It’s been a while! My last blog was a few days after Kona and my life now is pretty different to how it was back then. I watch a lot less crap TV for a start! I started back at work as an oncologist on November 1st. After the best part of 8 years out (5 years doing a PhD, 2.5 as a full time athlete) I was pretty nervous about going back. Would I still enjoy it? How would I balance training and working? Would I even still want to race triathlon? How would I cope with leaving Cambridge, my home for 7.5 years and moving back to Nottingham (the hospital had kindly kept my job open for the entirety)? My life has changed immeasurably over the last 5 months. And quite honestly, I’m still finding my feet in terms of juggling 2 careers I love and am passionate about.
Moving is always stressful, particularly when you don’t really want to move. Nottingham isn’t Cambridge. But then, when I left Nottingham 8 years ago, I would have said exactly the opposite. Change is challenging and exciting, and while I miss Cambridge, particularly my friends there, I’m gradually building a life here and finding new training groups.
I love work. Not everyone can say that. But I love being a doctor. And surprisingly, though my knowledge was lacking, I’ve found it far easier than I thought it would be to slot back in. I was thrown in at the deep end, seeing patients in clinic on my own on my 2nd day back, but actually, this was the best way. It’s relatively easy to regain the knowledge (oncology moves forward so quickly anyway that everyone needs to work on this on a continual basis) but I don’t think I ever lost the fundamental skills of being a good doctor; clinical intuition and good communication. People think oncology must be a depressing specialty to work in but it isn’t. Of course it’s sad but it’s also uplifting. Cancer is cruel but it brings out the best in people. I see the immense love between families that can be heartbreaking but is also immensely powerful. I see people deal with adversity that is hard to imagine, and still come out smiling. I see bravery. I see pragmatism. I see stoicism. Working in oncology makes me appreciate the small things in life. Every Wednesday evening I’ve been dragging myself out for an easy run in the dark around the ring road. I spend the first 2 miles resenting the fact that I’m running in the dark and have missed the sunshine. But I only have to reflect at my day at work to remember how lucky I am. Dark or not, I’m outside, I’m running, I’m free. And I have a choice.
Getting the work-training balance has been tricky and I’m not sure I’ve quite found it yet. But I’m getting there. I’m learning what works and what doesn’t work. And in all honesty, I’m quite simply intrigued to hear what the 2017 season holds for me. Touch wood, for the first time in years, I’m running consistently again and I was over the moon to run 1.16.34 in horrible conditions (a 2 minute PB) in Cambridge half marathon a few weeks ago. Compared to last year, where I quite literally was hardly running until June, this is a massive improvement. I’m swimming less and while I may have lost a bit, I’m not sure this will make an enormous difference. I was hardly a great swimmer at the best of times! I’ve been doing a bit more on the Wattbike and with my (extremely fast!) Simplon bikes I’m confident I’ll be able to put together some strong bike performances when it comes to races.
So it’s definitely been a time of change. But sometimes variety keeps things spicy. It’s very easy to keep doing the same thing year in year out. I feel as though the pressure is off for 2017. I’m racing, not because I need to prove anything, but because I want to. I’m not going to lie. I want to be competitive and I want to win another Ironman. And I guess I want to show that it’s possible to race at a high level and have a ‘proper job’. But going back to work has helped keep triathlon in perspective. It is just a sport. And fundamentally, it’s my hobby. I’m continuing to race because I love it and I reckon that’s a good place to be in. Happy training everyone and see you at the races. Challenge Gran Canaria, Ironman Lanzarote, 70.3 Staffs, 70.3 Edinburgh, Long course weekend, IMUK, 70.3 Dublin, IM Wales. It’s going to be a fun 2017!
I’m absolutely over the moon to have signed up with Simplon bikes for 2017. The bikes are quite literally the most adaptable bikes I’ve ever ridden. Finding a fast bike to fit a small rider like a glove is certainly challenging and I couldn’t have hoped to sign with a better bike brand. If you haven’t heard of them check them out!