Rehab – done.

Where to start with the last 6 weeks?! So much to tell, so I’ll try to be concise 🙂

At last update I had barely begun to do some jog-walking on the treadmill, and was gearing up for a couple of single-sport “A” races. Well, I’m pleased to report that run rehab has been going relatively well – I’ve now progressed to continuous efforts over 5-6km distance. My pace has obviously slipped from where I was at pre-injury, however it’s not completely horrendous, and I seem to be improving with every run. Particularly when it comes to the DOMS!! My goodness I’ve had a couple of shocking cases of this in the last few weeks. Possibly as a result, and by no means a bad thing, I’ve been building up VERY gradually, trying not to run on consecutive days where possible, and trying my best to remember to stretch! My foot was a bit uncomfortable to start with, but not in the sharp pain/getting worse with more use kind of way it was when I first injured, more a dull tightness/ache which got better with each jog rep. Making the executive decision to push on through and hope it was just scar tissue, it did gradually get better and better, and now I can report I’m pretty much pain-free all of the time.

So first up was Ride London at the end of July. After doing this on my own in 2014 and spectacularly crashing out at mile 67, I had unfinished business. This time was NOT going to end in Kingston A&E, medal- (and bike-) less!! Paul and I had a cunning plan to blast around as a 2-up, allowing both of us to work at roughly 70% FTP with me drafting him. We arrived a little late and missed our start wave, but in doing so managed to find our club mate Steve and ride as a 3-up for the first 1/3 of the route. Unfortunately he cramped up and dropped back, but we stuck to our plan and despite a couple of hold-ups due to accidents, and a few showers, we finished in 5:23 total ride time.

Next up was the Women’s National 25 mile time trial champs on the R25/3H course in south Wales. On paper a very quick course – predominantly down-hill and a simple out-and-back dual carriageway route. Arriving there with a bit of time to spare, I was secretly massively daunted. Ironically, although I consider the bike to be my strongest discipline, I’ve never done anything more than the odd local TT or CX race before. To be on the start line with 99 other female cyclists from around the UK who were mostly affiliated to racing clubs and/or teams was a tad scary. One of these women is my former club mate, (also) Kate who now trains and races for Drag2Zero and recently posted the 6th fastest British female time ever over 50 miles. Being somewhat more “built” for time trialing than I am (!), well that’s enough to make a girl just want to finish in one piece, having not gotten lost or fallen off! Paul and I had studied the course video closely beforehand, so even though we didn’t have time to drive the course, I managed not to get lost OR fall off. Winner winner, chicken dinner 🙂 In fact, despite the brutal head/cross winds for the entire out section of the course meaning that I spent approximately NO time on my aero bars until the return leg, I managed to shave over 7 mins off my 25 mile PB and finish in a respectable 73rd position. Not too bad for a petite triathlete 😉

And so we come to my revised “A” race of the season: a 4km swim across Rutland lake. I knew this wouldn’t be as fast as the Dorney 3.8km event I had done in July, owing to the “openness” of the water and lack of rowing lines to follow. Unfortunately, the course was so badly marked with sparse, tiny buoys the same colour as everyone’s mandatory tow-floats that most people reached the middle of the lake and had no idea which direction to head in. This, together with the significant swell at either end meant that I came away very disappointed with a 1:20 time. Maybe I had a bit of an off day, but I certainly won’t be rushing back all that way again unless they sort the course navigation out.

Next up, my first full triathlon post injury! Every August BTS essentially takes over a Dorney based VoTwo evening triathlon for our club champs, and get our own start wave.  We encourage as many from the club to enter as possible. Supposedly a “fun” event, there is more than enough healthy competition and lighthearted rivalry going on, and it’s a chance to see how we’re fairing against our club mates. My game plan was first and foremost to finish, ideally by smashing my way around the swim and bike, and then running along the grass at whatever pace my legs and foot would allow. The swim was perhaps a tad slower than I’d have liked, but I beat a couple of people out of the water that I might not have expected to so can’t complain. The bike was fairly uneventful, keeping my club mate Andy in my sight the whole way around and maintaining a reasonable wattage of around 195. My main positive takeaway from the bike was that I managed a proper shoes on pedals mount for the first time since Lisbon! Small things 🙂 Finally, the run. I knew I was never going to finish near my speedy clubmate Louise (Croxson), but I wasn’t sure how far ahead of 3 other ladies I was and how long I could hold them off for. I ran on the grass for 90% of the time, to lessen the impact on my foot. To my surprise, I not only held the girls off, but managed to pull out a 23:54 for 5km. OK, not the quickest time, but considering I hammered the bike (getting the quickest female bike split by 39s) and my run legs didn’t know what had hit them, I was dead chuffed to finish 4th overall lady and 2nd in BTS.

Finally my latest race, the West Lancs Summer Triathlon – a pool-based sprint event in my home town. We originally entered to do an event with my brother Greg, but with injuries all around we weren’t certain if any of us would even finish! With the McGregor/Mayweather fight early that morning, the boys weren’t exactly well rested either… Obviously I got my beauty sleep in Zzzzzz 😉 Again, my plan was to just smash myself on the swim/bike and hope for a pain-free run, whatever the speed. I ended up in a lane with just one other girl who was a swimmer by trade and estimated to be a good 20-25s fast than me over 400m.

So swimming side by side, I just clung on to her hip and although my time wasn’t quite what I might have liked at 6:13 swim time, I exited the pool less than 5m behind her so couldn’t complain.  The bike, ah the bike. Well, the positives were that I managed to both mount AND dismount “pro” style this time, and had the fastest female bike split by 54s. But my legs felt awful! I actually overtook the lovely lady who went on to win, who then re-overtook me and landed in transition 5s before me.  So then to the run. Maxine, the winner, left me for dead and I never saw her again until the end. In fact, I didn’t see another soul for pretty much the whole 5km wiggly course! But painfree and controlled, I managed a post-injury season’s best and even a sprint finish (ish). In the end Paul and I took 1st male and 2nd female respectively, and we’ve come home with a nice pile of vouchers for and nutrition products from Mountain Fuel.

Oh, and Greg managed a PB around the course and still beat me on the run, by 2:11. Next time!!

Touch wood, I can now say I’m recovered and back to full training. We’re making concerted efforts to ramp up the run training slowly, to save me making the same mistake twice. Next up, Woburn Abbey olympic distance on 10th September – this will challenge my distance running so may be a slightly more subdue run pace, but I’ll see how I feel on the day. I’m just grateful to be back 🙂 Big thanks to Mr Dega at the Windsor Foot and Ankle Clinic, Joanne at Health and Heart, and of course, Paul.

When life gives you lemons (rehab update #1)

When I first found out about my stress fracture, I’ll be honest, I was absolutely gutted. I had a silent cry in the clinic waiting room as I filled my payment forms out, and I even threw caution to the wind (no pun intended) and had a lactose filled coffee machine cappuccino to try and calm my nerves.  When I eventually got home after some procrastination, I drowned my sorrows in junk food and wine.

2 weeks down the line, having stuck to wearing “the boot” and resting from everything except swimming and aqua-jogging (more on that later), I was still feeling sorry for myself, annoying myself (and no doubt others) with my self-pity at having to cancel my race season. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and sit on the turbo with a reeeeally gentle set and a documentary. Searching for something uplifting or educational (I’m a big old geek at heart) I found myself watching a BBC documentary called “A Time to Live” – about people who have received a terminal diagnosis who have chosen to focus on living the rest of their life, rather than the fact that they are dying. My gosh, if I wanted a proverbial slap in the face this was it!! I’m used to seeing sick people day in, day out, and sometimes this involves patients with a life-limiting prognoses. But seeing so many younger people with different terminal conditions speak openly about how they wanted to take life by the horns and get the most out of their remaining time put everything into perspective. Well worth a watch if you need some of this in your life!

Since watching it I’ve finally moved to the final stage of “grief” (acceptance), and have really buckled down to swim training and finding alternative races and activities to do. I’ve decided to try to become the best spectator there is for Paul in all of his races (cow bells and possibly even signage will be employed). I’ve entered 2 open water swim events – Boulter’s to Bray (which I did a couple of years ago whilst still under the influence of a very nice malt whiskey…) and Swim Rutland 4k. I’m contemplating an aqua-bike (much to Paul’s amusement, though they are my 2 strongest disciplines..!) and I’m trying to put my case across for a late season triathlon/holiday in Thailand to give me something to aim for (and a tan).

I’ve accepted that these next few months are going to have to be focused on improving my swim, trying to maintain my bike and general fitness, and addressing other aspects of training like nutrition and stretching/conditioning. Hopefully the end result will be that I come back stronger and wiser, and with more to prove, and hence make me a better athlete.

Lesson learned: when life gives you lemons, be grateful it’s just lemons. Make lemonade, or add vodka, it’s up to you. But find the positives and run with it.