As part of the “grand (re)design” plan for Eloise Version 2.0 both Mark (Coach) and I agreed that to be able to get back to racing half distances (70.3s) I had to pass a few key tests. The first two being able to race a Sprint and then a Standard with the aim of waking up the next day able to move and back it up with a solid standard of training the following week. I can give a massive tick to the first one, following Blithfield I had one of my best training weeks to date. So my Standard test was Bala, I am yet to know about phase two of the process but I can let you know about the race – think a tick in itself…
Saturday afternoon the car was piled high with bags, food, wheels and my bike for a weekend trip to Wales. Not that I like to stereotype but as we drove over the Welsh boarder all we could see was thick grey cloud, horizontal trees and driving rain – oh and a few sheep. When we got to the lake to register these waves were hurling across it and into shore. So I thought they said it was a lake swim?! Oh well nothing like a bit of character building and I’m not one to shy away from a challenge. The women at registration was quick to keep reassuring both Mum and I that the weather was definitely going to be better tomorrow, no surfing then…
After a quick look at the course, a delicious dinner at a pub (Salmon and a pile of rice – think they doubled my portion when I said I was doing the triathlon, poor girl lets help her out!) and a bit of rolling around it was time for bed.
Before I knew it I was slipping (actually more like hauling) into my wetsuit, doing a bit of band work to warm up (apparently it helps?!), stuffing my hair into my hat (reminds me I need a cut) and whacking the goggles on (if you fog up or fall off again I’ll be having words). So OK it may be better weather but it is hardly as flat as a pancake out there and boy who turned the freezer on – from that first toe test I could conclude yup the water was cold! These sub-tropical conditions were confirmed as I dipped my head in and paddled about a bit to get that famous “feel for the water”, which I still don’t know if I have or have not – aim high right?!
We were off. Surprisingly not a bad start for me and felt quite powerful (Mark I may have a change of pace now?!). I could see two girls get out just in front of me and two next to me. Right time to swim and catch those feat ahead. Throughout the first half I could see one girl just in front and one out to the right of me. I just kept focusing on not losing sight of the girl in front and nailing my stroke – extend shoulder, hips up, rotate, get those arms over, oh and breathe for goodness sake. However, I did start to wonder whether I was on the right line as why is everyone four metres to the right of me. But every time I looked up the buoys were straight ahead of me and the words of Mark saying an extra metre is close to an extra second kept me on my own. This stubborn plan seemed to work as by the turn around point I had slipping in front of the girl on my right and caught the girl in front – bingo, now don’t lose her.
The way home went a lot quicker, maybe as every other breathe wasn’t filled with wave! Even my not so fish self stayed with the girl and my notoriously not so perfect T1 went pretty smoothly and fast that I was in and out of T1 in third a couple of minutes down on the leaders. Guess it was time for the chase and quest to know if my legs had decided Wales was worth visiting…?
Despite another temperamental garmin and power metre moment, the legs seemed to like Wales and even with the tough conditions, wind, rain etc. I seemed to just be going forward and passing men in the earlier wave. A mile or two before the turn point I went into second place and could then see I was about a minute behind first. So out of the turn it was time to keep the legs going, stay fuelled and catch numero uno. On the way back there were points my legs decided Wales may not be for them anymore, but after a firm talking to and a trusty SiS caffeine gel the Welsh holiday was back on. With around four miles to go I went into first and kept this in and out of T2.
Right run time. I knew this was going to be a bit hit and miss as my run is still a work in progress but as part of the plan I was going to give what I had and it will be what it is. Off the bike they didn’t actually feel too bad, but I was later told by Mum (loyal) that I looked worse going out then coming back in! Throughout the run I just focused on maintaining form and trying not to lose too much time. Within the first 3km two girls had run back past me, and however much I wanted to match them I just don’t have that form at the moment, damn it. So it was back to focusing on my race and what I can do now. Running home I could see I was a good few minutes ahead of the girl in fourth and that was my fuel to keep pushing what I had – you never know what is happening in front or behind you right?!
Turning back into the race site I gave Mum a massive smile and a thumbs up. I knew by this point I was well clear of fourth so I just enjoyed and took in the last 200m. WOW that is my standard race ticked off and OK it wasn’t a win (yes I love a good win – no I’m not competitive!) I executed the race how both Mark (Coach) and I had discussed the week before so I will happily take 3rd overall. Even just thinking about how far I have come both mentally and physically since the Spring makes me a bit emotional, as WOW I am now well on my way to achieving my goal again and actually having the body and mind to do so – now that is exciting! I cannot thank everyone enough who helped me not only recover so I could train and race again but also gave me this new perspective to trust the process and focus on what I have now.
So what is next… well its on to my two final tests of run a faster 5k off the bike in an upcoming local sprint and run a half marathon and be fine the following day/week. After that it will time for the main season goal, Challenge Half Sardinia on the 30th October – bring it, eeek.
A special thanks to Mum for driving and cheering me on, Mark for putting up with me, Renee for just changing my life, to Brad and James at Pure Sports Medicine, Pete for his constant de-pretzeling support and advice and to all my friends / everyone else who stood by me and continue to keep me smiling and pushing to get stronger – I am and will always be truly thankful.
As always what I do wouldn’t be possible without the second to none bike support from the team at the Cycle Studio, a comfortable and speedy bike position thanks to Take3, great fuelling by SiS (AKA SOS when it comes to racing!), BLIZ so I can see whilst looking good and to HUUB for providing me with a super fast, comfortable and of course pink wetsuit. Thank you all – go team.
I will leave you with a quote to think about, thanks Sarah for sharing it with me – how did you know I needed this?!
“Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process.”
Lots of love,