Swim, bike, run, write.

The Training Diaries #IM703: Pre-race Reflections

I guess it's kind of a good sign that I've been too busy training to blog, right? My little blogging fail means that I'm starting this post with a bit of time travel. Grab your time machine (mine is pink and glittery) and let's head back to June... *cue some whirring sounds, an impressive time-lapse montage, slight motion sickness etc*

Okay so back in June I headed off to Majorca for a triathlon training camp led by Campbell from Re-leaf MK (Target Your Potential). Campbell is a cycling ninja and the mastermind behind all of my training plans. This was my first training camp and I kind of knew it was going to make me or break me. Thankfully it was the former. We enjoyed an awesome week of training complete with sea swims, mountain hill reps, runs, long rides and a bike-run brick session that still makes me feel a little bit sick when I think about it haha! I gained so much that week, both in terms of fitness and mental toughness. I came home feeling strong, with some really valuable training sessions under my belt which I've been able to reflect on during my tough training sessions since. It was great to spend a week with a lovely bunch of like-minded people and I learnt a lot from all of them - thanks guys for the inspiration and the motivation!

Next up was the inaugural Hitchin Triathlon, a sprint distance race organised by some friends of ours who are the brains behind Hitchin Running Club (which is pretty much where my eventual journey into triathlon all began). It was so nice to race in my little home town and there was a great atmosphere at the race with a real mix of experienced triathletes and first-timers. I'd been feeling really strong in the weeks leading up to the race, particularly on the bike so I was excited to get on the start line. A strong swim and bike split meant that, despite a bit of cramping and a desire to throw up on the run (which turned out to just be a really fricking big burp, c'est typical!) I came away with 3rd female overall and an age group win. My other half, Graham also won his age category and was 2nd male so we've got a pair of sassy his and hers trophies nestled on the book case. Team Force out to play!

My final training race was the ETU standard distance qualifier at Grafham Water earlier this month. This was my first time racing the standard distance and I absolutely loved every second. It was a great experience to race in such a competitive field and I came away with a good bike split (for me!) and a new 10k PB - perfect little confidence booster pre half Ironman.

So that brings us up to date. It's T-minus 37 hours until I'll be on the start line at IM 70.3 Zell am See Kaprun, Austria. I'm currently writing to you from our little Air BnB apartment, with Lake Zell literally at the bottom of the back garden. I want to stay here forever! 2017 has involved 212 hours 45 mins of training. 798.4km of running, 2516.4km of cycling and 68,800m of swimming (according to Strava, I'm not the world's biggest nerd I swear). I'm ridiculously excited to get on that start line, see what I can achieve and just soak up the experience. Obviously I've got a time in mind that I'd like to achieve but really it's all just about getting the best out of myself on the day and enjoying every moment. Oh, and I'd really like to not poo myself because judging by all the 'don't trust that fart' posters I saw when I watched Graham race IM Wales 2015 it's a real possibility in longer distance racing. So yeah, no code brown situations would be just lovely.

The (very) long car journey over here gave me a lot of time to reflect on how far I've come. Whenever I take my run coaching clients out to tackle their first real hill, I always make them stop and look back when they reach the top so that they can see what they've achieved, so I guess this is my more metaphorical, self-indulgent 'looking down the hill'. In the past 9 months I've achieved more than I ever thought I was capable of. This main thing is my cycling - I used to be bloody terrified on the bike. I've gone from spending most of my time in a heap on the side of the road with my bike on top of me (damn clip in pedals) to tackling some of Majorca's finest climbs and comfortably rolling around at over 30kph, tucked up all aero. My philosophy is pick the thing your worst at, work at it and make it your strongest asset. I feel so much stronger in all three disciplines, but I really think the biggest difference is up in the wee space between my ears. We have a complicated relationship, my brain and I, but triathlon has helped me to develop my self-belief and my self-confidence so much. I've found the mental toughness that kind of went walkabout after I graduated from university and as nauseatingly cheesy as it may sound, I really do feel like triathlon has helped to bring me back to myself. I've still got a long way to go but I'm excited to keep training, keep progressing and to see how far I can go in this sport. 'Yes I can' has become my mantra for 2017, and it's served me well. If there's something that you've always dreamt of doing just believe that you can do it because that's when you'll start doing something about it, and that's when you'll achieve more than you could have dreamt of.

Time to get some rest! I'll be back with a little post-race update soon (someone yell at me if I don't because history suggests I'm not so great at the regular blog post thing) but for now - see you on the other side. Hopefully with a nice shiny medal to go with all the stuff I bought at the expo today. Oops.



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