End of the season but Goalspecific athletes are still racing strong!

Whilst Adam and I jumped on a plane to sunnier climates, Becky and Leanne were heading into the winter block with the first few duathlons of the season, and their first experience of the events as well. Needless to say, they obviously didn’t need too much practice to get into the swing of it, as Leanne posted 3rd place in her AG at Bedford and a qualification slot for the British Age Group Team, and Becky, with a dodgy back, won overall in the Jeckell and Hyde Duathlon in London. Both athletes are just going from strength to strength and I am very excited about watching them race next season!

So onto Mallorca! Adam was in fine form heading into the race, and in his mind wanted to achieve a time circa 5 hour mark and a top 10 finish. Well he achieved that and beyond. Finishing 8th overall in 5:02 was a great way to end  a fantastic season. His race report is below: 

After a shaky start with the mass start swim, I got booted and punched and managed to lose my goggles but stopped myself from panicking, stopped for a second, placed them back on and carried on nice and calmly (ish). Surprised after the swim that I wasn’t far off my swim PB but still my weakest discipline by far but certainly something to work on majorly over the winter and future. 

T1 was fairly uneventful and we were out onto the bike, the first 15km or so is pretty undulating with a nice selection of switchbacks on the climb. After that we had some nice descents which you can gain speed and time on those a little more cautious. This nearly made a fool of me on the second lap but with a little luck we managed to keep the bike upright and avoided going off the side of the ride into the valley below.  After a perfectly executed flying dismount (as shown) we were into T2. 

Just a little half Mara to go, in my haze to get out onto the run course, I had forgotten all my gels! My only fuel for the run. Whoops! The first lap was a disaster, severe cramps in my calves halted me to the spot to stretch and walk a little. Luckily they soon eased up and I was able to waddle my way round the first lap of 4. Living off coke, red bull and water aswell as plenty of sponges we soon got into a nice rhythm and the next 3 laps felt pretty comfortable with no signs of cramps or severe fatigue. But I continued with my conservative pace as knowing how well I blew up last week in bournemouth for not pacing it. The last lap was my fastest so this time I paced it perfectly (ish) Half Mara in 1.39 which I’m happy with considering the cramps and heat. 

Total finish time 5.02 mins. Close to my sub 5 target but still super happy with that time and I feel still only 70-80% of my potential. Still time to lose and speed to gain! 

Finally, on to my own race performance. Well, anyone who read my previous blog would know that I was aiming to end the season on a good race. I missed a race at the end of September to rest my  ankle and calf after injuring it at the end of August, preventing me from running in Vichy. It was the right decision, and I had managed to put in a good block of training. Unfortunately, after dropping a water bottle (full I might add) on my foot, I picked up a niggle on the top of my foot. This developed into something a bit more sinister and a week before the event I could not physically run. To be honest, walking was a struggle. Huge thank you to Joe and Clodie who did their very best to make my foot look like a foot rather than a balloon in the lead up to the event, but what ever happened, it clearly was not going to get fixed quickly. I still went to Mallorca, with a heavy heart, hobbling around the airport and hotel, I knew my chances of running were very slim. However, come race day, I racked and lined up on the beach in the female race. I changed my race strategy, to a solid swim and aim to ride the bike fast but sensibly, fuel well to put myself in the best state I could to hobble the run.  The swim was beautiful, crystal clear waters, an all female wave meant that I wasn’t beaten up and swum over, and to be honest, it was thoroughly enjoyable. I exited closer to the pointy end than I expected which was great. Onto the bike which was stunningly beautiful, and a course that was right up my street. My foot did not hurt at all, I felt strong, fueled well, and came in off the bike with 11 mins lead in my Age Group and 6th overall. I was feeling optimistic and hopeful as I dismounted. Unfortunately that lasted for about 5 seconds. I just could not run. I hobbled into the tent, changed, took on some fuel and went onto the run. I didn’t make it very far. It was very painful, and I couldn’t make it for 1 lap let alone 4. I limped back to the tent,  and sat with a bucket full of ice on it.   After 10mins of icing I thought I would give it another bash, so hobbled back out onto the run course, only for the same thing to happen. It just was not going to happen. I found Ade, and made it to the sea to spend the rest of the afternoon, disappointed but in a beautiful place, with the family.

Gutted? Of course I am. I was going well, and was so frustrated for this to have happened perfectly to mess up the last race of the season.  It has been one thing after another this year, but that was always going to be the case. Both Joe and the surgeon made it clear that I would get knock on issues around the ankle and I am sure that this is not completely down to my stupidity, and that it’s all linked.  What now? Well I can wallow in self pity, or I can look at the positives, and be constructive about my weaknesses, and what I need to develop over the winter. This season due to rehab from surgery and spending as much time with my dad in his last months fighting cancer, has meant a somewhat inconsistent approach to my training, and consistency is everything! I had 8 months of no running, and returned with a different run gait, which meant weaknesses, and this could certainly link to the niggles and injuries I have picked up along the way.  So, some downtime now, reflect, work on s and c paying particular focus to proprioreception and strength in my left leg, get even faster on the bike and still keep trying to knock seconds off that swim. And actually as many people keep reminding me, not all of the races have been a complete disaster, and I end the season ranked number 1 in the UK 70.3 AWA, Gold, and 4th in the World. PLUS I have qualified for the 70.3 World Champs 2018.
So………I better get strong and fit! :)

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