Alistair looks back on 2015 and rues a wasted season
Time to figure out what went wrong in 2015 and improve my performances next year...
It’s been a very funny year for me on the competitive front, I don't feel as though I have had any real rhythm throughout the year going from race to race. I’ve had this feeling of bumbling through my season with no real purpose, I think it’s time to look back and reflect on the year retrospectively and try to work out what was going on. Hopefully I can then avoid a similar “bleurgh” season next in 2016 which already promises to be the biggest and moreover LONGEST of my fledgling triathlon career, culminating on the 28th August at Ironman Vichy in France.
The main target of 2015 was the European Triathlon Championships in Geneva in July, an event I had qualified for in 2014. It would be my second outing in GB colours but first over the Olympic triathlon distance. The plan for 2015 was to get a couple of decent triathlons under my belt in the spring and supplement that with a training week in Mallorca and maybe throw a few road running races in there for good measure.
My race calendar started on the 25th January at the Tigger Tor fell race, the first of the Totley AC fell series. Prior to this I had never even thought about doing a fell race but with Steve’s whiney voice in my ear for 2 months prior, I felt as though I had to do it, even if only to shut him up. My pre-race goals were 1 to survive and 2 to hopefully finish in the top 50. The race itself actually went rather well to my surprise; I ended up in 18th even though I came a cropper descending down from Higger Tor. Tumbling down the hill may well have saved me a few seconds in the long run looking back given my pathetic descending on the Fells.
Tigger Tor 2015 - pic @MossieNet
Post Tigger Tor there’s a rather large gap in my racing. Mainly brought about due to a knee injury that stopped me from running all together for about 2 months. This was a real bugger as the months of March, April and May were supposed to be the heaviest most intense training period of my year in preparation for Geneva in July. NOT IDEAL. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here but when injured, every bit of my being seems to think that I’ll never be able to run again!!
I’m afraid I can’t really regale any tales at this point as not a lot really happened, apart from me feeling very sorry for myself and trying to get over my injury, which is still to be confirmed but it was most probably a bakers cyst, otherwise known as Maid’s Knee, much to the amusement of my friends! I managed to break my ankle last winter whilst skipping…yes skipping and now I go and get maids knee! Note to self: when getting injured, do it in a manly macho fashion. The one saving grace during this injury lay-off is that I was still able to train on the bike and in the pool, a major positive of being a triathlete. To all of you runners out there, get yourself down to the pool if you get injured, a brilliant form of rehab. Non weight bearing on those frail little legs of ours and it keeps that ticket going. I was in the pool 10 days after breaking my ankle, if only to keep me sane!
April 11th brought with it the Sheffield Half Marathon and THAT hill, unfortunately I didn’t race due to the maid and her stupid knee, however the 11th also market the day I flew over to Mallorca with my trusty steed for a week’s intensive training on the bike. By jove what a week!! Over 1000 miles covered in 7 days including by far and a way the longest ride of my life, circumnavigating the island covering 200 odd miles in one go, a great training ride, but more importantly it looked very nice on Strava!
Back to sunny Sheffield and back to running….HUURRAAAHHH!! We’re now in June, only 6 weeks away from Geneva and the European Triathlon Championships. I was far from in good shape at this point, I was only just managing to dip under 20 minutes for 5km, a LONG way off the pace that was required if I wanted to be even slightly competitive in Geneva. Due to the large running lay off I decided my tactics would be damage prevention on the run and basically try to kill myself on the swim and bike and hold on for dear life after that. This tactic was put to the test at the National Triathlon Champs in Chester on the 14th June. Ironically on race day I had a pretty rubbish swim, exiting the water after 1500m a way off the lead, well outside of the top 50. BUGGER!! Time to get on Marcel my trusty time trial bike and make up some ground. That 1000 miles in Mallorca seemed to do the trick as I managed to post my fastest ever bike split, 1:00:23 for 40km, bringing me into transition in 7th place, well over 40 places made up in an hour. Now onto the run…. To cut a long story short, and I mean long, I blew up massively and finish backed in 28th. Not all bad news as I no knew that my plan could potentially work in Geneva, just try not to go SO hard on the bike next time.
Exiting the River Dee in Chester
Geneva….what a place and what a place to race!! Crystal clear waters, 30 degree with a cool breeze and views to die for. Even if I had the worst race of my life, I’d have left Geneva a happy bunny, wearing lycra blazoned with GB in a setting like that is something that will stay with me forever. The race, if I’m honest, transpired in a remarkable similar fashion to the race in Chester on 4 or so weeks before. Came out of the water a little further back than I wanted to; had a really good bike split, making up a wadge of time on my rivals and then posting a pretty abysmal 10km run to finish off. I ended up in 8th in my category, which looking back on I’m really proud of considering my 2 months lay off at a crucial time but at the time I was rather annoyed. If I had some toys and a pram, they would be a long way from one another. Temper tantrum off the scale.
It seems silly looking back now but I just gave up on the rest of the year, there was still another 2 moths of the triathlon season to go but I had no drive, my run way behind the other two disciplines and therefore there was no point in even trying to race anymore triathlons in 2015. What a wally!! I don’t seem to have had a serious training block since August, just due to the knowledge that I had no race to aim for, I was running a number of local fell races and the South Yorkshire XC but I was just going through the motions. If I had a good race and placed well, BRILLAINT however if I didn’t run well, I just attributed it to my injury, even if it was only intrinsically. That was 6 months ago!! At the time I had no idea I was doing this but having started writing this blog, it is all crystal clear, I had one setback at an early yet crucial stage in my season and since that moment, I simply attributed any poor feeling or performance back to that moment, rather than taking responsibility for the lack of form and working hard to rectify it.
Struggling on the last lap of a long 10k in Geneva
I know I’m not the only athlete to ever have feelings like this and I know for a fact most athletes have had worse injuries and come back in a stronger way than I did in 2015. It’s a fine line we walk when injured between resting up and preventing further injuries and wallowing in self-pity and taking almost too much care, using the injury as a scapegoat. We will all get injured at some point, it’s how we deal with it that marks us as an athlete, I dealt with it in a poor way, culminating in the my worst ever season. I am definitely stronger for it though as I have now leant what NOT to do when faced with a setback.
I’m going to need all the strength I can muster in 2016 as my main seasons target is Ironman Vichy in France on August 28th. I will be posting my musing on the Front Runner blog throughout the coming months in the build-up to the IM. If nothing else, this current post has acted as a personal self-appraisal for myself, cleared that metaphorical fog to reveal a clear view of what’s actually being going on…. I hope you have enjoyed reading it too obviously!!
Speak to you in the new year!
Merry Christmas and happy running!!