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It's over! I find it hard to get my head round the fact that the event I have been planning for and dreaming of for the last few years has been and gone! And I didn't exactly have the result I have been dreaming of, finishing 5th. The thing about sport is, it comes with massive highs of achieving the performance you work hard and spend a huge time planning and preparing for, when it all comes together and you get the results, the feeling is incredible. Then there is the flip side that is the massive low of not achieving what you believed you could do.

I am hesitant to write about my build up to the Olympics as I don't want to whinge about my troubles or make excuses, but I will explain what happened so that my friends, family, supporters and sponsors know the events of my apparent under performance at the games. I owe so much to the people that came to support me as well as the team who dropped everything to look after me in the run up to the games, who i will never be able to thank enough for the help they gave me in an extremely emotional and difficult period. 

I had a great start to this year recording my best result ever in the San Diego world Triathlon Series in May but a couple of weeks after that everything started to go wrong.

I came back from San Diego after having a good block of training out there so I needed some recovery time before the main aim which was Olympics 12 weeks away. I had 5 days off training as recovery and then started back training to prep for the games. Everything was fine except I felt a bit tight and tired, which to be honest is pretty normal! I then went for a swim session where we did some hard 50 sprints while diving in. When I was warming down I remember thinking, 'my knee hurts' and then forgot about it. The next morning when I got up to swim I was in pain walking and I couldn't complete the swim session as kicking really hurt my knee! This was the start of the problems. 

I couldn't train for the first two weeks, pretty much just swimming with a pull buoy, I couldn't run or ride. I went to see a few doctors and had scans, although the scans showed nothing that would be causing my pain. Which was good in a way as there was nothing hugely wrong like a torn tendon or fracture but very frustrating as I had a massive amount of pain. Going up and down stairs hurt and when I turned over in bed at night it was painful. So when you’re lying in bed in pain it’s not looking great to be going running! I had to have some cortisone in my knee which initially didn't help too much. I had about 6 injections to try and reduce the symptoms of pain and find the spot which hurt but it was difficult to get any relief. I was then sent off to another Doctor, after having scans on Ultrasound we found more blood activity in my fat pad of the knee so this was injected and I had some relief. I was able to get back on the bike and I started building up the running. If I had continued to progress from this point and I was pain free I think we would have been ok for the games but unfortunately the pain came back during running as the steroid wore off. I was able to swim and ride almost pain free and I was able to run through the pain most of the time. But time was moving on and I was nowhere near full run volume it was getting more worrying. We took the option to have an epidural in case my problems were nerve related, the consultant who did my epidural was pretty certain the problems were local to the knee but we were willing to try anything. So it was more injections in the knee, one called ostenil which was described to me as WD40 for the knee! This provided more relief again and got me through some more running. I was also using the underwater treadmill to get in some more run volume. 

I probably started to progress with my running with about 6 weeks to go to the race. With about 4 weeks to go to the games i felt like i was now progressing and I had two weeks where I managed 6 hours of running a week, this was still a bit under what I normally run. But it came with a cost and after these two weeks I was back in agony, so, back to the doctors. This time i had injections down the inside of my thigh to try and block the nerve that feeds the knee and another ostenil in the knee and more shots in the fat pad. The next 3 weeks were rough and i just managed to run as and when possible, sometimes on the underwater treadmill sometimes on the road, but now every run was hurting and day after would always be painful. I was using a lot of painkillers to manage.

I think people may ask why I even went to the games, should I have pulled out? When I did manage to get a harder run session in, it wasn't too bad, my speeds weren't slow, a bit down on my speeds from pre San Diego races and pre Sydney earlier this year, and in those races I was 2nd and 1st. So I knew if I could keep going just keep trying to maintain my running I still may be in with a shot.

I tried to stay  positive and think i may not have lost too much form. I hoped for the conditions that would suit me best,  a cold day with no wetsuits, we may get away on the swim with Lucy and Vicky and then anything was possible. We had trained really well together and i knew Lucy and Vicky were swimming and riding well.

The day of the race the Doctor gave me lots of pain killers to help me get through the day. What we hoped for just didn't happen, Wetsuit swim, i started with the best athletes on the left and we slowed each other down and i couldn't get away. It came down to a running race and i gave it all i had. It wasn't enough. But, i was amazed at how close i came. If i walk away from that race with anything it's a confidence, I had the worst preparation I could have imagined, swimming, biking and running in pain daily with no let-up for 12 weeks and I still finished 5th, not too far off

I have to say it was the worse ten weeks of my triathlon career. I want to thank my Husband and Coach Marc as he is the one who held everything together and dealt with my tears of frustration and pain, my physio Dan who came round the country with us to see Doctors, came out of hours to see me and just generally being such a happy and positive influence, Lou my sports psych who kept me believing I could win and getting me to the race with a winning mentality that I think kept me so close to the leaders for the majority of the race, Richard my agent who kept both myself and Marc calm and also my team mates Vicky Holland and Lucy Hall who couldn't have been more supportive. And with their help we managed to produce the best result from a British woman at an Olympic triathlon event, although to be honest this wasn't much consolation as we were aiming for Gold. The British triathlon team of Glen, Ben, Malcolm, Laura, Emma, Glen, Kevin, Patrick provided us with the best pre-race environment I have ever had and just made life easier for all of us.

I did enjoy the whole Olympic experience, watching the mens team achieve Gold and Bronze was so exciting and emotional! The crowd support in our races was the most special thing I have ever experienced in a race. And the closing ceremony spent with my team mates dancing and singing (badly) was brilliant. It doesn't make up for my disappointment but it made it easier. 

I am not going to race for the rest of the year, my knee is still sore and it needs to heal without me trying to train on it! I am definitely going to keep competing over the next four years. I love triathlon and still feel I can keep improving. So roll on the next four years! After a good holiday first!

Helen x