Category Archives: Ironman World Championships

Coming to terms with Kona

Well, I haven’t posted my race report, and I’ve been hesitant about doing so, because truthfully. I was disappointed with how the race went, and not only that, but my injury then had an impact on how I imagined my recovery and holiday in Hawaii would be. Having a goal and high expectations can sometimes lead to disappointment, and that is ok. I’m ok with being disappointed now. It helped reading Jesse Thomas’ report, which rang true for me in a lot of ways.

When I qualified Patrick and I had chatted and he said, so you could probably be in the top 20. I said I’d be delighted with that, then my coach said I could go top 10 if everything went well. I was really excited by this and as the season went on I was having breakthrough performances, so I knew, if I could do the same marathon pace and similar swim pace that I had in Wales then I could go sub 11 hours. I knew my bike would be quicker, as the course is not as hilly. I wasn’t thinking about position, as you never know who will be racing, but I thought that it was within my capability to go sub 11. I had worked really hard this year and it was showing.

On race day some things didn’t go to plan. I went in to the race having only just recovered from a cold. My swim was a bit slower than I’d have liked, then I crashed early on the bike. I don’t know if this affected my whole day after that point. I was really struggling mentally to find the positive in the race. I’ve practised riding in the wind, but my power was way down, even lower than in Wales last year, and I know I should have been able to push at least 10 watts more average. The run I found my rhythm for the first half then slowly gave up. I was trying to think of people who I knew were tracking me, but I just couldn’t stop slowing down. I didn’t care anymore and just wanted to get to the finish line.

When I finished I wasn’t in the best of states, so couldn’t really celebrate, as I had felt like doing last year. The next day I¬†wandered around Kona, with the family, with PMT and my leg throbbing in pain, as I slowly realised I would need to see a doctor. Not the relaxing swimming in the sea with the family and snorkelling that I had imagined, but an afternoon in Kona Hospital, then waiting in Longs drugs for a prescription. Whilst we were walking to the hospital Milo stood on my toe, (He does this A LOT!)(one of my toes had a loose toenail from the run) and that started bleeding too. So no feet in the water!

Anyway, after all that I am now coming to terms with what has happened, I always try to focus on the positives, and what you can do, or what you have, rather than what you can’t do, or don’t have. But it has been challenging, especially while sitting in a canoe or beach, while your family snorkels and has fun in the water. But we have seen some amazing sights, and I am really grateful to have been able to race over here and visit the Island, we also missed the storms in the UK ūüėČ It didn’t go as I imagined it would, but thats how it goes sometimes. Its time to move on and start the next chapter!

Race report is here (Its a long one!)

 

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Kona travel log

Travelling to the other side of the world to race is hard at the best of times, but travelling with 2 children and a cold is not so much fun, 2 days before we left for Hawaii I started getting cold symptoms, so had to abandon my training plan. Patrick and I spent Wednesday packing, just before picking up Milo from school we had a call saying that our flight had been changed to a BA flight, and that we were leaving from T5 instead of T2/3, which meant trekking across the airport with our bags and bike. It actually wasn’t too much hassle just a bit of an annoying deviation.

 

Once Devon had had his scissors confiscated and my mysterious powders had been checked out, we were through security, and refilling our water bottles. I had a timetable for drinking, moving around and eating throughout the journey, which I stuck to and I think it would have made a big difference had I not had a cold. The boys were fantastic on the flight, courtesy of screens. It was easy to clock the athletes on the flight wandering around eating fruit and vegetables and refilling water! We arrived in the evening in Hawaii and attempted to fit the bike box in the SUV we had hired, it didn’t fit but they upgraded us to a minivan. Patrick managed to negotiate the HUGE vehicle to our apartment in Kona and it was straight to bed.

I woke up in the morning with a really tight throat from the air con, and messaged Mark to let him know. I wasn’t meant to be training anyway for the first couple of days but it was so difficult seeing triathletes everywhere swimming, riding and running when I was still coughing and jet-lagged. I had all these images in my head of me swimming out to the coffee boat, cycling on the queen K and running on Ali-i drive to practise and acclimatise but this wasn’t going to happen, and getting my head around this was not easy! Although we managed to get our shopping done once we’d recovered from the shock of the prices.

 

So the next few days were spent snorkelling, and avoiding getting sunstroke. Tuesday was a busy day, the first day of registration, the keiki dip n dash, and the parade of nations.

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Tired boys.

I was still coughing on Wednesday so it was off for some snorkelling and a bit of culture.

 

On Thursday we planned to ride up to Hawi so I could do a ride from there, as that is where it is usually windy. Mark said it was Ok to ride easy, for up to an hour so I rode down the hill for 20 mins and then back up to Hawi. It was good to finally get out on the bike, and feel what the wind was doing. Afterwards we walked down to a beach, where Patrick and Milo managed to get stung by Portuguese man of war!! Which didn’t really help my stress levels!

The next day I managed a swim and a short run. I bumped into a women who I had chatted with at the parade of nations, and we exchanged numbers and wished each other luck. I racked up in-between swimming and running. So all that was left to do was try and get some sleep before the big day. Race report coming up!

Not a bad location for pre race swimming ūüŹä#kona #konaaquatics #imworldchampionships #imkona #swimmingpool #swimming

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September (the road to Kona)

Another month, another 100 mile time trial, this one in polar opposite conditions to the one in June. The weather was cold, wet and windy, as opposed to one of the hottest days of the year! Not ideal for Kona preparation, but one hundred miles all the same. My result was good. I held 10 watts more power and knocked around 9 minutes off my PB, for the course. I also felt lot better mentally and was able to break the ride down, and focus on each part a bit better. On the last stretch I managed to pick my pace up a bit and was only 1 second off the winning female for the last section. Final results are here, as you can see the result sheet was full of DNS/DNF!!

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After the TT I had a horrible run to do, which I managed OK but spoke to Mark on the Tuesday, he gave me a bit more recovery before the next push.

The weekend after, I got to watch Ironman Wales, as I had THE WHOLE WEEKEND OFF! Unfortunately the weather was appalling, rain, and wind most of the day. I cycled up to Templeton and was soaked through within 10 mins, so I stayed for one lap of the bike before going home to dry out so that we could catch the train from Kilgetty to Tenby to watch some running. It seemed quite quiet compared to previous years, (probably because of the weather) and we managed to get some spectating in before dinner and the train home. I must admit I was happy to be spectating and not participating this year!

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I only had a couple more big weekends to go until the big day, the first of which seemed to kick start my period a week early. I have been tracking this like a hawk, as it has IMG_0887physiological effects on your body. What this meant, if my period started early, was that I would be around 1-2 days from my next period on race day, which is the worst time, especially in the heat, as blood plasma volume is lower which means you are at extra risk of dehydration, my core temperature will also be naturally higher, which makes things harder in the heat; however after a couple of days it decided to go away and reappear for Dale Half Marathon, its still not ideal as I will be in the second half of my cycle for Kona, and have the same problems as above, but nothing I can do except prepare for it to be tough, stay hydrated, and on top of my nutrition. If you want to read more about hormones and how they affect your training then there is a link here.

The day before Dale I had a longish ride so lots of fatigue in my legs. It was a tough weekend, but should be worth it! I was happy with my time at Dale, only a few minutes off my PB for a half so everything is still looking good.

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The following week I had to go back to some heat prep, which sounds OK (40mins in a hot bath) but really isn’t very pleasant, as its 40 minutes in a 40 degree bath after a training session. The first time I did it, I managed 25 minutes before feeling dizzy and sick and had to get out, the next time was 35, then I finally managed 40mins.

We had a final appointment in Cardiff for Patrick to have his bladder scanned and a consultation with Professor Kyneston. Everything was positive, and he recommended having an MRI to check on prostate cancer in a years time, then probably another 5 years after, so we can go away knowing that everything is OK, for now. We were both happy and relieved to get home, after that! The next stage is getting to Kona, which will be a mission in itself, but I’m feeling positive and excited about being there.

May and June (The road to Kona)

I have combined May and June, because such lot has happened, in these last 2 months at home. At times it has been very stressful and sad, but I’m hoping that we are through the worst of it now.

The month started with an easy week leading in to Llanelli Half marathon. I was planning on doing a local 10km race, but the date was changed to the week after, so I checked to find another local-(ish) race and found Llanelli. I checked with Patrick to see if I could go, and with my coach, they both said yes, so early on Sunday morning I found myself driving to Llanelli. I was feeling pretty fresh,¬†so hoping to go under 1:30, which was a goal last year at the Cardiff half. I didn’t manage it, I’ll blame the weather! The field was quite small and as I set off there was only one woman in front of me, so I stayed ¬†within around 10 meters behind. When I got to around 10 miles I thought I would have to make a move now or not at all, so I started to speed up to catch her. I remembered to put some pace in, as I passed, and hold on to the pace, so that I could open up a good gap, ¬†I managed to get a fairly good lead. The last few miles were painful (I kept reminding myself it was only 5k!) but I held on to 1st place and went under 1:30 which I was very happy about.

http://labs.strava.com/flyby/viewer/#974748980?c=gcjjbj8g&z=E&t=1P3jG6&a=NH0ZOoyrMTo

The week after, it was back to it, after a couple of easier days. Patrick had a hospital appointment on the Wednesday so I rode out to meet him at Glangwili. When we finally got in we asked our prepared list of questions, and then the consultant dropped the bombshell, that they had found cancer cells in one of the samples that had been sent off, after Patricks prostate operation in February.

We were pretty shocked and didn’t really ask the questions that we wanted to ask, and were sent away with a leaflet and a phone number. Patrick was put on the list for an MRI scan, and given another appointment with the consultant. Since then we have done a lot of reading, and are hoping for the best (that the cancer is localised and has not spread anywhere else.) Obviously there has been a lot of stress and upset associated with the information that we were given. Until Patrick has had the results of the scan we don’t really know what the future holds. I went in to some training sessions wondering what the hell I was doing, but training has also been a way to forget everything, and focus on something else for a while.

As far as training has been going, I have continued improving and breaking PB’s, but it all feels a bit empty at the moment, until we have some more information I suppose it will be like that, and I’m just going through the motions. It didn’t help that we all got ill at the end of the month, and Patrick came down with a kidney infection. Hopefully next month things should become a bit clearer.

June

June started, with a race. The Deva Middle distance Triathlon. You can read the race report here. It was touch and go as to whether I would race or not, as the week leading in was so stressful. Patrick had a kidney infection on Tuesday and was very ill with a high temperature in bed for 2 days. This was during half term, so the kids were off school and everything was a bit harder. Thankfully my mum lives down the road, and has been very supportive, so I could carry on with my planned training, which was a bit lighter anyway. I spent quite a bit of time crying and feeling pretty low during the week.

The week after Deva, Patrick had an MRI scan, followed by an appointment with the urology consultant in Glangwili. We were told that the cancer was T2, and his PSA scores are low which means that it is a low risk prostate cancer. This was a big relief for us. The week after, we had an appointment with a consultant in Cardiff, to discuss this, and a possible operation on Patricks bladder, which may mean that he can stop having to self catheterise. The consultant confirmed our thoughts about the prostate cancer, which is that the cancer cells were found by chance, and that they are no immediate risk, so Patrick has opted for¬†active surveillance.¬†However he will be having abdominal surgery for his bladder problems at the end of July which means that he can’t drive for 4 weeks during the school holidays! Its good to have some positive things happening though and I hope that the operation improves his quality of life. Its been pretty hard for the past few years.

After a couple of easy weeks I travelled up to Llanwrda for the West Wales Cyclists league 100 mile TT. It was looking to be a hot day, so the night before I made up 5 bottles of Skratch labs hydration and put them in the fridge. In the morning I dropped them off in a lay-by near Llandovery for pick up later. After about 10 miles I was already in pain from saddle pressure, which wasn’t a good sign, and for the rest of the ride I was shifting about trying to find a comfortable spot (there wasn’t one!) I pushed fairly hard up to Brecon, then there was a bit more ascending before some great downhill into Llandovery, where I tried to keep up power, but not too much! From Llandovery I know the course, and this was the bit I was dreading, the road surface is horrible in places, and I kept having to lift myself off my saddle to relieve the pain, my head was in bits really, not giving myself very positive self talk! And I just rode it out as best I could to the finish. I came in in a pretty decent time of 4:48:59 and picked up 2nd female. My ¬£20 cash prize was quickly spent on new water bottles, as I left my spares in the lay-by, oops!

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The week after was an easier week, and we had another appointment with another consultant in Swansea, cue, waiting for 2 hours in hospital to be told what we already knew. It was good to go though, as we have more confirmation that we are making the right descision for Patrick.

So next month is the last month before the school holidays, with only 15 weeks until Kona, I’m looking forward to getting a good block of training in.

 

April (The road to Kona)

April started with an FTP test, and a park run in the first week, double fun! and then the Easter holidays started.

My FTP on test day was lower than I thought it should be, but I was feeling a little down on that morning. I redeemed myself, with a  20 minute best power, the week after, at the Redberth 10 mile TT, organised by Milford Tritons. At the weekend I did Colby park run and had a PB, so everything seemed to be going pretty well.

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On the first Sunday of the holidays we travelled over to Northern Ireland to visit my grandad again. We stayed in Coleraine, and luckily there was a pool near the hotel so I was up early both days for a swim. I enjoy visiting different pools¬†as they all have different atmosphere’s! I emailed before we went, to check if I could use fins etc, but they said no. I arrived the first morning for the hour long lane swimming session, and there was a queue of people waiting and only 2 lanes. The rest of the pool was open with people swimming lengths. I decided to go in the lane that looked faster, but it had 4 people in it already, and I was catching one of them up every 50m, so I decided to move into the open part of the pool, and managed to finish my set next to the wall.

The next day I was politely asked if I wanted to join in with the tri club who were using the lane. I finished the set against the wall again! I was too tired and ran out of time to run in the afternoon, as we were spending time with my grandad, which was lovely, and Northern Ireland was a great place to visit with the kids.

When we got back to Pembrokeshire I still had quite heavy training weeks,¬†we¬†managed to plan things to fit in with family time, and what I needed to do. Holidays are difficult because I want to spend time with everyone, but also want to do my training. I don’t get the balance right, but I know that this is a temporary state to be in, so everyone pulls together and I had a great block of training where I felt like I was making really good progress. Patrick took the boys away camping for 1 night so I could do a long ride and so that he could see his brother.

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My last session before going away, and a recovery week.

At the end of the month, (bank holiday weekend) Patrick and I went away for a much needed break to Liverpool, which I had booked as a Christmas present. It was good to get away for a couple of days and we did a lot of talking which we don’t get the opportunity to do with kids around! On the way up we drove past Chester which is where my first race of the season will be. We drove over the river Dee which I will be swimming in, in a few weeks time!¬†We came back refreshed and ready for the next training block.