Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Fresh Start

I seem to have experienced a lot these past two years from marriage, to injuries, crashes, sickness, surgery, frustrations, comebacks, and everything in between.

I haven’t written a blog since this past summer. I was really struggling at the time, and so worried for my health and my future in the sport that I couldn’t bring myself to write anything for the longest time. Despite a strong start to the 2011 season with my 9th and 10th places at Mooloolaba and Sydney after a year and a half away from racing, I wasn’t able to continue forging ahead with the rest of the WCS season. The fatigue seemed to creep up on me in March and April, but it wasn’t until the end of May that it was really forcing me to slow down. Unfortunately at that point my body had had enough and even with a week or two of full recovery, I seemed to fall deeper into a world of fatigue. I was away at Switzerland with my squad at the time and beginning to worry about my health. While everyone was peaking for the World Series races I was sleeping 15 hours a day, having night sweats, losing handfuls of hair, gaining weight, and overall struggling to function. My health seemed to take a sudden nosedive from being in top form to being a complete physical (and eventually emotional) wreck over a period of a couple of weeks. I didn’t want to completely pull the plug on the season as I was desperate to hold on to whatever fitness I had, hoping that I might come out of my hole before the next races. But as the season wore on, I could feel my fitness dwindling. I soon realized that hoping to be well enough to race again that year was beginning to look like a pipe dream. By September I was even wondering if I would ever be well enough to train again. Eventually I began to notice my energy returning, slowly, but my confidence in my ability was completely shattered. I was so far from training at a high performance level. I was still struggling to run for 20 minutes without my heart rate sky rocketing or feeling all sorts of “nigglies.” Nothing made sense to me and I was ready to throw in the towel thinking this was really the end. Thankfully I had people pulling for me and I really don’t think I’d be where I am right now if it weren’t for them refusing to give up on me. I know Adam was just as confused as I was, but he never let me believe that this was the end for me. He was certain I would eventually bounce back.

And I eventually did bounce back by the time Fall rolled around. I had a lot of time on my hands to think about my future in the sport and I knew that if I were to continue pushing forward to the 2012 Olympics, I needed to create a low-stress environment. It was a very difficult decision, but I decided not to return to my training squad and coach Darren, but to stay closer to my family and support network. I owe Darren a lot of credit for bringing me “back from the dead” after my bike crash, to top-10 in the world in a short period of time. I learned a heck of a lot from him and his fantastic squad so it was a tough decision to make. It turned out that Joel Filliol was returning to Victoria and was starting up a squad so that helped solidify my decision. I worked with Joel at the end of 2008 until early 2009 before he left to coach the British Team. I had one of my best seasons in 2009 and I know the training I did with Joel had set me up well. Also, having worked with Joel before allowed for a smooth transition so right from our first meeting, we were able to set up a plan and get right to work.

Apart from a few bumps along the way, I’ve been able to consistently build up my fitness over the past three months. I truly started from “ground zero” in October. It was shocking how much fitness I had lost, but as I began to see the training increase and my body responding well, I was one happy girl. Joel has built up a slow but steady progression and by the time mid-November rolled around, I was doing intervals and even seeing little blips of my “old self”. This brought back a little bit of confidence and eventually the belief that I did in fact have a shot at qualifying for my second Olympics.

One of the obstacles I have to overcome though is not only Canada’s Olympic selection, but earning our county spot. Unfortunately it hasn’t been a great couple of years for Canadian women, apart from Paula, so at the end of 2011 we had only earned one Olympic spot. So, Joel and I sat down with a plan to earn Canada a 2nd and hopefully 3rd country spot. It’s no easy feat given I have basically missed out on two entire race seasons so am way down there in the rankings, but if I can race to my ability, I can earn that spot. What this means is that I will be racing A LOT this year. It’s not necessarily about targeting one race or peaking for August, it’s about finishing the best I can at each event and chasing those points. Here’s what my schedule will likely look like:

January 15: PATCO Champs, La Paz, Argentina

February 12: Bridgetown Sprint ITU, Barbados *tentative

March 3: Clermont Sprint ITU, Florida

March 25: Mooloolaba World Cup, Australia

April 15: Sydney World Triathlon Series, Australia

April 22: Ishigaki World Cup, Japan

May 5: Huatulco World Cup, Mexico

May 12: San Diego World Triathlon Series, USA

May 27: Madrid, World Triathlon Series, Spain

So as we like to say in our squad, “it’s happening.” I’m very fired up for my Olympic conquest. I know I haven’t given myself a lot of time to make this happen, but this is the way things have panned out, and I’m up for the challenge.

I’m writing this as I fly back from the first race in Argentina. Unfortunately this first race really didn’t go as I had hoped. A tactical error reading the current on the river swim led me to narrowly miss the main front pack. I struggled to find my biking legs and couldn’t bridge the gap. My run was also very sub-par for me and I undoubtedly ran below my current level of fitness. That was frustrating. I don’t know if it was the heat that I struggled with, or the fact that I am returning from such a long lay-off and just don’t have the top end race fitness yet, but there’s nothing like a poor performance to increase the motivation! (just in case I was lacking any! ;) Of course I am happy to be back at the races but am hungry for taking things up a level (or two!) at the next race.

I owe a big thank you to my friends, family and sponsors that have stuck behind me through this difficult time. I truly couldn't continue to chase my dream without your support.

I promise to keep this page updated more frequently as I’d like to share my Olympic journey with others.

Thanks for reading,



kristen said...

Good luck Lauren! I've always loved reading your blog and following you on Twitter. I hope this year just gets better and better for you!

Anonymous said...

You can do it....;ust believe in yourself.....the good times are coming...

Anonymous said...

Lauren, you are amazing! Keep up the good work, you have friends from years past always sending good thoughts!

~Sally Burtenshaw

Christine Jeffrey said...

Glad to see you are back at it :) Best of luck in the Olympic hunt, will be cheering all of you on!!

Rob Jackson said...

Kick ass, woman. Kick ass.

Unknown said...

Glad to hear you are back and healthy. All the best with the new start. Upwards and onwards for you!

Born To Endure said...

Can't wait to follow you!

Unknown said...

I like your blog Lauren :). Glad you're healthy! Man your description of how you were feeling describes EXACTLY how I was feeling during my fail months in the summer. I wonder if the added stress of training at altitude is a factor.

CT said...

go get 'em lauren - glad to see you back racing.

Gregwh said...

Great Blog Post Lauren. Kudos for hanging in there through that tough trying patch. It's persistence and determination that win out every time. (and some rest too!) Make it a fantastic season!

Kiet said...

Good to hear things are coming around Lauren and reading this post is timely for me. I think stress can cause a lot of strange ailments and reading this post confirms it. Time to find my happy place.

Anonymous said...

We are all rooting for you girl!!! You CAN do this!!!
So happy you are on the up and up!!! Keep up the positivity!!
Kelly Corday

Lauren said...

Thank you all for your kind words!

There's no doubt this will be a memorable journey so I will do my best to keep this blog updated.

Jesse Elliott, PhD(C) said...

I'm glad you're back Lauren! I've been checking for updates. I'll be following and cheering for you!

Anonymous said...

Good luck Lauren! It would be great to see 3 of you in the Olympics for 2012! Everyone knows Canada has more than 3 girls talented enough to represent in triathlon at the Olympics! Here's hoping! All the best!

Gregwh said...

Congrats on your win in Barbados Today Lauren!

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