Thursday, 2 April 2009

Trains, (more) trains and automobiles

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and it’s been an eventful couple of weeks so here’s a quick catch up.

First off, in my first week back in Taunton I was struck down by a very severe bout of ‘yellow label fever’. This was a very violent gastric reaction to something growing on a packet of quick-sale scones which I was too (hugry/tired/inherbiated/all of the above) to notice after a bargain hunting spree at Tesco. Serves me right I suppose, but 3 days of rear-end evacuation at alarming flow rates was kind of frightening. I came close to calling for an ambulance at one point. Needless to say I was pretty weak after 3 days of fasting, so did not train much for the rest of the week. Luckily it was a nice weekend and I was able to get back on the bike and push the pedals around feebly on Saturday followed with a easy 2hr run on Sunday.

Jeremy Lazarus, had asked me to assist him in a seminar/presentation that he was holding as part of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust ‘Harnessing Talent’ event on the 24-25th March, in Leeds. Jeremy is a NLP master practitioner with whom I have had a reciprocal back-scratching, door-opening relationship since working together a few years ago when he first started using his NLP for athletes, and needed a guinea pig. So, last week I was treated to an all expenses paid 2 –day conference in Leeds, aimed at helping retired or retiring athletes into the working ‘market place’ – or real world. You should read more about this fantastic initiative, masterminded by Kelly Holmes herself in response to her own feelings of lost direction and identity, having achieved her athletic dreams and facing the realisation that the next step was ‘retirement’ – in her thirties. The majority of the other delegates were either retired or about to retire athletes who had enjoyed at least partial funding to pursue their Olympic medal dreams for most of their life. Almost every person that I spoke to had been to either Beijing, Sydney or both ..and many had won medals! I was NOT worthy! However, I was pleased to meet some really genuine, interesting and super-friendly people well as learn, from the many seminars and guest speakers, the very real value that sports people can bring to the workplace. Not just utilising their sporting experience for sports related work like coaching, mentoring or inspiring kids, but in general as dynamic, driven, resourceful and hardworking personalities that athletes of this calibre are by nature. Our presentation was very well received and Jeremy has asked me to present at another of his training courses later in the year.

From Leeds, my next stop was a trip across the north of England to visit Steven and his leg in Stokesly, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. The visit was almost entirely chaperoned by Rita, his mum, who has been taking care of his every need since our return to the UK, and although we have not always seen eye to eye, I found a new level of respect and affection for her this weekend. Really, nothing is too much trouble for her -it’s hard to believe that she is nearly 70 years old the amount of energy that she has to give. So she drove Steven and my bike from London to Leeds, collected me and then across to Stokesly - a full day of driving. I had packed the bike in the hope but not much expectations that I’d get a chance to use it, but Steven virtually pushed e out of the door both Thursday and Friday! I am very grateful for this – not only was this giving up precious hours that we could have spent together, but that sort of help is much needed at the moment when I am seriously lacking in motivation. I love riding on the moors, but feeling so weary still, with grey and windy weather and without company, I really wasn’t raring to go. Alarmingly just 3 hours rolling easy over that terrain was about as much as I could ride at the moment – but I had to remind myself that it was less than 3 weeks since the Ironman.

Friday afternoon I was getting on another train for a weekend in London, where I hoped to hook up with some Tri London club-mates for a ride on Saturday and then do the Gade Valley 20 mile training run with my sister and other friends on Sunday. This is an excellent series of non competitive training run that the Hemel Hempstead based club organise each year in the lead up to London Marathon. The route is picturesque and on very quite roads around Ashridge, mile marked and marshalled with water stops. It really is an excellent opportunity for race pacing and nutrition practice, as well as a great social event – the same faces turn up there for the 12, 17 and 20 mile runs each year, and despite all the very good reasons for doing so, I think that it’s mostly for the cakes afterwards! Well, I had an awful run…my plan had been to run it ‘as I felt’ – and very conservatively. I felt that setting off on just under 8 min pace was pretty conservative, but only 4 or 5 miles in my calves were really hurting. It’s a hilly course and the up-hills became progressively tougher and down-hill sections increasingly painful. Unfortunately most of the long down hill sections are in the later stages of the route. My pace just slowed and slowed whilst everyone I knew – including my sister in the end – went past me. I was seriously worried that I was doing damage and inhibiting my recovery and preparations for the London Marathon – my target marathon race. I am scheduled to run Taunton Marathon - as defending ladies champion!- the following weekend, and of course I began questioning the sanity of that, too. I felt too sick for cakes afterwards, so Lotte and I shoved a couple in our bags for later in the day!!

Sunday evening I arrived back ‘home’ in Taunton. It was a fun trip, but really I am glad to be back home and settled, to get into a good routine and begin my preparations for the Ironman Lanzarote.

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