It has been a year of injury and illness for me, with glandular fever, shingles, tonsillitis and a chest infection to name but a few of the illnesses I’ve had since September 2018. Blame it on the baby starting nursery so they say! As off around February I was starting to feel my health was on the up…. then my old knee injury flared up again!
Long story short, MRI scans have now revealed that what has been a bit of a niggle on and off for 5 or 6 years dealt with by correct strength and conditioning has turned a little more serious. Unfortunately, the scans I had last month now clearly show that I have virtually no patello-femoral cartilage left in either knee. This explains the chronic pain I get when trying to do a squat or lunge, and the awful crunching and grating noises when I flex my knees or try to kneel.
So, what was my surgeon’s advice? No surgical solution other than full knee replacements which would not be considered in someone as young (?!?) as me, who is walking about and very active. So how do I manage the pain? The advice I was given was stop cycling and running…
Being a PT and a coach, and passionate about racing myself, clearly giving up cycling and running is not an option. So, the next most sensible thing to do, reduce all my training and racing to short distances instead of endurance / Ironman training and see what happens this year whilst also waiting for a second opinion from a different surgeon (one who understands telling a triathlete not to run or cycle is going to fall on deaf ears).
So, this brings me to the start line of my local Aquathlon sprint series…
Race morning was a bit grey and miserable to start with, but all the baby ducklings and signets made for some very cute prerace entertainment for my little boy Charlie who was there as my cheer squad along with Daddy and Aunty Leema.
The swim was uneventful, I’ve swum at Stanborough plenty times before, put myself on the front line even though I’m far from the fastest of swimmers. 2 laps of the course are meant to be around 750m, however I was disappointed to come out in a much slower time than expected given my current pool times. Everyone I have spoken to post race seems to have clocked closer to 900-950m so the course is obviously a little longer.
Out of the swim and straight onto the run, wetsuit off, trainers on, a quick hello to my cheer squad and off I set off on the 5km multi-terrain run. The course is a nice one, part gravel track around the lake and part grassy fields, one big hill halfway around the lap. After the first lap there is a bit where you can look ahead and behind and see who is around, I knew Tamsyn and Rebekah were way ahead of me as they are much better swimmers, but I could see at least 2 maybe 3 other girls in front about 500m away, oh well bang goes my chance of a medal then.
My knees were not giving me any grief at all and being as my coach has been giving me some good 400m effort sessions to do I thought I should push a bit harder as I knew I had some speed in my legs somewhere.
On the long descent of lap 2 I realised I seemed to making some ground on one of the woman ahead of me, ‘let’s do it’ I thought so I started to reel her in and then went for it with a confident pass to make sure she didn’t try to kick back and pass me. Another couple hundred metres in and I realised I was gaining on the next woman…Hmmm, less than a km to go, can I really make up that gap and pass her? Off I went, ‘just pretend it’s one of my 400m efforts’ I thought.
So, I gained some ground and on the last straight along the lake I made my move, I went for it, thankfully she didn’t have a final kick left in her and I managed to pass and keep going to open up a gap or around 10-15seconds by the finish line.
I was met over the finish line by a massive smile and cheers from husband and my friend with my little boy there to give a big kiss too. I felt absolutely rinsed, I’ve not pushed that hard for a long time and was so happy to have had the confidence to push hard to take an extra couple places.
The icing on the cake was an unexpected 3rd female place medal and a ‘post baby’ 5km PB.
A brilliant morning and I can’t wait for my next 2 Aquathlons and a sprint tri later this year.