Going backwards to go forwards

I find it hard to believe that just 3 months ago I did a sub-9 Ironman. And even harder to believe I’ll ever be able to replicate that performance. It seems a long time since I’ve felt fit and fast – but then again it is only January, or so I keep telling myself.

So what have I been doing since that dream day?

Resting on my laurels and eating cake? Well not exactly, though I did have a proper end of season break this year. I dedicated two weeks to being an authentic non-athlete with all the trimmings including late nights, dancing, hangovers and trips to the chip shop. This was followed up with a few weeks of doing what I felt like; this included my debut performance on the cyclocross circuit and a couple of trips to Thetford on the mountain bike.

Though I may be the laughing stock of anyone I ride with I thoroughly recommend mountain biking to anyone over the winter. Mud, adrenaline, surges in heart rate and lots of laughter. Oh yes, I even raced (and won) a mountain bike duathlon (though I did ride the long way round the obstacles rather than going over them – wimp). Despite the inclusion of mountain biking it would have been a bit embarrassing if I hadn’t won that race as the night before I’d been announced as the recipient of the “Elite Duathlete of the Year” award at the British Triathlon Awards dinner. I honestly hadn’t expected that and am truly humbled by everyone who voted for me – thank-you.

Perhaps most importantly I managed to ‘schedule appointments’ with all my non-triathlon friends and their babies so had fun times around the country without bikes and running shoes in tow. I wasn’t an athlete at university so my oldest friends met me when I was relatively ‘normal’. Though our life paths have deviated dramatically over recent years we still have the same values and outlooks on life and I treasure the increasingly rare opportunities we do get to catch up properly.

I then got ill with a chest infection so all in all it was mid-November before I got training properly again. Sadly for me, training this winter has incorporated far more time in the swimming pool than I ever would have wanted. I honestly don’t think I’ve got any better, but at least I can say, hand on heart, I’ve really worked at it! I’ve just got back from a 4 day junior swimming camp run by Tim Williams (Perfect Condition) and Simon Brierely (Paradise Tri). Double swims every day sandwiched around working in a Premier Inn. Not my idea of fun but it was great to get so much technical feedback each day. No matter how hard you try though, it’s tough to keep your morale up when 15 year olds are effortlessly faster than you day in day out. Luckily I had another ‘oldie’ partner in crime to keep me smiling at the back of the slow lane – thanks Emma!

Fortunately the ‘hard’ camp was balanced by the ‘fun’ camp at Kinetic PB in Spain just before Christmas. 8 days of hard but fun training in the sun was just what the doctor ordered. Kinetic PB is basically a converted boathouse by a rowing lake. Though it’s not luxury accommodation it’s as cheap as chips and has everything an athlete could need. The training environment is second to none – amazing cycling with some hardcore climbs (even a 30% one which was ‘slightly’ hardgoing on a TT bike!), a choice of flat or hilly running and a 25m pool you have access to 24 hours a day which never has anyone in it. The added benefit is the opportunity to train with the boys who are living out there at the moment – Joe skipper, Rob Brundish and Chris Bartlett. Serious about training but always with a smile and no egos – I couldn’t ask for more in training buddies. The best bit is they can all cook, especially Rob. I’ll be back!

So I guess now I need to work out what I’m aiming for this year. My long term goal is qualification for Kona 2014 which will almost certainly include a late season Ironman in the US to get some points. But in the interim I’m torn between focusing on another IM or 70.3s and possibly Vegas. I’ve decided I’m going to start with Half Challenge Fuerteventura and the European Duathlon. Given my procrastination and indecisiveness I’ll probably end up tossing a coin for the rest!

I’m really pleased to be staying with Chain Reaction Cycles for the 2013 season – thanks for keeping me guys.

Here’s to a challenging and exciting 2013. Bring it on!

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