Wow, it’s been a few weeks since I last strung a few words together on the blog. Sorry about that. I’m sure you’ve been checking back every day in anticipation of training updates… It’s been a crazy couple of weeks in a couple of different work/life/training sectors, and one of the main reasons I haven’t been writing is because I have been glued to the Olympics for far too long every night. My Tour De France jet lag managed to transition nicely into Olympics jet lag. And now that it’s all done, I have enjoyed a week of catching up on sleep.
A quick ego-spoiler prevention: Australian readers should skip the following paragraph…
So, Team GB. Where did that come from? WOW. When you live in the sunny land of sport down under, you get used to friends, family and colleagues mocking your British lack of sporting prowess on a regular basis. But that makes it so much better when you get to come into work, every day for a couple of weeks, lean back in your chair, stretch and yawn whilst throwing your hands behind your head, and nonchalantly chuck in a cheeky “four gold medals last night. How many d’you guys get?”. The poor Australian media (by ‘poor Australian media’ I actually mean retarded, blood-sucking, idiots) have been squirming, and it seems their national identity is in question – ‘WHO ARE WE IF WE AREN’T THE BEST AT SPORT?’. They have totally ignored the fact that their athletes have been hugely successful in the medal tally overall. But apparently, silver just ain’t good enough in the land of the green and gold. Tough crowd.
On the contrary, in the UK, our track record in Olympic sport is so poor, that usually, you can expect a parade in your home town just for qualifying and competing in the Olympics. And rightly so – these athletes sacrifice everything to be the best at what they do. But in recent years, we haven’t been accustomed to such success. But it seems that our fortunes are beginning to change – first with Bradley Wiggins winning Le Tour, and then with the Team GB Olympic campaign, we can finally parade our pasty white bodies amongst the best of them on Bondi Beach, and say “I am from Great Britain. We do sport”. We don’t have to be labelled a crisp-eating, overweight home of ‘TOWIE’ anymore. Nope. WE DO SPORT.
To contribute my part in ‘doing sport’, last weekend our little team had our first ever training camp. We took the bikes up to Lake Eildon, and spent two days riding and running (the lake was WAY too cold to swim in, but provided perfect conditions for the forced ice-baths after riding). It’s not often that the four of us spend time together without our friends around, and it meant the social graces that you put on around other people to hide the fact that you are a sport-geek could be dropped; triathlon magazines piled up on the coffee table, bikes joined us in the lounge room so that we could look at them and speculate on refinements, set-ups and maintenance. We talked about training, nutrition, injuries, swimming, running and of course, bikes.
And we ate.
Holy smoke, I have never eaten so much. This is the first time in my life I have eaten an entire garlic bread baguette and a kilo of spaghetti bolognese. And we didn’t just eat, we talked about how much we eat and how hungry we are all the time (with one of us detailing the 2am wholemeal muffin routine to get through the night-hunger!).
But we needed the food. Saturday’s ride was massive. It had everything: heart-breaking hills (accompanied by the best views of all time), sprawling flats into a head-wind, then more head-wind, then cross-wind, then more hills. Oh, and then my first proper puncture. Brilliant. That was an exciting adventure for me all on my own. But after wrangling for much longer than is acceptable for anyone who calls themselves a cyclist, I felt like king of the world when I changed it successfully (“Did I mention I’m a cyclist – oh yeah, I can change a flat and everything. It’s nothing…”). I felt pure punter as I struggled at the side of the road all alone, googling what to do on my phone. What an idiot.
After about five hours of riding, and with so much time lost to my puncture-grappling, the boys were already home and Joe came to pick me up with about 30km left to go. He advised that it would be tomorrow by the time I got back, so I gladly sacrificed the final stretch of head-wind lashing undulations. But it was a mighty ride, in some of the most incredible countryside. The next day we did a shorter ride and then went out straight for a run. My foot has been playing up for the past two weeks though, so I had to cut it short after an hour, but could still feel the benefit of running straight off the bike. Ouch.
In other news, I have suffered two minor setbacks this week:
1) I went to the doctor as I have been suffering with a bad cough, especially in the mornings when I ride. It worsened over the weekend, so I thought I should get some anti-biotics to clear it up. The doc says she thinks it’s exercise-induced asthma! Now I have a ventolin inhaler, which I have nicknamed ‘Pumpa’. I was absolutely gutted to hear this from the doc, but she says the cold air will make it worse. So hopefully it will ease up as it gets warmer. I also found out that asthma is the most common chronic condition amongst Olympic athletes. And Paula Radcliffe suffers from it. So if the world record marathon holder has asthma too, I have nothing to whinge about. (If anyone reading has any experience with this, it would be great to read your comments).
2) I crashed off my bike yesterday and landed on my head. And then my chin, neck, shoulder, hands, back, shin. Today everything hurts. I am extremely glad that I invested a lot of money in a good helmet last month. The lesson learnt is that when breaking hard to avoid a collision with another rider who has crashed, you must apply equal pressure to both breaks, and lean back. Instead of breaking too hard on the front wheel and flying through the air over the handlebars. Just like your dad warned you about when you first learnt to ride a bike as a kid. It really happens. And boy does it hurt.
All in all, it has been an eventful couple of weeks. And today we got our next block of training sent through, and all of a sudden it’s starting to get a bit intense.
I guess I will just have to step up, and channel my inner Team GB. Did I mention we do sport…?