Apr 29 2012
It’s almost May. By this point in the season most of you who follow my career as a professional triathlete will be wondering what’s happened to Cat? I’d usually have chalked up a couple of races and this week I’d be heading to St Croix for MY race (!). I’ve known for a while that St Croix was not going to happen this year, but now as race week starts (and looms for many) it’s really only just hitting me on a more emotional level. This may sound a little
shallow – “Why get emotional over a race?”, “Oh Behave”…. I can hear the thoughts as you read this. Well, for the
first time in four years I’m not getting to see my friends and enjoy the wonderful race and hospitality of the St Croix
people. And this year I need that more than ever. I’ve not been out there training and racing the way I have in previous seasons and I was using the St Croix race as a carrot to motivate me to train harder and to push further. Just going to the race was going to be my reward for all the hard effort, getting to the start line would have been just fine. The reality is that I am looking out the window and it is 8 degrees and raining. Even my bathroom when I am having a shower is not as hot and humid as St Croix!!
So, 2012 has gotten off to a less than auspicious start. And there are a couple of reasons behind this. 2011 ended is the same pattern as 2010 and 2009 with a broken body and bruised mind. My Achilles (both of them)
threw in the towel just before Kona and I came back to the UK determined for a third year to try and get to the bottom of things. To be honest, all I want are functioning lower limbs so that in years to come I can walk in the
hills and run along palm-lined beaches into romantic sunsets. The triathlon malarkey is a by-line! If only dealing
with injuries were as simple as getting fit where generally speaking, energy and commitment in = results out. I did some homework on what treatments I could have applied to the offending area and I ended up in London
having some quite revolutionary saline injections. These were at the same time impossibly painful and amazingly interesting. To be honest, the best thing that happened was that within 48hrs of the treatment I was waking up in the middle of the night and walking to the bathroom NORMALLY. No crab walk. No old lady hobble.
No pain. I received top marks from the consultant on adhering to the rehab plan and by the end of December I was able to start running again. In fact, I celebrated New Year by running up and down outside my parents’ house for 60 seconds! Progress!! With ongoing guidance from my physios and continuing biomechanical work on my running style I was hopeful that I’d be up and at ‘em in no time. But as I increased the time on my running pegs, the niggling pain returned in my right Achilles and by the middle of February I was on my way back to London and back in the gym giving the evil eye to anyone who looked as if they wanted to get on the elliptical trainer – I mastered a maniacal facial expression intended to convey: “No Siree. This item of gym equipment is mine, ALL
mine. The truth is that I am still racking up hours on that same bl**dy machine, but I’ve made my peace with the beast. It gives me the opportunity to work hard without irritating the Achilles, so that’s good enough for me right now. As the weeks progress I’ve been able to start some jogging and so far so good. The most promisin development has been that, with super amazing biomechanics and movement specialist Joanne Elphinston, we have recently started to investigate the bike as the root of all evil. We’ve assumed that as my Achilles was sore
when I ran, that running was the culprit. However, with a year of changing my running form to its current “acceptable” state, the Achilles are still flaring up. When you start to suffer symptoms of tendonitis after running for only 20mins you start to wonder. The bike is now the focus of some biomechanicsattention. I can already say that I feel more comfortable and less tense during cycling than I have done in years. I know from experience that deeply engrained neural patterns take a while to shift and alter. But right now that’s the light at the end of my injury tunnel. SO, to make a long story short: I’m sore. I have been since October. I’m trying to fix it. It’ll take time. I’m unfit but getting fitter. It’ll also take time. It all adds up to no St Croix and maybe some future “Did Not Starts”. I’m relaxed though. The past few months really haven’t been all about overcoming injury, that evil scourge of all athletes. In fact, injury has given me something different to think about. In December my Dad was diagnosed with late stage brain, spine and lung tumours. He died in February. A life declining and disappearing in such a short time. So much pain and emotion in such a short time. A life lived in such a short time. Grief: the gift that keeps on giving. I know it’s clichéd but I’d happily have two bum Achilles and a happy, healthy Dad. Sadly, those deals don’t exist. But that’s life and it’s sure given me perspective by the bucket load. Value your health and love your friends and family. Nothing hurts more than loss. Tendonitis is a breeze. My body will heal in time. And when that time comes I’ll be back out there racing and making my Dad even more proud of me.
The truth of the matter is that I am emotional about not racing in St Croix because I’m selfish. I’ve
had a rough time and I want to see my friends. I want to see some of the folks who are special to me in my life because they make me feel better. But hey, realising that they mean so much to me makes me feel better too.