By Jason Richards
The last six months have brought success both in and out of racing.
In November my wife Victoria gave birth to twins, Benedict and Paeony. And despite the sleepless nights and lack of training time, I have still managed two podium finishes so far this year.
It’s been the most exciting, and yet also the hardest, time of my life.
Ben and Paeony were born within 12 minutes of each other on 29 November following a 22 hour labour. It was incredible to be there to see the birth of our twins and even now looking back I find it hard to recollect just how tiny and fragile they were at just four and five pounds.
Watching Victoria carry these two treasures out of the hospital and load them into the S-MAX was a heart stopping moment. The S-MAX comes with ISOFIX attachments that make it dead easy for either of us to pop the child car seats in and out. I remember us both looking back at them sound asleep and then at each other in wonderment.
Up to their birth I had managed to stay in very good shape, although I had cut down from training six days a week to help Victoria as she started to struggle with the extra weight of our impending twins. Despite writing an ambitious new schedule in the final weeks up to their birth, and continuing to train whenever they fell asleep in the first few weeks, I soon realised that there was no way I could sustain the momentum.
After the birth our sleep became more disrupted and we both became increasingly exhausted – we used every spare moment to grab some extra sleep or get the next batch of bottles sterilised.
It was a hard realisation that I would be unable to train and race in 2008 and it took me some time to adjust. Racing has been my life now for over seven years and I hope as the twins get older there will be time to recapture my form and to be competitive again.
Despite the lack of training I still rolled up at the first road races of the season. Although I knew my fitness was lacking deep down, I still felt I could pull the odd performance out of the bag. I worked on the technical aspects of my pushing over the winter and knew this would help carry me through. In the Wakefield 10k in March I was able to hang with the leader for the first 5 or 6k of the race until we hit the hills. At that point my fitness was tested and I fell back, but managed to hold on to second place. The Redcar half marathon was a couple of weeks later.
After a fast start I found myself back in fourth place with my training partner Steve Williamson just ahead of me. Around the seven or eight mile point in the race there was a steep downhill section and I was able to make a strong break and get away from Steve, maintaining third place to the finish.
After these two podium finishes the demands of the twins became too much for me to get away at weekends and so, for the time being, I am trying to train as and when the moment arises. I hope to be back racing strongly by September for the Middlesbrough 10k, a race I have won twice, and the Great North Run.
And as for next season, I’m hoping that we can squeeze a racing chair and a double pushchair into the S-MAX so that Victoria and the twins can come and watch me race.