Louise Haston digs really deep and performs incredibly well at the Masters National Track Championships despite feeling (and subsequently confirmed she was) very ill indeed…
Training had been going really well leading up to the Masters, we had a trial run at one of the Scottish Cycling sessions the week before and I managed two personal bests, one in the flying 200TT and one in the 500TT, so the indications were excellent and I was really looking forward to the Masters National Track Champs in Newport.
The only thing that wasn’t great from that week was the headaches, which I’d been having on and off since November and these had decided to return with a vengeance! I tried to ignore them, because I had been sent for an MRI scan in March and I had been told everything was OK, so I pushed on and continued to train through the pain and race as best I could.
I travelled down to Worcestershire the night before the Championships were due to begin and stayed with my fab teamie Jan Birkmyre and her husband, David – who were excellent hosts I may add. On Friday morning, David drove me to the velodrome for the Sprint. We left early, so I could get a warm up on the track. Both my warm up and warm up jump felt pretty good, especially considering the seven hour drive I had made the day before.
There was plenty of waiting around between the warm up and the start of racing though, as there are so many Age Groups to get through, and the women were last to get started. When it was my turn, I got up for my flying 200 and the effort itself felt OK, but the time wasn’t great. However considering the long drive, my legs didn’t feel amazing, so I wasn’t too worried and I had still qualified second fastest, which was fine.
However, within 20 minutes or so of finishing the ride, I found that the effort involved had triggered off my headaches again. I just tried to convince myself that it was from being in a warm, dry velodrome (with the lights being so bright etc.) and tried to brush it off. I lay down as the headache got worse and then I started to feel sick. I got up to do my first Sprint match, I really wasn’t feeling up to it, but I raced and won my round, so I qualified for the Gold/Silver medal ride.
From this point on, things seemed to get worse; specifically the headache got much worse, I was constantly feeling sick and my neck was really stiff. I went over and spoke to the woman who was doing massage, she had a quick look at my neck and tried to ease it off, but the headache wasn’t shifting. I really couldn’t face the medal ride, but I rolled round for half a lap and came off the track, which was just enough to win the Silver medal without putting up a fight for Gold and if I am honest, I was too busy being sick now and so I really didn’t care at that point.
As I stood on the podium I was pure white and I really thought I was going to vomit everywhere.. Not what I wanted, so I asked Graham to hurry up with the presentation if he didn’t want me to make a mess! We packed up to head back to Jan’s, with David driving and chatting away. I was trying to engage in the conversation, but all I could do was nod my head and grunt occasionally! As soon as I got out the car I was sick again, this time all over David and Jan’s lovely garden! I was sent to bed with an anti nausea tablet and eventually I slept, but I did not manage to eat anything and I had not eaten since breakfast that morning.
On the Saturday, I managed a couple of spoons of porridge before heading back to the velodrome for the 500TT. I still wasn’t really up for racing, but on paper I knew that unless I had a major disaster, I could still get the Silver medal. So I raced and although the time wasn’t what I had hoped for, it was not too far from my personal best and a Silver medal it was!
I was still undecided about riding the Scratch later that day; I hadn’t eaten anything since Friday morning and I knew that racing with no fuel on board was unlikely to end well in an endurance race. However, I decided that I was not a quitter and so I sucked down a TORQ gel (otherwise known as “rocket fuel!”) and raced as hard as I could – and another Silver medal!! I was happy with that considering that I had seriously thought about heading home earlier, as I couldn’t face racing. The headache still hadn’t shifted and I was still struggling to eat food, but that was it for day two and it was time to head back to Jan’s home to rest and decide if I was going to race the Pursuit and Points on the Sunday?
Sunday morning dawned and the headache was still there. it was driving me nuts by now. I decided to race the Pursuit, but thought I was unlikely to medal in this event, as there were loads of strong endurance riders – all of whom I had to presume had eaten proper food and would be feeling much better than me! Also, it was not an event I had trained for, so I knew I would have to ride out of my skin to get on the podium. David had me on a schedule and as much as I tried to pretend I knew how I was going against this, truly I had no idea if I was up or down! Surprisingly, I actually felt OK on the bike, which was weird considering how I was feeling generally and when I crossed the line and saw that I had ridden and personal best I was over the moon. On top of that, it was good enough to earn another Silver medal and I reckoned that four Silvers, when I was feeling like death wasn’t too shabby!
At this point I decided to head home and not to ride the Points race. It would be a seven hour journey if there was no traffic to deal with and in reality more like nine, so I left the Newport velodrome for yet another year… However things went badly wrong on the way home and that is the subject of my next blog!
For now, thanks for reading and thank you to: