The journey to long distance racing, is rarely straightforward. It demands dedication, time, energy and an ability to balance all aspects of life... making the rewards all the sweeter. And so it's often encouraging to hear the struggles of others, reminding you, that when the going gets tough, you're not alone.
One athlete who's climbed a bigger mountain than most, on her sporting journey, is Team Huckson's Rachel Lamine. Hers is a story that defies all odds; overcoming poor health and set backs, to go on and achieve incredible results. It's a demonstration that where there is a genuine will - and a plan - to succeed, the mind and body will deliver.
Over to Rachel:
Sport isn't something I've had all my life, but one thing I have always had is a belief we can achieve whatever we want if we put our minds to it. The human body is incredible - and so are we. Tell the mind what you want it to do and the body will follow! I believe that in life we are dealt a series of cards, sometimes bad and sometimes good, but it's how we chose to deal with these cards that matters.
I found sport at the age of 27. At the time I was struggling with hypothyroidism, with symptoms of painful muscle fatigue and weight gain. The latter causing me the most issues. Along with this I was living with stage 5 Endometriosis, which at times left me with debilitating fatigue, a very painful pelvis and very painful heavy periods. A lot of my time was spent medicated on painkillers, and with being a mum to a young child, it was very frustrating. I needed a way to manage 'my hand of cards.'
I borrowed an old mountain bike and started riding the 9 miles to work. At times it was exhausting. However, as the months went on I really started to get into this thing called cycling, so bought my first road bike. When I was having severe flare ups it was impossible to ride and would miss weeks at a time, but I was determined to not let the pain stop me. At 28 I discovered swimming was much kinder on the body and also helped with my conditions. I was absolutely terrible at first. It would take me 25 minutes to swim 400 meters, but the mix of swimming and cycling felt great, and in between my painful flare ups, I found the energy to do more with my daughter.
I joined a local triathlon club and learned how to swim (properly) and of course I was then introduced to running. Running was difficult due to frequent and heavy periods, but I was determined to improve! I was also doing regular rides with club members and before long I had entered my first aquathon and a sprint triathlon! To my dismay my endometriosis flared up during my first aquathlon, resulting in me being in a great deal of pain on the day. I sobbed all the way round on the 5k run - but I finished.... last - but finished! I had to miss my first sprint triathlon due to how debilitating my periods had become... and this became the pattern for the months ahead.
Fast forward 12 months of events entered and events missed and becoming completely dependant on pain medication. Running became limited and painful, my cycling cut significantly and swimming was a distant memory. I finally found myself needing surgery, resulting in me having to have my womb removed. This surgery came with complications and left me unable to walk pain free, in increased pain and in need of 2 more surgeries within 6 months.
Thankfully my second surgeon was a cyclocross champion in his youth, so when I told him I really wanted to return to the sport I had found, he understood and promised to get me back cycling if he could. After my first surgery I found out the severity of my endometriosis. It covered my whole pelvis, bowel, bladder and ovaries, which then meant I needed another surgery several months later. Surgery would go on to remove all the endometriosis - and my ovaries ... which meant i was in the menopause......another card dealt! My surgeon was very clear with me post surgery. Triathlon may not be in my future going forward. I sternly responded 'that wasn't going to be the case. I have Slateman on the bucket list next year and it's going to happen!' Slateman happened and in fact I loved it so much, I went to on complete it 3 years in a row! On my bucket list was also do a swim-run, a 70.3 and a full Ironman by the time I reached 40. I have always been grateful that i found sport, but I have always treated it as a gift to be here, pinning these numbers on and crossing the finish lines.
I take nothing for granted. I have done so much since that last surgery that fixed me. Things I never even knew i could dream to achieve, such as: winning my AG in 5 olympic distance triathlons, being 2nd female overall in another olympic triathlon, various top 10's over sprint and olympic distance. I also placed 1st in my AG in my first 70.3 race this year. I am now dabbling in road racing, actually coming 7th in my AG at Tour of Cambridge. I'm loving Crit racing, time trials and even achieved 3rd in my AG at my first half marathon. Most recently I was blessed to be asked to be a Breca Swimrun Ambassador, leading to races in Swansea, Loch Lomond and Coniston, I'm currently training for my first Full Ironman event (as I'm 40 this year). As I said at the beginning, we all get dealt cards, but with determination and passion, I promise even the sky has no limits! Make a plan no matter how bold, big or impossible it seems, you can achieve anything and everything you wonderful humans!