Well, what an eventful season it has been, full of highs and also lows. It’s probably been the toughest year of triathlon I’ve had since I started racing 4 years ago. I had lots of preconceived ideas coming into this season. I figured I’d fly in every race, finishing in the top 3, and my triathlon career would be well and truly underway.
Changes and Challenges
I faced a lot of changes and challenges this year:
- new coach which came with a new coaching set up (camps in sunny Cyrpus) and a new coaching approach (TriSutto methodology)
- new job working hours
- first full season competing as a pro
- first year of being married (obviously this goes without saying how important it is to me which is why it is not top of the list ;P)
- illness and injuries
- hormone imbalances, possibly RED syndrome (relative energy deficiency)
Race season started slowly, as in May I unexpectedly came down with shingles, probably as a result of the stresses I listed above, which I didn’t realise at the time. However, my season kicked into gear with a win at Chomondeley Castle Triathlon in June.
- In July, I unexpectedly found myself on the starting line of a full ironman in Vitoria Gasteiz. Even more surprising was that not only did I manage to cross the finish line, I actually managed to finish 4th! I was extremely proud of this result seeing as I’d never ran a marathon before and all my previous training had been focused on the 70.3 distance. This gave me what everyone calls the “Ironman bug”, determined to do another one, but with perhaps more focused training beforehand.
- In August, I faced the best in the world, Daniela Ryf in a race in Poland. There’s nothing like getting soundly beaten by someone to let you know how far you still have to go to reach your goal. Perhaps this memory still being fresh in the memory led me to set a bike PB the following week in a race in Finland.
- In September, I entered the Ironman 70.3 at Weymouth. My greatest achievement at this race was simply to cross the finish line due to an injury I picked up after a bike crash making the run rather slow and painful.
- I had planned to race Ironman Barcelona in October, but I couldn’t my injury from Weymouth didn’t heal quick enough to enter. I was really looking forward to testing myself again to see how far I’d come from my first Ironman in July but the anticipation will have to wait now until 2019.
Looking back at my results from the season, it’s now clear that I didn’t cope with all the changes and stress as well as I thought. I don’t regret any of the decisions I made but I think it probably took me until about July to get used to everything both mentally and physically. This was 7 months later than I expected.
- Coach: One of the things I have really enjoyed about this year is working with Perry, my coach. We have spent a lot of time together, getting to know how each other works and it has been a steep learning curve. I really admire his approach and attitude towards coaching. You can see the passion in his eyes, which is inspiring and contagious. It drives me to get the most out of myself and be the athlete he believes I can be. I want to get the results for me, but also for him and the rest of my team of sponsors who support me. I trust him and his processes and there is no way I would have stood on the start of that full ironman if I didn’t.
- Myself: Although I have ended the season on a frustrating low, I have also finished feeling like a better, stronger athlete. I still love swimming, biking and running and when you put them all together, I love them even more! I think my swimming has finally turned a corner, although the frustration is far from over and there will always be room for improvement. My cycling has stepped up to another level. I am hitting and maintain speeds I wasn’t capable of in the past, and despite this I still feel there is plenty to work on. My running has been stable, but our focus has been on the bike so I am looking forward to attacking that over the winter.
- Team: This year more than ever I am incredibly grateful for support team I have around me. My body couldn’t recover if it wasn’t for the smart training, massages, my chiropractor and physio’s help. This is especially true as sometimes I make last minute requests to them and they’re always very accommodating of my needs. The same applies to my bike and nutrition too so thank you also to Paddock cycles and GoFasterFood for sorting out my emergency requests. My costs have gone through the roof this year so the financial support from my sponsors has made a huge difference to enable me to continue to race and train.
- Friends: Triathlon never ceases to amaze me. I have met some wonderful people this year through the squad training and ETE camps in Cyprus as well as other Pros at races. It turns out they are actually human too!
- Pro racing: I have learnt this year that more often than not there is a top 3 and then everyone else. Those that are able to make those podium steps are on another level, they often don’t work and are able to keep winning money to sustain themselves. Then there is everyone else, fighting for the remaining prize money and there is a mixture of those who do and don’t work. With another winters training under my belt I hope to be much closer to the ever elusive podium next year.
- Why? I am not going to lie, there have been times this year when I have really questioned what I am doing? Why am I doing it? Is it really worth it? Am I really good enough? Triathlon doesn’t just impact me but my husband and our life together. There is no “I” anymore as every decision made impacts us both. I don’t like to use the word “sacrifice” as if we have to sacrifice something then I don’t think that is the right attitude or place to be in. For me, triathlon does however require compromising and living a certain way and putting certain things on hold. So, when I haven’t achieved the results I set out to achieve this year it throws everything up in the air. However, I have by no means reached my full potential yet. There is a lot of room for improvement despite seeing progress throughout the year. This is what I have to keep reminding myself.
- Working hours: Work allowed me to temporarily go part time in January – June. They very kindly allowed me to extended this to the end of September as I hadn’t raced as much as I’d expected to by then in order to make an informed decision about my permanent contract. Yet in September I still hadn’t really achieved the results I needed to give us both the financial support to go part time permanently. The lack of prize money meant there was a possibility of having to go back to full time work and possibly giving up on my dreams. This thought upset me a lot and I was racking my brain to find options which would enable me to continue to pursue my dreams. Fortunately to my relief, some sponsorship discussions (including some new ones which I will very excitedly be announcing soon) I had been having, came to fruition at exactly the right time.
- Training structure: Perry doesn’t send me my training programme for the following day until I’ve finished my sets for that day. This was a bit of a shock to the system as I like to be organised. Being a busy person, this had led to some degree of frustration from my friends, family and team. But I think everyone has just about adapted to it now and we’ve found ways of working around it. I have just become a lastminute.com person. Sorry everyone, and thank you for your patience!
Drive to succeed
Now more than ever I am hungry to be successful. It was almost within my reach at the end of this season but it was snatched away from me at the last minute. Finishing early was frustrating but will give me fire to get through this winter and emerge revitalised, even stronger and hunting down those podium places in 2019.
Thank you to everyone who makes this possible including my husband, Alastair and coach, Perry Agass, ETE Racing Team, Hireco Ltd, Everyone Active Sporting Champions, Funkita, Ed Kirby Physiotherapy, I am Body Wise, Takeley Chiropractic, TrueStartCoffee, GoFaster Food, Fenland Runner, Akasha Wellness, Yonda Sports and Paddock Cycles, Tees Law