31st July 2016
In the few days leading up to the race I had a mix of emotions. I was excited, anxious, nervous and just overwhelmed by the thought that finally after what has seemed like an age and one hell of a roller coaster I am going to be taking the first steps to getting back to what I love and ultimately my dream job. There were points I thought I may never be able to do this again, let alone race – so I guess that is why standing on the start line yesterday felt more than just another race but a moment to say thanks for what I have now and to all the people who have kept me sane and helped me rebuild my strength both mentally and physically.
So what was different this time around?
Not only was this injury a final wake up call that my previous actions had had more consequences than I could have imagined and a final kick in the face that for once and for I am not going to let my past break what I want to do or dictate my future ever again – it has been too long and why waste another day. But also I was in a better place to leave my pride, ignorance and stubbornness behind to listen and focus on everything that needed to be done while maintaining a patient mindset that has helped me come back. I am sure you can all admit when you want something so badly you think you know best and you think you can push the boundaries because it could be OK or you’re weak if you give anything less. But since March I let the people with experience, knowledge and actual wisdom (not Eloise wisdom!) advise me and guide my progress. I didn’t want to push anything, as one step forward at 50% seemed so much better than no movement or a step backwards. This may have been risk averse and maybe we did play it all a bit safe, but where I was was not safe and not going back there meant more than gaining an extra few hours of training a week or running faster, especially when I know that in the future I will be able to have that all again as long as I am fit, strong and healthy.
However, having said that the real break through in training came in Switzerland after a minor scare, apparently high heal induced from a certain “social occasion”… (I blame my sister for turning 25!). But after two worrying weeks I was back galavanting up and down mountains, swimming even more fish like (still pretty land-mammalesque but progress) and running, well just running nothing special but I will take running! I finally was feeling that training tiredness and burn I had been craving and surprised myself how well I was coping and recovering each day, day in day out. This time with my coach (Mark) and the girls plus Drew (such amazing friends and training buddies #lucky!) helped me see that yes I took four weeks off but that hasn’t defined me and hasn’t ruined me, so maybe, just maybe rest is ok and if I can come back from 4 weeks out then one day here and there when I can’t make training, or shouldn’t as I am too tried, ill or something is niggling then I need to just stop and not be that bull in the china shop – as we all know how that works for me…!
This is why I do believe that despite the tears, pain and yup a pretty late start to the season I think this injury was a blessing in disguise. I have learnt even more about my apparently slightly rigid mind (who would have known?!), my body (it can recover and can be healthy) and also a simple yet massive change in my daily approach – time passes however dark or endless something seems, it will pass so be patient and make the best of now. Life really is too precious so don’t waste a minute.
Right back to the race, sorry for the slight tangent…
I have to admit I felt a bit of an amateur from when the hooter went off, maybe as I missed it – I swear he did not say on your marks?! Anyways we were off.
“*%#$ this is horrendous” I remember thinking as I got kicked in the face and lost my goggles, swallowed half the lake and then realised I was definitely off course. But after paddling around the first buoy (plus boys), putting my goggles back on and taking a deep breathe to just keep swimming, I finally found some rhythm. Even if by this point I had lost all feet I should have been on and was slightly disorientated – point one to revisit, swim starts.
Somehow I was out of water first lady, ok will take that even if a bit down on where I should be. Then T1 happened, well by default. Firstly, I lost my bike, nothing a cheeky duck under the railing cannot sort out and I didn’t get my wetsuit off until practically on the bike – point two and three to work on; my find bike sat-nav and undressing.
Onto the bike and for me a smooth hop on, until I cycled up the grass bank trying to get my left shoe on – who doesn’t like a little weave?! Ok I’ll put that down as point four – straight lines please. Then it was down on the bars and pedal on. Ah right, my power metre decided not to work so it was a go by feel type of day. Well maybe my Garmin was being polite and it was a hint… “Eloise you literally have no power”… as the legs were not too keen on pedalling or pushing at all to be honest, useless things they’ve had a 10 month no race taper and they still are complaining! Oh well, point five – relocate racing legs. This meant that I came off the bike in second.
Right, dismount time. Unstrap, feat on top, hop off – boom like a pro I totally got this. Well until the officials were shouting “curb, watch the curb” – I admit in my head I said “I have totally got this of course I see the curb!” But yup in typical Eloise style I had totally not got this. My front wheel whacked the curb, my bike flew up and nearly hit Mark – sorry, but in my defence I did catch it. Point six – use your common sense and don’t get cocky.
Out of T2 and on to the run. For the first time in a very long time, nearly 2 years, I had actually run the race distance pre race and/or not been in pain prior to the race. So whatever happened this 5km had to be a win. I did only have one pace and can hardy say my old runner self was shining through but I maintained my one pace, was pain free and the hip was happy – BOOM! This meant I rocked up at the finish line in second and smiling – not sure if I actually was as my asthmatic racing rat self was trying to breathe again but inside I was. Point seven – I think I am recovered and now lets do it all again, faster and maybe with a few less points of improvement… thoughts Mark?!
A massive well done to Emily who had a cracking race and was too fast for me yesterday and to everyone else who raced – such an amazing event and atmosphere.
Finally, as always, a massive thank you to my Coach, family and friends for keeping me smiling and believing in my slightly nutcase-self. Thanks to Renee for helping me see the light and getting my nutrition tip top again – I owe you a lot. And also to my sponsors who stood by me and continue to provide such amazing support – I cannot thank you all enough: The Cycle Studio, Take3Tri, Kenilworth Chiropractic Clinic, HUUB, BLIZ Eyewear and Science in Sport.
Lots of love and stay strong,
So how happy am I to be back racing…