I finished 2013 in a good place. Flying on the run for a second in the grand final, and an eight in the overall series. Starting my winter training buzzing and ready to push on for more podiums and a higher ranking.
On reflection I was too keen in my winter training to get going and get back fit and ready for training. That coupled with a bike accident in November which resulted in a major back issue meant by Christmas I was barely doing anything. A caudal injection in January and I was panicking I might not even get on the start line for the Commonwealths in the summer.
Coach changed home base from Australia to USA and whilst all my group were blogging about training sets in San Diego, I was at home doing rehab exercises and virtually no training. I would miss this block and all the Australasia training and races whilst rehabbing.
It was with trepidation I caught up with the squad in South Africa in Early April. I felt very unfit, and was looking forward to get some training done. Travel and training wasn't great for my back, but I felt ok after the pressure was released a couple of days later, and my pre-hab exercises became habitual. I really enjoyed South Africa as a training venue.
We decided I would have a pop at the Cape Town WTS race to test out my swim/ bike, and so I had some points on the board in the series! Remarkably I finished 16th in the race. A far cry form my heroics in hyde park, but for what I’d gone through in the last five months that was an equally impressive result. This perhaps overshot my current level of fitness, and with a bit more training I was hopeful going into Yokohama. A bit too hopeful perhaps as the race used all my energy reserves and i got a cold which hampered my training pre Yokohama. However I felt great when I got there, and had an excellent swim and good early stages of the bike. We ended up as one massive pack, my run legs hadn’t arrived in the post, and I was fatigued from all the travel, and possibly the cold, finishing 22nd.
It was a tinge of disappointment after the unexpected result in Cape town that I headed back home in the hope to try and get fit. The next two races presented a different challenge being half distance races. Obviously you need to be adaptable but I’m an Olympic distance triathlete. I am however beginning to love London! After having a hate-hate relationship with that course, (crashing twice in 2010 & 2012) I pretty much ticked all my boxes for an excellent eighth place. I began to get excited again about my season.
Getting fitter heading back to one of my favourite venues, Hamburg I was hopeful of some progress. An OK 9th was the result. Again ticking a lot of boxes, putting myself in a good position but just not having that zip in my run, for obvious reasons. Next stop Glasgow.
I had been looking forward to representing NI for a couple of years, and hoped with a good couple of weeks training in Morzine I could still be successful. We had a great training block in Avoiriaz/ Morzine prior to Glasgow, and I went in very hopeful. On reflection I probably was pretty fit if not my fittest of the season. I had managed to catch up well! On the day the atmosphere was amazing. The support for me from the crowd was incredible, and I responded by smashing the swim, brilliant transition, and great cycle. We had a bit of a breakaway at the front of the cycle group and if the cards had fallen slightly differently perhaps the four of us could have got away and I may have had an even better day!
All in all I cycled well- felt good, make some attacks on the bike, and went into the run in a great position. Sitting in the front group of a major games was exciting and more than I’d hoped for at xmas time. Unfortunately as the laps went by my legs gave way a little each downhill. I would get cramps on the downhill with the eccentric loads, then all of a sudden catch up again feeling great. However in a World Class field you can’t afford to have any weaknesses and unfortunately my legs eventually gave way. Overall satisfied with a sixth place, being in contention, I gave it my all, and thats all i can ask of myself. It was great that my room-mate and training partner Jodie got the gold. Having watched her hard work and dedication over the past two years, she totally deserves to be Commonwealth champ.
Two days later we had the relay for the first time at a major champs. I had a little frustration in me from the individual and wanted to lead the team to a good position. I absolutely smashed the swim/ bike/ run to hand over to Conor in second place just behind Canada. Our wee team from NI finished sixth overall, a proud moment.
Following the disappointment it was good for a change to have the distraction of the World Series and the grand final to come! I knew now I was in decent shape and with a little bit of sculpting by Coachdaz I could finish the season with a bang.
Back to France for some hard work! The next venue was Stockholm which was cold. At times you think the ITU follow the bad weather round the world! An unusually awful swim for me meant race over. I got a bit of fatigue into the legs on the bike, and for the first time this season I felt like I could sprint, outsprinting a few good runners for an 11th place- first of the second pack (there are no prizes for that!)
On to the final in Canada. A quick turnaround of a few days was a big ask for the athletes, and a few people chose to avoid Stockholm for this reason. As I had missed some races I did not have that choice. I felt good in Canada I training and ready for the race. However another stinking swim put me way out of contention and basically out of the race. I almost bridged up, but I had just given myself too much to do. I got out on the run feeling ok, but nothing special looking like I could perhaps run into the top 20. As the k’s went by I started challenging myself to catch a few people and by the last lap was passing athletes all over the place. As I came towards the blue carpet I could see what I thought was Sarah Groff (who had been leading at one stage) in front of me and thought she must of blown up! As we crossed the line someone asked was I fifth and I said ‘no’, thinking I was about fifteenth. I heard Groffy confirming she was fourth and was ecstatic!! I had ran the second fastest run time and had overtaken about 30 people! It was my highest position of the season, and in the big one! This meant overall eighth in the series again. Obviously that is exciting but after some time I was very disappointed with my swim and what could have been!
As I write this my group is preparing for their first camp of the year in Kenya. It will be nice to catch up with the guys after a few months break, as we all begin our lap of the world! I’ve won a couple of local cross country races at home, and have been doing a bit of mountain biking and other fun activities since starting back. There are a few new venues on the circuit this year, plus few old favourites. I’ll be taking in the Rio world cup to get a look at the course. This time next winter the countdown to the Olympics will be on!