Wednesday, 30 November 2016

It’s not about perfect. Its about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day that’s when transformation happens. That’s how change happens!


 


Arriving back from Noosa, I reset my mind into 27 days of hard work before 70.3 Western Sydney. I sat down with my computer with training peaks infront of me and put in everything I knew I had to do, to be best prepared for race day. Having already been on my TT for the last month, I didn’t have to change my training around too much. I was excited and motivated to dip my toes back into the long distance triathlon scene with it being something that I wish to pursue more regularly in the near future.


To break up the month of training, I headed to Hamilton Island for the first time as an ambassador for the triathlon and ocean swim. I decided not to taper as I wanted to go in fatigued under a week of training stress. It was definitely pain in paradise as I never expected the course to be so hilly. It’s such an iconic race with riding on the airport runaway a standout feature. The smaller race atmosphere makes it a great community event and I was happy to take the win. Next day, I backed up and won the 2km ocean swim. Thanks to Stephen Jackson for a great weekend and looking after us so well at the event and with other things to do on the island. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back next year!









Three weeks of hard training went by so fast! I was happy with how diligently I kept to my weekly training plan and I got under my belt 3 weeks of consistent training. I have perfect training grounds at home with a 30km stretch of road one way with one set of traffic lights, gravel trails to do my long tempo runs on and my awesome sponsor Aquafit gym where I swim and do my gym program. I train the best when I am happy and home is somewhere that does that.


More than ever this year, I don’t get that nervous, sick feeling before a race anymore.







Somehow I have worked out how to calm myself and stand on the start line with confidence. Another 4am start to the day, swim warm up at 5.40 and a start time of 6.18, I was ready to give my last race of the year a good crack. I lead out of the 1.9km swim with Annabel on my feet with a 2 min gap over the next two people. The course is fairly flat and fast and I knew what to expect having ridden it the previous week. I sat on the front for the first half of the first lap controlling the pace. A slower pro male overtook us both and that was the last time I saw both of them. I rode by myself for the rest of the 90km on the two lap course. I tried to just focus on myself and what I needed I do. If anything could change with 70.3 racing, I think women need a bigger time gap between them and the pro males. It means we are racing are our race and they can race theirs.




I came into T2 roughly 4 mins 20 down in 2nd place. I headed out into the unknown for the next 21km. The cloud cover started to rise and every step was getting hotter. My first 12km was exactly the way I wanted to run. My tempo runs have been progressing better than I ever thought and I knew I could run a good pace. By the middle 15km or so, I was trying to get as much ice as I could down my suit and I started to hit a little wall. I probably should have taken in another gel. I got passed into 3rd place and I just wanted to keep ticking away, because the race isnt over till its over. I ended up being 40 seconds down on 2nd place. I gave it everything I had and that’s all you can do when you line up on the start line.






Looking back on my second crack at a 70.3, I have learnt so much already about the training, nutrition and mental mindset you need to have to be successful at this distance. Sometimes I forget that someone like Annabel has a good 10 years more experience than me and it’s a exciting prospect to get stronger and smarter as I get older. Its been a great past two months of racing with a 2nd at Nepean, 2nd at Noosa, 1st Hamilton Island and a 3rd at Western Sydney 70.3. They do say practice makes perfect and my champagne spraying has definitely improved since Noosa! I knew what my goals were over the past two months and I put 100 percent intent into achieving them. Thank you to everyone that supported me this year, now its time to rest the body and mind before a big 2017!

Thank you to Witsup and Delly Carr for the photos!
 

 




 
 

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Two weekends. Two races. Two second places






October is a month I really look forward to with two consecutive weekends of hard racing at home in Australia! I was feeling good leading up to Nepean and Noosa. I had a month of consistent sessions and I could see improvement every week especially in my running speed. This time of year I can train when I want and you certainly appreciate the skill involved in coaching when you are under your own guidance. I put old fashioned pen to paper to detail my training weeks and then set about ticking off each session.




The morning of the Nepean was absolutely freezing. I had gloves, tights and headwear on just to keep warm and I was still shaking. It was a wetsuit swim for the first time in the 6 years that I have competed and I was glad of the added protection. The women’s field was pretty small and I lead out with five of us exiting the water together. I was a little disappointed with the swim based on how well I have been swimming but the cold was definitely a factor. In the first stages of the ride I took my position on the front. After about 5km Ashleigh Gentle and Nicky Samuels attacked around me; I was still frozen solid and just couldn’t go with them. Nine degree average with crosswinds and being wet is not very ideal. I just kept riding consistently and with about 5km to go, I could see I was closing fast onto Nicky. I came into T2 one minute behind Ashleigh and with no time gaps to anyone else in the race. I wanted to give it a good crack and if I had the opportunity to back it off, I would, to save some gas for Noosa next weekend. I felt strong running and stamped a solid 2nd place finish.



The week between the two races was all about listening to my body. You aren’t going to get any fitter between the two weekends so, it was just about maintaining. I actually think I was pretty lucky that Nepean was cool because that’s one less thing my body had to recover from. I took the first few days fairly easy and added some speed later in the week. No new sessions, just lowering the amount of efforts I was doing.





I arrived in Noosa with some confidence from Nepean determined to leave a better impression this year. Last year, I made a dumb error and I went the wrong way. This year, I made sure I googled mapped everything and I made sure I knew and rode the right course. Thanks to Specialized Australia for the lovely Friday morning ride and coffee sit. Noosa has actually just become one of my favourite places to train and race. Waking up in the morning and just rolling out the door at 6am in a jersey and cycling knicks is utter bliss. At home I am surrounded by roadworks making
cycling that little bit more challenging while at Noosa there were endless bike shoulders on every road we went on. We were lucky enough to train a bit on the bike crit track and grass running track. We had a lovely Air B n B lady that was in a perfect location and lucky for us, she used to be a chef. She was so welcoming, supportive and made our pre-race environment a very relaxed setting.
I had a shocker start running into the water but I soon found good feet to follow. I put my head up after the first buoy and saw a gap starting to grow between Danielle and Nicky. I surged past Nicky and sat on Danielle feet for the rest of the swim. I could feel that we had a good gap as no one was taping on my feet. Swimming with her brought my confidence back and I felt fast. Unfortunately, I missed the wave she got in and I had to make up the 5 or so seconds running into transition. We were out before anyone else had run in.






















I had no idea of time gaps and the first time I knew someone was behind me was when Nicky first took a turn going up Garmin hill. I was happy to be on the front as I know I am pushing as hard as I possibly can and I am making the race my own. The first time I roughly knew the gap to the rest of the field was at the end turn around point and I guessed the chase was about a minute or so down. I just kept ticking away and I had just less than a minute on Ashleigh going onto the run. I didn’t feel anywhere near was good as last weekend but I wanted to keep my cadence high, chest up and keep hydrated. At the turn around, I could see that Ash wasn’t very far behind me and I knew she was going to catch within the next km or so. Just past the 5km mark, Ash past me and I stayed focused on keeping strong til the finish. I couldn’t be happier with 2nd place and how I did everything I could to attack the race from the start.

















The year isn’t over yet! I am now going to continue to maintain this end of season fitness leading into Hamilton Island Triathlon and my 2nd 70.3 race at Western Sydney later in the month. I am always excited for the unknown and giving these two new experiences a go!

Thank you to Witsup, Korupt Vision and Des Thureson for the photos!
 
 
 
 

 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Home sweet home!




In the last week of my overseas trip for 2016, I jumped through six time zones to get back to my final destination - home. There was a lot of travel this year to places I have never trained or raced before but this year was probably the year I enjoyed the most out of the five years I have been away. Being happy training in the environment that you are in, I think reflects on performances mentally and your results at the end of the day.




World Championships in Cozumel was a great experience and I am very grateful to be the 42nd woman to represent Australia at a World Championships. Training in Florida was perfect to acclimatise to the weather conditions and to get some final hard sessions in for the year with the Wizards. Cozumel brought a lot of positives to take to the 2017 ITU season and prepare for a big two years leading to the Commonwealth Games. I have become confident in my swim and my ability to have processes in place to get me out near the front. By Cozumel, I learnt to back myself and my ability to be able to contribute in a bike pack and ride in smart positions. My running has been gradually progressing this year in the right direction after my foot injury but I know I still have plenty to work on to get up to the world’s best.




Since being home, it took me a week to start feeling like a normal human being. My body had no idea where I was in the world! Luckily my afternoon jetlag nap didn’t kick in and I got to watch my AFL team play in the Grand Final. I would love to one day head down to Melbourne and watch the AFL Grand Final at the MCG with 100000 fans. The Sydney Swans played very average but I am still a proud supporter. I am not sure about my Dad though who decided he might swap to Greater Western Sydney Giants after they lost because they are more local to us. Bad excuse!


This weekend I line up for my fifth Nepean Triathlon and next weekend my second Noosa Triathlon. Being back on a TT bike is actually a shock the first time you get on, as I always forget how much the wind blows you around. To my luck, it has been non stop windy since I have got home. With the winds being sometimes gale force, I have become best friends with my trainer and also gained a training partner in my dog. I actually don’t mind the trainer. It lets me get some consistency in power and a quality session without dealing with cars and magpies. My neighbour has started calling me garage girl.

Racing is the best sort of training. Over the past two weekends, I have headed out to Penrith to participate in two club races with the Hills Triathlon Club and Panthers Triathlon Club. After a solid week of training, it was good to race on a fatigued body and race against the guys. Being able to do some smaller races on the TT bike, has given me time to execute the processes that I need to put into place on race day over the next few weeks. Thanks to Ryan at 3D Bike Fit for getting me dialled up and in the most comfortable bike fit I have ever had – it is definitely essential with any new bike.


The 2016 season is nearly over and before I know it, the hard work will start again for 2017. For now it’s about getting the last out of my end of season fitness and keeping on top of the little things before a big last 6 weeks of racing!
 
 
 
 

 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

August Monthly Report




A relatively short stay, leaving Vitoria Gasteiz, I was happy with the hard work that was done over the past two months. This year has given me a great foundation and base to build and maintain upon. I went into every session with a different attitude this year, wanting to leave every session with positives and processes that can build upon for the next session. If your mind wasn’t truly focussed on the session ahead of you, you were going to get left behind. I think this year more than ever, I took benefit of training with some of the best girls in the world and tried to work together with them so that we got the most out of each other.


My first race was London Triathlon. I knew having a good swim was going to be key to having a good race here. The funniest part of the race was as soon as we got out of the water we had to strip off our wetsuit and put it in a garbage bag. We then had to run about 400m with it over our shoulder up stairs into the transition area. A classic Natalie move, I slipped over on the wet carpet coming into transition. I had to hustle but I got into a small break with 3 other girls on the bike. The ride was very solid with 3 super strong girls pushing the pace for the 40km. The first 5km running hurt but I built back and was fighting for 3rd. But with about 500m to go, a girl from the second group surged past both of us and I had sprint my way into 4th place.

After London, we headed to our new home for the next 2 weeks. I have been currently settled in a small countryside town of Loughborough, about 2 hours north of London. Loughborough is known for the best sporting facilities within the UK, that is based around the university here. I have been lucky enough to have a glimpse at what the university has to offer with a few sessions on the track and the use of the gym. Apart from the university, the riding has been awesome and the trails are endless. A big thank you to Gav, Luke, Adam and Alison, who have let us join in to all the group sessions and experience training here in Loughborough.


I had one week to recover before heading to Liverpool for the triathlon there. Unfortunately, I picked up something along the way and the whole week I was battling with a head cold and no voice. I didn’t know how my body would response to racing again. The swim was a deep water start with 70 girls on the start line. Just saying, that sounds like a fight about to happen. I got pushed around for the first 200m or so and then had to bridge myself back up to the front 3 girls ahead of me. Exiting the water, I was just alittle too far back off the front two girls and I got left in no mans land as the other group was 30 seconds behind us. The ride was honestly just a fight for a good position with the narrow turns and corners. Surprisingly, I actually felt really good running and just had to battle through a tight chest for the 5km. I ended up having a sprint finish and finished 5th.































The past two weeks have been fairly busy getting back into the swing of things for my next race in Karlovy Vary this weekend in the Czech Republic. I have never raced here before so the days leading up the race will be a good chance to get my bearings and suss out the course.


Finally to end a stacked August, I am excited to announce that I have qualified for World Championships in Cozumel in September and become part of my first elite team. This will be my 5th time representing the green and gold at a World Championships. After a rocky start to the year with injury, it would be awesome to put the final pieces of the puzzle together to finish the ITU season on a high!