Category Archives: Triathlon

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!)

 

Advertisements

How do you define success?

Success conjures up many images, and is not defined in the same way for everyone. When racing, success, in its most basic terms is measured by your result. But is that really success? Some of the times that I feel the most accomplished is not necessarily when I have done well in a race. If the competition was not there, and it was an easy win, then it is not as satisfying as when I have overcome mental blocks, or pulled myself back from negative thoughts or a dark place.

We all have different circumstances and lives, measuring yourself against other people is at best futile, and at worst damaging to your mental health. So how do you measure your own success? or find ways of celebrating the small things? First you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. It may be, a PB, it may be, just finishing a race in brutal conditions (I’m thinking Ironman Wales this year!), it may be, managing to balance your life, so you have time to do the things that you really want to, or overcoming a fear.

All of these things are valid ways of celebrating what you have achieved, and if things don’t go well in a race there are always things to take away from it, there will have been some success somewhere, you just may need to look for it. Find a way of being proud of yourself, and you will be successful.

If you did race Ironman Wales at the weekend, then here are some stats about the race and the amount of DNF and time differences to other years that you may find interesting. I’m sure when looking at them you will find something to be proud of!

http://www.coachcox.co.uk/2017/09/11/ironman-wales-2017-age-group-results-kona-qualification/

August (The road to Kona)

I spent most of the first day of August in Patricks hospital room in Cardiff while he recovered from surgery, with a brief excursion to the pool and Waitrose, which handily is next door to the hospital. (So glad we don’t have one near us, it would be so dangerous. I seem to have spent a lot of time this month in Waitrose one way or another!) Patricks parents came to stay for a few nights after the op, so that we could have some help with the kids. They took them out for the day on the Friday that we came home, which was really helpful as I could get things organised at home and fit in my training.

The week after, we were given another appointment for Patrick, in Cardiff, that day was the only day of training that I missed, which is testament to the support that I am getting. The day after the appointment Patrick seemed pretty low, he was uncomfortable and I really wanted to make him feel better, but there was really nothing I could do. I was feeling guilty about racing at the weekend but Patrick assured me that he wanted me to race, so he had lined up a beach BBQ with a friend, and my mum was on hand to drive, I felt like I was leaving him in safe hands.

Race report is here. I was really happy with my overall race, and its looking promising for my endurance fitness. When I got home I felt a bit rough for a couple of days but had a lot of recovery in my diary so managed to bounce back fairly fast. I packed my bike in the bike bag, that Jan has kindly lent me, to check if it would fit in the car (it did), and caught up on a few jobs that needed doing.

Now that Kona is so close, I’m beginning to think about afterwards, Patrick and I had to drive to Cardiff again for another appointment, so we had a chance to chat about next year and what our plans are. I know we both need a break from me competing at a high level. But I also need something to get excited about!

The remainder of August seemed to fly by. My training started to build again towards the end of the month, and I started dreaming about Kona! There are still some final things I need to sort out before going, and I’m planning on tackling these when the boys go back to school.

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 13.39.39

I had a great recovery day at the end of August with the family, unfortunately Milo was ill so it didn’t quite go as planned but we managed to catch the worlds most expensive mackerel on a fishing trip in Tenby! The good news is that Patrick seems to be on the mend. He still has an appointment at the end of September to check that things have gone Ok, so we’re hoping that will go well, and another appointment to discuss any cancer treatment at the beginning of September.

July (The road to Kona)

Before, and after a storm, comes calm. I have been preparing myself for the next storm at the end of the month, when Patrick is booked in for his operation. We have been here before though, and have support to get through, so we are feeling pretty positive about this next chapter.

The beginning of July saw us driving up to the Lake district for Patricks dads 70’th birthday. On the way we were passing the spot where I had left my water bottles from the 100mile TT, I asked Patrick if he thought they’d still be there. He thought they would be but I had my doubts, happily I was wrong! I was really excited about reclaiming my bottles. (its the little things)

IMG_0422

In the Lakes I just took my running kit, and was up at 7am to run both mornings. Its always great to run somewhere new, and do a bit of route finding, however on the second day I found myself quite high up, with just shorts and a running vest, thinking that I probably should have had some extra layers. Its easy to forget how exposed you can be in the mountains.

When we got back I continued with quite a heavy training block, still putting out some good numbers. Towards the middle of the month, I travelled up to Loughborough to visit my coach, and get a bit of swim input. We went out on the bike on the day I arrived, and Mark recorded and went through my swim stroke, correcting a few faults in the afternoon/evening, and then continued in to the next day. It was good to have some time away and focus on myself for a few days. I saw some definite improvements in my swim stroke after spending a couple of days swimming and revising drills.

Screenshot 2017-07-20 15.34.00

When I got back to Pembrokeshire, I needed to start a bit of heat prep to find out how I coped. This involved making the bathroom hot and steamy, then setting up the turbo in there, to do some bike sessions. The first session was on a beautiful sunny day, which made me wonder what the hell I was doing! The 2nd session was horrible, 5 lots of 8 minute efforts at FTP building each set, which needless to say, DID NOT HAPPEN!! The 3rd session felt a little easier, probably because it was, and I ended up faffing around with my garmin for half an hour, as it decided to crash, just as I got on the turbo to do the session, which meant that the bathroom lost a bit of heat! This was all done in-between ferrying children to various birthday parties.

The last Saturday in July was The Wales Triathlon (race report here), a good test of where I was physically before Patricks operation on the Monday.

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.

Screenshot 2017-05-02 16.13.56

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.

IMG_0276

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.

The road to Kona, February.

Well its around 9 months until the Ironman World Championships in Kona, about the same length as a pregnancy, and since training for Ironman is a bit like having a baby, I thought I would start a month by month account of how training is going!

Ups and downs

Its been a tough few months since November. My husband was meant to be having an operation around December time, this changed to January, which then turned into February. This has been hard on us as a family as we haven’t been able to plan too much in advance, and emotionally it has been draining. I also got ill before and after Christmas, which meant missing quite a bit of training but nothing too significant, as there is still a long way to go.

In January I also had news that my grand-dad had been put into a nursing home and was declining rapidly, so I flew over to Belfast to visit him for the day. It was good to see him, as I haven’t seen him for a long while but also I found it hard afterwards emotionally and hearing other bad news about him has been difficult, although he seems to be a bit better now.

When Patrick did finally get the date for his op they told him that they would actually be doing a different operation on him (this was on the morning of the op) so all my plans for dropping him off, going swimming, then visiting and getting my run session done went out the window, I ended up sitting in the hospital waiting room, supporting him emotionally for 7 hours instead. Then went back in the evening to visit with Milo. The  next day was spent driving to and from Carmarthen to visit him, and fitting in training around that. Not an ideal situation but I managed to do most of what I needed to do, although I was feeling tired from the driving.

The day I picked Patrick up from hospital I cut my sessions short and then got home to a sneezing child, I also started sneezing in the night and the beginnings of another cold started. The next day I was meant to do a long ride but I started up the hill from my house and wasn’t feeling great so headed back home after 10 minutes. Obviously I was feeling pretty frustrated and upset.

screenshot-2017-02-16-11-53-37

A mixed bag of training ūüė¶

On the plus side I have been putting out my best¬†power numbers and ¬†my swimming is better than ever before, but¬†I always find it hard to miss sessions. I haven’t managed to finish a block of training without getting ill since November. I know it won’t impact too much in the long term as long as it isn’t too regular an occurrence, but all the same its hard to let those sessions go. We also don’t know what the future outcome of the op is. It may mean more trips to the hospital and more stress, but it could also go the other way and make things a lot better too, heres hoping for the best outcome! Patrick has been so supportive of my training and is such a huge part of me qualifying for Kona that we need to work as a team on this too.

Change, nobody said it was easy

I was in the pool today and I overheard 2 people having a conversation about somebody who they had been out on a ride with. I didn’t catch the whole of the conversation but I got the gist of it, which was as follows; The person they were riding with was trying to follow a set session and the person that they were riding with wasn’t happy about it. They just wanted to ride as they always did.¬†As I was leaving, I started to think about why this person was unhappy or berating the other person, and it comes down to one thing, change, or fear of change.
When you hire a coach or follow a training plan you are taking the first step towards making a change. You are committing to becoming faster, and fitter, and this can scare people as it can make them look at themselves and start asking questions.

change-management-300x200
One of the hardest things about making a change is making your environment fit that change. For example you will find it hard to eat more healthily if your cupboard is full of unhealthy food, and you will find it hard to cut back on drinking if you have a routine of going to the pub every night and drinking with your friends. You either need to replace the habit with another (better habit) or ditch the habit altogether.
The same goes for your training. If you really want to get faster and fitter then you need to follow a plan. You can’t expect to improve, by doing the same as you have always done, which brings me back to the group ride being discussed at the pool.
Group training sessions have their place, and can be incorporated into your training, especially if they are progressive and aimed at the event that you are training for. But often they are not and this is when you may need to do something different.

As far as group rides go, if you were a pure cyclist they would be a lot more useful, as you would need to ride in a group, but as a triathlete you should be aiming to sustain power without drafting, which is difficult to do in a group setting. You can try to follow a planned session but in my experience you don’t get the quality that you do when you are on your own or with someone who is a similar ability to you.

78106_dra15_wjc_007777

As I said earlier to make a change you need to change your environment and this may mean ditching some of your group sessions, especially if the group is not supportive of your training goals. Its not easy, and thats why not everyone is willing to do it. You can carry on “just getting it done” as my friend at the pool advocated or you can focus on being the best that you can be, at the end of the day its your choice.