Alison Peasgood is Paralympic silver medal winner and has been a member of the UK Sport Lottery funded World Class Paratriathlon Squad since 2014. She is based in Stirling and competes in a Yonda Ghost wetsuit. Alison has been so kind as to write a guest blog about her experiences as a paratriathlete.
Getting off to a good start
The 2019 season got underway at the World Paratriahlon Series (WPS) in Milan. It was my first race with new guide, Nikki Bartlett, and we were excited to test all the skills we had been learning under a bit of pressure. We came away with the win (1st place) but, more importantly, with things we wanted to work on. It was an exciting time and we were both looking forward to the rest of the season together.
Fast forward 2 weeks and I am in bed with a temp of 38.9°C, lethargic and unable to train. I had developed a virus. The doctors weren’t sure what it was but my blood work showed my body was fighting infection and that my liver had been inflamed. No athlete likes having setbacks especially when things have been going well, but I kept thinking it would be easier to be injured. I have had my fair share of injuries in the past and, although they create their own anxieties, they at least seem to follow a structure for rehab back to full training. With illness it is a case of seeing how each day goes before you can plan the next. As you can imagine, for a full time athlete, this is the hard part – trying to keep yourself motivated when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Focusing on the end goal
So, as my health didn’t really improve (developing a second virus of shingles) and I was only able to do little bits of aerobic training, I had to keep myself focused, thinking of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. You are told in sport to control the controllable and for me, in this situation, it was how I approached each day: not letting myself get carried away, even though there was racing fast approaching.
I had been unwell/ doing light training for 6 weeks and WPS Montréal was just around the corner. I had already had to step back from the squad’s heat camp in Florida and was starting to worry that I wouldn’t be able to race. The day before flying, it was agreed I could go, so long as I raced to heart rate and kept my effort steady throughout. The points I would get would then ensure I got the starts for races later in the year which would help me secure that all important start in Tokyo 2020. Although this was good news, it is hard as an athlete to stand on the start line knowing you can’t be competitive.
Creating our own goals
The beauty of my type of racing is that it’s a team event and Nikki and I are developing a great partnership. That doesn’t stop just because you can’t race flat out. We set ourselves different types of goals so we could walk away from the race, regardless of outcome, feeling like we had achieved something. Nikki was also able to set herself personal goals, which, in this race, resulted in us having the fastest bike split because she was challenging herself to push more Watts on the bike. It was cool to be giving her the encouragement on the bike as well as utilising our combined technical abilities in pursuit of that goal. I will however just add, if anyone knows Nikki well, being on the back of the tandem, with her going full gas, does result in my hands and legs getting drenched in her sweat
Onwards and upwards
As I am writing this I am still awaiting the results of more blood tests. I am hoping they show the improvements in my liver function that will allow me to start to progress training. So it is still a wait and see for now but I know I will have the support of my team and guides (both training and racing) to make sure I get through it. Sport can give you so much but it can also be very hard. Apparently the hard times make the good times even better so as always I shall keep focused on that end goal.
Next up: Tokyo test event 17/08/2019 world champs 31/08/2019