Reflections on a half ironman – the week after

I wrote this whole blog on the train on the way back from Newcastle and then managed to lose it!!! Waaaaaah.

Well, it’s done. And the week after absolutely flew by, so much so that on Saturday evening I could barely believe that just a week ago I had been tucked up in a BnB on the outskirts of the New Forest, excitement bubbling in my tummy.

It’s funny how the mind changes memories. I clearly remember the beautiful views, smiling to myself as I had to come to stop for a herd of donkeys, soaring along a flat at 40kph with a tailwind behind me, thinking this is how the fast people feel all the time. I clearly remember skipping downhill nimbly on the run, gazing around me at the perfect countryside, the sun and the clear blue skies.

I obviously remember that I couldn’t eat towards the end of the bike, but not really the bloated feeling that led to that conclusion. I remember feeling sick every time I ran, but not how sick. And I remember pain in my knee and hip stopping me from running, but not how painful it was exactly! I suppose that means recovery went relatively well last week…. and so it did, with a very restful week involving just 4 and a half hours of exercise – no running and no swimming! I cycled to and from work one day, my legs feeling like lead, keeping in the little ring the whole way as I had no energy. As my knee was pretty sore by the time I got home I decided not to cycle in the next day.  This meant lots of horrendous tube commutes including one where failed signals meant it took me three hours to get to work…

I went to one yoga class. And I did a two hour hike along Hadrian’s Wall! More on that later.

I had a physio session where I was forbidden from running, my knee was taped up, and I was told if it wasn’t getting better by my next session (tomorrow) I may have to have an MRI. I am not sure it is getting better… but you know, this is the off-season. It is the perfect time to properly work on this injury and make it properly better, not just hidden, in time for next year.

At the weekend, James and I headed up to Northumberland as his brother has just had his first baby.

April is three weeks old and just completely adorable. Tiny little hands and fingernails, arms and legs just waving about as she stretched and mumbled to herself. I am not really sure if I want a baby of my own at any point but I have to say it was so lovely to cuddle April and I did kind of melt when she stared at me with her huge eyes.

I also took some time away from the baby to chat to Daddy Joe about triathlon – Daddy Joe is pretty awesome and competed at Kona last year. His plans for next year include an Iron-distance race, an attempt at a sub-3 marathon, and then an attempt at the fell running, Bob Graham challenge – the 66 mile, 27,000 ft circuit of 42 of the highest peaks in the English Lake District within 24 hours. We spent a while chatting about training peaks, getting a coach, power meters, and the importance of having a house big enough for twenty pairs of trainers (all necessary), several bikes and all the relevant kit.

That afternoon, we set off on our hike along Hadrian’s Wall. The forecast had been for Saturday to be the best day, weather-wise, so despite they heavy grey skies and a fog that refused to lift, we dressed up and set off to Hadrians Wall, joining the wall at Housesteads Roman Fort.

The grey sky hung down and we could only see a short way ahead of us, up the path towards the old wall.
 We reached the wall and began walking along it, up and down slippy, rocky steps, through long grass and past huge black cows.

The wall is wide, but not as high as I had thought, with a steep slope the other side, “into Scotland”, we said, although obviously it is not quite into Scotland these days!

We ended up coming down, off the high ridge into a hushed wooded area. Here, we left the path and climbed downhill, arriving at the banks of Crag Lough. The water gently lapped at the rocks, the grey sky and the grey water seeming to merge, silent and peaceful.

We had a moment, and then set off to retrace our steps back to Housestead, before home for dinner and a glass of red wine. As luck would have it, it was beautifully sunny and clear on Sunday!


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