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A substantial period of time has elapsed since I last wrote a blog. There was this thing that gripped the whole world, you see, and  suddenly triathlon wasn’t the most important thing in our lives anymore…!

In all seriousness, the year(s) we lost to Covid, coupled with a monumental increase in my professional workload, kind of put triathlon – and blog writing – on the backburner for a bit.

Do people even read blogs anymore? Is this is a bit early 2000s era? Should this be a YouTube video instead? Well, you’ve made it this far…. Let’s crack on!

Probably not an unfamiliar sensation for some of you, but at the start of 2022, I wasn’t feeling triathlon. Sacrilege, of course, given that I was on the road to turning pro at the end of 2019…. But I got kind of busy. Really busy, in fact - professionally, I had (and still have) more responsibility and workload than ever before. As I am a freelance/contractor, I take it when I can get it. And there just so happens to be a lot of it. A good thing, I’m sure you’ll agree. 

But with long working long days and pressure mounting, my head was in a place where I couldn’t really cope with the additional pressure from racing. Or even training, for that matter! The thought of 5 hours on Zoom, 11 hour work days, and then trying to hit certain power on the turbo or fit in double training session days? No thanks.

Moreover, I was STILL struggling with biomechanical issues, couldn’t run much – certainly no high intensity – and basically I felt out of shape. Ever feared going back to something knowing you’ll be less good at it? Yeah, that. 

So, I randomly and spontaneously took up gravel cycling, mountain biking, and climbed a few mountains again. It was awesome. I was still keeping pretty active – doing something every day, if not twice a day (once a triathlete, always a triathlete!) but I had no structured plan and certainly no structured sessions. I just bumbled around having active adventures, doing whatever I felt like. Kind of like an 8-month off-season, haha!

In March, I made the decision not to race the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. A few friends tried to convince me to race anyway, but I flatly refused. I didn’t want the pressure of training (hell I didn’t even WANT to train, not in that way anyway), and I certainly didn’t want to turn up and just hate it and be completely crap. This was the right decision. No triathlons. 

I was relishing the low-pressure environment of gravel events – you rock up, no-one cares when you start, or when you finish, you can lie around at aid stations, drink beer at the finish (no medal or swag), and they don’t even record finishing places. Bliss. 

This was exactly what I needed. Maybe triathlon was over for me. Maybe even forever. Maybe I’d achieved everything I needed to, or was going to.

Until… I distinctly recall driving back from the lake one sunny summer morning in August, and messaging a friend. 

“I think I miss triathlon”.

He replied with the very appropriate “Do you miss training, or racing?”. I think it was a bit of both, but mainly the racing, because I was still doing a fair bit of (I use the term loosely here) ‘training’.

I shrugged it off in a moment of madness and went out on my gravel bike to work out how to do those little rear wheel flicks over stones. This was about the extent of my goals at this stage! 

In late August, on (yet) another client Zoom call, my startup company, Body Rocket, said they planned to be in St George, Utah for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.   


My mind was reeling. It would KILL me to be there, knowing I had a spot, and watch everyone else race while I stood on by. It couldn’t happen.

Right, so that means 10 weeks of panic training then…

I got a coach on the basis of “how fit can you get me in 10 weeks” (no pressure then!). I hadn’t worked with a coach since early 2021, and certainly hadn’t done any structured training for 8 months. I was fit, but I was long way away from RACE fit. That’s a whole different level.

I had actually started to miss the buzz of triathlon. The immersion that comes with mentally, physically  and emotionally applying yourself day in day out – before you even get to race day. 

The nerves, the apprehension, the excitement, the loudspeaker on race morning, the smell of neoprene, the gentle hum of athletes prepping in transition in the dark, the rollercoaster of emotion during the race, the strategic fuelling (“when is it time for my next gel”), the glance across at other competitor bib numbers to work out if they’re in your age group, those first few strides out of T2 when you know if you’re going to have a good run or not, the soft and quiet tap tapping of runners on a quiet part of the run course, the chaos at aid stations, the spectators cheering you on at the last corner, the red carpet, your name being called as you go over the line, the camaraderie, the emotion, elation, fulfilment when you finish…. 

You don’t get this in many other sports. 

So, I started an 8-week training block to get me to the start line – with the primary objective of not feeling utterly rubbish and suffering throughout the whole thing. I certainly wasn’t aiming high (no podium hopes here!), but the main objective for me was to enjoy it. As cliched as that sounds, it’s what I needed. For the reason that, deep down, I knew if I wanted to reignite my love for triathlon, I had to have an enjoyable race. And it wasn’t going to be enjoyable if I attached performance to the outcome.

Having said that, I trained pretty hard. I was juggling some high work pressure with 15 hour training weeks, and my sessions were pretty solid. I rarely failed on any of them – in fact, it seemed I hadn’t lost an awful lot. Sure, there was some sharpness lacking, but on the whole I felt pretty good about heading out there.

Race week, unsurprisingly, seemed to come around rapidly. I was out in Utah working, so it was an unusual lead-in to the race. Every day, I saw all the other athletes busy doing course recces, final race prep sessions, and getting their feet up, carb loading, and thinking through all their race tactics and kit choices. I was far too busy for all that! I was out with my team doing aerodynamic testing on the bike all day. I couldn’t even complete my planned taper sessions let alone any course recces. I was going into it completely blind. I was on my feet a lot. I was eating badly. It was all ok though – this was for enjoyment, after all!

On race morning, the air temperature was 3 degrees which caused a great deal of panic across the women’s field. I for one, KNOWN for not racing in the UK because of the shocking weather, was unimpressed at best. I shotgun purchased a fluffy jumper and fleecey jogging bottoms from Walmart to wear on race morning before the swim, and taped up the vents in my cycling shoes. It’s all about innovation! I planned to wear arm warmers and a lightweight jacket, while trying not to chuck myself in front of an oncoming truck to escape the hell of the freezing cold.

I caught the shuttle bus to Sand Hollows reservoir for the swim start at 5.30am, feeling weirdly numb. I wasn’t excited, I wasn’t nervous. I felt nothing at all. I almost craved an adrenaline rush – where was it!? A bit of dance music and jumping around on the start line helped a bit (nothing like 3,000 whooping girls is there), but it was still way off my usual pre-race jitters.

Let’s not talk about swimming! So my swimming was very limited this year - I knew I wouldn’t be breaking records. Basically, I put minimal effort in to save myself for the bike and run. Enough to keep warm and vaguely move in a forward direction – this was pretty much reflected in my split time… 

Having not raced a single triathlon for a whole year, it was almost like I was a little afraid of going too hard. I wanted more than anything to feel good, strong, and enjoy the whole day. I was holding back but, and I probably shouldn’t admit this, but a small part of me also couldn’t really be bothered to push. I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove and wasn’t really bothered about my time or placing.

After a fairly (very) slow swim, I exited the water into the frozen wild and layered up ready for the Arctic bike mission. The first 20-30 minutes of the bike was, with no embellishment, absolutely horrendous. Probably like everyone else at this point, I was severely questioning my life choices and desperately trying to conjure up images of lying on a tropical beach somewhere. 

Looking at my power, I kind of scoffed at the target and decided I wasn’t going to try and stick to it. Plan B – race in comfort zone! I really wanted to feel comfortable – knowing there was a fair bit of climbing ahead of me, plus the longest run I’d have done all year, I decided to race ‘within myself’. I settled into what was essentially a nice Sunday ride, with better views.

It was obviously a bit too comfortable, because I was actually enjoying it. I got to halfway and felt a little pang of remorse that there was only 45k of cycling left! You what!?  I was soaking up the scenery, pushing a little harder on the climbs (thanks off-road cycling), cruising the flats, and getting as aero as possible on the downhills. The time (and kilometers) flew by.

Before I knew it I was flying into T2 with exactly the same bike split that my coach had predicted – it was just 15 watts lower than our plan! But I couldn’t care less.

I set out on the run feeling strong and comfortable, and wanted to keep it that way. The course was hilly, with essentially the first 5k completely uphill. My feet were still numb and only started to regain feeling at around 5km, by which point my lungs began to hurt – even at Sunday run pace! I was quite worried about pushing it at all on the run because my lungs felt raw – I’m not even going to blame Covid at this point, I’m not sure what caused it, but I definitely didn’t feel right. So, once again, I raced within myself. My stomach surprisingly was coping extremely well with the gels – I had barely practised using them in training – although in fairness, I probably wasn’t pushing myself hard enough and could have had a whole pizza in T2 and still felt fine. Better still though, after 18 months of only easy running, no speed sessions at all, and ongoing management of the niggles I had been experiencing in my right leg, I felt completely fine on the run. There wasn’t even a hint of pain – this was a win in itself!

Just like the bike, the run seemed to go quite quickly thanks to some support from the lads out there; I was enjoying the process and racing comfortably within myself. Then, I was rounding that last corner, soaring past the cheering crowds and heading towards that familiar mahogany-rich voice of Paul Kaye on the loudspeaker. I have to confess, running down that finish carpet felt incredible. I was glowing. I was back.

I finished in 5:26 – certainly not a fast time for me but definitely one I was happy with, considering I had only done 8 weeks of structured training and it was essentially a work trip for me with a bonus race at the end (and a lot of pre-race cookies!).

But really, who cares about results and times and placings. Unless you’re a professional athlete, we are doing this for fun. It’s supposed to be for enjoyment. It had been a long time since the only planned outcome was enjoyment, and for me, this was a win in and unto itself.

Now, while I’ve talked about not caring about performance, I’m going to flip-reverse it a bit. Truthfully, it was encouraging to know I am capable of much more. Although I knew that in a way, it was consolidated by having cruised through the race comfortably and my body feeling fine/no soreness or niggles in the days post-race. Of course I know I could have pushed harder, but I don’t regret not pushing harder – I didn’t need to. 

I needed to get there within the context of a pretty stressful and busy year, and I needed to not spend the day feeling frustrated or upset that I couldn’t hit an arbitrary number. I didn’t care about numbers. I wanted to race by feel. I wanted to experience that addictive rush of achievement, the glow that courses through your veins after crossing the finish line, that deep craving in the bottom of your belly when you want more. I had missed all of that – and now it was back. The spark is reignited...