The Australian Exit

In my last blog – after the disappointment of Frankfurt and the resulting lack of points for Kona qualification – I was full of anticipation for a key training block leading into the World 70.3 Champs in Australia and the opportunities that race would bring.
Now – sitting on the plane on the first leg of my long journey back to the UK I am reminded once again just how tough this sport can be.  Things can change so quickly, and despite best possible plans and highest motivation, sometimes life takes turns you cannot control. In these situations it is definitely the best idea to roll with the punches rather than taking the nearest exit.
I had just six weeks between Ironman Frankfurt and the World 70.3 Champs, so after a couple of reasonably easy weeks to recover from the rigours of the race I got straight back into a training block to get ready for Australia. During that first week back training I somehow managed to injure my ribs on one side.
It was one of those freak injuries which felt as if it should have been the result of a trauma, but that just appeared for no apparent reason. As anyone who has had a rib/intercostal injury will know, the pain is debilitating and long lasting. I got on with it and trained as best I could, but the pain wore me down and I had to take some time completely off running and swimming.
I am a tough cookie with a high pain threshold, but this was certainly one of the worst injuries I have ever had. I succumbed to the temptation of a course of ibruprofen and thereby kicked off a big IBS/gut flare up to accompany the rib pain. Six days of 24 hour stomach cramps and loss of appetite was not the best backdrop to what was meant to be the hardest period of training for the World Champs. I managed to knock out a couple of decent sessions but I knew I was generally in poor shape. There was no way I was in the kind of form needed to line up with the best on the world triathlon stage.
I have said this in my FB posts and tweets since the race – but who goes all the way to Australia and doesn’t start a race? I do this sport for so many reasons but the main one is that I love it. I just love to race. So I re-evaluated my goals and toed the line. We agreed that I would just “get round”, enjoy the day, and would not be disappointed with the outcome.  I don’t regret it.
The outcome was as expected; I had a truly shocking race. I won’t lie – I was seriously tempted by the “Australian Exit” many times during the race. The bone deep exhaustion from weeks of training in pain and under fuelling had left me without a “race zone” both mentally and physically. But determination and the atmosphere of the race kept me going; I was not going to DNF from this race.
After the race we took stock and made new plans for my season and for next year. I had entered Ironman Wales before we left for Australia, but even as I entered I knew starting was unlikely. Even more so than with 70.3 – you can’t line up for a full distance race as a PRO in poor shape. Not if you want a good result. It’s a shame – I have raced there before and it is a race I would love to go back to.
Not racing a full distance race this side of Christmas also leaves me in something of a poor position for Kona qualification in 2017. But, like I said, the only thing I can do is roll with the punches. After some rest now I will start back training with the 70.3 in Xiamen, China in November as my immediate goal. I hope to have a bit more time to train later on this year as I plan to reduce my hours at work a little.
We never quite know what our bodies have in store for us, but I can only work hard and persevere.  As Mark always says – it’s the consistency that counts. Here’s hoping the next few months hold pain free training and low work stress. I’m looking forward to it.
Thanks to all my sponsors and supporters – but especially HUUBAftershokz and Specialized – these guys pull out all the stops time and again to help make these races happen. I couldn’t do it without them.