September 13th, 2017 by

Lets kick this blog off with a cheeky quote, like many of my Triathlete colleagues like to do.

“Life is like a glowstick…sometimes you have to break before you can shine”.

The 2017 Triathlon season hasn’t been kind to me. I’ve had two of my worst injuries in my career and quite frankly I was lucky to keep myself together enough and walk away with a couple of very promising Ironman performances with 4th at Ironman Texas North American Champs and 2nd at Ironman UK but even in those I had problems. In the end I took home $5,000 from Texas which was soon gobbled up during my American Tour with my family. I won $4,000 at Ironman UK which I spent on getting my shoulder fixed in Belgium and I won $1,200 in Mallorca which I spent mostly on Jamon y Queso Boccadillos.

Lets take some positives from the year. I’m really happy with how we prepared this winter. We finally had a winter where we were able to be consistent and non-dramatic. My two Ironman performances were World Class and completed off 85% fitness because being ready for Kona was always in the back of the mind. I was really happy with my improved swim performance, my biking was solid again but not perfect but now I know what I need to do now to get faster. My runs were great. 2:42 in Texas off the back of my stress reaction was an over achievement and my 2:45 at Ironman UK on a very tough course was great especially considering I had some very bad patches even with some walking. I’ve got Luc Van Lierde to thank for this and I’m excited to go into next year with him and roll the dice again.

My latest drama came after a crash I had on my bike over 3 weeks ago. I won’t go into how it happened too much because it’s messy, a combination of faults and I’ve finally ‘let it go’. In 15 years of cycling accidents are certainly going to happen and unfortunately it’s just part of the sport. This won’t be the last I guess. 

I ended up going over my bars landing directly on my shoulder. My first concern was of course getting up as quickly as possible and pretending it didn’t happen! It’s the last thing I wanted 7 weeks out from Kona no matter how big or small a crash usually has at least a bit of an impact. However sitting on the kerb, unfortunately I couldn’t ignore my collarbone pushing up against my skin. Whenever you watch the Tour De France on TV and you see the riders go down in a big crash coming up clutching their arm, the commentators usually know almost instantly what’s happened, the collarbone again! Well I felt that for the first time as well and again, I knew what had happened instantly. 

Clare came to grab me bless her but she could see straight away that I was in a bad way. So we went to Lawrence and Sophia’s house to drop off my son Freddy off and after some spaghetti and meatballs we headed to Leicester hospital. Where I was rushed through past 30 odd people waiting and discovered I had separated my AC joint, rupturing the ligament. 

The next few days was a real whirlwind. Luc was adamant that I needed to come to Belgium to get it fixed as soon as possible so I can potentially get myself back fit for Kona. He did an amazing job getting that organised and got me in with Toon Claes who is a top shoulder surgeon with athletes like Eddy Mercx and Greg Van Avemaet on his books. It was a bit of a decision though because it was a clean €4,000 and a 7hr drive there and back with a broken shoulder. So less then 48hrs later I was in Belgium going under the knife.

The following days I resumed some light indoor biking hoping to improve every day and turn up to Kona a hero, but after some follow up X-rays and CT scans I discovered that I also had fractures in my Coracoid and Glenoid and they were worried about it. Fortunately they decided they wouldn’t go down the 2nd surgery route but I still have to immobilise my arm for a long time in a sling and it’s going to be impossible to get back to racing this year in any shape.

I’ve had so many heavy thoughts buzzing around my head in this past month. It’s been hard to keep the negative thoughts into perspective and at bay. This sport can be so epically brutal. On one hand there is no bigger buzz available then working so hard towards something big and then going on to achieve your goal. I find this especially true for Ironman racing because you have to endure so much during the long preparation phase before you even begin the 8hr plus event. So after all that waiting and suffering the sense of satisfaction can’t be beaten. However to get to that point you have to suffer a lot of lows and there is no guarantee at all that your hard work will pay off.

In this case I was coming off the high of a great race at Ironman UK and I was back in my routine excited to challenge myself again to see what I could do at Ironman Hawaii (which was all booked up). I spent the whole week chasing marginal gains to get every % possible out of myself. Within a flash you’re lying on the tarmac unable to do anything other then mong around the house, annoying your wife with all immediate goals completely out the window.

One thing for sure after 4 weeks in the sling and another 2 weeks to go and potential surgery again if my fractures are still not fixed. Once I’m fully healed and been through my rehab I’m going to have no problem with motivation for getting myself back into shape again. I feel like this was something that was sent to test me, ask me some questions and challenge me and if you can get through it you’ll come out a stronger person.

I made myself sound hard done by in this blog but the truth is that I’m really lucky to have the support of my team BMC Etixx p/b Uplace, Bob, Ben and all the partners who support us. I want to thank them for standing by me in these hard times and continuing to believe and support me. I am sure after the adversity this year, 2018 will be a great year. 

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their season and for those racing in Kona. See you on the course and then in Huggos afterwards!