It’s taken me a long time to get round to writing this blog and that’s not for lack of thinking about it. I needed time to reflect on what happened last season and try to come to terms with the fact that somehow I produced some results which were on a completely different level to what I’d hoped for at the start of the year.
Many people don’t believe me when I say I’m surprised by what I achieved. I think to understand my disbelief you need to have known me from when I first fell into triathlon back in 2006, just after a long term relationship ended. I really was a novice in the true sense of the word, without a run/swim or bike background. Anyone who had seen me then, or indeed in my first few years racing, would certainly not have expected me to end up doing an 8.58 ironman. A friend sent me this video clip a while back – it’s the London triathlon 2005, my first ever race. I finished in 2.43 I think.
I doubt anyone who saw that would have expected I’d end up racing as a pro a few years down the line. So how on Earth have I ended up where I am? I truly believe it’s a mixture of 30% love for the sport, 40% hard work, 25% determination and 5% natural talent. If you don’t enjoy it you’ll never fulfil your potential, simply because the hard work won’t seem worth it. And determination and drive can take you to levels way beyond those of natural talent. I’m proof of that.
In the week after Challenge Barcelona I decided to plot my Ironman results over time. It was the medic inside me trying to rationalise what I’d achieved. It turns out the graphs look pretty good in terms of downward trends over all 3 disciplines; if they were scientific results I’d be pleased with them! My boss happened to walk into the lab as I had the graph on my screen so I showed him. “Just so you know, I’ll start working full time again when these graphs plateau”. Somewhat tongue in cheek but there is some truth there!
So now I need to work out how I can keep those lines going down…. I’m a firm believer that you need to go backwards to go forwards so I’ve had a big break and am now spending a couple of months doing base training. Extra swimming, weights in the gym in an attempt to bullet proof myself for next year and far less intense training than in race season. I’ve lost a lot of fitness and put on some winter padding but I reckon in the long run this will be a good thing. Hopefully I’ll make some positive changes in this period which will help me when it comes to 2013 – and fingers crossed the speed will come back when I need it!
I have been incredibly lucky this year to have had huge amounts of support from friends, family and sponsors. Chris Hunt, my coach, has overseen all my training, provided a combination of killer sessions to make me strong and rest sessions to stop me overtraining, and generally been a great mentor. Tim Williams has helped me massively in terms of developing my swim and bike technical skills – I definitely learn something every time I plonk myself next to him on a Wednesday ride to pick his brains and am hopeful one day he may turn me into a better swimmer!
I’ve got incredible sponsors and am so grateful to all of them, particularly Chain Reaction Cycles and Compressport who have turned into friends as well as sponsors.
But really the biggest thanks should go to all my supportive and accommodating training partners. You know who you are! Kona 2014 guys – be there or be square.
As a slight postscript – I was looking through my race pictures the other day and found these two contrasting finishes.
Wimbleball 70.3 Wiesbaden 70.3
Moral – you need to get through the bad races to have the good ones. Wimbleball was a disaster race from start to finish. But the crash and surviving that race gave me the drive and mental push I needed for a strong second half of the season.
Remember that next time you want to quit!