Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Stockholm WTS







Heading back to Stockholm for the fifth time I actually felt like a bit of a local.  I arrived in Stockholm calm and motivated to deliver a good to a performance on race day. After Montreal WTS I was really disappointed not being able to put a race together that showed where I am currently at, on course really suited me. I was flat from the gun and my body couldn’t handle the high power spikes. We had a few days of training easy after we got back and this gave me ample time to self-reflect and stop second guessing myself. I had a French Grand Prix in Embrun in the French Alps the next weekend and this was a good non pressure race to do the basics right. I had a good result there finishing 6th with a solid breakaway up the climb and a win for my team Poissy Triathlon.





Race day in Stockholm was slightly cold, sunny but quite windy. I stood on the pontoon surrounded by very strong swimmers including Jess Learmonth beside me. Stockholm water conditions are very choppy which I think suits me as it turns into a strength swim. They held us for a very long time and I think a lot of people were very close to false starting. I got on feet early and into a good position around the first buoy which was 460m away. The swim was fast and I dove back in for the second lap just off fourth place, putting myself in a good position for the second half. The pace got faster and I really had to push to hold feet but I couldn’t and came out of the water just under 10 seconds to the front group of four.









I had hung my bike up in transition on a reflector bracket for a quick transition. Unfortunately, I got to my spot in transition and with the wind and with people starting to unrack their bikes, my bike and helmet fell off as I was taking off my wetsuit. I tried to kept cool, put my bike back on as I had to put my helmet on first. I lost the people I swam with and had over 10 seconds to now make up. I was trying to keep cool and not be too frustrated as I couldn’t turn back time.





I pushed really hard for the first lap and found some motivated people to ride with for the first lap till we caught the people I exited the water with. The course involves cobbles uphill, downhill, some technical components and a flatter straight back to transition. I actually felt really good riding and the past couple of weeks with work on my skills and some hard rides at pace, I knew I had the ability to be there. I was focussed, alert and aware of my positioning within the group. I remember from last year, I had so many more high power spikes as I was sitting way too far back in the group. The bike was strange. It was very up and down in pace and we put time into the group behind us then we would lose it. With about 3 laps to go, I would say this was my “hot lap”. The pace sky rocketed and we dropped girls out of our group. I hung tight and knew that I had to be smart where I was. I have had a learning year in 2017 on my nutrition leading into a race and during the race. I am very grateful for the advice I have been getting and the small improvements have made a huge difference in the way my body feels especially leading into the run.









Starting the run, we ended up not having as much time on the chasing group as I would have liked. My feet were actually still frozen and it took time for them to warm up. I have been working on my run form from easy to hard runs and being more efficient.  I kept composed, tried to keep my arms and cadence up. The girls went out pretty hard the first lap and they basically kept the same distance ahead the whole run. Another girl and I kept ticking away till the end and started to pick up people who went out with the front girls from our group. We had a little sprint finish up the final hill and I finished in 12th.









Stockholm is a very demanding course and I am happy to keep moving forward this year with another consistent result for 2017. My last ITU for the year will be in Rotterdam at the World Championships in three weeks’ time.




Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Leeds WTS


Only two weeks have passed since Madrid World Cup and it actually felt strange having a weekend in Vitoria. The past two weeks especially have been specific work to the demands of the Leeds course but also personal work on my run form. I have been working a lot with our staff here and back home on being more efficient when I run slow and even more so when I run fast. Every week we have been working on small changes and key words and I can already feel the difference in the changes. I didn’t have the best of races in Leeds last year due to illness so I wanted to prove to myself that I had the ability to ride and perform well on such a demanding course.









With the start list being so small, this always means there are less links in the chain. I stood on the start line next to some very good swimmers and I knew the pace would be on from the start. Within 100m, we were already strung out in a single line. All I was thinking was hold onto the feet in front of you. The first lap was fast and the pace felt even faster the second lap. I never felt like I was on the rivet so much in a swim before and I knew no one was behind me when I didn’t have anyone banging on my feet. I got out with super frozen feet to start the long run to transition. I could see the gap to me and the first girls out of the water was between 6-8 critical seconds that I needed to have made in the water to have had a chance of making that group.






This year we rode up the other side of Roundhay Park which meant we had about a 500m hill to start the ride. I could see people just ahead of me and I had no idea who and how long people were behind me. The first five girls were out of my sight and I started rolling turns with one other girl till a group of five caught us. We picked up another girl along the way that got dropped from the front group to create a group of eight. The ride into town is 12km with a lot of downhill and a few twists and turns. By the time we got to town, the front four had put a minute into our group and it was time to start seven laps of the town loop. The town loop is only 3.8km with 14 corners per lap and one u-turn. The course never lets you sit up and it was a constant effort for the whole 40km, not only physically but mentally too. The front four gained a lot of time on us and we maintained about a minute or so gap from the chase pack behind us.




















Getting off the bike, this was probably the first time in my past few races that I haven’t felt “strong” running off the bike. I latched myself onto the back of another athlete and we swapped turns for most of the 10km run as the run course was just as demanding. The crowds on the streets were amazing and it was awesome to have such great support out on the course. I crossed the line in 12th place with a lot of positives and happy with my consistency for the season so far.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

MADRID WORLD CUP 2017


Since Yokohama I’ve settled into my ‘Winter’ home in Vitoria Gasteiz in the Basque Country of Spain. It always feels like home and we have been spoiled with perfect weather since we have arrived. Vitoria is ideal for training and coming back every year I realise just how fortunate we are to have it as our training base overseas.




Last weekend I travelled to France to compete in the first GP of the season in Dunkerque with my French team Poissy Triathlon. I was unsure how I would go after a long week of travelling. My swim was not the best and I had to play catch up on the bike to get on the first pack. I felt really strong when I started running and ended up in a group of five girls with four girls up the road. The pace was fast with our group sprint finishing for top 10 places. I finished in 8th place with only nine seconds separating 3rd to me.

We had a solid week of training in Vitoria before driving to what feels like a home race in Madrid with it only three hours away. I haven’t been to Madrid since the WTS in 2013 so it was nice to get my bearings again and explore this year’s course. Riding the course on the day before was essential as the bike course was complex. It involved a 1.2km climb, tight downhill sections, a dark curvy tunnel with speed bumps and cobble stones everywhere which had to be negotiated on each of the six laps. I knew the course would be perfect for a small group to get away and I had to get comfortable with a lot of uncomfortables.





We were lucky on race day that the weather gods were kind to us and we got a cooler day then the previous days. We were getting highs of 37/38 degrees which made sleeping at night awful. I dove in with the intention of a fast first lap and by the second lap having an idea of who was around me. I was placed about 5th out of the first lap with three girls in pretty close range in front of me. I have a lot of confidence in my threshold swimming and by the first buoy I had latched onto the back of two
of them.  The run to transition was a long way and I knew this was a critical moment to making or not making a group. By the time we got to the exit of the park to join the actual course to start our six laps, we had a good little group of eight up the first climb. I really enjoyed this course and after the first lap I got a good concept of what lines to ride especially through the tunnel. The long climb was definitely something I took advantage of to set a good tempo as it had straight and switchback sections. The course never really allows you to stop working physically or mentally. We worked really well together and every lap we gained time, having a 1:45 minute advantage by the end of the bike.






The run was described as flat but it was far from it. It doubled back on the ride course and it was undulating out and back. Thankfully the clouds gave us some relief from the blazing sun. For the first two laps I was chopping and changing out of 3/4/5 position. It took some time to get into a good rhythm and I found this towards the end of the second lap where I moved into 4th place. Third place was just ahead of me but I think after racing the past two weekends, you lose some of that top end speed. I finishing in 4th place about 17 seconds off the podium. I am pretty happy with how the race turned out and the course played into my strengths well.









It has been a consistent three weekends of racing with lots of processes executed. I know I have plenty more to work on and I am excited to keep progressing into the season. Next up is WTS Leeds in two weeks time.










Monday, 15 May 2017

Yokoahama WTS





Leading into Yokohama, I was training down in Canberra apart of a sleep high/sleep low carbohydrate study based out of the Australian Institute of Sport. It gave me an interesting insight into my daily nutrition and how to fuel pre/post session. More than anything I realised how mentally ingrained certain habits are e.g. fuelling post session.  Although we were a part of this study, we incorporated normal training and specific Yokohama sessions. Being based out of Canberra, I am very grateful for the use of the world class facilities and the amazing training grounds Canberra has to offer. It is the best place I have trained and I look forward to going back hopefully in the future to make the most of it. With a month in Canberra, I gained consistency in our weekly training which gave me a great indicator of my form and the opportunity to go into Yokohama with a positive mentality looking towards the race.










My last time in Yokohama was in 2013 which felt like yesterday when I landed into the land of the rising sun. Unfortunately, the sun decided not to rise for us on race day and the rain started to pour down. I know a lot of people lose sight of processes when the heavens decide to open up and I know that myself when I crashed here in 2013 on slippery white lines. I decided to stay out of the water for warm up and keep warm. Most people lined up to the right on the pontoon and I followed the trend. I always know when the pace is on, when we are in single file but to be honest, I actually couldn’t see a thing because my goggles fogged up. I dove back in for the 2nd lap and found myself sitting on Flora Duffy feet for the rest of the swim. I exited the water in 6th position and the only thought going through my head was “that’s your race right there”.  




After you jump on your bike, those first few km’s are the critical moments to get on or get left in no man’s land. I didn’t have my feet in my shoes for ages but I got on good wheels and found myself in a small chase group behind the two leaders. The roads were wet and Yokohama is known for its love of zebra crossings on every corner. I was constantly reciting the basics in my head of pressure on your outside foot, break going into corner; not around and looking through the corner. Our group was constantly changing throughout the ride with people hitting in the deck on the same corner on the new part of the course. I was lucky that I found myself in a good position every time to have enough time to react and get around the chaos. I was actually so happy to finish the 9 lap course upright and I felt like I had this weight lifted off my shoulders.




In Canberra, we did three performance trials where we did a specific ergo session and a run off the bike on the track. Although this session was by far the hardest, it was perfect stimulation for the race ahead and I enjoyed pushing myself. I knew we had a pretty decent time gap to the big group behind us but this never means the race is over. I wanted to run strong and keep my form under fatigue. The girls went out fast but I kept to myself and wanted to do my best work in the back end of my race. I lost of one of my gels in the race so I didn’t know if my nutrition was going to affect me. I kept ticking away and by the third lap I had caught three girls in front of me. The u turn on the run course was a good chance to see where people were. After just hitting my final lap, I got over taken by three girls from the group behind us but with not much running to go, I knew I had it in me to have a solid end result. I kept pushing all the way to the line for a sprint finish for 10th place. It’s been a long time coming but I am excited to put the hard work on show and have a consistent race. This definitely makes me hungry for more and I am looking forward to the races to come.


Photo Credit- Etienne Van Rensburg