Thursday, 16 January 2014

Phoebe's Cyclocross round up

Best pal, pit king and
technical coach Lawrence Frost
working out
I cannot believe the season is drawing to a close so soon. It feels like only yesterday I was battling nerves and panic before the start of the 3 peaks. Like all bike seasons there have been highs and lows.  Thankfully the most noticeable aspect of this cross season compared to last is how much I’ve enjoyed it - not just the racing but the training as well. Last season I was averaging 50-60h a week in the hospital, I was shattered and completely emotionally drained before the training and racing even began. Despite all that I tried my best to at least tread water in terms of fitness, skills and results. This I just about managed but I paid for it over the summer when the hours at work went up again and the racing began I hadn’t got much left to give.

Thankfully this season I’ve managed to cut down at work a bit doing on average 30-40h a week life has been so much sweeter. It has been lovely to plan races and train for them and to have to the time to add in gym work and skills sessions. My trusty training partner and all-round fitness nazi Diane lee has been on my case each week ensuring I’m not slacking off. It even got to the point where I was dragging her out training – a never before seen phenomena.

Racing the NDCXL league 
The cyclocross season started with the build up to the 3 peaks, I won’t dwell too much on the day it still holds such painful and terrifying memories. Needless to say I finished with a fractured right elbow and very low self esteem, there was a lot of work to do. I’m used to feeling tired in fact I’m used to functioning in some ridiculous states as an A&E doctor however it took some getting used to balancing a reduced work load and a far increased training load. I was impatient (I’m always impatient it one of my many terrible personality traits). Despite advice from the sports medicine consultant at work I continued to ride my bike with the dodgy elbow. I couldn’t really get out of the saddle and I certainly didn’t like bumps. The guys at work were constantly on my back about not making a bad situation worse but as I mentioned I’m impatient, stubborn and a doctor so I am also the world’s worst patient. 

I could not understand why I was struggling so much with recovery when I was working less and supposedly resting more. I roped in Diane and Gary to see if it was just me worrying for nothing, they very sensibly suggested looking at my diet. It soon became apparent that there was a large gap between what I was energy intake and energy expended. (I thought it was normal to go to bed absolutely starving). Concerned with being healthy and trying to avoid that every increasing fear of being fat I tend to eat 3 meals a day and not much else. Although on the food diary there was a week where a lot of wotsits were eaten (for which I was heavily ridiculed). Looking at an average day I was going for 8-9hours at work without eating and drinking very little. I told you guys I might be a doctor but I am totally unable to apply science to my own well being. I few tweeks and lots of texts from Di reminding me to eat and drink (Mule bars not wotsits) and I was back on the straight and narrow feeling much better.

One of our sponsors Saddleback kindly asked Di and I if we would race on their elite team at the rapha supercross races. I really wanted to race and I certainly didn’t want to miss out but I was a bit worried that I shouldn’t really be in the elite category (I’ve certainly never felt very elite at anything). I shouldn’t have worried, loaded up with pain killers I slipped into the very pro looking saddleback skinsuit and swore my way round the course. Ok I was last I know but I don’t think anyone noticed and I had lots of cheers. I was racing some of the best girls in the country and it certainly helped me improve.

I wouldn't have survived
Shrewsbury trophy without
Emily's help
By Christmas the elbow was healed and back to almost full range of movement. Christmas is sometimes a tricky time to maintain momentum with the training. I had no problem with this as Diane Lee was there ready cracking her chain whip whilst I baked hundreds of mince pies as erm festive cycling fuel. Christmas day was spent cycling round the peaks with my dad, Chris and the Last family (including Adge last, Olympian Annie last and her brother Tom all decked out in tinsel). The racing continued and as the weather got wetter I got faster. This is because I love the mud but only a very specific mud that is exceptionally wet. I don’t like the mud you can only run through (please bear that it mind if you are organising a cross race next season!).

Mud at the nationsl
My confidence was slowly improving and things were on the up. All the racing over Christmas is to build for the national champs, held this year in our home town of Derby which meant a lovely night in my own bed and not a dodgy travel lodge. Unfortunately due to some crazy A&E shifts I didn’t get chance to practise the course much but it was the same as the trophy last year so I wasn’t too stressed. It’s a twisty course with lots of off camber and corners. Sunday arrived, Di was all set, Nat and her boyfriend came up to support and ease the tension in the Sneddon Metcalfe household. Before the race I nipped on to the course to test the conditions I’m not sure this was the best idea it pretty much shattered my confidence when I realised how bloody hard it was going to be to get round. It was either so muddy you had to run or so slippery you had to run. Di was there with words of encouragement. Gridded on the back row the start was going to be tricky but I gave it my best shot and ploughed in to the bottom bracket deep mud on the first corner and plugged away at the course. I had some fantastic support from our local league riders all round the course, plus my grandparents, my dad, my team mates and Di’s parents. My running was good my riding not so the legs were there but every time I really tried to put the power down the bike went sideways and I ended up on my arse. I wasn’t the only person having this problem. Everyone appeared to be having a lie down at some point. Di was smashing it up at the front. Lucky for me the commentator thought that was me so I kept hearing “Phoebe Sneddon is having an absolutely fantastic ride” well thanks very much but I think I’m scrabbling around at about 20th! I was hoping to be in the top 20 but it wasn’t to be, having fallen off more times than I care to remember I made it to finish 23rd. Many aspects of the race were good but I am never happy so plenty to work on for next season.
Getting my frozen feet going at the nationals

I’m now having a little rest before I think about a bit of mountain biking and road racing. Back at work A&E is a pretty grim place to be in January with lots of suicide attempts and heart breaking stories so I’ve booked to go skiing for a week off. Then it’s back home to ride my shiny new Cannondale bike (thank you so much Sigma Sport) and hopefully join the rest of the MGB at our team training camp in the spring.  
Di and I testing out our new team bikes