Friday, 24 April 2009

The answer to my question: Thoughts from my last ride

Today might have done me a big favour. It hit me: I am not an athlete. Not in body. Not in mind. My body is weak. My mind even weaker. I have lost the will to fight for it - I am getting sick of picking up the pieces (and I am pretty sure everyone around me is too). 

Before I gave up rowing my dad had told me that the sign of the good warrior is to be able to keep going through adversity, but also to know when to give up. Wise words, coming back to haunt me. I think the time has come. After 40 mins of riding in tears, not from pain but from the realisation that I just cannot do it any more, it might be time. 

It feels like a bad break up. It feels like I have been in an emotionally abusive relationship. My affections have not been returned for two years. The sport has not been giving back - the pleasure has gone, lost in the fear of pain, the depressive state I sink to when the pain inevitably comes. Yet once in a while I get a sign, which keeps me going and traps me in the cycle. This is all probably non-sensical to most. 

Maybe I owe it to myself. Maybe I owe it to Duncan too. To strive to be happy away from sport. To define myself in some other way. 

Riddled with 'I think' and 'maybes'. I am not truly ready to let go. But maybe I need to, in order to find something else. Just like a bad relationship. 

Last ride? Maybe. 

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Life, triathlon, bugs and other stories.

Last weekend we had our first mini-tri camp (as at Schinias. I have to say that I don't normally like working weekends after a long week at school but this was different!
The weekend was aimed at beginner's who had little or no triathlon experience to practise some basic skills, not just the individual sports, but the transitions between them. The secondary aim of the course that was not mentioned in the ad (sneaky!) was to infect people with the bug. Of course we didn't know that at the time.

The weekend went well, partly because we had a great bunch of people who were very enthusiastic and keen to learn (could it just be the type of person attracted to the sport, though, I ask myself) and partly because the subject matter itself is simply awesome! Duncan and I feel very passionate about it, and I think that came across. We both love the sport and take from it different elements for our life. Duncan loves the training. He likes getting out there and doing the long hard miles on the ride. He loves running on the mountain at all times of day and has now even come to enjoy the occasional swim.

I love training too, but the cherry on the cake for me is always the race. Not in the sense of the competition itself, but the race as the goal. I love the discipline and commitment it takes to make it to the startline and, if all goes well, to the finish line too. I love the strength of mind you need to make it through a tough workout, knowing that at the end of it lies a better raceday

I loved the weekend. Every minute of it (ok... not so much the mosquito bites...)! I loved the group swim, loved the ride, loved the chat. But most of all I loved transmiting to people my passion. I think it worked too! 

My non-triathlon friends find this corny, but it is true. Tri does change your life. In a good way. It has certainly changed mine. I have taken so much from it and I feel now might be the time to show the way to other people too. Is that almost evangelical? I hope not. Join us on the beach next weekend if you fancy :)


I have been ill for the last few days. It has been going around school for weeks, I have had 80% of my class off at some point for several days each and I was dreading getting the sore throat and high temperature that seemed to be very contagious. Well, it wasn't to happen, though I fought it as much as I could, repeatedly going to school feeling pretty ill, then coming home and sleeping for 16 hours then back to school the next day. Trips had to be led, Easter eggs had to be packed, chickens had to be finished (!!). I was sent home on Friday morning with a temperature of 39.6. Spent two days in bed in absolute pain (does anyone know if radiclopathy gets worse with a fever? It certainlyfelt that way!) and I am now (after a strong dose of antibiotics) back in the land of the living. Doesn't the air smell sweet when you're well? 

Monday, 6 April 2009

What makes an athlete?

I keep asking myself - what makes an athlete? 

I have always considered myself an athlete - from my early teenage years, when I first tasted the sweet obsession that is sport, to these last couple of years through struggling with rehabilitation. In my mind that is what I am. But for others?

Physically my body still looks like an athlete's body. It's a big joke, because it looks exactly the same when I could swim, bike and run 70.3 miles in a day and then do it again next week! 

My brain is also the same. I still think about training, I plan my training as I did, I look forward to it (possibly more now than before) and I talk as I did when I was training 18 hour weeks, not 8. 

Does the race make the athlete? With the exception of a sprint I managed to sneak in last September, I have largely been in the sidelines for the last 2 years. No racing. Plans to race, but all of them foiled. Pulling out of IMDE officially this week too. 

Maybe it's the psyche that makes the athlete. And my psyche has been feeding off this time off. It has been making me stronger, though (I won't lie) I have also had dark spots when I thought I will never be the same again, I will never get to a startline in my life. I crave the training. I desire the pain of muscles straining to accomplish. I miss the mental game of pushing myself through to the next clear spot in my race. 

Because as in life so in a race you go through dark spots and you go through clear spots. What matters is that in the dark spots you remember that things are bound to change. Sooner or later.