After and agonising 8 weeks from training with a suspected bleed on the brain my Dr gave me the all clear to start light training and progressively get back into triathlon. I’m not going to lie the light sessions was really tough, my legs felt light bricks, my breathing was arduous I was continuously getting light dizzy spells. After missing three key races due to the absence from the sport I was very eager to get racing again, I had already missed the opportunity to try and qualify for the world championships which was already leaving a bitter taste in my mouth, so I was just going to have to race for fun I guess and just see what sort of damage the forced rest had done to my physiological gains I had made throughout the lead up to my qualifying for the European championships and my epic win at Posieden triathlon.
It soon became apparent that I had not lost any of my endurance and I was easily churning out the long steady duration training sessions but what I had lost was the top end of my fitness, zones 5 and 6. For some reason I just could not get my heart rate anywhere near the maximal range I had set back in May. I had already booked a race that I had competed in last year where I came 4th place and I was eager to slip into a podium position this year, obviously there was going to be no chance now but seen as though I had convinced a fellow team mate to also compete I was just going to go along for the jolly.
I arrived on race morning and this actual race is set in epic landscape of the lake district at Bassingthwaite lake. The race usually attracted some big names with a couple of top elites taking part and winning last year. I had no expectations going into the race and to be quite frank with myself I was just pleased I was back racing in the sport I dearly love again as if I hadn’t of recovered from the assault I could have been never racing again. I got into the water and took up the same position as last year as I remembered it was quite a good line to take. As usual the swim start was like a washing machine and I had a little battle to find my own water so I could just get settled into a rhythmical stroke. I exited the water in 5th place so I was very pleased I had not forgot how swim which was a relief. However, the cycle leg was where it had hit me the most I just found the whole task very taxing and I just didn’t seem to be holding any speed what so ever. My fellow team mate past me like I was standing still and so did two or three over bikes. I held on after that just praying not many more athletes would pass me as I still really wanted to do well as I guess that is just the traits of any athlete. I came in of the bike in 9th place and I was absolutely spent. I lumbered around in t2 and if it wasn’t for the support from my amazing girlfriend I would probably of just crawl behind a bush and went to sleep. I started the run and I was hoping my strongest discipline would just carry me through to the end of the race. I managed to overtake two athletes which made me feel better about myself. I finally crossed the line in 7th place which when I think back to when I couldn’t get of the sofa for two weeks I had in reality done amazing. The guy who had won the race, I had actually beat the previous year and my team mate who I actually coach at my club had took second place so even though I hadn’t made it myself I was still really pleased for my friend.
So what am I going to take from this experience, most of all I have learned not to take things for granted. My fitness levels were an asset I had required over years of hard training and they can be lost so easily. The friends and family I had around me are what made me come back and do this race as I was really considering of just ending my season early. But most of all this race made me realise just how much I love this sport and maybe just maybe approaching the race with not much expectations made me relax beforehand and treat it more like a grass roots game.
Yours in health, Coach Craig