As the New year rolls around, most people have set their New year resolutions and goals. January 1 seems to evoke all kinds of inspiration! But means little if the other 364 days aren't also as important. But still, it is nice for people to draw a line in the sand and say, ok, Iets change.
I have not set all my new years 'resolutions'. Largely some of my fundamentals stay similar to me every year, and revolve around trying to be a good, kind, empathetic and understanding person, no matter how shitty I may feel! After being on the receiving end of a deflating year, I realised again why I set these generic goals above and foremost before I set my personal goals. Because with these, and if everyone else follows a similar thought process, all other goals become more achievable. You have a positive support team all around you and someone there to pick you up if you stumble. You stay the right side of that line in the sand. I started my year on the right side, but ended my year on the wrong side. So 2019 must have change, once again.
2018 started out to what I believed had huge potential. I finished the 2017 season on a high, made some positive changes, I had good people working with me and a plan that would give me a good kick start on previous years. Pumped for a solid off season, and the chance to start a year with real confidence.
The only hiccup, was at the end of 2017 I herniated a disc in my back. I had a month break shortly after and assumed it would be all healed come start of the year. No big deal. But I was sooo far off the mark here. These things take ages! Fast forward 15 months and it is only now I feel I'm almost completely on top of it! Long story short this caused a variety of issues all year, and I wasn't able to start any real run/ riding until mid year.
Silver lining, my coach and I had planned a big swimming block anyway, so come February I packed my bags and headed over to Noosa to swim with coach JR and his squad. Though still feeling like I had a metal rod down my back I managed to log some big aquatic miles to keep me fit for my first few World Cups of the year to race my spaghetti legs!...and these races were nicely soul destroying! After living amphibian life for few months and seeing no real gains in the water in my first few races, patience and moral was really tested!
Anyway I stayed optimistic and we soldier on. From here it was off to Summer base, in St Moritz, Switzerland. A mind blowingly pretty, alpine corner of the world. I had a few very short weeks to eek out as much as I could on spaghetti legs before Duathlon Word Champs. I so much wanted to go back to back for a world title, but I chose to think bigger picture, and focus on swimming, so I knew the legs would be pretty undercooked.
DUATHLON WORLD CHAMPS
Duathlon Worlds. Short and sweet. Race was tough. I felt decidedly average from the get go, having been sick the week prior, and running on some undertrained pins. I did everything I could to give myself every possible opportunity to succeed, but the course didn't allow for the advantage, and my running legs weren't there this time to pull off anything spectacular. I finished 4th, disappointing, but somewhat expected.
After this things started to go south. I got sick again the day after Duathlon, I had not been feeling well, obviously not having kicked the bug from the week prior, my disc was giving me grief, and I'd lost a few weeks of any decent training sick in bed. I'd finished on the podium at Zurich 5150, a few weeks after, but was feeling disappointed with another poor performance and upset seeing my year starting to slide.
After this race, my coach left me, along with a pile of confidence, and consistency. This was extremely challenging, and the most deflating aspect of my year. I struggled to stay motivated at this point, and was emptying all reserves to keep training and stay positive. I thought I had hit my speed bumps earlier in the year, but reality is mid year I took the harder punches.
70.3 WORLD CHAMPS
A little battered, little broken, pissed off, but a little excited, I got myself to the start line of 70.3 World Champs in South Africa. Not in the condition I had wanted or anticipated to be in, but it would deliver a great experience none the less. Having had to shift my original performance goal posts significantly, given my lead in circumstances, I could no longer expect the outcome or race performance I would have hoped for. The biggest challenge was staying positive and keeping my head in the game. Boy oh boy was I suffering out there! Good swim, but poor start positioning choice, cost me the 1st chase pack, but lead the chase 2 with Salty, and exited with some other strong cyclists just behind.
All things considered I actually rode a level above what I felt I deserved, given my scattered prep. But as anticipated, around 60 km my wheels started to fall off. ( metaphorically speaking ) But the biggest problem was actually my neck cramping up, I couldn't hold position. To the point by the time I got 5 km from T2, I physically could no longer lift my head at all to see. I've never experienced such discomfort in a 70.3 before in my life! I have never wanted to get off my bike so bad in a race before! I was in agony! I honestly thought if I didn't get off that bike soon, I would crash anyway or my head would roll off haha. Luckily T2 appeared before me like an oasis in the desert, and I could hit my favourite leg, running. No surprises, I ran my considerably slowest ever half, and took in many more gels than usual to try and milk out every last drop of my withering legs. I finished 14th. A long day!
Performance wise for me it was below my capability. That was not a shock. But given what I had to work with, what I had put in, I don't think I could ask for much more out of my body at the time. For that I am grateful. Plus an amazing opportunity, a new continent for me, and the chance to tick off a bucket list experience of seeing the big wild animals in a game park!
This pretty much wrapped up my year in a nutshell. It won't go down as my favourite year, more to the opposite. But still a chance to appreciate the important bigger things in life. After a few months at home fixing and nutting through some essentials, the body is feeling and working 10 x better, and is better equipped to handle what I will throw at it again in 2019. The hardest part for me will be gaining trust and confidence to share this process again. Got some tools again, chassis is back in business, now to start the building process. :)