So as I put in my last post things were going well. Fitness was coming back, motivation was high and I was excited to race again. I picked my bike up from its final tune up from Ricol Cycles, had a final bit of work on my legs from Rob McIlroy and everything was set.
We travelled up to Nottingham the Friday before the race via a stop in Birmingham for Lisa to visit the worlds biggest Primark and had a wonderful homestay with Ali and Neil. I swam with their Tri club Friday night to flush out the travel and got my pre race brick session in early Saturday morning before heading to registration.
I was super excited to pick up my new Tri Suit from the guys at Raceskin and also race in their new wetsuit for the first time. It was good to be back at Holme Pierrepont and relive some of the positive memories from racing here before.
3.15 Sunday morning and the alarm went off! Coffee on and breakfast in and it was into the car to drive to the race. I was excited like a small kid on Christmas morning as we listened to some music driving to the lake. We arrived in plenty of time, racked everything up, got my wetsuit on and headed onto the pontoon ready to jump in and finally feel how cold the lake was going to be! Thankfully it actually wasn’t as bad asI was anticipating and after a few warm up strokes to flush some water through the wetsuit we were called to the start line ready for the horn to set us off. I knew the big competition for the day was Will Clarke and my pre race plan was stick with him as long as possible basically assuming that he would be at the front of the race.
The horn went and we were off! I put in a ew hard strokes but it seemed to break up relatively quickly and the guys started dropping off as the front group thinned out. Halfway up the lake we were down to a small group of 5 or 6 and although my open water skills were a bit rusty and I kept drifting off the feet in front by the time we had turned at half way I had settled into a stroke and rhythm and held it all the way back down the lake to the swim exit where we got out as a group of 5 and was feeling better the further we got into the swim.
Unfortunately I was a bit slow through T1 and was the last of our group out onto the perimeter road of the lake with Will out first but I focussed on getting my feet into my bike shoes, getting some air in my helmet to de-mist my visor and getting settled into my power targets for the ride. Off the lake though and onto the roads I passed the rest of the group from the swim and was now in second with Will up the road, my power settled and HR came down to where i was hoping if even a little lower and then got to work focussing on hitting my nutrition, staying aero and holding things like this for the duration of the ride. Overall things were relatively uneventful, Legs held well, I was working my way through my nutrition and feeling alright. After an hour i got a split that Will was already 2min30 ahead which I was a little disappointed with as I was hoping my cycling would be closer but it left me motivated to hold what I was doing and prepare for a good run. I saw Lisa on the southern loop going out and then back again and she gave me a split of 3min30 which at nearly 80km meant that Will hadn’t pulled away quite as much in the second half of the ride and although my legs were starting to feel the effort a bit again power was good, HR was well controlled and I had got through my calories feeling strong.
Making the turn off the roundabouts onto the final 10km or so back to the lake I was just sitting a little to close to the edge of the road when I took my hand off to take my bottle out, I drifted left and caught the verge where there was a hole the right size for my front wheel in just the wrong place, before i knew it I had gone over the handle bars and crunched into the ground and a 2 second lapse in concentration had cost me massively. Some riders going in the other direction asked if I was OK which I instantly said yes as i tried to gather myself but as I ran my hand over my right collarbone and shoulder to asses the damage I felt the lump in the collarbone and everything came crashing down in that one moment. Thankfully I hadn’t long been past some marshals and within a couple of minutes I had people with me helping me and checking I was OK. They were great and got the medical team on site and took my bike and equipment back to the lake and got Lisa on the phone so I could break the bad news to here.
From there it was the job of assessment from the medical team and a trip to Nottingham Queens Hospital to learn the full extent of the damage. With X-rays confirming the news of 2 breaks in my right collarbone I had it strapped up and we set about heading home to get into the process of getting it fixed and on the road to recovery back at home. Although absolutely gutted that my day ended like that and I wouldn’t have challenged Will for the win and his great performance to smash the course record I was proving that my shape was coming on nicely and I was on target to have the race performance I wanted.
Back at home and into the system it was a painful but straight forward few days with a fracture clinic appointment and then into surgery to have it repaired 2 days later. Now with it “fixed” I am on the road to getting back again and although my season plans have now changed completely with no 70.3 Staffordshire I have managed to get back on the turbo for an easy hour and plan on just slowly building back to maintain some level of fitness as it recovers. Race plans going forward are not confirmed yet and depend how quickly things heal but I definitely am hoping to be back racing again by the end of July and building for a big August/September/October and I think having this there still has helped me mentally deal with it a lot. My biggest fear when I left work to train more was what would happen if I couldn’t train through injury and or illness or any other reason as typically in the past I haven’t dealt with those situations very well. This then provides one of the biggest tests I could possibly go through and although hard to see it now will hopefully help shape me and build me into a stronger athlete long term. I know that ultimately this is only sport and even now with one working arm I am still in a ridiculously privileged position to be able to do what I do but at times you certainly lose perspective on this and feel like everything is out to get you and make life as hard as possible.
A massive thank you to everyone who has helped so far, the guys that picked me up and took me to hospital. Everyone who has sent messages wishing me well and a speedy recovery and has helped out as I have got back to doing day to day things again. Lisa and the kids although Theo was definitely disappointed I wasn’t coming home with crutches and the guys at Raceskin, Revolver Wheels, Swans Goggles, Ricol Cycles and Greeper Laces for continued support. I will be back soon and now just have to wait a little longer before experiencing that finish line feeling again.