My 2018 True Best Nine

If you haven’t been living under a rock or been stranded on a desert island for the last few years, I am sure you have come across the end of year #bestnine photos that are currently flooding social media feeds. If you have only just landed on Earth or been deep under that rock and have no clue what I am talking about (you wouldn’t be the first!) here you go; essentially, #mybestnine is a photo collage generated by using the nine photos from your Instagram account that have received the most likes in the year, simples!

But being me, I have decided to change things up a bit and pick my own best nine: #ELOstruebestnine – get it trending!!!

Why I hear you cry!?
Ok, don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Instagram and I use it a lot, as hey I am a sucker for a good photo, love a gif, and a solid pun is #life! However, what I am not much of a fan of, call me scrooge if you will, is the fact the number of likes, comments or followers can define or dictate a person’s self-worth, belief or confidence. It is just madness that how others view or interact with your X Pro II-ed, saturated AF, and hashtagged up photo from your cat’s 5th Birthday party can control how you feel about yourself, let alone dictate a “best” moment?!

So, with this in mind I decided to pick nine photos from my Instagram in 2018 that I feel best represent my year, and what a year it has been…

1. Finnishing my first professional 70.3! 20181227_210354.jpg
See I told you I am a sucker for a pun! Right back to the point… Picture number one represents not only my first full season racing as a professional triathlete, but also getting back to racing consistently full stop. 2018 saw me race more races than ‘16 & ‘17 put together (not that hard tbh) and I was undefeated on UK soil! But I did get schooled in my professional races – it was needed and given where I am at in my athletic career and training, expected! Thanks again to Dave for continually believing in me and supporting me this year.

2. Amazing opportunities with work20181227_210224
In December I ticked off a full year working for Zwift. It has been amazing 12 months of learning, challenges, laughs, experiences, meeting new people, embracing opportunities, travelling and pushing myself in different areas, some completely new & daunting to me (Kayaking in the sea is harder than it looks OK!). Yes, it has pulled time and energy from training, but I do believe it has made me a better person and therefore athlete, which is everything I need right now. Bring on year two and I am so thankful to be a part of such an influential, positive, great company, working with amazing people #RideOn.

3. Spreading awareness for eating disorders & mental health20181227_210655
I first wrote about my struggles with anorexia in 2015, however the further I move away from those dark years the more regret I feel. I guess this is because I understand how you can’t escape the choices you made in the past, however mind-boggling dumb and mentally screwed up they were, but you have to take responsibility and face the consequences regardless. This year I have actively tried harder to speak out, spread awareness and show there is nothing glamorous or successful from being anything but healthy both mentally and psychically.
I do believe through sport change can be made, which is one of the big drivers for me as an athlete. Maybe one day others will listen so not to make the mistakes I did and understand that being themselves and staying true to themselves is enough, results follow.
It is an honour to be a #TRAINBRAVE ambassador and I look forward to speaking at their second event in London, February 2019. Cue shout out to Renee – thank you again for everything and I owe you a lot!

4. I rode through a Parade on my new bike on July 4th! 20181227_210102
Not only was it my first ever Fourth of July and parade ft. floats, but also a pretty awesome day of many new, fun experiences! From riding around Santa Cruz on my new Simplon Mr T2 (thank you The Cycle Studio) to a “make-your-own” pizza-party with an inspirational group of people from around the world, made for a pretty awesome day.
And you can even watch more of this action, and the few days around it, from the Specialized Zwift Academy Tri Camp here… Oh, so you know applications for 2019 are now open, click here (and yes, I did just plug – but seriously you won’t regret it #FACT)!

5. 2018 tallied 24.5 Flights and six new places20181227_210529
And yes, before you ask the 0.5 “did” happen as I never made it to Lisbon –  if you know, you know!
In 2018 I was lucky enough to travel to some stunning places around the World with both work and triathlon. I love travelling and think I can safely say that 2018 has been the best travelling year yet thanks to the old & new places I have been lucky enough to explore, whilst meeting and sharing these experiences with amazing people.
New for 2018: New York, Finland, San Francisco, The Azores, Kona, Cape Town and hey if we’re counting Barry Island (Barrybados) 7 it is!

6. Family first20181227_210208
I am so lucky to have such a supportive family in my life and whatever happens day-to-day, week-to-week or month-to-month, they have been and are there to listen to my rambles, laugh at me and as families do, annoy me! But that is love and I am thankful for another year of having those close to me healthy and happy.

7. Friends old and new – you are all amazing!20181227_210253
As above, I am just so grateful for the awesome people I have in my life and the laughs, experiences, tears and moments we have shared together pre, during and hopefully post 2018. A massive thank you to you all for just being you – I owe you.

 

8. Filming in a pink room on a treadmill
I am sure I ticked something off the bucket list with this one, so why not!?20181227_210459

 

 

 

 

 

9. Be flexible in your thinking and in your eatingIMG_20181211_140119_422
So this picture represents two things really. One, you can have your cake and eat it. Let’s not go into the economics of it, I think failed that assignment at Uni, but let’s think about it more in terms of attitude! If you are open, in balance and flexible in your mind you can have whatever you like, whether that is a metaphorical or actual peanut butter, salted caramel brownie cake or not.
Secondly, only two days ago I learnt that there is a bear in the Toblerone logo. Say whatttt?! Yes, that mountain logo we are all very familiar with and god knows how many times I have seen it as just a mountain. But since a few days ago, there it is, so blatantly obvious, a bear in the mountain. Ok so what is the point Eloise, apart from maybe you need to up your prescription? My point is, don’t believe everything you see, read or hear, always be ready to challenge those long term beliefs and be open to possibility – what if there is more, what if there is a bear?! As individuals, athletes and people we are always learning and we are always wrong, accepting this and actually trying to be less wrong day-to-day is the key!

So there we have it my true best nine! And yes I agree, if you lasted to here you do deserve a strong New Year’s drink and to your sheer relief (I heard that sigh!) I will close out my 2018 rabbles with this:

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through 2018, from sponsors to family and friends. Nothing would be possible without it and you all put a smile on my face each day, ensure I challenge myself daily and make me get up and learn every time I fall (almost daily!). Without this I would still be nowhere, so thank you all and here is to a year full of change, opportunity and happiness. Happy New Year.

Lots of love,

Elo xxx

10 years ago today…

“Where do you see yourself in 10 years…”

We’ve all been asked this, and I bet have also tried to answer it on numerous occasions, but do we truly know what we want 10 years down the line? What about changing circumstances? Experiences? Opportunities? Do we even know what we want right now? Surely this is more important? Like a wise man once told me, living the now creates the future – nothing else does. However cliché this may sound, I hope through this blog and by sharing my experiences, emotions and regret I can spread awareness and understanding for why individuals should strive to focus on themselves right now, and not give in to societal pressures or a need to push for the future…

10 years ago today I was admitted to hospital for anorexia nervosa. I was told this “unwelcomed” stay would be for a maximum of six weeks, it ended up being five months.

Why? How? What?
The fact that being admitted to a mental institute by my doctor, with the agreement of my parents, wasn’t enough to make me “wake up and smell the coffee” (if only!) shows the nature of this destructive, all consuming (excuse the pun), possessive illness. And yes, it is nothing to be proud of. Not only did I waste five whole months and the years around it, but I missed my step-brother’s wedding, saw both Christmas and my 16th Birthday come & go whilst I was in there – rock’n’roll Eloise. What a sadness. What a loss. How I would do anything to have turned those “promised” six weeks into no weeks at all, and wind back the time to make it up to everyone I let down that year and throughout my eating disorder – including myself. Not sure the tears, apologies and hugs will ever come close to making it up.

So, 10 years on and what has changed?
Apart from a few qualifications, driver’s license (no comments please!) and some air miles, I have a bucket load of hindsight, regret, disappointment, guilt, pain and emotion.

I was told when I chose to start the road to recovery sometime on, that recovery is one battle but “it’s about minimising the regret of not recovering sooner.” Then and for the following years whilst learning to live again those words stayed with me, but I didn’t understand their full extent. Only recently, after experiencing everything the anorexia promised me I wouldn’t as “I was invincible,” have I felt them and the true reality of “where the f*** was I?”

Yes, in the last two and a half years I have done everything in my power to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ to leave the past behind me once and for all, get fully healthy and take responsibility.
Yet the wave breaks and flows up the beach – you can’t stop it, you can’t control it. And honestly, I don’t know how big the wave was or still is – but I’m sure I will find out at some point and be left in peace on the beach, with my unicorn towel and a cocktail. But the pain of regret that I set off this tsunami, and tried to surf it out until it broke with all its force, still haunts me. I am responsible – yup, only me – WOW, if I could turn back time…

But I can’t. All I can do is focus on changing the next 10-year story by living now how it needs to be – healthy, free and fun. I made a promise to myself to regret nothing else (think I have enough right now to work on) and not let down those I love or myself any more than I have. Plus, fighting for the awareness that there is no glamour, no fun and no real life with any eating disorder, whether mild disordered eating or lack of self-confidence, to a full-blown eating disorder – f*** that.

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Where am I going with this…
Well, as I am not only an ambassador for the new campaign, TrainBrave, raising awareness for eating-disorders in sport but also as a campaigner for life, I want to help others see and hear they are enough, just as they are. It is ok to stay true to yourself, whatever stage of your life, career, sporting goals you are at. You are not defined by a number on the scale, the followers you have on Instagram or the medals you’ve won. You are defined by YOU. Everything else is just noise, but YOU, the real you, is authentic and true.

Plastered across social media, in magazines, everywhere is the ways we “should” eat, train, live, feel, wash, talk, walk – you name it! But how can anyone, anything or any moment in someone else’s life (yes not yours!) dictate how we feel and progress towards our goals? Yet they do. Isn’t this just ridiculous. Why does it matter if Juliet drinks green smoothies every day at 6am after her HIIT session, before a full day “winning life?” It doesn’t!

You are not weak for craving that ice cream (and then giving into it!), you are not criminal for not living life like Juliet or enjoying chips with all the ketchup every weekend, as hey you heard it here first – that is called normal and that is called life!
Yet, society continues to condition the good and the bad – but who has the right to decide this for us? That is right – only us! Why is actually being unhealthier: mentally, physically and emotionally (yes all of the above), suddenly glorified and socially acceptable? Mind blown if you ask me! I hope if this blog has demonstrated you one thing – it’s that you can’t have one without the other – just like you can’t have pancakes without syrup! FACT.

So as simple as it sounds, and I am the first to admit it’s not easy – please just focus on yourself and focus on what you need right now, not tomorrow or in 10 years time. The story you look back on will be one hell of a page turner if you do!!!

For those of you suffering from an eating disorder, or fighting any battle for freedom, I’ll leave you with this:
Anorexia will think and tell you that the ones who recover, or even think they want to, are the weak ones, the failures. However, I can assure you all that they are anything but. To recover fully and fight for a life with no more rules, your full health and freedom, is the bravest, most courageous & strongest thing you will ever do or face. That is a promise and you can hold me to it right till you see your paradise – life.

Lots of love,

Elo xxx

“Tell me somethin’ girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more?
Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?” – A Star is Born

FB_IMG_1541459846960.jpg

Be Bold. Be Brave. And go race the Azores Triathlon!

Five days before I had planned to fly to the Azores for 70.3 miles of swim, bike, run I found myself in not the most athletic or positive of places; balling my eyes out, lying on the sitting room floor for nearly 2 hours following 10 minutes of running that left me limping home slower than a sunburnt snail on crutches, eating an ice cream.

What has happened?
What could it be?
Why now?
Will I ever be able to run again?
What have I done wrong this time?
Why is it always me?

Yup the “Eloise in running crisis” (if you know, you know!) Family Trivia had started. These questions, along with the worst possible doctor there is (Google!) were the ultimate fuel for an afternoon spent on the floor crying as if it was Armageddon. PERSPECTIVE ELOISE, PERSPECTIVE!

Thankfully, nothing an ice cream sundae, a coffee catch-up and watching Mamma Mia 2 couldn’t help jump start the, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” Eloise. Time to get the “real” information I need, see the people I trust and work out how to get back on the start line in a week’s time…

I would be lying if I said it was quite that simple due to a deep rooted fear I have of breaking again & having what I love, want the most taken away from me because of what I did to myself almost 10 years ago. Yes, it is irrational and based on out-dated information & circumstances but the gremlin of regret is still there, and it likes nothing more than a running niggle to take to the spotlight and begin its one-man show in the West End!

But thankfully my team; Dave, Renee, Pete and Jon, were all there to help me access the physical, mental and emotional so I could arrive at the choice, that yup I needed to jump this time to face that fear and just learn about my current limits, whatever they may be. Time to be brave, be bold and just go race it. And as I said to Dave if I’m racing, I AM RACING, there is no point going into a sword fight minus your sword – just dumb, painful & pointless!

received_1896994003710798.jpegSo enough of the chit-chat let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of race day, or more appropriately I should say the nitty-shitty…

Before we knew we were standing on the beach looking at the buoys ahead of us, yes for once I could see the whole course thanks to my new prescription goggles (well done Eloise!). So surely with that in mind regardless of the result I had already won “the don’t be as blind as a bat in the swim” competition so nothing to lose but to run full steam ahead into the sea and start my Azores campaign, and I did!

Exiting the water in joint 2nd just two minutes down meant it was time to get on the bike and hope this time, yes finally, my 70.3 bike legs decide to turn up. More than essential here as the next 56 miles ahead of us were going to be hot, hard and hilly – amazing course but not for the faint hearted! To my amazement within the next 10 minutes I saw a bright yellow dot just up the road on the start of the next climb… What, is that the lead girl? Really?
All about staying focused and pushing forward. By the next town less than 10km into the bike I moved into first and knew now I had to test the legs as the longer climbs were starting, then see if I can open the gap before pushing on again #prayforlegs.

sdr

The Culprits…

THEY HAD ARRIVED #victorydance! Thank you legs! The next 80km were all about pedalling on, fuelling, checking the HR just to make sure I was not overheating (wouldn’t be my first time) and enjoying it AKA singing along to ABBA in my head. Oh and I couldn’t not mention the star of the show here in the Azores… Don’t get me wrong the course was amazing in all the right ways (perfect roads, beautiful scenes, relentless, fun etc.) and I will be back. However that weekend must have been international cow moving day as the roads were garnished with fresh cow sh** that, as you can imagine, just ended up all over us and our bikes – the smell of my bike and kit post race still haunts me!

By the end of the bike, I had put over 6 minutes into the next girl and the legs and body felt fresh and ready to run – game plan on point so far.

However, within the first few strides I could feel the niggle in my right hip. “Ok Eloise, breathe, relax and it could just be from the bike, run it out.”
I focused on getting into my stride, staying relaxed and keeping cool for the next two miles. But by this point it was getting much more intense and I was starting to mix up my run stride to help take away some of the stress – anything but ideal!

“Right finish the first lap and then see…”

Running back towards transition the pain was getting almost unbearable, “breathe, breathe, you are winning, just see, breathe you got this.”

After finishing the first lap, I decided to just start the next and see, but within the next 500m I was walking, even that now hurt and so it was time to face the music & reality… DNF.

Standing on the side of the course still leading by a good few minutes, in pain and having to pull the plug is what every athlete dreads. I hate giving up, I hate being weak and I hate feeling like I have failed – probably what has caused me to run through stress fractures for weeks before (genius, cue eye roll emoji). However, I know that this choice will be anything but giving up or failing when in the near future I start running again, and can still turn up to fight another day in another race – sword, amour and all.

received_532508693855236So what now…?
Smile! And of course regroup, review & refocus so I can push forward again having learnt something and ensure I do come back stronger. This may sound cliché but I have always believed (and experienced) that every time you fall flat on your face, whatever it may be, it is a chance to learn about yourself, your weaknesses and your goals. It is not failing if you make sure to not make the same mistake twice AKA you learn.

A massive thank you to Luis for organising the event and to all the volunteers in the Azores – I would recommend this race to anyone and already excited for 2019.
But most importantly thank you to everyone who not only persuaded me to get on that plane but also support me daily to always be a better person and therefore athlete. As I said to Renee last night on the phone: “I’ll be fine as hey, I have come back from worse!”

I will leave you with this quote – some food for thought:

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all”

Lots of love,

Elo xxx

Ironman 70.3 Vichy

25th August 2018

Nearly two weeks ago I was lining up/paddling about ahead of my second professional Ironman 70.3 alongside some of the strongest athletes on the circuit. My thoughts: WOW! I am not one to shy away from a fight, regardless of my odds or starting position because hey, like many athletes, one I’m stubborn as f***, two I’m competitive & love to race and three YOLO! So Vichy let’s go…

At 6.50 we dove into the river to start are “generous” two minute warm up paddle to the start line. Well I lie, the start line in this race was a myth to both us the athletes and the organisers! We had all lined up nice and orderly ready to swim in what we thought was the right direction, when Monsieur Start Line Organiser shouted to us to move… Hmm OK!

Swim - Vichy 2 TCM

Credit: Darren Wheeler

We started paddling over to the other mysterious position, no rush! But Monsieur Start Line Organiser had failed to let the Monsieur Starter (on land a good 200m away) that we had been asked to move. So inevitably, before we knew it the gun went off.

WTF, we are OFF?! I was still doing the 6.50am grandma aqua-aerobics class when the gun went and was not entirely ready for a sprint…DAMN IT – go Eloise, GO!

A lot of splatters and bubbles later, finally I was swimming in the right direction trying to see where the other swimmers were and begging my little arms to work at 150% to catch the main chase pack. That pretty much is the story of the next 1900m, I could see the splashes ahead just couldn’t bridge the gap. Frustrating but it happens, and I guess learning point numero uno, I need to be ready to GO “at any point” whether grandma-ing or not… [cue eyeroll emoji]!

When I FINALLY emerged from the river I knew the gap had opened and was entirely on my own. “Right Eloise, sort it out and just get on that bike…”
I called to my inner Bolt and sprinted to my bike, definitely a 100m PB if you ask me, then legged it out of T1 to get on with it!

Bike - Vichy TCM

Credit Darren Wheeler

Before Vichy I asked my Coach if I could ride this race entirely by feel and race intuition. In the past, despite not riding to a power in races I have had numbers on the screen to “check-in.” However, following a recent Olympic Tri in which I had one of my best rides of the season when nothing on my computer worked and I just rode for the love of competition and seeing how far I could push myself. So naturally I wanted to feel this again in Vichy.

And… I didn’t feel like this at all. But I rode as hard as I could and screamed back at my legs (literally at times, I apologise/pardon to those local French peeps trying to peacefully enjoy their morning cafe or have lie in – rudely interrupted with a Sharapova grunt as I screamed back at my legs!). Attractive as ever I know – de rein!

Anyways, long story short I gave everything over those 56 miles but was slightly frustrated, yes again, with my performance, but YOLO time to move on… quite literally when you have 13.1miles still ahead of you.

Jumping off the bike I had no clue how my legs would feel given the car crash of the last 2 hours 30. Oh well – kick on, and Eloise you wanted it to hurt, so here we go… [cue ghost emoji]!

Run - Vichy JM

Credit James Mitchell

It was obvious from mile one I was hardly Bambi running on marshmallows, but Dumbo running through treacle can still technically run (well I hoped!). There were many spots over the next 13.1miles that I considered throwing in the towel due to the struggle and already being well off the pace. But every kilometre marker I still seemed to reach and surely nothing some coke and a SiS gel couldn’t sort out?! I thought a lot about the last few years and my goals in the sport over this half marathon which led me to why I was going to try and push on regardless of my time or positioning, why give up now when for once the odds are actually in my favour (aka not injured AF)!? I think this quote by Brian Griffen says it all (oh yes I am about to quote family guy):

“I am not going to call an ambulance this time because if I do you won’t learn from it!”

So as it turns out, I resisted ringing 911, downed some coke and embraced Kerry’s words: suffer like dog! I also cannot thank the cheers from the crowd enough; Mum, Vic, Richard and Cherry, you all kept me going and made the dark places lighter – thank you for the support and smiles! With this push, I found myself digging deeper once again to finish this particular ride on the struggle bus once and for all – next stop the red carpet!

And that was that – I was done and finished 12thoverall. Considering my one-way ticket to suffer-ville I cannot disappointed. Yes, I will not settle with this result and of course I want more, but I know I gave 100% at every given point in that race, regardless of the numbers, placing or times so I cannot be disappointed, frustrated and motived for more yes, but disappointed no.

Vichy - Done

Credit Darren Wheeler

It was an honour to race such strong athletes and share such good memories & of course LOLs/dog sufferings; Kerry & Alice it was FAB. We are so lucky and privileged to be able to race at such a level, meet new faces and share these moments – laugh or cry. That is the power of sport – it brings people together from all over the world. On the start line we are all equal regardless of our individual journeys or struggles, and through the outcomes & emotions experienced we as athletes can learn, share and be thankful for such opportunities.

As always, I want to say a massive thank you to my dream team, I am so lucky. You all have worked so hard for me over the last few months and years. Every day you face the challenges, questions or worries with me and every day you make it all possible, I really wouldn’t be where I am at now or excited about the road ahead without each and every one of you – merci buckets!

Now I guess it’s time to face some more learning and I am sure suffering this weekend in the “Hawaii of Europe” – and yes, I hadn’t heard of the Azores either… I leave you with the words of Abba: “Here we go again, my, my, how can I resist you?!”

Lots of love,

Elo xxx

Bike - Vichy JM

Credit James Mitchell

 

 

 

Ironman 70.3 Finland

30th June 2018

Yes, it may have been three weeks but I would hate to deny you all of a race report – too good to you! Just a quick one I promise (especially as I am racing tomorrow – would hate over kill!) – so here we go; Ironman 70.3 Finland – my first professional Ironman event.

This was also such a special event as I was able to share it with Emma and her amazing entourage; Lucy, Christy and Emma’s mother, and Kim, with whom almost four years ago to the day we shared winning Gold at the European Championships in Kitzbuhel – you girls rock!Swim Finland

At 16.03 we were charging into the lake ready to start our Finnish campaign. Somehow, yes I was as surprised as you, I was actually sprinting! For the first few 100 metres I was swimming at the front of the pack and actually moving forward – seems like the recent dates with my (pull) buoy have paid off! But no time for celebrations there was a long, felt super long, swim still to go. Despite, losing the feet of the two girls in front, I was leading the toe taping, leg dunking, wetsuit scratching chase pack. Just before the turn around buoys, I decided the foot massage was enough and pushed on to create a gap and swim solo. The whole way home, despite sighting issues – can’t even blame my goggles this time, just my eyes, was pretty much the same… Splash, splash, breathe REPEAT, a fair few times!

Finally, land ahoy! Time to scramble up the steps and go find my bike. To my sheer amazement I heard Mum shouting that I was in 3rdand only 1.30 down on Kim, who was leading – well can’t have been that long then – (pull) buoy dates may have to continue (yes Boss be smug – insert eye roll emoji!).Bike Finland

Anyways, after a not so dainty flying mount it was time to get pedalling and bring on the next 90k through Finland. The course was epic; rolling, flat and beautiful, so I was super excited to hit it with my new, super fast and furious, Simplon MrT2 bike – a massive thank you to Mat at the Cycle Studio and Kevin at Simplon Bikes for helping sort this in time.
For the first 18km things seemed OK-ish and I was riding in a line with two other girls. However, not long after not much happened full stop! Legs didn’t work, body didn’t work and in return speed didn’t work… I am not going to waste too much time ranting and raving about how I was barely able to ride at my long ride effort and that any slight push to increase it, left me weaker than before – had a good 60km of that to myself, which was 60k too much so I will save you all!

In a nutshell, I arrived in T2 to my sheer relief. But sheer relief was soon followed by sheer pain, what the…?! I have never had cramp in my life… OK I lie had it once or twice in pool but nothing like this… As I hopped off the bike my right glute seized up and this shooting pain started running up and down my leg. Oh great here we go a half marathon as a waddling, crippled crab… time to down the gels, lace up and just jog on!Run Finland

Despite the first few kms being pretty painful, somehow my pace was ok and the cramps eased. Ok the run was nothing fast, but both Coach and I had decided once we get on the run its about relaxing and running. Nothing stupid, nothing crazy, just run! Why I hear you cry?!… Well my longest run this year had only been a 14km, so despite knowing I had strength and general fitness on my side, my running legs are still “coming soon” – so just run I did!

21km later, with the added bonus of smiling at Emma when we crossed paths and giving Kim a massive high 5 as she ran into the finishing shoot to take the big W, I also made it to the line as 5th Pro woman!

Just WOW! Ok yes this race was not perfect, and yes I was disappointed with my bike and certain other small mistakes I made, but it was an experience and I cannot ask for more given the long road its been to that start line. I am so grateful to be once again doing what I love, toeing the line, feeling strong and most importantly happy in myself. This would not have been possible without my amazing support team and sponsors that have stood by my side through thick and thin (literally!!!) and never stopped believing in me. I can’t thank you enough and hope to do you all proud for the rest of the season and many years to come.

To name a few personally – Dave (the Boss), Renee (Dietician and friend), Pete (dream Chiropractor), Jon (kickass physio), Mat (mechanic and bike support extraordinaire) and of course my rock; Mum – love you so much!

Finland2I also want to say a massive thank you to the amazing support on and off course in Finland. You guys were amazing and I was so lucky to have met you all and spent time with you. I also want to say how proud I am of Emma, nailing her World’s qualification – you rocked it girl, and of course to superstar Kim for taking the win. Seeing you both smash it was the real highlight of the day for me – hands down!

Sending loads of love and see you on the race track tomorrow,

Elo xxx

Awards - Lahti

Barry Island Triathlon – 750m / 20km / 5km (+1!)

3rdJune 2018

The Barry Island Triathlon had been on my race calendar since December, and yup it was the first race I had booked and confirmed for 2018 – oh yes I choose my races wisely! One of the main reasons I chose this race was to ensure, regardless of my goals and aims in the sport, I remember to always “keep the fun” in triathlon so I never lose sight of why I started – for the love of the sport and competition. I knew a great group of friends would be racing and supporting, so nothing better than a mid-season sprint and a weekend in Barrybados to rock the FUN…Barrybados

After a FAB afternoon catching up with the WhittleFit and CrapTri peeps, then eating all the carbs (aka too much garlic bread and chocolate!) with Emma, we all soon found ourselves lined up on the ramp down to the beach ready to go at 7.05 on Sunday morning.

BOOM – we were off! 250 of us started hurtling down the beach towards the sea. This good 200m sprint to the water was not the easiest due to the limited movement thanks to the nenoprened up joints, loose sand underfoot and bad eyesight due to the combination of not so great Eloise eyes and old foggy goggles – note to self; buy a new pair for the rest of the season! Anyways most importantly we were off and before I knew it paddling like a possessed penguin towards the first buoy. In true Eloise style, the first 100m or so of swimming was nothing extraordinary, aka lack of sprint! However, once everyone else had calmed down I started making my way towards the front of the field – note to self; still need to practice my sprint starts.

Sand runsAnyways the slow burner tactic seemed to pay off again as I exited the water in joint second overall and ready to sprint back across the beach and up the cliff to locate my bike – talk about leg day!

Wetsuit off, number on, helmet on, bike AND GO!
Time to get pedalling and chase the boys. Well this was quickly halted as I got caught at the first red light on course – oh well may as well take a drink and check my shoes are on properly – then go go go again! This time we were definitely off and negotiating the turns and climbs of Barrybados before taking off towards the Cardiff airport (see what I did there!). At the turn around point I was still in third overall with the lead boys not too far away so thought I better just enjoy the ride home and open up the gap to second female. But what really made the returning leg the most fun was seeing the awesome “Mallorca Ladies” bossing it and all of us sending cheers as we saw each other – that’s what I call a team spirit and real racing.

Right time for T2.
Oh wait no, we have another climb to do – was not expecting that, oh well needs are musts I guess and good course planning Si, no rest for the wicked – note to self; always confirm the number of climbs on course!
Right now definitely time for T2, even though I will admit in my excitement of seeing everyone cheering I nearly completely forgot to undo my shoes and dismount – but well done Eloise saved it – just! Bike racked, helmet off, shoes, sunglasses, head band and run Girl, RUN!

Exiting T2 I knew I was still in third overall and had a few minutes on second female so I just wanted to really enjoy the run and “keep the fun” throughout. About a kilometre in Marc from Team Cranc came past me so I focused on keeping his Team Cranc colours in sight and just try not mess anything up (easier said than done!).

Support

All about the team support // Photo cred: Tim Parfitt

Finishing the first lap before looping back to the finish, the support was amazing, you couldn’t not smile. That’s when the commentator shouted “see you in 5 minutes at the finish Eloise!” Well it should have been five minutes but of course when there is me, there is a twist – this time an extra kilometre round the cliff to the next bay kind of twist! Long story short, both Marc and I were sent in the wrong direction, when we should have gone up, we were told to head down until we both hit a dead end and realised this was definitely not the course and time to head back round and up the hill! And Coach you were worried I wouldn’t get my middle distance training in… where there is a will there is way #toldya

I can remember thinking as I was FINALLY (not 5 at least 9 minutes later) heading back down the hill towards the finish was “Oh well done Eloise – you knew it was up, why did you go down, you’ve lost it after your little detour, just typical Eloise, typical!”
But to my amazement as I was running down the finishing shoot the commentator shouted here is our first female… WHAT WOW – seriously?!

PODIUM

Photo cred: Team Cranc

And it was true, despite taking the scenic route I still ended being first female. This win was the icing on the cake after a hard week where I could barely get out of bed to train let alone race, then to share it with great friends who were also racing and supporting was just awesome – you guys all rock and bring on the next one together – Emma bring on the Finnish Fun!

A massive thanks to Si at All for Nothing Events, all the generous sponsors who donated the awesome goodies & prizes (Speedo, FRAMED, CEP and more!) and to all the volunteers who helped make it such a memorable event, I will certainly be back racing in Barry soon! Also a massive well done to everyone who raced and to all the supporters – this race really showed what Triathlon is all about and seeing everyone be the best they could be on Sunday, regardless of their starting place or goals, was truly inspiring.

Lastly, I want to comment on Sunday’s events – not only was it a day of fun and inspirational performances but also a day of tragic sadness and loss. My heart and thoughts are with the family and friends of the competitor who lost his life and to everyone who was affected. My friend Harri could not have put it better; “[Sunday] was a true show of humanity, the tragic death of a participant balanced by the incredible strength and determination of the lady that finished having already lost 13st in weight.”

On that note I leave you with this thought – never take anything for granted and remember to always keep the fun.

Lots of love,

Elo xxx

P.S. As it was the official “Fun Train” outing, here are a few quotes from the awesome and inspiring “Mallorca Ladies:”

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 19.51.29

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?!

In this day and age, you cannot escape what you “should” be doing, whether you are a top performance athlete or not. From the “perfect” diet, body and smile posted across Instagram, to the “superhuman” training plans clogging up Twitter feeds – it is everywhere. These posts and articles portray this epic “summit” we should all be reaching for, if not have already attained, yet why is this peak so far from everyday life and why is there no obvious path to reach it in “real” life? It is because there is no “perfect” life or summit – yup it just doesn’t exist beyond that Instagram filter.

However still, this unattainable, unrealistic, non-existent “summit”, causes us to question whether we are good enough, how these people live the “perfect” life and how we can be more like them. This is ludicrous, but the sad reality and why it is no wonder that a recent US-based study, identified a “strong and significant association between social media use and depression.”

As someone who has trekked (a 25-year hike!) across the personal acceptance spectrum and also understanding/living the harsh reality of trying to climb the “perfect” mountain, I feel very strongly about the topic of letting go of what one “should” be doing in exchange for what you, only you, need – yes NO one else. So, through experience and example, I am going to try and cover how the irony of chasing that “perfect” creates anything but what it promised in training, diet and happiness.

Training
As an aspiring professional athlete performance is the ultimate goal and, not surprisingly for me this is no different. Just like thirteen years ago when I picked up my lacrosse stick, I still want to be the best athlete I can be, and boy do I know what I want to achieve! There is nothing wrong with this and being competitive and a perfectionist is part of who I am – YOLO. However, unlike thirteen years ago, I now know how to rationalise, control and use these characteristics as a strength because I have the information, emotional resilience and support network to do so – plus a damn lot of hindsight (always helps)!

And Eloise… Point?!
Well, it wasn’t long ago that I thought and saw/heard everywhere that to be a top athlete you “should” be smashing out massive training weeks, week in week out, no excuses.

But this is just not the case! I used to worry that I wasn’t doing what the “other girls” were, or that “they” posted a 25-30 hours training week and I could barely put together 20. This is because I was led to believe that this is what I needed to be able to improve, and the only way closer to my ambitious goals.

Yes, this may work for some, but it does not work for all and there also has to be the “right time” to do such training. All of which was wrong for me and currently still is. OK, it should have been obvious when I kept getting injured and that I still was not fully healthy, however why should I have known what was right at the time, I was no expert or no “performance” coach, just a girl who wanted to race.

So why the change?
This has been a long process over the last two years however the eureka moment was after cycling the Haute Route last October. I entered and rode this event only for fun, an Eloise type challenge, however ended up doing far better than I could have ever expected. This made me realise what I needed to focus on again, embrace and be proud of, me and only me! If my way is different and it works, why should I care? Why should I feel embarrassed when someone comments on my “low” 13 hour training week or belittles me because of it? And if I love training and racing why can’t I just “have fun” and see? Competitive sport has always been what I love and find fun, so why now “take it all SOOO seriously?” I know me better than any coach, person or “expert” so it’s about time I tapped into it and worked with it – and believe it or not it has been far more fun and successful since I got the Eloise factor back than chasing a specific number of watts for a specific number of minutes! #unicornmeup

Diet
Just a quick look on social media and the “healthy” and “right” way to eat, whether and athlete or not, is to eat “clean.” That’s right you should say NO to sugar, gluten, carbs, dairy and anything else that tastes good, if you are ever going to achieve “performance” or anything for that matter.

OMG YAWN!
And yes there is a reason; healthy, right, and performance, are in inverted commas – its because this information is misleading and misinformed – and in the theme of the blog ironic.

I admit, I believed this. I thought and practised these restrictive, unrealistic and unhealthy habits of the “perfect” diet and the chase for “race weight” in the pursuit of what it promised. Five stress fractures, five months in a mental hospital and a question whether I could ever race again, later I should have just taken advice from Joe Blogs in the local corner shop as promises = 100%, reality = negative %.
Renee McGregor helped me challenge these beliefs around “diet”, helped me understand that health is the predecessor to performance and the importance of personal acceptance to in achieving goals. Now, following Renee’s nutritional guidance, dietician to Olympians, I eat what I want when I want it – whether its chips and cake or quinoa and avocado, it is just balanced and “normal!” Furthermore, believe it or not (WOW you read it here first) my recovery rate is far faster now without an acai berry in sight and I’m the strongest in training I’ve ever been but not thanks to the maca powder and lack of sugar. Who would have thought it, ironic hey!?

OK, yes this is an extreme example and yes not everyone will develop disordered eating or an eating disorder, but it’s the principle. No food is intrinsically bad for you (unless you are CLINCIALLY – yes real Doctor not just google, diagnosed) and therefore no one food should be demonised. Just like one food, whether it be chips or quinoa, should not be eaten to excess – it is balance. To eat a piece of cake or drink a glass of wine because you generally want one doesn’t make you a bad person, it doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t negatively affect your training – it’s called life, live a bit and enjoy the balance. It is far more worrying if you can’t listen to your body, have and need to count calories or can only “indulge” if you can justify it, as like Renee mentioned in her latest book, Orthorexia; “The body is an amazing machine… Typically, when it’s been deprived of something… it will crave it, indulge in it and use it to replenish stores,” so listen to it, feed it and enjoy it.  

Happiness
Why waste another minute?
This is one of my mottos. After losing years of living my life to anorexia and having to accept the regret of not recovering or getting my full health back sooner, I never want to put myself in this position again.

A fulfilled life should include health, success and happiness. Not just one but all three – and from experience and actually done my research this time (aka talking to the real people who know) only two of the three or one of the three is not sustainable and creates anything but a successful life worth remembering.

You may be thinking – but how will I ever be a top athlete without sacrifice Eloise?
Personally, I now don’t believe there is such thing as sacrifice as this implies something has come at a cost. Success (whatever it may be) when you are unhealthy, have no one to share it with or a few years down the line you look back and see yourself as truly unhappy or mentally f***ed up, is not real success. That is pain and not a life worth living whatever podium shots you may have.

Call me idealist or call me mad (won’t be the first!) but when I stand on that podium, whether it be this year or in three, I want to know my memories to that point and after that point include no regret, no worry about the calories or carbs in that cereal bar and no pain to myself or others I love, so I have the group of people around me I want to celebrate with – sounds like a far more fun after party than a protein shake and a 9pm curfew!

———————-

SMILESSo isn’t it ironic… Society says, shows and boasts about the need to be a certain figure, eat a certain diet and smash out certain training to achieve performance, health and happiness. Yet ironically this did not happen for me until I finally followed the complete opposite.

Try to remember one “perfect, sunny, pretty picture” is just that – a millisecond snap in time, not a life. There is no right way or reason to compare, as that photo and/or comment is just a moment with no context or story – therefore by definition, it is meaningless. Focus on yourself and what you need, not the needs and pressures from others. Following or worrying about what someone else is doing is like signing up for an accountancy course when you want to be a vet – just dumb, not to mention a waste of time, energy and money!

Thank you to those who helped me achieve this, accept this and therefore meant I could enjoy everything again – I DON’T CARE, I LOVE IT!

Lots of love and NB to keep the fun,

Elo xxx