After racing at The World Championships in Spain in June, both my body and mind needed a break! The race in Spain took a lot out of me and the first words a said after the race were 'I am never doing that again' or something similar to that with a couple of additional choice words thrown in.
Before I started this journey into duathlon I was an avid runner. I loved it, it was my therapy, effortless yet challenging at the same time. I could push myself if I wanted to but could still relax and get lost in the rhythmical flow of my feet hitting the ground and the scenery passing me by. Since training for duathlons, my running has become a bit more serious and structured and there's no doubt that my performance has improved, my mind on the other hand hasn't experienced the same improvements.
Don't get me wrong, I love training hard and I love racing more than anything but somewhere along the way I seemed to have lost my love of running and consequently my therapy. Maybe you only have so much love for sport, as my love for cycling had developed my love for running had to diminished. I'm not sure really, the only thing I know is that I wasn't in love with running anymore and my mental state was suffering.
So as I crossed the finish line in Spain, I was emotional, covered in sweat, tears and some other bodily fluids, I was relieved it was over and in my mind I never had to run again, never, ever again! On my return from Spain I had a few things to think about, did I really not want to compete in duathlons again, did I really want to turn my back on running and could I cope without it in my life. More to the point, could my friends and family cope with me if I didn't run, I can get a little tetchy at times!
After talking things through with my coach I decided to take a break from running and duathlons and spend the summer concentrating on the bike. Before I went to Spain I joined Peterborough Cycling Club to get some TT (time trial) practice to help with the bike leg of a duathlon. A break from running would give me the perfect opportunity to develop this and enter some local races. So cue a summer on the bike!
After racing in a couple of 'open TTs' and not doing too badly, I decided to enter the national 25 mile TT and to make a big investment in a new all singing, all dancing bike. A TT bike!! Another bike from the Giant LIV family, let me introduce Lexie!
Who the hell needs running when you have a new bike! I was in love, still am! I turned up to the National TT feeling confident and proud of my bike. I also felt a little bit more like I deserved to be there. When you turn up to TTs on a road bike with clip on aero bars and in a jersey and shorts you feel a bit like the kid at school who forgot their P.E kit. Well I was still in a jersey and shorts, no skin suit for me just yet, but at least I was riding the right bike!
After registering and picking up my number, I found my name on the start list, along with several current and ex Olympians and national champions. Brilliant! It didn't matter though, I wasn't there to win and the beauty of a TT is that it's not really about everyone else, it's about you, the bike, the road and that ticking clock. A true test of how much you've got in the tank and how much you can hurt yourself trying to get every ounce of energy out of your body.
I finished in a respectable 22nd, rode a personal best and loved every single painful second of it!
As the summer went on I continued to train on the bike and finished the season with an Open TT near my home town, the rest of the PCC club TTs and a very heavy heart. I wasn't ready to put my TT bike to bed and I felt like I was really finding some form just as the season was coming to an end.
My last big cycling event of the summer was with a friend Heather, who I spent a lot of time with in Adelaide at the World Champs in 2015. Heather had been inured yet had still completed the race, but then spent the next few months on crutches, unable to do any form of training. Having recently returned to cycling and running she explained how she had a new found appreciation for running and was just happy to be able to do it again. We spoke about the running buzz and the joy of it running when it feels like you're gliding effortlessly, the amazing feeling when you're racing well and your legs are working in tune with your heart and your head. That feeling was a distant memory for me, but talking about it with someone who shared that same passion, I knew I wanted it back.
The next day we drove to the New Forest for the Garmin Ride Out day for charity and a chance to meet some of the pros riding in the Tour of Britain. The 47 mile ride was a wet and windy one and was a clear sign that summer was coming to an end. Luckily I was well prepared for the wet weather thanks to Sealskinz, but I can't say the same for the rest of the soggy riders.
At the end of the ride, Heather and I said out goodbyes and I started my 6 hour drive back home. Plenty of time to think. I had loved riding with the pros and loved training on the bike, but I really did miss running and I missed racing in duathlons.
Decision made. My last duathlon of the year is in a couple of weeks at Oulton Park. This was the last race I did before flying to Adelaide last year, although I entered the sprint last year, this year, the standard. After spending the summer on the bike and not a lot of time in running shoes I'm not sure how well it will go, but to be honest I am just looking forward to getting back on the start line and seeing what I can do.
I do think you only have so much love for sport, luckily mine is made up of 2 sports that I might not always like but I will definitely always love.