2 x 70.3s.
1 x Long course weekend.
1 x mountain hike.
2 x very tired legs.
1 x refreshed head.
I’m surprised how 2018 has panned out. Very surprised. And I guess if anything, the learning point is that I could perhaps have got away with much less training over the years. Luckily I love training so I don’t resent this discovery. My brother in law’s response was simply “Isn’t that really annoying?”
My exams had significantly curtailed training into Wales. And after Wales I did very little at all. I rode my bike and did some easy running but didn’t do anything that even half resembled a session other than the club swims. I decided to race Lanza 70.3 10 days before the race, on my way to the Erdinger Oktoberfest where we all got ‘a little bit tipsy’. In all honesty I thought racing might be embarrassing but I decided the thought of a long weekend in the sun was far more appealing than trying to get my arse back into training mode in the UK. So off I went. I think I was more surprised than anyone to find myself in first place half way round the run. But it was the icing on the cake for a fun weekend. And the win paid for the ridiculous cost of replacing my stolen car keys, phone and wallet the following weekend (never lose your Renault key cards. It took 2 weeks, two car tows, the most enormous amount of hassle and I still don’t have a car I can drive. Renault customer service is appalling. An aside.)
Anyway, after that stressful interlude, I then headed off to Mallorca for a 10-day holiday with Challenge Peguera at the start, Long Course Mallorca at the end and a week of relaxing, drinking aperol spritz and climbing a mountain with my sister in-between. I had a really good race in Peguera (brilliant course by the way) but then completely wrecked my legs climbing and descending Puig de Masanella a couple of days later. And I mean wrecked. My quads were so sore they kept giving way walking and steps were a definite no go. I’ve never ever had DOMS like it. 5000 ft of ascent and descent in trainers on rocky terrain was harder than any of the races. But despite the DOMS, I would definitely recommend the hike for anyone in Mallorca wanting an adventure for a day.
So then onto Long Course Weekend, which is always fun, though the weather this year made it somewhat less so. After 45 mins of riding in torrential rain in an enormous peloton, with 2 crashes having happened already, I decided it simply wasn’t worth the risks so instead ended up with nearly 5 hours of solo slog which was far less fun and sociable. But probably far better training…. I’m not going to lie – the marathon was tough. My calves were smashed from 1 mile in and it’s the closest I’ve been to pulling out on a run in a long time. I didn’t need to run a marathon. But I’m glad I stuck it out, not least because it meant I got to stand on the top step next to my buddy Tom Vickery again. Plus, I wrote the DNF blog so I can never DNF….
All 3 races are brilliant as end of season blowouts; Easy to get to from anywhere. Minimal travel when you land. Minimal race admin as everything is in one place and you can stay within 5 minutes walk of the start and finish. And all have interesting courses and offer something different. The long course weekend in particular I think is fab particularly as it offers a variety of distances so anyone can dip in and out as they wish.
Anyway, it’s been a super-fun, if tiring, October. I’ve got lots of non-triathlon stuff going on too, which is in all honesty just as exciting as racing. The ‘Move against Cancer, 5k your way’ initiative I’ve founded with Gemma Hillier Moses is growing and we’re thrilled to be talking to people all round the country wanting to set up groups in their areas. Congratulations to Mary Twitchett who launched 5k your way Cambridge at Coldham’s common Parkrun last weekend, having turned her own cancer diagnosis into a massive positive to help others. Right now I’m on the way back from a great meeting with the ladies I’m working with on www.cancerfit.me. We’ve launched this in a basic format but have big plans going forwards. Cancerfit. Any cancer, any stage, any age. We’ve been fortunate to get some expert consultancy to help us drive this forwards and will be applying to register Cancerfit as a charity in the next month or so. Hopefully this will help us get the funding to let it grow into what we want it to. We’re aiming big.
2018 isn’t quite done for me yet. I’ve got Patagonman in December (yup, that’s in Patagonia), which will definitely be an adventure. But looking back, it’s really been quite a remarkable year on so many levels. I’m proud of my racing. But I’m more proud of the projects I’m developing with other passionate and driven people, which are helping to link my triathlon and medical careers. The small platform I have from triathlon is allowing me to do things I would never have been able to do without triathlon. When I first went part time at work, back in 2011, I told my bosses I that triathlon would make me a better doctor in the long run. At the time I thought those were empty words. But it turns out they were true. And that makes me happy.