2018…How not to execute a year plan! Part 1

2018…How not to execute a year plan! Part 1

What a year 2018 has been! It has categorically not gone to plan, and yet as it draws to a close I survey it with a grateful heart. This is my only blog for the year– thanks Ollie for the pep talk in Bangkok encouraging me to share my story. I’m an intensely private person, a very reluctant user of social media and the ‘look at me’ generation it’s creating. So why blog? My hope, that someone reading this will be encouraged. If years don’t seem to go to plan, you face numerous setbacks, juggle injuries and health issues or experience a heartbreaking failure in a race, you’ll know you’re not alone!

The problem with not writing all year is that there’s too much to say. This blog is still too long even when split it into 2 instalments. My year certainly had 2 distinct themes, the first part was when everything conspired against me doing triathlon and I overcome it by doing something thats risky (madness actually), but somehow it leads me back to triathlon. So here’s my recap of how not to execute a year plan!

 

January the plan…

Kick off what I hoped would be a full season of triathlon racing at SA70.3 whilst finding my feet working in Joburg after 16 years in the UK.

The reality…

With a heavy heart I withdraw late from SA70.3 after failing to finish a training run, I stopped after 7k in absolute agony. I have often prided myself on my pain threshold. When people say they couldn’t run due to plantar fasciitis I’ve held in my heart that I’m ‘stronger’ as I’ve run through this injury for 2 years. Being forced to stop running was a good lesson in humility, and reminded me that comparison is never fair.

Life in Joburg was taking some adjusting. It was wonderful to be near family again, but I had no social circle to speak of, I missed my friends and I felt lonely and disillusioned with the start to the year.

 

Feb the plan…

Race Bangsaen triathlon and use it for prep towards SA Ironman in April.

I cant resist Thailand Tri League races – this photo captures why…they are just such darn fun!!!

The reality…

I commenced shockwave for my foot, did a heap of rehab, a cautious walk/run build plus sessions on the AlterG (anti-gravity treadmill) at Rosebank Sports Medicine Centre. My foot was improving. I could run 7k in minimal pain. Its only a 10k, I’ll be fine I thought. Turns out it’s a Master distance of 1.5k swim, 85k bike and 15k run! Note to self do better race prep in future. I hoped for the best as I toed the start line. That changed as I felt a painful rip deep in my foot when sprinting up the beach after the swim. I hobbled to my bike and knew I had undone all my previous good work. Riding was painful but it was a beautiful morning and I rationalised “Stop now and have no prize money and a sore foot, or try finish and get prize money and a more sore foot?” That run was excruciating, I simply couldn’t push off properly on my bad foot, but I made it round to finish 3rd and limped off with a cheque to cover the costs of the trip but possibly not the cost of the setback.

I thank God as I finally reach the finish line – the first step of this 15k run was utter agony and I’m still not sure how I managed to keep going.

 

March the plan…

Prep for SA Ironman.

The reality…

Hit an all time low in health and mood. Struggle to train with purpose when I realise an ironman is out the question. Lose all motivation to do anything productive and the old demons return as social media is awash with everyone training hard in readiness for the European races. “Who are you kidding, racing against younger more talented athletes?’ “Why so many obstacles, are you stubbornly persisting on the wrong path?” I had a real crisis of faith and I’m grateful to Jules at Christians in Sport, and for a very encouraging bible study series at Bryanston Bible Church that kept me sane during this time.

 

April the plan…

Race SAIM and categorically not think about playing hockey again.

The reality…

I turn 42 and think ‘Where did time go?’ I watch SAIM on telly for the second year in a row and feel light years away from resembling a pro athlete capable of racing again. The only glimmer of my former glory is that I’m stronger on the bike then I expected when I ride the beautiful Panorama Tour in White River. I am contacted by a school friend from Zimbabwe inviting my twin sister and me to play hockey at the Masters World Cup in Barcelona in August. I still wasn’t running, so I declined but my sister jumped at the opportunity, dusted off her stick (well one of my old sticks) and joined a club to start playing again.

My bike legs are strong on this 4 day tour. Its hilly, scenic riding that is right up my street.

 

May the plan…

Get my act together to resemble a triathlete! I’m targeting the LCW in Wales as a platform to return to racing, and have a keen eye on the Alpe d’Huez Long Course in August.

The reality…

Running is still an issue. I’m managing moderate swim and bike training, but it’s a real juggle with work and a 4 week bout of flu doesn’t help. Work opportunities have exploded, taking much of my focus. I’m putting in long hours prepping the sport screening work I’d like to begin (See my new website. Thanks to Caroline Jack for help with this). Finally I see the silver lining to all my injuries and rehab. I truly have the most comprehensive platform to help other athletes avoid injury and get the most from their sport.

 

June the plan…

Increase my training and get fit enough to attempt another win at the LCW. Categorically don’t play hockey as this would be the worst possible thing for my triathlon career.

The reality…

I make the grave mistake of watching my sister play a club match for Crusaders. The thrill of the sport that consumed the first 30 years of my existence ignites something deep inside. I’m running again but nothing more then about 6-8k. Realistically I know that I won’t be ready for a full marathon next month and I’m doubtful about even coping with 21k. In an average hockey match I’ll only run between 5-8k. I figure it will be ‘kill or cure’ and I agree to represent Zim in Aug. I trot along to my first hockey practice in over 11 years. I love being back, but I’m crippled by the pain of playing again! I discover there is nothing similar between the fitness required for triathlon and hockey.

I haven’t played in the same team as my sister in 21 years! We have great fun confusing the opposition and experience a few ‘telepathic’ connections on the pitch. Its pure joy and I count myself so blessed to be a twin.

 

July the plan…

Win the Long Course Weekend.

The reality…

After an awful swim, followed by a lonely bike I had the smallest margin of a lead by the end of day 2. I knew I would struggle to withdraw once in Tenby – the atmosphere and vibe at LCW is incredible and it was very hard not to be going for the win again. Instead I shuffle around the 5k and manage to encourage some of the kids running.

 

Unlike last year I ride almost the entire LCW solo. The weather behaves, this course is special to me and I love the ride

A busy time in the UK follows. Cramming 16 years of friendships into 10 days is brilliant but emotionally exhausting.

 

Aug the plan…

Race Alpe d’Huez LC Triathlon.

The reality…

An 11 year hiatus from hockey feels like a day…I’m back to the sport of my youth – just older and slightly slower, but oh so much wiser!

Represent Zimbabwe at the EXIN Masters World Cup in Barcelona! The tournament is heaps of fun. I catch up with friends I haven’t seen since school and no-one has changed a bit. The banter and the vibe in the team is fantastic. In true style little ‘ol Zim plays out her socks to finish 10th when we were ranked 16th! By some miracle I play through the niggles, the only pitch time I miss is when our van is towed away and I had to drive it back from the depot (but that’s another story!).

Pictured here after our final match vs New Zealand. Being a part of the Zim team and playing alongside these girls is something special, a very unexpected delight in a year of frustrating setbacks.

During the tournament a niggly wrist injury turns into a swollen hand and I struggle to grip my stick for our final match. Its effectively arthritis between the bones of my hand and wrist. It puts an abrupt halt to any more hockey once I’m back in SA. However my legs are strong, my foot is easier and I cant help but wonder if I there’s enough time this year to get back to triathlon. I simply cant face the thought of leaving the sport after such a frustrating year and I tentatively begin swim/bike/run training again. TBC….

1Comment
  • V Moore
    Posted at 21:43h, 26 December Reply

    You are truly an inspiration P, I wish you all the best for 2019.

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