In my last blog I had a bit of a rant about the frustrations I have with the Access to Work Scheme, namely the ridiculous red tape and the nonsensical requirement for me to get a form signed by my GP providing evidence that I couldn’t drive. I did have a call from the ATW Officer handling my case at the end of last week (18th August) saying that a question had arisen regarding another form I had to fill in listing my support worker’s tasks and time taken to do these. He asked,
“So, you have put down that your support worker will attend meetings with you and that these will take up 10 hours a week. What I have been asked to bring up with you is that, you haven’t yet started your job so how do you know your support worker will be needed for 10 hours of meetings?”
This was despite the fact that ATW insisted I fill in the support worker task form, as part of their process, before I started my job, seemed somewhat to be overlooked! However, quite legitimately I knew that my manager was arranging a large volume of meetings for me so was able to have a plausible response. This explanation was accepted and I am happy to say that at the time of writing this blog I have had verbal confirmation that I will get the funding support I need. Relief all round for both myself and Abby my support worker.
In the meantime I have been preparing myself for the National Paratriathlon Championships being held at Mallory Park, Leicestershire on 28 August. Home turf. I love it when I don’t have to travel far plus the race is in the afternoon (3.05 pm). Good job too as I am out on the previous evening so a lovely lie in is always a bonus.
I have to admit for several reasons my motivation has been waning of late and getting myself out of bed and in to the gym has been a struggle. However, I am blessed in having some awesome friends who have stuck with me through thick and thin. So, it was wonderful to spend some time with close friends who helped me to train over the last weekend. Ian Abson who I have known for the past 5 years or so picked me up in his van and drove me over to Race Hub in Six Hills for a lake swim. We picked up another friend on the way which made the trip extra special and fun. It wasn’t particularly warm so once I had slipped into my wetsuit it was a case of bracing myself for the cold water. Ian guided me to the water edge and I tentatively dipped my toes in. A bit cool but not too bracing I thought.
Ian wanted to get warmed up slowly so he breast stroked for a couple of minutes while I went straight into the front crawl. Hmm, I thought, as I swam straight in to the back of his legs. This wasn’t going to work so I backed off a bit until he started swimming free style. Better. I was also using the waist to waist tether and swimming directly behind Ian which made the swim much smoother. The last time we swam together I was alongside Ian and I kept bumping into the buoys and apologising thinking they were fellow swimmers!
We did 3 laps of the lake which was approximately 1800 meters. I noticed that my right hand was getting incredibly cold and couldn’t actually feel the catch in the front part of my stroke, as my fingers had got so numb. Time to get out. Another friend, Martin westall was standing at lake side so Ian asked him to take me to the changing rooms while he did another lap. The only problem was that Martin didn’t know where my kit bag was and of course I didn’t have a clue either!
“Any idea where about your bag is in relation to the lake Has?”
I pointed in the direction I thought it might be but that was probably as helpful as trying to take charge of map reading in the middle of a blizzard. Fortunately Ian hadn’t quite started on his lap and Martin was able to call out to him to get properly directed.
On the way back to Leicester Ian kindly helped me to pick up my solo cycle I use on my turbo from Websters Cycles. My old race tandem is also in for repairs. Unfortunately my tandem needs the whole chain set replacing as the threads in the back cranks (where the pedals screw in) were badly damaged due to over use. An expensive job and one that was taking longer than expected due to the parts not having arrived from the supply company. However, I am so incredibly grateful to Ian for getting my bikes to the shop and back home.
On Sunday I went for a 65 minute run with another good mate of mine Chris Sherwood. It was later than usual so there was much more human and vehicle traffic to deal with. Nonetheless Chris did his usual superb guiding.
“Dip coming up…we are going back on to the pavement as there is two way traffic and we don’t want to become the jam in a car sandwich…I’m just going to move you across as there are very nasty stinging nettles on my side.”
Time always flies by when I go for a run with Chris. Buzzing from the run I glugged down some protein shake and had a shower. I normally stretch but for some reason skipped that part of my routine.
The last couple of days I have been doing a little bit of training, cooking and various other domestic chores. I’ve been really pleased with the way in which my run fitness has been coming back and really excited about what I may be able to do at the ParaTri Champs on bank holiday Monday. I’m planning a bit of training with my guide Jack Peasgood who I have raced within the past. I think it’s been at least a couple of years since he guided me last in a triathlon so it should be fun. I’ll write another blog following the Champs but I’m hoping that many friends and family will be able to make the day. It will be a great display of how the Paratriathlon can bring people together from different backgrounds and abilities to compete in a very challenging sport. The National champs will also be a qualifier for the World Championships 2017 as well as the 2018 Commonwealth Games.