Hi, I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas and the New year celebrations, it seems a long way off now.
December for me was a month of continuing long sessions on the turbo as well as gym sessions, and of course spending time with family and friends along with the intention of travelling to Ireland twice.
The intensity of my sessions has stepped up this month and I’ve been focusing on specific sessions that have been allocated to concentrate on training for track racing; Because this involves longer and more intense sessions nutrition is even more important than it has been. I’ve had to ramp up my intake and really focus on it, not letting it slip for one day, not even on a rest day.
I find this time of the year difficult. With a lack of daylight hours it’s becoming colder with more cold months still to come. Energy levels are at their lowest and with so much illness about it’s hard to not become ill at some stage. I’ve gone down with a few bugs this year and it’s sometimes hard to know whether to train or not. A session could push me over the edge and cause the illness to become worse and this would then set my training back. I find it very frustrating when I’m unwell and not able to train and all I can think about are the sessions I am missing. However there is nothing I can do but wait until I am well again and get back training.
My immune system is put under pressure and compromised after a hard session and so fueling the body before and after each session is very important. I’ve been very fortunate in being able to work with a nutritionist from the Irish Institute of Sport who is Irelands leading sports nutritionist and works with elite athletes. The knowledge and the advice this lovely lady has been giving me will improve my nutrition and this will positively affect my health and performance in both the short and long term.
At the beginning of December I flew to Dublin for a camp and met up with the rest of the para-cycling squad at the Institute of sport for testing, workshops, meetings and to touch base with the support services (physiotherapist, S&C coach). Overall it was a positive couple of days and it showed that I’ve made gains in the areas I’ve been working on.
Testing at the Institute of Sport in December
The Irish Times and Sport Ireland Sportswomen Awards
I am delighted to tell you that on the 21st December The Irish Times and Sport Ireland Sportswomen of the year awards were held at the prestigious Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin and Eve my pilot and I had received the award for the month of August, for winning the double World Championships. Along with the other awards winners we were to attend a sit down lunch where the award would be presented. We have been honoured to win an award for the last two years, and this would be our third.
I was very upset and disappointed that because of the drone chaos at Gatwick airport I wasn’t able to get over to Dublin to attend the Awards. These awards are quite special and the celebrations are fantastic with wonderful food, great people and a great party atmosphere, there were a few tears of frustration as I booked 2 more flights only to have them cancelled one by one. This wonderful day celebrates sportswomen in Ireland and I feel very proud and honoured at being recognised for our achievements among the best sportswomen in Ireland. Eve attended and represented us both on the table alongside Eve was our coach Neill Delahaye, The Technical Director of Cycling Ireland, Brian Nugent, Para-cycling logistics manager Tommy McGowen, and our guests Jen Bates who has subbed for Eve piloting me in the past year and Eve’s friend. These people are part of our team and without them we wouldn’t have achieved our success. The award is theirs as well as ours. I was delighted that Kellie Harrington won Sportswomen of the year it was well deserved after winning the World Title in November and a silver at the European championships earlier in the year. I’ve seen her train over the past year at the Institute and she works incredibly hard and is humble and supportive of other athletes.
Over Christmas I did have a few days off but stuck to a general routine of training. Its nice to have time to spend with the family and have fun and the Christmas and New Year Period were wonderful and I am very lucky to have a close and special family.
Manchester Para-cycling International Jan 11-13th
British Cycling held a track competition in January and my coach was keen for me to take part along with most of the elite and development squad. Unfortunately Eve couldn’t make it due to work commitments and Jen who has piloted me in the past was able to attend and pilot me even though she had never ridden on the track before, on a tandem or a solo! I hadn’t been on a track since the World Championships last March scary! Our preparation was two sessions on the track in Derby before competing in Manchester! We were racing in the 1k time trial which is a sprint event and the 3k pursuit which is an endurance event. Most of our competitors have access to a track and have more track time.
Track bikes have one fixed gear and no brakes. The bike builds up speed by the rider pushing and pulling through the pedals and using the contours of the track. The banked track is 250m long, the steepest part are at the ends and the shallowest on the straights. Track are usually oval shaped but some are more round. Every track is different and the Manchester track suits tandem racing a bit better than the track in Derby due to its wider ends making transitioning from the straights to the bends more fluid.