Joining teamTBB has been a total baptism of fire for me. Up until a few months ago my life consisted of juggling numerous balls – of the sporting, full time work and social variety – but I was finding it increasingly hard to hold them all in the air. It was in February this year that I decided to try and make triathlon my career. It was a leap into the unknown: I knew nothing about what it meant to be a professional athlete. Now, two months down the line, I am still climbing that steep learning curve. And believe me, it’s a long slow climb. But what made me take the plunge, give up my job and throw myself into a life of continuous physical pain and torture? It was a case of ‘now or never’. Having just turned dirty thirty, I was getting on a bit and knew that my shelf life, at least at Olympic distance racing, was limited. I had watched the elite women race at the World Champs in Lausanne last February. Could I be as good as them, if not better? Had I fulfilled my potential, or did I have more to give? Had I pushed my mind and body to the limit? If not, what were those limits? What stars was I capable of grabbing? Without giving it a shot I would never know. I never want to look back and say ‘what if’.
TeamTTB has given me the chance to find the answers to the questions, to train with the best in the world and be the very best athlete I can be.
So what is it like day to day? Although no two days are exactly the same. they are extremely similar. It goes a little something like this. Get up, eat, train, eat, train, eat, rest, train, eat, sleep. Seven days a week. Variation comes with the different sessions we do and the ways in which those sessions are put together. I have to admit, I find life incredibly monotonous, and as much as I am addicted to them – suduko puzzles are just not filling the gap. But it is enjoyable – in a very unique kind of way. Enjoyment comes from testing myself mentally and physically. The masochistic satisfaction of seeing how far I can push myself – taking that pain barrier that little bit further each time. And the pleasure that comes from sharing this with others who are equally as ambitious, obsessive and driven- teammates who are always ready to push you to the limits and make you try just that little bit harder. Enjoyment, too, that comes from seeing new places, visiting new countries, meeting new people, and of course from the most important aspect of all: from racing. The chance to put ourselves to the test – giving it everything we have against the very best.
It is the hardest job I have ever done. I am tired, mentally and physically. Some days it’s a struggle to even raise my head off the pillow. But that little thing inside us pushes me on, gets me up and makes me give it that little bit more. Am I improving? Yes, I am getting faster, feeling stronger. But it is not only about physical prowess, about skill or about times or distances, it is about the special something that the athlete has inside, the drive, the ambition, the determination to succeed, the ability to bounce back when faced with adversity – as Mohammed Ali says ‘the will must be stronger than the skill’. There will be good and bad sessions: good and bad races – the key is to learn from both and move on. Physically, yes, I am getting better. Mentally, too I am learning. But there is a long way to go. I need to learn to relax, to switch off, to focus my mind when surrounded by chaos. I can only watch the others, the masters of their art, follow orders and trust in my coach and believe in myself. Hopefully then I will be able to realise my dream.