Disappointments, decisions and determination

The last race of the 2015 Kona Points Ranking (KPR) season for me was the 70.3 European Championships in Wiesbaden. I took a last minute decision to race after my surprising result at Ironman UK put me within touching distance of Kona qualification. I went to Wiesbaden in two minds. I love racing, but on this occasion I didn’t feel physically like racing- although mentally I was determined to achieve that magic top 7 finish and land myself a Kona slot. I knew it was a long shot with such a good field- but I figured if I didn’t try I would never know.

On the day I battled for every inch of progress from swim to bike to run. In the end I was just happy to finish in one piece –albeit in 11th place and well out of the required points.  I can’t say I enjoyed the race itself – the constant battle between heart and body was exhausting – but I enjoyed the experience. Wiesbaden is a fabulous place and I met some wonderful people who looked after me and supported me throughout. Disappointed, I flew back to the UK just a few hours after finishing – and made my way (long way!) to Tiree. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. This small island off the West coast of Scotland is a hidden gem. With no mobile reception and only one shop (for food) it is the perfect place to unwind and go “off grid”.

Reflection brought me clarity on the utterly ridiculous nature of my disappointment. I had started 2015 debating with myself if I ought to be racing alongside the professional ladies. Just a few months later I was upset not to be ranked in the top 41 ladies in the world (I discovered 35 women to Kona actually means 41). Somewhere along the way my expectations had changed – and nearly prevented me from celebrating the successes. That is a trap athletes fall into all too often – never satisfied with performance and always searching for the next step. I was reminded by family and friends to take some time out and enjoy the well-earned rest.

August and the start of Sept mainly involved celebrating, resting, recouperating, and being a little frustrated at the state my body was in. After 3x full ironman races and 2x 70.3’s within 5 months – I was ready for some downtime. I had niggles to sort, and strength to build after neglecting the gym for a couple of months. Osteopath treatment and massage took priority and after about 5 weeks of low level activity I felt ready to start training again. These periods of low level training and recovery are so important in an athlete’s programme if they are to continue to progress, so although difficult at the time these weeks were essential.

Now that we fully understand the qualification system for Kona (sort of!) I realise that if I want a place in 2016 I have to race tactically. There are girls in Kona this time round who I have beaten this season. It is not just about getting results – it is racing the right races. Difficult decisions played on my mind throughout my down time – where to race – what distances to race – but in the end my body made the decisions for me.  Our plan had been for me to race at least one Ironman race whilst all the top girls are in Kona. Ironman Mallorca was top of our hit list – but disappointingly with an enforced rest I am now not going to be able to race until November at the earliest. Perhaps I can squeeze a 70.3 in – but Ironman Langkawi (Malaysia) is now the focus. A tough course – it should suit me, and if the weather is as bad as it can be that will make it even more interesting.

So decisions made- until the end of 2015 at least. Now I am just getting back on with the daily grind of training and working. Fitting my training week around my work can be difficult and it is certainly exhausting. There is an endless round of admin to ensure I eat well, have the right kit for training, have enough energy for training, and am at work with enough brainpower for the demands of my profession. Getting back in the gym has been a welcome change and working on my strength always pays off. It helps that I am more determined than ever.

If you want to learn more about how I make use of the gym to build triathlon essential strength then you can join Mark and I early next year for a strength workshop