On October 16th I celebrated my one year “ampuversary”. At the time I was in Austria, on the Stubai glacier on a snowboard training camp. Mental.
On returning back to the UK from working abroad over summer, I had roped a load of friends (and friends of friends) into doing a triathlon, Triforlife, at Woburn Abbey. We had a beautiful day for it, the venue was stunning and (despite a lot of resistance during the recruitment phase of the event) we all had a wonderful day! Special mention to Lottie Boswell and Georgia Faris,
who I borderline forced to do it both of whom hadn’t done anything much sports wise for a long time, but rose to the challenge and are now seasoned swimmers and runners (ish). Together we all raised £1285 for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Rays of Sunshine. I spent a lot of time at GOSH as a child – I had heart surgery and a lot of operations on my feet there, and have heard wonderful things about the impact that Rays of Sunshine has had on the lives of some of the children who have been in King’s College Hospital whilst I was there running the Bedside Play Scheme, so it was wonderful to raise money for charities so close to my heart. (And all I had to do was a 20k cycle, not too bad in theory, but having not cycled whilst abroad over summer meant my legs weren’t overly happy for the following few days…)
At the beginning of October I went up to Loughborough University for a weekend of testing for the GB Paratriathlon Talent Squad. Tough wattbike, swim and run testing combined with some interesting talks made for a fun but challenging weekend and I was classified as PT3. I still have a long way to go with my run due to the underlying talipes in my “good” leg and having not run at all for the six year period prior to amputation, but that is work in progress and my swim and bike are good and getting stronger all the time.
I was chuffed to get a place on the squad because there were lots of incredible athletes there and I can’t wait to train with them and start racing in spring. Already I am in a totally different place to where I was when I raced over summer (swimming nearly doubly as fast as I did at my first paratriathlon – https://onelegdontcare.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/my-first-attempt-at-a-triathlon/, but I hadn’t done much swimming at all at that point and I’ve been swimming like an obsessed fish all summer…) and I can’t wait to see the improvements in the new year from my winter training.
*Road to Tokyo, my category isn’t included at Rio
The week after that I went to Austria on a parasnowboard development camp run by the Agitos Foundation. We were training with the Dutch, Norwegian and Romanian teams and it tough because everyone else had a hell of a lot more experience than me, but brilliant to be surrounded by such talented athletes and all of whom were very happy to share hits and tips! I was pushed massively and came on a lot.
I had a little ski on the last afternoon (because I wanted to remember what being at good at something felt like…) and it cemented that snowboarding is a better path to be going down than skiing because my stump was smashing around even just doing two runs and it wasn’t nice at all. The leg I skied on last winter was much softer and more padded and I think I’d need something more like that if I was to be doing much skiing, and something around the knee too, which will be difficult to get.
On the other hand, I snowboarded all week on my quite basic water leg and the only time I had any real issues was when the valve went dodgy so the suction wasn’t holding properly, meaning my stump was moving in and out of the socket and any rotational forces were really pulling and twisting it. Whilst it was tender for a few days and quite bruised around the bottom where it had clearly been bashing a bit, that was it. Now I’ve got a new socket (finally one that works with the silcare liner which will be brilliant for running and cycling http://www.silcareliners.com – yeah I modelled it too, and in all honesty it has cut into my leg at times and been seriously frustrating, but the benefits when it is working well are huge) and it’s got a lot more shape to it so holds my leg much more securely, so hopefully I won’t have that issue again.
To all my ski friends – please don’t unfriend me, I still love skiing…
So the plan is to snowboard as much as possible this winter, start racing and do lots of swimming, cycling and running training alongside that, with support from the paratriathlon team at Loughborough and from the South Central Academy. I’ve worked very hard to get into the position I’m in now, and have a lot of hard work ahead but I’m super excited about it all and the adventures to come. I’ve said it loads but thank you again to everyone who has helped make this year amazing.
I’m CrowdFunding to try and raise about half the costs for training and competing in both sports over the next 12 months. If you can help me out in any way that would be amazing and if you know anyone else that could and would pass it on that would be equally brill. Thanks!