It’s been a while. A similar rhetoric to the intro to my last blog, which had been homogeneously preceded by a similar period of eery silence, bereft of race reports or training updates. As I articulated last post, a dormant blog alludes to the presence an injured athlete as surely as a well-chewed slipper alludes to the presence a guilty dog.
Let’s recap. Last post, I narrated the declining fortunes of the 2015 season that culminated in Achilles surgery, meaning my absence from the Rio Qualification event in August 2015. I believe I concluded with postulation I was still a chance to Qualify for the Olympic team if I was able to heal well, and race with vigour at the second Qualification race at the Gold Coast. If I had been playing a character in a movie, sinister background music would have played at this point. Lets pick up proceedings from here.
It would seem, that even after negotiating surgery, I was like a blind man walking through a highly populated cattle yard - no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to stop stepping in shit. The rehab from surgery went well, minus the insanity of being completely housebound and helpless for the better part of a month. With distinct enthusiasm, I discarded my cast and set about my return to an aquatic environment, jumping into a full-time swimming program of 70kms a week whilst I waited to get the clearance to ride. Once cleared for two wheeled action, I built up my miles with some solo riding. Like getting out an elevator in a baked-bean factory, it was nice to feel the wind on my face again.
Cognisant of my remarkable lack of fitness, I decided to save my frail ego getting euthanised by avoiding bunch rides for the first month, preferring to grovel the slow road to fitness in solitude. Finally, I deemed my form adequate enough to attend one of Brisbane’s harder bunch rides, Wednesday Worlds. Alas, within the first 6kms of riding with other humans, and I had a foot firmly entrenched in another cow pat. Two of the aforementioned humans crashed in front of me, and I went straight over top of them, breaking both my arm, and my Carrera in the process, as it was slung shot across a traffic island and a lane of traffic, landing with a resounding thud on the bonnet of a mother taking her now mildly traumatised children to school. I caught an Uber home at 6:15am, bleeding the whole way, with the driver definitely earning a glowing review.
That put a hold on the return to swimming, and commenced what I liked to refer to as ‘The Shed Phase’. Far more mentally trying than physically taxing, The Shed Phase involved 4 hours of cycling on the wind trainer every day, furiously staring out from the garage door of the shed, sling on, headphones in, and face set permanently to a fierce grimace. Aside from mildly scaring and confusing the patrons of the park across the road, losing litres in sweat a day, and learning to despise every inch of that shed, it did have two positives. My cycling got a bit stronger, and my meditation certainly improved.
Following 6 weeks of shed-based workouts, I was cleared to return first to the pool, then open road, and finally, permitted to start running again. At this stage, I still had my sights set on striving for the Rio team through racing well at the Gold Coast WTS. A tough assignment lay ahead. Like removing a jumper with a very small neck hole, this was going to be tough to pull off.
Unfortunately, another cow pat had my name on it. Ridiculously early in my return to running, and highlighting just how much the surgery had weakened my body, I developed stress fracture in my heel going for a cruisy run on Christmas day, narrowly ousting the magnifying glass of 1995 as the Worst Christmas Gift Ever. At this stage, I was struggling under the weight of metaphorical cow pats, and the Gold Coast WTS looked like about as likely as a taco at a Trump rally. Although we attempted to get there, it ended up being one cow pat too many, and I didn’t race the Gold Coast, or have any chance of putting a foot forward for the Olympic team. It was disappointing. For the second Olympic cycle in a row, my body imploded on me in the lead up to the qualification to something I’ve spent my whole athletic career trying to achieve. Prior to London 2012, I felt as good a chance as making the team as anyone, yet a bike crash, knee surgery and three stress fractures meant that campaign fell through without so much as a whimper, without racing any of the qualification races. No cards were laid on the table, I didn’t put everything on the line, I didn’t ‘leave it out there on race day’. I simply watched from the sidelines, and wondered if I would have had what it took. Same again for Rio. Achilles surgery, a bike crash, a stress fracture, and more wondering. Sport, huh.
So, in an effort not to make this blog post as negative as the flat end of a battery, let’s talk about the future. I’m about to do something I haven’t done in a while. As a triathlete, I’m about to compete in a triathlon. I’m on the plane to France as I type, and will compete for Mulhouse in a French GP this weekend. Following this, the plan is to race the rest of the World Series, with legs in Stockholm, Hamburg, Edmonton and Cozumel.
I’d like to thank all my supporters, the family and friends, personal sponsors, as well as my coach and the support of the QAS, TA and AIS. Lastly, my amazing partner Tash, who has been a rock for me as always, and makes whether this season holds more cow pats or none an ingsignificant contributor to a very happy life.
Until next time, take care friends.