I always knew this was going to be a big year - more training than ever before, a heavier racing schedule, more travel all mixed in with my final year of Engineering to contend with.
There were many, and I mean many, times where I felt like I'd taken on too much, especially around January during final exams and then the following 4 months of heavy thesis writing. But here I am, on my final journey of the year, able to reflect on my most memorable season as an athlete yet.
Let's go back and take a look at the past 12 months :)
First off...some definitions and numbers:
The "year" and "season" are slightly abstract principles but in general the "year" begins in late September/early October and lasts, surprisingly, 12 months. Whereas the "season" is a little more open to interpretation. The winter season is the period from around the end of October - March/April where the main focus is heavy training and preparations for the next years races, the race season therefore is the rest of the year May-September where the main focus is racing and the important recovery between those races.
2010 in numbers:64,152 - number of kilometers travelled by plane 2,570 - approx number of kilometers travelled by car168 - kilometers of the longest training session of the year44 - temperature of the hottest training session of the year16 - number of races13 - weight lost in lbs between Christmas and August5 - the number to multiply the number of km travelled by car in order to get the number of km travelled by bike3 - third full season in triathlon3 - number of medals won by friends at the Commonwealth games2 - number of race wins0 - number of bike accidents this year! -15 - temperature of the coldest training session of the year
Where to start...
After 2009 my main goals for this year were to start running faster, continue to swim fast and generally be consistent (and graduate from university...). The winter was long and cold but I put in some good work, Scotland suffered its coldest winter since records began so there were plenty of snowy days out on my bike and out running, but I headed out and put those days away regardless. One big change for this year was the fact I was back in Scotland and back swimming with my old team (COAST). In hindsight this helped me massively, the benefit of doing consistent week in week out heavy pool work really took my swimming to a new level this year.
Was bloody hard at times, especially pre-Christmas when I was definitely out of the groove in terms of doing regular 2 hour swim sessions, but after a few months my times were back down and I was feeling like a swimmer again.
New Year was spent in Whistler (Canada) where I was out cross country skiing every day for 10 days, in my opinion the hardest aerobic training you can do. A nice break from the bike as well, something I will be doing again this year for sure.
Back to Scotland for most of January where I was swamped with University work and 2 weeks of final exams. Happy to get them over and done with I hopped on a plane and headed for London where I put in 8 days of just plain insane training with one of my triathlon mentors and best bud Mark Yeoman. The first time I'd ever ran 7 days out of 7. In fact I think its still the only time I've ever ran 7 days out of 7!
In February I was in heavy thesis writing mode but made time for 3 25+ hour training weeks as well as a race at the Scottish Universities Duathlon. There I finished 2nd to Craig Dale, which I was happy with, but as the season progressed became increasingly more happy with as Craig went on to have one of the best age group seasons anyone could have and probably (at least in Scotland) the best age group season ever, hats off.
March included the Scottish University champs (sprint) which was a good outing, though struggled on the run, as well as another trip to Canada. This time I took my bike however and put in some long wet days training in Whistler. By this stage I was starting to feel the physical effects of the stress from training and more significantly university. Sore legs crept in and hung around from early April - the end of June and weren't fixed until the genius who is Neil Maclean-Martin at the Chamonix clinic fixed me up in July.
Racing around this time included a good blast at the Deeside Challenge (starting in Braemar, Scotland)- 54km TT on the bike averaging over 41kph, the ITU Euro Cup race in Strathclyde - where I DNF'd, part nutrition, part not yet sharp enough and a big part of not just manning up, and a 2nd place at the Stirling triathlon as well as a 2nd at the Turriff triathlon.
By this stage I had finished my thesis so could put the books away (for good) and start focusing on racing. My third successive year racing at the Windsor triathlon was a great day, not the overall finish I had hoped for but my swim/bike was a beast. 35 second lead out in the water, with all the required names in the water alongside me to give the result some decent grounding.
Then it was off to the Alps!
My 5 weeks in Chamonix working with the Chamonix clinic were hands down the most productive time I'd ever spent training. I discovered more about my body and its imbalances as well as how they have then affected my running and run training in those 5 weeks than the 21 years previous. I also put in some crazy riding, much at over 6,000 feet...that hurt.
July I raced at the Annecy International Triathlon where I broke the swim course record held by Alexander Brukhankov, raced a proper Alp style Mountain "hill climb" bike race and raced a leg of the French Open Water Swimming Cup series where I literally got punched around by a bunch of French swimmers for 5km.
I said a sad goodbye to Chamonix on July 31st and headed straight for London where the next day I raced the Nokia Thames swim against my old rival Richard Stannard (the old guard of GB Triathlon super swimmers)...and won. A nice confidence boost and set me up well for a good race the next weekend at the London Triathlon, setting the record in 2010 for the biggest triathlon in history with 15,000 athletes racing. I stole 48th place with a solid run, once again adding to confidence.
The period between July 23rd and August 22nd I raced 5 times in 4 different countries and slept in 6 different beds (and a floor). Along with my 5 weeks at altitude this ended up making me a little tired and my race on August 22nd at the ITU Pan Am Cup race in Canada did a good job at showing me this. I had zero in the tank during the bike, after a pretty good swim, which resulted in yet another DNF for this year (which wont happen again...I promise, 4 DNF's in a career are enough to have to live with). Comforting though was my complete lack of nerves on the start line, something that has come in more this year, feeling generally comfortable racing the top guys.
After the tough day in Kelowna I took a few weeks off structured training and instead took on the role of full time Ironman support crew for IMC in Penticton the next weekend. Supporting an Ironman is awesome, but don't let anyone tell you it isn't tough. After my 22 hour day in Penticton I was VERY tired but my girl Nicole won her age group and was off to Kona so I was tired but very proud at the same time.
September was tough as by this time I was feeling better but still tired. Moved into my new apartment in Vancouver, had a relaxing weekend in Whistler, won the Vancouver triathlon, 2 trips to Victoria and started my last epic trip of the year to LA then on to Hawaii for Ironman World Championships.
LA was an awesome weekend, my race wasn't great but had a strong swim and managed to stay with Greg Bennett over the first 5miles of the bike. After this point I dropped off and didn't have anything left. Gomez and Docherty were both racing though and being able to race with those guys was pretty cool, hopefully be able to do that more in years to come.
After the race in LA I had a great day off playing "tourist" in Hollywood, checking out Warner Bros. studios and all the other sights. Was great having the legend Peter Foldy to show me around as well, not every day that you get a number 1 recording artist to be your host in Hollywood.
Off to Kona from LA for the Ironman World Championships where I was once again being race support for Nicole (her blog here ), Hawaii was completely stunning, the most insane beaches and water I had ever seen. Never had I been able to go swimming for an hour in the ocean and not be in the slightest bit cold, heaven. Nic had a momentous day for World Champs battling through a killer stomach bug which halted all nutrition efforts in the last 80km of the bike and through the entire marathon. Never have I seen someone pull themselves through a race like that, 100% respect.
Once we got back to Vancouver it was time to settle back into daily life and get planning for 2011. So this is where I am now, sitting at my desk, 6 hours into working through race plans, training outlines, sponsor thank you letters and general brainstorming for next year.
It has been an amazing year, thank you to everyone who has helped me train, race, put me up at their house, given me a snack, given me a hand with a flat tire, passed me their water bottle during a race once I had run out, given me words of encouragement, given me a free race entry, put me in their magazine, said congratulations and just in general been there for me. You guys all rock.
Thanks for a great 2010 and let's do it again in 2011.
Train hard this winter, I'll see you out there.