take on one of these challenges, you don’t have to be special, elite or talented, you just have to be willing to try. We are also hugely passionate about promoting equality for women in sport and we feel proud to be involved in triathlon, especially in Great Britain where some of its greatest and most well known athletes are women. 

4. Your favourite piece of THRĒO kit?
R: The ‘Eton Dorney’ trisuit. We wanted to make something flattering and stylish but that you could also race hard in, as I didn’t feel there was anything in the market like that. For me, its the perfect bit of racing kit and I can’t wait to get out in it this season. Plus its named after the place where I did my first triathlon and in a location where I trained often as a junior runner for Windsor, Slough & Eton – so it has many happy memories. 

L: As a keen marathoner the ‘Battersea Park’ running shorts are my favourite. I love the flashes of colour and how comfortable they are – they have seen me though many long runs. Battersea Park is also where I spent a lot of time when I was last training for London Marathon! 

5. And finally, what is your future vision for THRĒO?
We want to be the go to brand for female endurance sport. We would love to expand into other sports which are traditionally male dominated, and shake things up a bit.
We want to be known as a brand that supports and encourages women, but which also makes high quality long lasting kit. 

www.threo.co.uk

“Looking good and dressing well is a necessity, having a purpose in life is not” – Oscar Wilde

Lots of love 

Elo xxx

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Volcano Triathlon (1500m/40k/10k)

Well I guess 2017 has officially started!

Before I knew it I had squeezed back into my HUUB wetsuit, paddled around a bit and was lined up ready to GO. After a roller coast of a few years, here I was bobbing away under the Lanzarote sun with lagoon dirt across my face – glamorous!swim start

We were off. Splash, splash, splash, BREATHE! This “well established” swim routine got me to the first buoy in a frenzy of bubbles and neoprene. At this point I realised I was amongst some strong girls so I just focused on getting into a rhythm and hanging on. However slight glitch, I was on the outside – wasting precious seconds… “idiot how did you forget you were on the continent so of course they drive on the wrong side of the road!” 

So I just had to focus on getting to the next buoy then employing my very “(un)famous” body roll to get back on the inside. Well this plan was nearly foiled when this “roll” landed me on some poor, orange hatted bloke who had started in the wave before. Nice one Eloise, you not only squashed him – sorry, but also, quite deservingly I may add, got a breaststroke kick in the goggles – ouch, but a win is a win – I got my line!
From then onwards it was a case of push on and play orange hat dodgems as I splashed my way through the men trying to locate the last few buoys before hitting dry land.

Wow – I had made it! Beach yourself, stand up, and strip time… when I looked at the clock by the swim exit, I nearly stopped right there and then – it read just under 27 minutes… “seriously Eloise you have supposedly improved your swim not gone backwards by about 3-4mins”… but luckily my brain ticked (thanks to David and Jim shouting at me that I was in 10th) – minus 5mins as that includes the men… Boom back in the game and an improvement – never swam a sub-22mins for 1500m and 10th in a strong, swimmery field – new sport maybe?!… well not quite!!!

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Credit: Bob Foy

Focus girl and find that Belgium flag – my bike was conveniently opposite this flag, win. I am sure you can all agree finding a bike in a sea of wheels and handlebars isn’t something I would call straightforward! As I was getting all the T1 admin ticked off – helmet, number blah blah blah, I couldn’t help thinking I was already baking when apparently I had just done the “cool” part… oh well #GBBO!
After a famous Eloise flying mount, i.e. a slight swerve and maybe a few strong words by myself, I was on the road pushing those pedals up the first hill. This is when I looked down to see I was missing a gel. Oh god, this may not be ideal as I had already forgotten my pre-swim gel and in the heat I would probably be burning through carbs much faster – well thats half already out the door… crack on!

Up the hill, down the hill, turn around, up the hill, down the hill. Before I knew it I was turning on to my second lap and pushing back up the hill. By this point I had passed a few girls and some men so was hoping I was cycling in a strong place so focused on keeping it together and closing more gaps.
Half way through the second lap I started getting stitch down my right-side. Very bizarre as I have never experienced this on the bike before. This has only ever happened when dim, Eloise-esque me has gone for a hard run too close to a ten course meal! I couldn’t help thinking that it better go before the run or there would be no way I could get my emergency, T2 gel down me and then run any sort of run. Well, I still had a hill and descent to negotiate so time to just focus on that.

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Living emoji!!!  Credit @CrapTri

I arrived in T2 in 6th. Now, head down and finish the job. Haha – easier said than done! As I was running on to the course the stitch came back with a vengeance – bugger! I tried to find a rhythm, couldn’t. I tried downing the gel I needed, couldn’t. I tried breathing, couldn’t. This wasn’t going to be pretty but better just try and work on the tan instead.

Oh god – I looked down at my watch and saw what can only be described as hideous – I was running close to my long, recovery run pace. I just remember thinking well lets hope I can at least maintain this as already every man and his dog was overtaking me. This mentally wasn’t easy either, as one I knew I was in reasonable run shape and two, in the past I used to hold my own on the run – not waddle along like an overweight, asthmatic, sunburnt penguin.

Thanks to my step-dad David, Jimmy and the amazing Whittle Fit cheer leaders, I somehow found myself trotting onto the second lap, stitch and pain still intact but getting it done!
Lap 2 is when the lack of fuel really caught up on me – talk about hitting me while I am down! Then the girls behind me also started catching and overtaking me, inevitable. With each one I tried to jump in behind and match their stride – well the intention was there but lasted at most two steps… aux!

Somehow, to my sheer amazement I found myself running, sorry – damn autocorrect, shuffling, into the stadium to run the last 300m. This is when I thought I should try one last change of pace one. Ok it didn’t last long but think I just about hit my goal race pace for the last 100m… winner winner chicken dinner #athlete!!!
Done – hot and very bothered. Somehow I ended up holding on to 13th in a strong field and winning my age-group – amazing racing by everyone in anything but easy conditions!20170429_213805

Ok, yes I was disappointed as I knew I am in much better run shape and cross with myself for making school-girl-errors on the nutritional front, but lessons learnt and shows practise makes perfect and we all can agree I am out of practise!
However, with some perspective (taking out my stubbornness, pride and competitiveness!) I am of course happy and so grateful to be back out there as WOW I have finished a race and still laughing at myself, which hasn’t always been the case over the last few years.

Finally, I also said it in my last blog but I mean it – thank you to everyone; Coach Dave et al., sponsors plus family & friends, who support and guide me everyday whilst keeping me smiling.
And of course a special mention to the great crew who not only cheered me round that run/whatever it was on Saturday but also made it a great week at TriSports Lanzarote – steppy Lord Dave, Jimmy and the Whittle Fit/Crap Tri crew – BOOM, it was worth that pizza and jaeger!

Just keep smiling and bring on practise numero 2 – Sunday…

Lots of love,

Elo xxx

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Running scared, travelling to LA and wearing glasses

Just thinking about the fact I am on a plane to Lanzarote for the first race of my 2017 season with both a healthy state of mind and body gives me goosebumps. It feels like it is my first ever race and I am just excited to see what this triathlon malarkey is all about!

Of course this is not the case being my forth year of triathlon, however with the last two years being anything but ideal it forced me to step back, to develop and to mature as an athlete and person. So of course I feel different and a “newbie” as I am in a completely different place – body and mind. Swim 2

Running scared…
It wasn’t so long ago that if you had asked me if I would lining up on a start line in four days from now I would I have just shrugged. The truth is after the last two seasons coming up short through injury, I feared what if this was my reality and always would be. After that amount of time picking myself up to just fall straight back down again of course I started to see it as my future as it was all I knew. I had become over cautious as we all know you build fears from a rational base created from past events, which overtime becomes irrational. This of course affected my confidence as I worried “what if it went wrong again,” when I should have been focusing on “what if it went right.”

The difference was, yes, I was basing this fear on my past experiences but my story is very different now to five months ago, so surely the ending will be very different? After numerous chats with my Coach and the rest of my amazing team (how they put up with me is beyond me – I can barely put up with myself!) we started to change this mentality to “just try,” enjoy it and then see what happens.
So every day and in every session I started to set the aim of just seeing what I could do rather than what I couldn’t, then move on, whilst always remembering why I started this sport – because I loved it.

LAA trip to LA…
However, the real breakthrough came three weeks ago after a trip to LA for some work with Zwift – if you don’t Zwift then you should!
Due to the long flights involved and potentially limited time to train I said to Dave (Coach) I wanted to be realistic and just enjoy this trip whilst recovering properly from the last hard block. For me to take control and trust my choice in regards to my body and training needs was a massive step – in the past I would have worried about my fitness and felt guilty for “feeling weak.” Together we came up with an ideal training week including key sessions and bonus, enjoyments ones with the main aims being one work (of course!) and two recovery (sun tanning time!).

In summary, I had a great week, came back feeling invigorated and just happy.
When I was home, after close to a week out of the pool I dove back in thinking this maybe one of those just get it done sessions as I would probably feel flat – but wow quite the opposite. It just felt easy and I was swimming PB paces throughout (we all know I was a not born part dolphin so a breakthrough!). Whilst I was swimming I just got it and was smiling throughout as everything became so clear. Brick bike
Every session my Coach had pushed me to do and every one he had held me back, every moment I had trusted myself to “just try” or “just rest,” made so much sense and came back so vividly. It was as if a switch had been flicked and I was just there in the moment living it.
Ok yes I may have got a tad emotional after this session and burst into tears (a bit OTT I admit!), but it just meant so much as for once in a very long time I had confidence that I could crack this sport and believed in myself. This was when I finally allowed myself to become excited about racing this weekend and just enjoy the process – whatever happens.

Eloise put your glasses on…
GlassesIf you follow me on social media you may have seen a few posts recently with me running in my glasses. A few people have said, including my Coach and friends – “I didn’t know you wore glasses?!” The truth is I didn’t but I probably should have – aux! This new change in training look was thanks to a mind blowing session with my S&C Coach, Ben when we found not only my proprioperception improved dramatically but also my strength by just putting on my glasses – apparently my body finally knows where it is in the world (24 years too late!) and yes this helps with running so once again my stubbornness has shot myself in the foot (literally!).

This simple, yet pretty bizarre concept is very new and whether it helps long term in regards to my form and performance gains is yet to be discovered, but if its working for now why change it as like my Chiropractor said “David Beckham needed his jaw adjusted to come back from his injuries so maybe you just need to wear your glasses!”

Swim 2And as for the race…
Well, I don’t know! Like I said to Dave yesterday – whatever happens on Saturday happens, but least I will be on that start line knowing I have done everything right this time and just happy. Then we can review where I am at and move on in the very same way we arrived here.
So until then its time to bag a sun bed at TriSports Lanzarote and just enjoy the next few days in the sun!

Finally (Oscar speech coming…!), I would be a fool to think I arrived at this place on my own, as boy this has been a team effort and I am so thankful to everyone who has supported and stood by me through both the tears and the laughs – I am forever grateful.

  • Dave (Coach), thank you for not only taking me on back in November when I was barely half human let alone a triathlete but also believing in me every day since then. You have gone out of your way to make me stronger mentally and physically whilst making me that “happy athlete” again.
  • Family and friends, without you all believing in me and continuously making me laugh/ drink G&Ts (uhem Amy!) I would not be still smiling, I am truly grateful to have you all in my life – love you all.
  • Ben (S&C), from the beginning you have always been thinking of ways to improve my form, make me stronger and of course made me wear my glasses! So thank you for it all – including those horrid lunge walks, please never again…
  • Renee (Nutrition), you really have been more than a dietician to me. You have not only got my health back on track but you have been a mentor in helping me trust my body and myself.
  • Pete and John (mind/life!), thank you for making me prioritise myself and my life over my training. The moment I relaxed, enjoyed the process and focused on living each day (surprisingly!!!) everything started falling into place.
  • Pete (Kenilworth Chiropractic Clinic), thank you for relentlessly depretzeling me, always thinking how to get one step ahead of my body and getting me back in the best shape possible for both training and I guess now racing!
  • To all my sponsors; The Cycle Studio, BLIZ Eyewear, Science in Sport and Take3Tri, thank you for standing by me over the last few years and also helping me comeback stronger. I am truly grateful and know this would not be possible without you all – so thank you.

“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become, the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with game and never looked back… play for her” – Mia Hamm.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend and/or whenever – just enjoy it!

Lots of love

Elo xxx

A letter to my 14-year-old self

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017 #EDAW2017

When it comes to eating disorders and disordered eating, speaking out on the topic with honesty and openness is the only way to help those suffering and also most effective way to spread understanding about the harsh reality of this illness. img_20160712_160947.jpgSo I thought the best way to do this was to write a letter to my 14-year-old self that maybe if I had read everything that was going to happen over the next 10 years I would have been able to snap out of it before it took over my life, my dreams and my reality. So if this letter can help one person see the frank reality an eating disorder can have not only on their health but also on their life both during and following suffering with the illness then it will be worth it.

But why did I chose to go back 10 years to my naive 14-year-old self?
Well I feel this was the age where the need and desire to be the best I could be in my sport started to morph into an obsession to lose weight and control what I thought was my “health” to become faster, fitter and stronger – if only I knew. This was also the year I first suffered from a stress fracture and instead of “waking up and smelling the coffee” (literally!) and linking my lack of nutrition and menstruation with the injury, it drove me deeper into thinking I needed to be thinner to become the best once again.

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10/12/2007

Hey You,

Why are you crying?

Actually I know why you are crying so wipe those tears and listen up. Yes, you have just been told that burning pain in your shin is a stress fracture and so instead of going to chat with some friends and eat dinner because you are hungry, you’ve gone back to your room on your own and are crying. I know you are hungry, don’t lie to me and you are going to get even hungrier over the next few years. Yes you will deny it, want it, think you are winning because of it but I will tell you one thing, you are doing anything but that.
Think of this injury you are currently suffering with. Have you ever been injured before? No! You used to fuel your training and your body thanked you. Now your body is crying out, it can’t recover as you are not giving it the chance. Not to mention three months ago your period stopped, is that normal? No! Is it linked with stress fractures in runners? Yes – and don’t even try to convince me that the athlete-triad doesn’t apply to you, it does and it has – look at yourself, what has just happened!?

Ok yes, you have been running faster, starting to win a few more running races and feel quicker on the lacrosse pitch but how fast are you now Miss Hop-a-long? And it won’t stop here. In less than a years time you will be admitted to hospital for five months, this will not only hamper any progress in your sport but also when you are asked to play on one of the England Lacrosse squads while you are in hospital you will have to turn it down – YOUR DREAM and you will have to say you can’t play.

Think about it, what have you allowed to happen to yourself?
You have a dream to play for your country and you won’t play as you are in a mental hospital. And why will this all be, I hear you asking? Well your eating disorder will ruin your dream as it will continue to feed (or lack) an obsession that you think makes you a better athlete, person and that you are right. Well hold on – you won’t be a better athlete because you will be sitting on your bed in hospital staring at the cream ceiling counting the hours till you next have to eat. That is NO DREAM ELOISE, how can you let yourself do this to yourself? And don’t think this pain of knowing that YOU, no one else, shattered your big dreams will just go away once you recover, oh no, the regret, the what ifs, the questions will never leave you.

And if you think, how will I be so stupid – you’ve got this and no one knows. Child you are wrong – everyone knows, how can they not. One you look unhealthy and you will become even uglier over the next few years (yup I went there). Yes, you think you are too fat and too slow to be a good athlete, well get on the scales. Is that weight for your height and age classified as fat? Nope doesn’t say it on any medical, non-medical or any website you have tried to find to prove you are fat and not good enough. The science doesn’t lie Eloise – everyone, even people who don’t know you are trying to tell you so?

But enough of you, lets move on to something that will be painful to read about, think about and have to accept once you recover and are me writing this letter.
And get off the floor, why are you doing stupid crunches when you should be reading this letter? They don’t help by the way and in time you are going to get an infected pressure sore on your back because of them, yup attractive I know, so sit down and listen.

This eating disorder will not only ruin your dreams and happiness it will bring so much pain to your family and will break friendships.
Yes you, the apparently loyal, funny and supportive friend will lose many people around you because of who your eating disorder makes you. I know you love spending time with everyone, making people laugh and enjoying being on those sports teams. But this won’t last much longer. Soon you will feel distanced, unwanted and judged, yes a lot will be due to you becoming more isolated, self-conscious and controlling but how can you be fun anymore when you don’t want to be with people at meals, are banned from sports and can’t relax in front of a film on a Friday night? Pretty sad and tragic if you ask me.
And this will only get worse when you are admitted to hospital. You can’t blame your friends for moving on with their own lives. It will feel like time has stopped while you are in that bubble, but of course it won’t have, people will still be smiling, enjoying their own lives but you won’t change and will become institutionalised so of course when you return to school your friendships will be different, if there at all. It won’t be until you leave school over two years later that you finally feel comfortable being you again and try to make new friends without feeling judged or labelled.
However, some friendships you will maintain, build on and rekindle despite bringing them intense pain. It will take seven years for you to be back in contact with a friend you break very soon from now, your best friend. This will hurt all through recovery, that you caused this and you can’t deny it. But as I said you get back in contact and you will become close again, but please minimise that sickening regret I feel now and also the grief you put her and every other friend through. You would hate to lose a friend because she is too blinkered to see that she is killing herself and you can’t do anything about it – so don’t be that girl.

I can’t quite bring myself to write about how you will ruin Mum emotionally and the pain you will bring to the rest of the family. So I hope this shows it won’t be something to be proud of or want to remember. Yes, now 10 years on, we as a family are once again stronger and happier – but why the suffering Eloise, why cause that eternal suffering on the people you, the real you, love so so much?

Now you may be wondering how you get out of this mess and arrive at this point to write this letter. Until the moment you pick up the phone to Mum in tears about why you can’t do X or Y anymore and why you are lonely, you won’t want to recover. Hard to believe I know having read everything you have put yourself and others through but this just shows the power of the illness and how it will take over your life and your reality. However, this phone call is not the end. It will be a process lasting more than two years seeing this guy, genius in fact, who will challenge you in every session, bring you to tears over a Kit-kat and help you rebuild your ambitions and goals in life. As you can imagine you will and still are entirely thankful to him for saving your life, dreams and freedom.

But even when you are recovered, moving on and enjoying the new you, goals and sport you will be faced with pain, regret and emotion from the aftermath and the harsh reality an eating disorder has on a body. In nine years, so yes only last year for me, you will be told the fact you haven’t had your period for over eight years is the most likely cause of your current injury, a stress fracture in your sacrum, due to the effect on your bones, body and recovery rate. This injury, may I add, is not only rare but also in most medical studies has been linked directly with the athlete-triad, yes the thing you are trying to convince yourself and others isn’t affecting you right now. This news will be hard to digest. You will cry, question and just hurt inside as something you thought you had sorted, worked so hard to destroy and the thing that killed everything good in your life has somehow crept back in and tried to steal your dreams and goals once more. This will be the most horrible feeling you will ever face after recovery to date and the question of whether you will ever be “safe” again will haunt you.

I know this has been a hard read, and maybe you still think this is not your destiny as you are fine, but take time to re-read this and speak to the people who know what makes a stronger, fitter athlete. Maybe your lacrosse and running Coaches who you admire and who inspire you everyday. Do not look at the media, magazines or focus on your perceptions, as by definitions they are just your perceptions not reality.

I will leave you now Eloise, but please listen, wipe those tears and go to dinner tonight to rewrite those 10 years for me and waste not another minute of your life.

Lots of love,

Me xxx

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The charity I am currently volunteering for, ABC, supports sufferers in recovery by being an ear to listen to concerns and worries, if you are needing more support at this time I recommend getting in touch with them. Alternatively, feel free to message me through my contact page if you have any questions – as always I will try and be as honest as I can be.

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