Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – August 2020
So what a month this has been, I’ll be honest with you and say I’ve seen more drama in these past few weeks than in a Coronation Street special.
As I sit here writing this newsletter currently we have 4 athletes scrambling last minute to get their covid tests done which will give them a chance to race at Ironman Estonia on Saturday 5th September. This looks like it may be one of the only official Ironman races to take place in 2020 with Ironman Italy & France recently cancelled only weeks before athletes were due to race.
To say this has gone to the wire would be a huge understatement. Day by day by these past few weeks we’ve watched as the UK infection rates have continued to slowly rise resulting in us becoming a ‘red country’. This is where our numbers have exceeded the 16 in 100,000 infection rate limit (currently at 23.2). This means that anyone flying in from the UK would have to self quarantine for 14 days on arrival. If that had happened we only would have had 1 athlete not 5 racing.
Then suddenly there was the amazing news that the Estonian government might allow athletes in if they could complete an official PCR covid test 72 hours prior to landing in Estonia. They would then take another test on arrival. Then, deathly silence from the race organisers. With the days counting down one by one the tension started to build, there was still no confirmation that this would be the case. Even with 2 weeks to go still no official news and many of our athletes has already resigned themselves the fact that might not be racing. Then only 10 days before the race was due to take place Ironman Estonia confirmed that the athletes would be allowed to enter without a 14 day quarantine if they could provide 2 negative tests. Never have I seen 4 more happy athletes…all they had to do now was to incur more costs getting these tests done privately.
One of our athlete’s Tash (The Flash) Jackson even took the extraordinary steps of flying out to Estonia 2 weeks before these measures were introduced to avoid the quarantine. This is a girl well and truly on a mission and it’s been hugely inspiring to see. Go Tash.
Fortune favours the brave, Tash Jackson riding high on the Ironman bike course in Tallinn, Estonia
What has amazed about all of these athletes is their shear resilience and persistence this year to get themselves to this point. The stresses they have incurred have been unlike any year we’ve every seen, but even in the darkest times they found a way to keep going to the very end. And unlike many of our athletes who were in the same position they might actually get chance to race at the end of it.
All I can say for now to the ‘Tallinn 5’… Joep, Tash, Chris, Rod & JJ is we all wish you the very best of luck. I think all of us will be riding shotgun with you out there so just go out there and race like you’ve never raced before. Be sure to leave it all out there on race day and enjoy each and every moment. Do it with only the biggest smiles on your faces, it will be an experience to remember.
I can only express my deepest sympathies for all the athletes out their who have their dreams and goals taken away from them this year. It certainly hasn’t been easy for me as a Coach to sit back watch as these last few races get withdrawn from the racing calendar. Only as a coach do you see the hard work, commitment and sacrifice athletes make on a daily basis to achieve their dreams. As much as you all deserve to be out there sometimes lady luck just doesn’t fall on your side and that’s just life for you. One thing it will teach us all is to never take what we do for granted again.
But also realise that the work you’ve put in this year is of absolute paramount importance in your athletic development. Nothing is wasted and I’ll be totally honest with you the reason I’ve driven you all so hard to stay engaged and focused this year was because if you had lost this year, it would have made it so much harder and would take so much longer for you to get to your chosen destination within the sport. Endurance sport doesn’t reward missing years, far from it. It’s only the accumulation of many years layered one on top of the other with no long extended breaks that helps deliver peak performance. One thing I can absolutely guarantee is that those of you who continued to train and evolve as athletes this year will be the ones whose performances will rise the quickest when you get that chance to race once again in 2021.
This has been my overriding goal as your coach to help put you in this position since lock down began and I truly believe many of you have achieved this goal. So even if you are one of my athletes currently resting and taking time out of structured training realise it’s because you’ve well and truly earned it races or no races. All the good quality work has been banked for 2020 and will form the foundation of the deep well we tap into to make sure 2021 is great success for you.
‘And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.’
Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the shore
I’ll leave you with this short story, which shows the level of commitment and focus one of our athletes has demonstrated recently. It definitely deserves a big shout out. In fact I have nothing but total admiration for this girls approach to life & training for one so young. That girl is the force of nature known as Ellie Bishop.
Ellie’s original race goal this year was Ironman Lanzarote but as this was cancelled she switched her attention to the new date for Ironman France in October. There was no doubt about it this girl was in the shape of her life shape as she continued to train throughout lockdown. Never once did she falter or complain when the world around us was being flipped on it’s head. Then only a couple of weeks ago she fell off her bike and fractured her wrist. Her response was a sensible and measured as I have ever seen showing maturity beyond her years. She simply accepted that this can happen, didn’t beat herself up and remained resolutely positive.
“This training won’t go unused – I am determined I won’t let it go to waste”
Within days she was back on the turbo trainer and Ironman France was on yet again. Within a week she’d progressed to a 2-hour turbo (all in the TT position to off load wrist pressure), within 3 weeks she was up to 4 hours and back in the pool with a pair of fins on. Then just before she was about to hit a 4 hour planned turbo (with 80mins of big gear work and 80mins of tempo work just above race pace) she received the news that Ironman France was cancelled.
With just a few days left on her current plan she sent me a message:
“Should I do the 4 hour turbo planned?”
My response (knowing what the answer would be) was….
“Depends on your motivation MB, do you want to go out with a bang or just do an easy Netflix spin?”
“I’m going out with a bang, let’s finish the weekend as planned. Can’t draw the line yet, I want to prove to the Team that if they ever break their wrist, it doesn’t have to stop them turboing like a good ‘un”.
They say character is revealed in the toughest of times and never more so in this case. This girl will be one to watch in 2021 mark my words.
Team Race News (Yes you read that correctly!)
The Cotswold Classic (Middle Distance)
- Andrew Reardon
- Splits: Swim 32:34/ Bike 2:20:34 / Run 1:31:01
- Total time: 4:24:47
- Position: 2nd in 40-44 category / 8th male overall
- Next up: The Outlaw X triathlon
Huge congrats to Andrew on a stunning first outing this year, 11 years after completing his last triathlon. It was a performance to be proud and was largely due to some incredibly consistent training this year. Keep ticking the boxes AR and you will continue to go from strength to strength.
Our race numbers were sent out well in advance and we were given our bike racking slots and swim start times based on surname which felt a bit like being back at school with me right at the end. The swim start was to be a rolling 10s TT style which suited me down to the ground as I’ve never been fond of the kicking, punching and biting in the melee that is a mass start.
One of the compromises the organisers had to make was no supporters in the start / finish area, so my support crew had to sit this one out which I’m sure they were happy to do. Waiting around for a 3-4 second glimpse of Daddy in lycra is nowhere near as much fun as playing Minecraft or having tea parties with teddy bears.
On the day itself I arrived at my allocated time to rack my bike and stood in line to be shot in the head by a temperature gun before trying to figure out how to wear a face mask with a TT helmet whilst carrying a transition bag and pushing a bike. I failed several times much to the amusement followed by mild annoyance of my fellow competitors.
With my bike safely racked and all supporting kit in what I thought was the right place I left transition to engage in the old English tradition of queueing. First for the pre-race loo stop and then for the swim itself. As I’d been swimming in the lake 2-3 times a week over lock-down there wasn’t the normal nervousness when looking at a new water feature to navigate and some of the belly flops as athletes started their races were nothing short of spectacular!
The swim felt more like a training session than a race as there was none of the initial craziness and with the 10s between competitors it would have been pure luck to find some faster feet to hang on to and it didn’t look like there was a lot of that happening. I emerged from the water after a very uneventful jaunt to be cheered on by the excellent volunteers. I then took it nice and easy as the organisers had provided a 10min window for T1 to allow for social distancing. This meant we could to take as much time as needed which was a wonderful change to thrashing around trying to get a wetsuit off while donning a helmet!
The bike was two laps of a quiet and flat course with just the potholes, some roundabouts and a turnaround to contend with. This is the first race I have competed in where I saw a grand total of NO drafting! This can be added to the small handful of benefits CVD-19 has given us. There were little pockets of support on the course to add a bit of umph but otherwise the roads where clear which allowed for some fast bike splits.
Coming into T2 both of my glutes had seized so I was very grateful for the 5min window the organisers had allowed as it meant I could give them a good stretch without penalty. Then, after a quick drink, I headed out onto the 3 lap run course. I had run part of the course during training sessions and it had been a very pleasant mix of road, tarmac path and a bit of woodland trail. This had lulled me into a false sense of security as the 2.5 miles of the lap I hadn’t run was pure cross country with fields, dirt tracks and sharp turns to contend with. My legs held for the first couple of laps but the twisting, turning and change of terrain and pace took their toll as I started slowing on the third.
I was elated to cross the finish line for the first time in nearly 11 years and to have posted a time of 4:24 which put me 8th overall and 2nd in my age group. I wasn’t quite sure what racing was going to be like after such a long break, but the mix of pain, satisfaction and joy is just as addictive now as it was before, and I’ll be back for more!
Jersey Olympic Triathlon
- Louise Bracken-Smith
- Splits: Swim 28:03/ Bike 1:09:46 / Run 50:37
- Total time: 2:28:26
- Position: 5th in 45-49 category / 7th female overall
- Next up: A long rest!
After a real roller coaster year for Lou she managed to find one last big performance out in Jersey. With a tough swim and then a lightening fast bike, cramping put pay to a speedy run. But still a performance to be proud of after a fantastic last training block. Time to get some well earned rest now Lou to re-charge the batteries ahead of 2021!
One of my first great sporting memories growing up as a child was watching the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. These games seemed to have it all. They were also a pivotal moment in women’s running because it was the first year that women were allowed to participate in the marathon. Crazy when you think of it all these years later.
That first winner was the legendary Joan Benoit. A tiny pocket rocket with an unusual running technique who took on the best on the world and brought home the gold for Team USA. This is her story and one that should inspire women everywhere. Joan was a no nonsense tough trail blazer who firmly put women’s running on the map. Most importantly she didn’t just win but has also spent the rest of her life encouraging other women to run giving so much back to the sport. It’s a short film that packs a punch that will inspire anyone to lace up their running shoes.
You probably wont have heard of Shirley Babashoff, the tragic thing is you should have. Shirley was one of the greatest American female swimmers of all time, with many describing her as the Mark Spitz of female swimming. Her time should have been the 1976 Olympics in Montreal where she was predicted to win 5 Olympic Gold medals. In the end she never won a single individual gold medal at any Olympics games because she always won silver. The reason being she was beaten by East German female swimmers who we now know had been heavily doped most of their athletic lives.
At the time Shirley also took a stand against these girls saying publicly that she thought they were doping, unfortunately no one believed her and she was derided for it. Even by her own country who turned against her and labelled her ‘Surly Shirley’. Only time would tell that Shirley was indeed right but justice was never served.
In all of those events Shirley broke the existing worlds records but this was bettered by an East German swimmer each time. What astonished me most was she trained 20 miles a day (yes thats correct 20 miles a day!) to be within a shout of beating these girls. This girl was so tough and wasn’t affraid to stand up for what she believed in. Only time would prove her right but unfortunately then it was all too late.
Instagram posts of the month
Team Nagi out & about
I really must buy some larger board pens..or a larger board..actually I’ll order both!
It’s not the dogs you have to worry about going for a run in Singapore…and you wonder why she’s known as ‘The Rocket’
Eyes on the ROAD TASH! (Ironman fever has already kicked in)
Sark to Jersey relay team. Our Lou with her REALLY tall friends
Prizes if you can guess whats going on under here…if I didnt know better I’d say TC is hiding a hangover
Beautiful red skies over The Old Town Tallinn…it must be a sign!
How strong does Stefano want to be in 2021? The face says it all
Very impressive AR…the only thing missing is a few spinning plates!
Team Ham-Tram go green for 2020!