“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you”. – Dr. Seuss

There are moments in our lives where we find ourselves at a crossroad, afraid, confused, lost and without a map. The choices that we make in those moments can define the rest of our lives.

I feel like right now, I am at this point in my life. I have faced a number of smaller junctions on the way to these crossroads, but have always felt like I knew which path to take and which journey to pursue. It was always a logical decision and relatively easy to make. But this one. This is the big one. A great big, scary crossroad, full of ‘ifs’ ‘buts’ (not butts) and ‘who knows’.

I’m frightened. I’m confused. But I’m also excited. Eager. And willing to take a step into the unknown.

For years I have been Eli Thorogood, the triathlete. I have probably spent more time in the swimming pool than I have in lectures or classes. More time on my bike than at a desk. More time running than revising. The places I spend most of my days at; the swimming pool, the gym, the track, the treadmill, the open roads, the rollers. The kitchen too of course, what with eating being one of my all-time favourite pastimes. Training is my priority, and everything I do is set around my training schedule. Racing is the one thing that I absolutely live for. It’s in my nature to thrive off competition, pressure, challenge and success.

The problem with this way of life is rarely spoken of. The harsh reality of sport is that not everyone can make it. Out of the hundreds and thousands of kids at Youth Football Academies that dream of one day becoming the next David Beckham… How many go on to go anywhere near that? It is a select few that achieve this, and kudos to them. Everyone says that in life, you get out of it what you put in. With reference to sport, I tend to disagree. The amount of effort you put into sport, physical, mental, psychological, monetary, whatever you do, is rarely rewarded with an objective return. I know you’re always told not to focus on tangible rewards, and it is the intangible, intrinsic ones that really matter. Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced sheer joy, happiness and pleasure as a triathlete, and I have triathlon to thank for the wonderful experiences I have had of the world. But with elite sport, results are your livelihood. Your life genuinely depends on your success and your ability to be the best.

Elite sport is demanding. So demanding in fact, that it has broken me numerous times. I’m what I would call chronically injured as it seems I can’t go a couple of months without something cropping up! I’ve had some serious injuries, including six stress fractures, and me and my body deserves more than that. I’ve put my body through hell trying to achieve my goals, and it is crying out at me for some TLC. You can push yourself to your limits, but edge over that limit and you end up breaking yourself. Perhaps my body was never designed to be able to handle the amount of training required to be an elite triathlete. Perhaps my biomechanics really are THAT BAD that some training is actually detrimental not only to my performance but also, scarily, to my health.

My major goal was always going to be seen as a tough task. But if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough! I wanted to be a part of the Welsh Team at the Commonwealth Games. Up against three world champions, it was always going to be a far fetched dream. But not impossible. Unfortunately, and in somewhat due to circumstances beyond my control, I failed to meet the individual selection criteria. Sport is a cruel mistress, and it has been a tough pill to swallow, knowing that I won’t be competing. But as a lot of people have said, everything happens for a reason and I was simply not the right person for the team. Maybe I wasn’t good enough. Maybe if I hadn’t got the puncture in the race in Turkey I could’ve shown that I AM good enough. Maybe. But maybe’s aren’t good enough for me. I have other goals and I want to turn them from maybe’s into definitely’s. No one says you can’t have more than one goal after all!

I’ve reached a point where I feel I can no longer keep elite sport as the biggest part of my life. In all honesty, I don’t enjoy living on a tight budget, flitting between houses and not having a real purpose to everything that I do. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE triathlon. I always will. And I have thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to be able to live like a professional triathlete. But I’ve got to the point where I can no longer prioritise racing and living in this way. I’ve almost gotten too comfortable and have taken advantage of it. How many people get to swim, run and ride their bikes all day long without having to worry about another job? Not many. And I am extremely grateful to have been able to do this for such a long time.

I’m lucky in the way that whilst living my dream, I also have managed to get a degree (well, I am yet to actually graduate, but I’m sure my last two exams won’t go that badly!). I have a job lined up in Central London starting in August. If anyone had told me I’d be working as a professional in London this time last year I’d have laughed. It is something that I thought was beyond my capabilities but now has become a reality. I’m excited at the new challenges I’m going to face, the new adventures and the different kinds of success.

I am proud of what I have achieved. I have been a part of Team GB at the Youth Olympic Games and the Australian Youth Olympic Festival. I have raced at World Championships, European Relay championships, European Cups and the highest quality domestic races. I have enjoyed my triathlon journey, but sometimes bouncing back is a tough thing to do. I’m not giving up, I’m just moving forward. I don’t want to be Eli Thorogood the Triathlete. Triathlon is part of me, but it doesn’t define me. I want to be Eli Thorogood, and I want to be happy. If taking myself away from triathlon made me happy, then that is what I would do. But it’s not, so I won’t. I am distancing myself from the life of a professional triathlete whilst still doing it purely for the enjoyment.

I’m going to miss the crazy, funny shaped, haphazard lifestyle of being an elite triathlete. But I am a star shaped peg trying to fit into a square hole. I know that I am worth more than risking more injuries, more sporting heartbreak, and more sporting disasters. It’s time to find that star shaped tunnel to fit my star shaped attitude, and project myself in that direction.

For now, it’s MY time. I can choose what I want to do. I have two weeks left in Loughborough and less than three months before I start my job in London. I’m planning on going back to Aberystwyth once my exams are over and spending some time with my family. I’m going to keep training, but if I wake up one morning and feel like going for a 6 hour bike ride with my dad then I will! Even if I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing a track session and a swim. I’m going to race through the rest of the summer, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. No pressure. When I start work in London, I’m going to find a triathlon club, sign myself up and get involved in a new environment. I plan on racing for years to come, but choosing the races I want to do and the way I want to race them. If I want to do a half marathon one weekend, what’s stopping me? If I fancy hopping on a plane to Mallorca and racing a half ironman, what’s stopping me? If I want to turn up to a Park Run at 9am on a Saturday morning, WHAT IS STOPPING ME? There’s nothing to say that in four years’ time, when I’m still swimming, cycling and running my way through my spare time, I can’t try again. I’m just taking a little stop off on life’s journey to appreciate other things.

A final note of thanks to those that have put time, effort, and their extraordinary support and belief. My coach, Craig Twigg. Craig only started coaching me at the beginning of the year, but he has been an incredible part of my triathlon journey. Thank you for getting me into the best shape of my life, and thank you for teaching me never to give up. If anyone ever asks me for advice on coaching, hand on heart, Craig is your man. My training partner, Soph. Thank you for making this last year at Loughborough an absolute pleasure. You are a fabulous triathlete, an even better friend and a joy to be around. With your attitude, talent and determination, I know that you are destined for greatness. My friends, thank you. I’m sorry if you ever felt I prioritised training over you, but I hope that you can see why I did it. My family. You might not choose them, but if you did, I’d choose this bunch any day. I am sorry that I won’t be able to put on a show for you in Glasgow but thank you for being the craziest, most fantastically, brilliantly wonderful clan to walk the planet. But most importantly my amazing Mum and Dad. Thank you for bringing me up the way you have, and giving me all the opportunity in the world to pursue what I want to pursue. Thank you for the early morning lifts to swimming, the countless trips down the M4 to races, the number of times you’ve wiped away my tears, the never-ending pile of washing and ironing and the extortionate food bills. You are the butter to my bread, the biscuit to my brew and the peanut butter to my jam. Without you, I would be half the person I am today and I have appreciated every single thing you have done for me.

Thank you triathlon, for making me who I am and for showing me that life is really awesome.
I am Eli Thorogood. I am fierce and I am fabulous.

It’s not goodbye. It’s just see you later 🙂

Me x

 

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“Sunny Days are Better” – Optimist.

Expectation. Pressure. Opportunity. Pride. Failure.

 

Which one of those words strikes you as the odd one out? Pretty obvious isn’t it? Last weekend I related to every single one of these words and within the space of about half an hour, I went from a girl with an unbelievable dream to a girl with what felt like a crushed reality.

Expectation. I’d prepared for this moment for years, but so intensely and specifically for the last 7 months. If you put it this way, I’ve had this dream since I first put on a Welsh vest at the tender age of 14 at the inter-regional triathlon championships. I’m now 22. Eight years. Eight long, hard but incredibly fun years of training, racing and challenging myself to become the best athlete I could possibly be and represent my country at a major championship at senior level. I expected a lot from myself, but I expected that I would be able to live my ambitious goal.

Pressure. Not necessarily from others as much as the pressure I put on myself. As an athlete, you naturally put pressure on yourself to achieve. It’s part of the innate competitive nature that we are so often masters of. I’ve never been one to handle pressure well; it can overcome every ounce of my being and I have lost count of the number of times I have broken down due to this self-imposed pressure. But there is that part of you that responds well to pressure. You choose which way to go. You let it crush you, or you let it push you to bigger and better things. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the negative aspect of pressure last weekend. Of course I did, it was probably the second biggest race of my life (second only to the Youth Olympic Games)! I believed in the unnecessary pressure from outside, which I’ve now come to realise didn’t exist. No-one would be disappointed IN me. They were disappointed FOR me. Those people close to me wanted me to succeed for me, not for them. It’s this act of selflessness and support that you lose recognition of in times of disappointment.

Opportunity. If one of these comes your way, grab it and run with it. If you don’t, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. I had an opportunity that a very select number of people are given. Should I race to the ability I knew I was capable of, I could be given the opportunity to represent Wales at the Commonwealth Games. How many people can say that? Not many I can tell you that now. I wanted so desperately to be one of those people. So desperately that I made beyond average sacrifices. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed after 10pm. The last time I lay in past 7.30am. The last day I didn’t once think about training. I gave up time, effort, money, and possibly regretfully I gave up relationships. But I HAD to do it. These opportunities don’t come your way every day and the sacrifices are worth it.

Pride. I am proud of myself. And I’m not afraid to say that. In this country especially, we have adopted this culture where we seem almost ashamed to be good at something. How ridiculous is that! I remember the days of assemblies at school, the headteacher reading out sporting results, music results or any achievement by pupils. Whenever I received a mention, I was shy. I never wanted to stand up and say ‘Yes, I’ve done that. And I’m so proud of myself’ for the fear of being ridiculed. Be proud of what you’ve achieved. Four years ago this summer, I made history by becoming the first ever Team GB representative at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games. The name Elinor Thorogood has been written in the history books for that reason. Why shouldn’t I be proud of that?! No-one else has that. NO-ONE ELSE. JUST ME. I, Elinor Thorogood was the first Team GB competitor in Singapore. Stand up, shout about your achievements and be proud. There is a fine line between pride and cockiness; if you cross it, it won’t be received well. But you have to be proud of the extraordinary things you achieve in your life.

Failure. Uhoh. The burning feeling of failing at something is horrible. Truly, truly heartbreaking . Initially I felt like I’d failed on a rather large scale at the weekend, and failure is something no-one likes to experience. My first thought when I had the puncture was fear. Fear that I’d let myself down. Fear that I’d thrown away an opportunity. Fear that I’d disappointed everyone. But then reality kicked in. I was angry. Angry at the fact I hadn’t been able to showcase my ability to the extent at which I knew I could. Angry that my equipment had let me down. Angry that I was going to have to leave Turkey with a DNF beside my name. Feelings of failure gradually became anger, which turned into uncontrollable tears, which soon became realisation that it wasn’t the end of the world. Refocus. Don’t dwell on it.

Although the experience in Turkey wasn’t what I wanted, I can’t change what has happened. What’s done is done. But one thing is for sure. I sure as hell am not going to let a puncture crush my dream. I am fierce. I am fabulous. And the fat lady is yet to sing…

“Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won and all the fears you have overcome.” – unknown.

 

eli_teee

xox

Every Bad Hair Day is just a Good Hat Day

You know those days, everyone has them. I have them way too frequently at the moment when your hair just doesn’t go right?! You spend an age making sure it looks just right and it never quite fits the bill. It looks pretty darn good in the mirror, you step outside and WHOOOSH, yer barnet is all over the place again. Ok I’m losing my point a little bit already but what I’m getting at is these things happen, and all you have to do is make the best out of a bad situation. That hat you bought two years ago that you’ve never worn. Now’s the time! Now. Is. The. Time my friend. Dive into the depths of your wardrobe and find that lovely little lonely hat and wear it with pride.

I guess what you could say I’m getting at is that life often throws a spanner in the works but no good comes from sitting back and just letting it happen. If I turned up to a team meal with my hair resembling a holly bush, I don’t think I’d feel great about it and I’d probably get some funny looks too!

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur if I’m totally honest. I had some stuff happen in my personal life that ripped me apart and I spent a week in tears, struggling to get through a single session without the waterworks coming out to play. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat (the most unlike me EVER) and I didn’t really see much point to my days.  All that sounds pretty horrible and it was something I wish I never had to go through and no-one else should ever have to go through but it happens, day in day out all over the world in different ways and you just have to go with it. Or do you…?

Luckily for me, I have the most incredible friends, family and support network around me who picked me up from rock bottom and I can truly say that right now I feel like I am flying high again, in Eli Dreamland. The day it all went wrong, my Loughborough Mummy Pauline, and my totally awesome training partner Soph came to get me, a teary mess, and brought me back to their lovely home and treated me to a roast dinner and cups of tea on tap. It really is the small things that count, and the generosity and love that these two give me is really faultless.  My best friend Becky spent almost every waking hour making sure I was ok and not doing anything stupid, making me countless dinners, munching through bag after bag of yogurt coated almonds (seriously, how can those things be so good?), hearing each and every wacky thought that came into my mind, listening to me, wiping away the stray tears and just being there. If you don’t know Becky, your life is missing a key ingredient, because I’ve really nailed the best friend tag with this one.

Of course, my wonderful mum, dad, brother and sisters, and all my close family and friends, in particular Rach, Ruthie, Nina and Laura. Spending hours on the phone, hearing me cry probably made you all feel a bit useless being so far away and all (and Laura, I’m sorry I cried all the way through ‘Frozen’ ;)). But I can say now that having these people around you where you can just pick up the phone any time of the day and SOMEONE will be there means the absolute world. Put time into your relationships with these people in your life, because one day you’ll need them more than ever before, and you’ll realise that the selflessness they show goes an awfully long way to your eventual happiness.

What I also realised is that although the support network of people around you is extremely important, ultimately you, YES YOU are in control of your own destiny and your own happiness. Never rely on someone else’s happiness to make you happy because all too often it doesn’t work out and you’re left hanging. Sounds awfully familiar to me… So, I decided that although my life felt like it was over (corrrr we all overreact a little at times don’t we!) I needed to put myself in the driving seat for once and decide exactly where my life was going to take me. By doing this, I have managed to bag myself A JOB! And not any old job, oh no. It’s a job with a respected worldwide energy recruitment agency, and I will be based in the London office for the first year. After that, the world really is my oyster and the opportunity to work in any of their other offices comes my way. Did I hear you say Cape Town? Or did I mishear you and you actually say Houston? Or was it Dubai? Anyway, you get my drift. I can go ANYWHERE and live the life that I want, and in the words of the wonderful Nicole Scherzinger (I actually despise this woman but for once I can actually relate to her words) there really is ‘no ceiling to my sky’ 🙂

So, a bit of an emotional and deep blog to kick off your Thursday! I had a little cry writing this, realising that my family are incredible, my friends are awesome, my future is bright (not orange though) and the most important thing? My life is BLOODY FANTASTIC.

I have 3.5 weeks now till my race in Turkey and 3.5 weeks to nail every session and get the absolute best out of myself before D-Day. I usually get myself worked up and nervous, and although a little bit of nervous energy is good, getting yourself in a tangle because of it certainly isn’t any good. I’m actually really super excited about this race and the opportunity it brings with it so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see won’t we…  I’m going to leave you with 5 little pieces of advice/words of wisdom that have got me through the last month or so and hope that you can understand that no matter what life throws at you, it will get better and you just have to keep on smiling.

 

1)      Love is the Answer – loving those that matter unconditionally is the most important investment you will ever make. Fact.

2)      Enjoy the Journey – it’s part of life. To get anywhere you aspire to be, you have to go through some pretty tough times. But enjoy it! I got lost on the way to an interview in Canary Wharf and spend a good half hour running round like a total madwoman. But I saw some pretty cool things whilst this happened so life ain’t so bad my friends!

3)      Be Optimistic. The glass is never half empty. But in my mind it’s not half full either. My glass is overflowing (unfortunately it’s not full of a deliciously fruity yummy white wine) but it is spilling over the edge and opportunities are flying my way. Grab them and run with them.

4)      Don’t Punish Yourself – you only get given one life and one body. Live your life in a way that your body will be grateful for; take extra care of yourself and live well. In simple words I guess you could say ‘Love Yourself’.

5)      Happiness is Cheese (and cheese is happiness). Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re putting too much cheese on your macaroni. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

 

Over & Out,

eli_teee

xox

"If all else fails, just be Beyonce"

“If all else fails, just be Beyonce”

 

New Beginnings

It really has been quite a while since my last blog post! I think I’ve forgotten how to do it…

So, where to begin? Well, things have changed rather a lot since I last posted. I came back to Loughborough in January ready for my two exams and raring to go with training. The exams went well, I’m still on my way to a 2.1 and I didn’t get as stressed as I usually do. I really was winning right there. Unfortunately, the training didn’t go quite so well. I picked up an injury which put me out of running for 3 weeks and took a while to build back up again. The injury was actually quite complex and involved four little problems clubbing together to hurt me big time, ganging up on me to cause pain. But that all got fixed thanks to my wonderful physio and things looked like they were picking up again. Woohoo!

Back on it, BUT (there’s always a ‘but’ with me isn’t there?) there were some further, slightly radical changes. I’ve left the Loughborough Triathlon squad behind and got myself a new coach. The Loughborough Triathlon environment works for some people and it is a brilliant thing to have been a part of, but ultimately it just didn’t work for me. I gave it three years, and in those three years I saw very little improvement and a whole lotta injury (a lot of fun thrown in there too mind!). So I got in touch with a close friend and incredible Ironman athlete Claire Shea-Simmonds who recommended I speak to the guy who is now ‘The Boss’; Craig Twigg. I met with Craig over a coffee initially and we chatted through everything to do with my training, going over every little detail, planning and working out how we were going to attack things. The following week, the new programme started. I get on with Craig very well and have a lot of faith in him and his approach to training; something I don’t really think I had before with previous coach experiences. Trust is one of, if not THE most important part of any relationship, and finding the right fit in a coach-athlete relationship is imperative. We’ve knocked back my running a little, kept my swimming the same as it was and increased my biking. Over the last couple of months, since swimming with the British Triathlon programme I have seen HUUUUGE improvements in my swimming so there was no point in changing that! We didn’t want to risk further injury and if I can get by on running 3 sometimes 4 runs a week then that was fine. And biking has always been my strong point, but we wanted to get on top of it again and make sure I was ready to go for the upcoming season. Things. Are. Fab.

I’m going to be honest and say I’m not particularly enjoying living in Loughborough at the moment. I’ve been here for three and a half years now and I kind of feel like I’ve outgrown the place, but I think it’s just my adventurous side wanting to get out and explore the world a bit more! Burst out of the Loughborough bubble and get into the real world. The really good thing about Loughborough is how everything is on your doorstep, within walking distance. I can roll out of bed at 5.15am, stroll over to the pool and be there by 5.30 if I need. I can finish swimming at 7.30 and be at the gym by 7.45. You get my drift; everything is so, so close. I’ve been given the opportunity to train with some of the best athletes in the country whilst I’m here during my final year, and while I wouldn’t change that for the world right now, it’s one of the only things keeping here! (that and university work of course…). I don’t like the environment I live in right now, and it has been slowly but surely getting me down over the last few months. I tend to keep myself tucked away in my room when I’m not out training anyway! But luckily, my closest friends also live right around the corner from me and my boyfriend lives about 300m away so I try to escape whenever I can. It’s not ideal, but I’m only living here till the summer and the world is my oyster. Which brings me on to…

RACE SEASON! Race season is starting to pick up now, and last weekend I raced my first race; a local Aquathlon back home in Aberystwyth. It was a fantastic event, brilliantly organised and although it hurt a lot, it was also a lot of fun! I had a decent swim but more importantly ran a time that I was more than happy with and a time that I haven’t ran close to in the past 3 years. Hmm something tells me there might just be a link there…? I was absolutely stoked with how well it went, and it also meant I got to spend a week at home which was bliss. If you haven’t met my family, then you’re missing out because they really are amazing and an absolute joy to be around. Spending the week with them really cheered me up but also made me wish I didn’t have to come back to Loughborough! I think the new coffee machine maybe had something to do with that too 😉

Anyway, I’m back here now and ploughing on with the usual routine: swimming, cycling, running, gymming, working, eating, sleeping and spending time with my favourite people. I’m going home again next weekend for another race so I get to escape for a bit again and then it’s the Easter holidays. April looks to be a month full of lots of cycling time trials to get me up to speed on that side of things, sharpen up the legs and punish myself with some runs off the bike whilst all the cyclists look at me like I’m an idiot. I’m preparing now for my main goal of the first half of the season on the 4th of May – a European Cup in Turkey which is my last chance to prove to the Commonwealth Games selectors that I would warrant a place on the team. Whilst this opportunity is a realistic goal, it’s going to take a lot of effort, the best preparation and the absolutely perfect execution come race day. BRING IT ON.

That’s it from me for now 🙂

Over & out,

eli_teee xox

 

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Now you can all appreciate why I love home so much!

 

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My cheeky ‘big’ little brother, enjoying some of my baking experiments 🙂

In One Year and Out The Other. A New Year’s Resolution.

Summing up 2013 in 3 words: Challenging. Eye-opening. Fantastic. Despite a fair few ‘downs’, I’ve also had some of the best ‘ups’ ever! It’s been a quick one though; I feel like it was only yesterday that I sat down on the train on the way back to Loughborough after my Christmas at home last year. And yet here I am again, sat at home planning my journey back to begin a few weeks full of revision, exams and probably an extortionate amount of coffee to get me through it all.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently (which is always dangerous) about what my New Year’s resolution is going to be. I make one every year with this strange new found desire and strength to fulfil my aim, whatever it may be. Last year, it was pretty simple. Not get injured. Of course, that was a pretty optimistic and perhaps unrealistic resolution as in some ways I suppose this is somewhat beyond my control. But this year I’ve been injured yes, but I’ve also been fixed. Without pushing my body beyond breaking point. In other words, I’ve been sensible (something I’m not known for being AT ALL!) and I’d say I’ve kept to my resolution pretty well.

We all make our resolutions to be better people, right? Otherwise why would we even bother? Some of us want to lose weight. Some say they want to fall in love. Perhaps lay low on the alcohol side of things. Or something simple, such as spending more time with family. Resolutions don’t have to be huge, extravagant, bold claims. Just something we feel we should do to make our lives just that little bit better. I’ve decided to make more than one resolution this year. Perhaps my life does need a big change!

1)     Spend less time on social media. I’m the kind of person who scrolls through twitter, facebook and instagram for a good half an hour before going to sleep at night. I don’t HAVE to do this, it’s just something I choose to do. However recently, I feel social media has had quite a negative impact on how I feel. I see posts from all around the world that evoke hate for certain things, sometimes certain people and it’s not something I want to be a part of. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be tweeting, facebooking and instagramming all the exciting parts of my life but when I take a photo of a gorgeous sunset or the usual cycling ‘selfie’ it won’t be posted within 2 minutes of me walking through the door, with my helmet and cycling shoes still on.

2)     Really focus on that bucket list of mine. I have some preeeeetty amazing things that I want to do on my bucket list, from travelling across America to the bog standard skydive. But it’s also those small things – a full 8-film Harry Potter movie marathon, a day where ALL I eat is cake, sleep for one night under the stars – that I really want to start work on. And I can’t wait!

3)     Help out a stranger. Or two. Maybe even make it a regular thing. I read something online a few days ago about someone who used to wave to people spontaneously whilst driving. Asked why, he said that people who had failed in their attempts to commit suicide were saved by the fact that someone smiled at them. Acknowledged their existence. Perhaps by smiling at someone just for that one second of the day, you could save a life. From a slightly less deep perspective, something simple like picking something up that someone has dropped and running after them with it (not in some strange stalker/weirdo type way, just the friendly way). Anything that will make someone’s day that teeny tiny bit better.

4)     Conquer one of my fears. I wouldn’t say I’m easily scared but there are some things that do give me the creeps a little bit! Let me take you back to a moment about 2 weeks ago on camp. We’d just finished a sea swim race, from the beach at the town where we were staying, around the harbour and finishing at a small jetty just over a mile away. I have a bit of an issue with fish, in that they PETRIFY me. So any swim in open water is a pretty big deal for me (it’s a pretty awkward thing to be scared of as a triathlete…)! I’d finished the swim, and was pleased with how I coped with it, surprising myself for how calm I’d been and how well it had gone. When it came to getting out however, it was a completely different story. Two fisherman appeared on the rocks where we had to exit the water with two of the BIGGEST fish I have EVER seen (they might as well have been whales for all I cared) and started cutting them up?! Like, actually into chunks. And then throwing the bits BACK IN THE SEA. WHAAAAAT is that about?! Well, I may have gone into panic mode and a few tears and rather a lot of time later I’d finally made it back to safety. The thing is I’m getting a bit tired of this. Last year on camp, I had two panic attacks when swimming in the sea. It’s all getting a little bit old now! So there’s a fear I’d like to overcome.
The second fear is my strange inability to let go. Jump off the edge. Take a leap of faith. I finish university this year and although I do have some plans pencilled in, I’m not 100% sure what I’d like to do with myself. So I’m going to use this time, this opportunity if you like, to do something I perhaps might not have considered doing before. Watch this space 🙂

5)     Challenge myself. Every day should be a bit of a challenge at least. As athletes, we thrive on challenge, get that incredible buzz when we achieve and succeed in our seemingly impossible tasks. I have a lot of goals for this year. Not part of my New Year’s resolutions but just things I have set my eyes on. The outside chance of racing in the Commonwealth Games. Graduating. Getting a job. Earning my own money. Building a professional but exciting life after the hustle and bustle and craziness of university. Just my own views of how I want this year to go in an ideal world. In order to get there, I’m going to face plenty of challenges. And you know what? I can’t wait.

I’m not saying everyone needs to make resolutions. As the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. If you’re happy, don’t change. If you make others happy? Keep things that way. But make sure that you do everything in your power to have the best year that you can, and take time in your day to ensure others are happy, entertained and most importantly loved. And always, ALWAYS remember to smile.

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas, and I wish every single one of you the happiest of New Years. Let’s make 2014 brilliant 🙂

Over & Out,

eli_teee

xox

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Just a little bloggy-wog…

It appears it’s been quite a while since I last posted a blog! I’m sure everyone reading this has been wondering where I’ve got to (you’ve missed me haven’t you, let’s face it). Well, if I’m being completely honest nothing much has really been happening in the wonderful world of eli_teee, but everything is going smoothly.

I started my final year at university back at the beginning of October (feels like ages ago now!) and time feels like it’s rushing away from me already. I’m actually starting to panic about what on earth I’m going to do next year once I’ve finally (hopefully) graduated! But you know what, we’ll let that decision lay low for a while, and I’ll keep on pretending I’m still a fresher for a few more months at least.

So yeah, final year is aaaaall go and I have a pretty heavy lecture schedule. Pah, who am I kidding. I have a grand total of four hours of lectures a week (yes, FOUR) and they’re on a Monday and Tuesday. So essentially I have a two day week and a five day weekend. WINNING. Remind me again why I’m paying £3000 for this? But anyway, this is making training so much easier, and I can actually focus my spare time on my degree and do some reading around my subjects for once. Strangely enough, I’m actually finding that once I sit down and do it, I’m enjoying it?! I’ve recently done an assignment on child eating behaviours and I’ve had to tear myself away from some of the readings at midnight when I’ve realised I have training at 5am the next morning. Probably a bit sad, but don’t judge me (yet).

Training is also going swimmingly (bikingly, and runningly – they don’t work quite so well do they…). I’ve settled into my new routine pretty well already and am finding it very beneficial to have juggled everything around slightly. I now have four solid run sessions under my belt – YAY! And my long run has reached the magical hour mark. It might not seem that much, but to me that is the biggest marathon I’ve done over the last 3 years. It was my favourite session I’ve done in the last training block (potentially due to the large scone with jam and cream I had afterwards) but it wasn’t half rewarding just being able to run for an hour. ‘appy days an’ all that jazz.

In some rather more upsetting news, I had to say goodbye to my beloved Bruce this week. Bruce wasn’t in my life for long, but I feel our friendship grew as girl and bike and became something quite special. Goodbye my loverrrrr, goodbye my friend. I genuinely almost shed a tear when he had to go, until I was quietly reminded that it’s only a bloody bike. But still! He was my baby. So I sent him off to his new home, happy in the knowledge he is going to be well loved and well looked after by his new owner but also feeling like a little part of me went missing. I really need to get a life.

Better news – it’s less than two weeks till our annual takeover of Fuerteventura! I’m off on the 7th of December for two weeks of sun, sea and plenty of bike miles before coming home for Christmas. CANNOT. WAIT. I really love it out there, and this will be my fourth training camp on the island and it’s gonna be wicked. I’m going to try reeeeeally really hard not to have any silly panic attacks because of the fish in the sea (stupid phobia for a triathlete to have really that one) and will make sure I don’t collapse off my bike having lost any ability to pedal this time (that’s a story for another day…). Bring on the sunny miles!

Will leave you all to cosy up with a cuppa tea and a warm blanket. Yeah that’s right. Be jealous. Sure there will be some entertaining stories and adventure tales when we get back, so I’ll make sure to update y’all!

Over & Out,

eli_teee xox

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Here for your entertainment on those long, cold, wet, ‘ORRIBLE winter rides.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got…”

Change is something a lot of people don’t like and I’m definitely one of them. If I can’t find the spoon I use for my morning bowl of porridge, you better stay out my way for the rest of the day. If my bike is hanging up on the wrong hook in the garage, well, the whole ride will be different! Don’t get me wrong, a bit of spontaneity never hurt anyone, but who doesn’t love a good old routine? My whole life is based on a structure. Alarm goes off at 5.15am, I swim, I come home, I eat breakfast, I cycle, I eat lunch, I study (occasionally ;)) I run, I eat dinner and I sleep. Standard. I’m not some kind of social recluse by the way, but sometimes you can get stuck in a routine, life becomes monotonous and boring, and progress is somewhat stalled.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently (dangerous I know), and being on my end of season break has allowed me to come to some pretty big decisions. I’ve been based in Loughborough for 3 years now, and every single one of those years has been hampered by injury and injury after injury. I’m not gonna lie, its been THE most frustrating time of my life and it hasn’t been easy at all. I finally start to feel some form after a slow return from injury and then BAM my life turns upside down and the roller coaster ride starts up again. Fan-bloody-tastic. There’s only so many times someone can deal with the poo that life throws at them, and the number of times I’ve wanted to take the easy route out and quit has been all too frequent. But with something you love, something that becomes your life which over the years triathlon has done, you continue your fight to reach wherever you want to get to. Leave the quitting to the weak, and carry on pushing.

Having been stuck in this rut of injury with no progression there’s only one thing to do. CHANGE. That big, scary, ridiculously meaningful word. Change. Change, change, change. Even saying it and writing it scares me. But for me, it became a necessity and something I had to accept. Me and Mr. Change have made friends! I’ve made the decision to change my coaching and therefore change my whole daily routine. I know I know; MENTAL. But no, on a serious note, things are going to be a little different from now on. I haven’t left my coach as such, but I’ve sought help and advice on my training programme from my first ever triathlon coach. He was the coach that took me from an absolute chopper of a triathlete at the age of 15 to racing at the Youth Olympic Games and winning medals at European Cups at the age of 17/18. I personally feel that this was the last time I was really truly on top form and returning to this coach was the only real answer to my problems. I’ve been returning to training slowly but surely over the last couple of weeks, structuring it around the all important freshers week of course and I’m looking forward to starting to the proper programme tomorrow.

Next year is a big year what with the potential of Commonwealth Games qualification so I guess you could say I’m taking a risk. I personally feel it is a risk worth taking, and any change is a good change right? Things worked all those years ago when I was just a little nipper triathlete so why can’t it work again? It might not be the biggest change someone could make and without wanting to sound like the ultimate cheese ball, but for me its the beginning of a new me. I don’t feel like I’ve wasted the last 3 years; I’m sure I’ll look back on my injury plagued years in the future and be grateful for the learning curve I’ve been on. But I won’t lie, its not been the greatest party. I feel so much more positive going into the period of solid winter training than I ever have before, and am looking forward to seeing what happens.

You’ll be pleased to know, I’ll be keeping the same porridge spoon. Some things just don’t need to change.

Over & Out,

eli_teee

xox

“You’ll never know how many miles you’ll have to run when you’re chasing your dream…”

I’ve always been the kind of athlete that develops as the season goes on. I have a few mediocre races to begin with before finding my form and getting my race head fully in the game for a few months. On this basis, 2013 promised to be a pretty good year! In spring I was training the best I have been in a long time, turning out session after session, swimming, biking and running faster and stronger than I ever had before.

First few races ticked off with average performances, but I did start to get into racing form. Then BAM, first sign of injury. As I’ve said before, admitting you are broken as an athlete is not something that really crosses your mind. I struggled on until I reached a point where I knew there was a pretty serious problem and decided it was probably time to get things checked out. Cue the diagnosis of an injury I didn’t expect, and a long rehab plan pretty much writing off the rest of the season. My first thought was how angry I was at myself for letting it get so far out of control. This anger slowly turned to tears upon realising the hard work I put in over winter would now go to waste. I  cried and cried, got angry at my friends when they tried to help me. But then it’s times like this that make you realise you don’t actually have it that bad! Nothing in my situation warranted me getting upset or angry. I needed to man up, do all my rehab exercises and put all my efforts into getting fixed and strong again. Sympathy from others gets you nowhere, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to be back racing, back training and back having the best summer ever!

I raced the Commonwealth Trials race in August (see my previous post) and despite having not done any running for 4 months, I was very pleased to finish 2nd. My run wasn’t anything to be proud of but I executed the race in a way that I was very happy with, and attacking on the bike proved to be the decisive move of the day. The following weekend I raced at National Relays which included a 5k run… Having ran no longer than 2k beforehand, we all knew this was going to be a bit of a challenge fitness wise and physically in terms of my ankles too! I posted a decent swim time (nothing to shout about, but nothing to be disappointed with), a bike split which I even surprised myself with and a run split that felt like a bloomin’ lifetime. I haven’t ran a 5k that slow in about 6 years, but I got round and helped the Loughborough Triathlon team to a silver medal. Two silvers in two weekends; can’t complain!

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After the relays, I had one more focus for the year. My first XTERRA race! I was so excited to give this race a go, and having done a fair bit of mountain bike riding over the years I felt this was a long time coming! The week before the race, I headed out to Cannock for a few hours of messing about on the trails there. The trip was brilliant despite a slight mechanical and a few cuddles with the ground, and I gained a lot of confidence going into the weekend. Unfortunately the race ended up how no-one wants to end a race: a mechanical. I had led out the swim alongside Kathrin Muller of Germany and Jacqui Slack. The bike was technically challenging but brilliant fun until I hit a bit of a problem with my rear mech… race over! To be honest, it was probably a blessing in disguise as the off-road run would have pushed my ankles to the limit and I didn’t fancy ending the season in an ambulance…

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And so, it’s time for my end of season break. I feel a little silly even taking an end of season break (have I really had much of a season?!). But it’s for a mental break more than anything. Since October last year I have eaten, lived, BREATHED triathlon and as much as I love the sport, I do need a break. I’m having a month of very light training just doing whatever I want, without a watch or heart rate monitor in sight. I’m enjoying lying in past 5.30am, filling my days with some awesome new reads that I’ve just found and having some adventures with my friends! I’m planning on going home for my parents’ silver wedding anniversary and am so excited to see my family. I even get to see my big sister who is home for a few days too which makes it even better! Before that though, I’m off to watch the World Champs final in London on Sunday and am looking forward to watching some wicked racing.

I’d just like to wish a few people some luck for their races (not that you’ll need it!). Firstly my best friend Lucy, racing in the Age Group Sprint World Champs race, alongside my other good friend Emily. Smash it up girls! Secondly, my Leeds lover Hev racing in the Olympic Distance race and the elite aquathlon – good luck! And the rest of the GB team, elite and age group; wear that GB suit with pride and race with a smile. The hard work of qualifying and all the training is done, now it’s just time to show the world what you’re made of!

One more thing (sorry, ridiculously long post!). I’d just like to mention a few people who have helped me so much through the hardest season I’ve ever had. My friends and housemates – sorry for being what I expect was a nightmare to live with, but thank you for dealing with it 😉 My competitors – especially Zoe (TeamZoli 2014, we got this), Soph, Vicky and Luce. My physio – thank you for fixing me and getting me back on track. My bike team, Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team – thank you for the continued support and the opportunity to race in some of the most fun races I’ve ever done! Looking forward to next year already 🙂 And finally, my family – you can’t choose them, but if you could I’d choose all these nutters anyway! You’ve been the most supportive people a girl can have, and I wish I could show you all how much I appreciate it.

For now, that’s a wrap. I’m off to bake a cake! 🙂

Over & Out,

eli_teee

xox

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Back In The Game

Yesterday, I raced at the first of the Commonwealth Games selection events. I can’t quite believe I’m actually saying that after all that has happened this year! Only four months ago there were days when I couldn’t get out of bed as I was in too much pain with my back, so to be back racing at all is a dream come true (cheesy, but it’s true!). As an elite athlete, racing or competing is what it’s all about at the end of the day and the racing is my favourite part about triathlon so I couldn’t be happier to be back!

The race itself was held at Parc Bryn Bach in Tredegar, South Wales. I love the course at Bryn Bach. Tough, hilly, technically challenging and its ALWAYS about 5 degrees colder there than it is outside the park I’m sure! We were going to be racing over a very short distance (the distance that, should we gain selection, we would be racing in the relay event at the Games). Having been training to race Olympic distance races for the last 2 years, this was guaranteed to be a bit of a shock to the system! The week before the race I was working all day which meant I had to fit my training around the hours, which actually worked out pretty well in the end. It meant that once I got home from work, before I sat down to think about how tired I was, I could go out for a short blast on the bike or a quick dip in the pool and work on specific aspects like my acceleration. The day before the race I had a day off work so I could relax, pack everything I needed and take a good couple of hours making sure Bruce was ready to go. We left late on Friday night to arrive at our hotel at around half ten, alarms set for 5am and nerves kicking in already!

Race day came and the usual pre-race jitters decided to hit me good and proper this time. I could barely eat my porridge (this is VERY unlike me on normal days!) and I couldn’t stop shaking and panicking about things. I’ve learnt recently how to control this, and luckily I managed to sort myself out by the time I got to the race venue by listening to my pre-race track over and over again. A quick spin around the bike course dodging the stray sheep (only in Wales eh) and I started to feel like normal again and raring to go! I put my wetsuit on pretty early as it was so cold down by the lakeside, so having that extra layer seemed like a pretty good idea to me. The boys were off first at 7.30 and it was a super-fast race, which was won by Liam Lloyd, followed by Morgan Davies and Luke Watson in 2nd and 3rd.

Then it was our turn… The short swim proved to be very quick thanks to the fast swimming Zoe Thomas who stretched it out pretty well over such a short distance! I came out the water in 3rd and headed out onto the bike in 2nd after a relatively smooth transition. As soon as I was out on the bike, I knew I had to push it and really attack up the first climb. Luckily for me, only one other athlete, Carol Bridge came with me and we worked super hard to get a gap on all the other girls. The pace was intense and we managed to get a pretty significant gap of about a minute which was going to prove very useful when it came to the run! I dropped a bit of time in the run and was being chased down by two other girls from the pack behind but I managed to hold on to get 2nd behind Carol and a very fast running Ffion Harrett!

Overall, I was super happy with my race. It was my first full race since the beginning of the season and considering I’d written off this year back in May, I’m pretty stoked with my performance! It’s certainly kick started my Commonwealth campaign and I’m hoping that I can back it up with a strong early season next year after what I’m planning to be the best winter of (injury free) training ever! I’m back home in F-Aberystwtyh for a few days now, getting in a bit more dollaaaa at work before heading back to Loughborough for the National Relays. And obviously Loughborough are going to win ;). After that I’ll be getting ready for a very new challenge… I’m racing in the X-TERRA England championships at the beginning of September; my first experience of a cross triathlon! I’m pretty excited to be able to be one of the pro’s racing there and me and Rizzo (my mountain bike :)) are looking forward to tearing it up and seeing what we can do on that circuit. 

For now, I suppose I should get out on my bike. Do some of that weird training stuff us triathletes are supposed to do.

Over & Out,

eli_teee xox

 

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Comeback Kid

A few months ago, I seriously considered giving up on the sport of triathlon. Three years of constant injuries meant I had no consistency in my training for the whole time and without that, I wasn’t going to be going anywhere. My lack of consistency showed in my race results, and in my opinion I’d failed to gain any decent results since my World Junior Duathlon 4th place finish. Going from being one of the top juniors in the UK to barely even featuring in domestic races is pretty frustrating!

Luckily, before I gave up on my triathlon dream, I had one last useful option. I found myself a new physio and the diagnosis that came about was something I never expected. Having had 5 stress fractures over the 3 year period, I’d come to the conclusion that I was simply prone to these injuries and it was a case of managing them to try and ensure they never happened again. But my new physio assessed my biomechanics (the way my body moves) and we’ve tackled all the problems right from the beginning, starting with my spine and finishing with my ankles. It’s been a tough few months of rehabilitation, including hospital trips and countless painful physio sessions where we ironed out all the creases in my body. But this week I had my final ankle injections to stabilise these weak joints and I can safely say it all seems to have gone well so far (yay! :))

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to get back to what I love doing the most; racing. I raced the swim and bike leg of the London Triathlon and ran a grand total of 200m out of transition before having to stop (on physio’s orders). I didn’t care. I was just happy to be back on the racing scene and competing with some awesome girls, a number of which have been incredibly supportive over the last few months. In all honesty, I had an atrocious swim but made up for it with a strong bike. I also enjoyed a bit of time away from Loughborough with my favourite ginger pal, Becky so all in all a pretty good weekend.

Next up for me is quite a big one. It’s a test for all the Welsh athletes who are showing an interest in competing in the Commonwealth games. Obviously having not had much race practise this year, I’m throwing myself in at the deep end a bit, but I’m still pretty excited and looking forward to a short and fast burn up around Bryn Bach Park!

I know it’s an incredibly cheesy thing to do, but I’d just like to thank a few people for being the most supportive people I could’ve had over the last few months. My best friend and housemate, Luce has been amazing and has taken a lot of my horrific mood swings and tears (sorry Luce!) without complaining once. My incredible famalam, who kept me happy and made me realise that a year out of having a complete season is nothing in the long run. If it means I can have 10 great seasons to come then its beyond worth it. A friend of mine, Nina, who has been so understanding and helped motivate me to get back to things. Hope I can put on a good show for you at the Commonwealth trials! And finally my fellow welshie Zoe. I raced Zo at London and was proud of the way she raced her first Olympic distance tri, especially after such a tough year last year. #TeamZoli are going to be good to go at Bryn Bach!

All that’s left for me to do now is keep working on my weaknesses, strengthen up my battered old body and get some more hard training in! And one thing’s for sure; I am incredibly thankful I never ever gave up those few months ago, and am making sure I enjoy every aspect of my training. Even the 5.15am starts ;).

And so, the comeback begins… 🙂

Over & Out,

eli_teee

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