There was a good news story this past weekend, when Great Britain’s Emma Pallant-Browne took the win at Challenge Riccione in Italy.
That result, on paper at least wasn’t a surprise. When you are currently the PTO’s #7 ranked athlete with by far the best palmarès on the start list, it was exactly what we (and everyone else), would have expected.
Demons to exorcise
Riccione however was far more significant to Pallant-Browne for other reasons. In early March this year, Emma faded very badly – and scarily – under the Florida heat at CLASH Miami. Early in the run she came to a stop, collapsed, passed out and required urgent attention from the medical team. All captured by the live broadcast, it was difficult viewing of an athlete clearly in significant distress.
Emma has had issues with extreme temperatures in the past, as she explained to me after Sunday’s win:
“I have always had a bit of trouble with circulation and passed out when I was younger if I was too hot or cold. I have been training in the heat of South Africa, but humidity is the real killer for me and being a big sweater there are a lot of factors that I can’t change, but I can do things to manage.
“I think the trouble is the more investigations you have into your heart, the more things you find. We all have abnormalities, so it’s hard to define what is and what isn’t dangerous. In Miami the extent of what I felt, the hallucinations I had and the time it took my body to recover, was far worse than ever before so it really did give me a scare and a bit of a wake up call to respect my body.”
Trusting the body again
Challenge Riccione was a considered choice for her first race back – one in which getting the trust back in a body which has brought her so much success, was an important milestone.
“I still had some red flags for high risk of clotting and so we decided it wasn’t wise to travel back to America this month (and my insurance wouldn’t cover me ), and it was a good time to do a shorter trip to Europe and to spend some time with my family and trust in my body again to try and push it in conditions I wasn’t so worried about.
“It sounds silly, but I really went into this race a bit worried and I haven’t felt that I could really trust my body and know the warning signs. This was really a massive deal for me and the race win meant so much.
“I still hope I have some improvement to make; I feel like Tim [Ed. Tim Don, Emma’s coach] is going a bit easier on me at the minute, but he keeps saying it’s a long season with World Champs being at the end of the year.”
Another race – then time to watch St George!
Emma will be racing again this coming Saturday at IRONMAN 70.3 Alcudia-Mallorca. It’s a race she knows well, having finished third and second previously. It also should see her finish just in time to join the rest of the triathlon world – watching the big show from Utah!
“Now it’s a short turn around and while I’m trying to race a bit less this year so I can race better, Mallorca is a course I really love and I think there is always a great field that turn out there. So, hoping to be able to get some good recovery and fight again .
“Then, like you say, it will be definitely straight back to watch the St George race. There are so many strong guys there, but I’m going to say for the men Daniel Bækkegård is one of my picks and for the women, Kat Matthews does look in awesome shape.”