Monday, 1 June 2015

London WTS

London- reminds me alittle bit of home! After arriving in Vitoria Gasteiz a week ago, it gave me a chance to settle back in and get some quality sessions in post travel. This year for me has been the hardest to say goodbye to home and fit back into Vitoria after spending a year at home last year after my surgery. After the Gold Coast, I started second guessing myself a lot about my place in the sport. Having a good month worth of training in Wollongong and a few small races to get some confidence back into my training and racing has helped me a lot. Pre race was good to see bits and pieces of London like Buckingham Palace and ride on the course in Hyde park where we got stopped by a horses practicing for the Queen’s birthday long weekend. Last time I was in London was for World Championships in 2013. I was pretty disappointed with my result, so I was excited to come back and give it a crack.

Race day started late in the afternoon on Sunday and I find myself getting antsy about having so much time on my hands. I warmed up on my Sportcrafters rollers which are perfect for travelling with and for cities where it is hard to ride in. It was quite cold outside so I decided not to get into the water and do some dry land exercises instead. I walked onto the pontoon quite late along the line. Big gaps were left and right of Gwen so I thought bingo, thank you very much. I didn't have that great of an initial sprint but surprisingly enough I didn’t really get touched the whole swim. A nice change! I took over quite a few people along the back straight but just couldn't make up the time I lost to start with. Exiting the water just off the front group is definitely some big motivation to work hard and focus on my front end speed in training.

To start with we had a good group all working together on the bike but as soon as the group behind us caught, everyone just sat up and some people I didn't see again the whole ride. The ride was pretty dodgey with a lot of girls, some below par skills and wind blowing us across the road. I made sure I followed good wheels and stayed near the front to keep out of trouble. The ride was pretty steady and there was only a few times where the pace was getting pushed. By the end of the last lap, we finally were making up some time on the front group. As most people wish and being in that situation myself, being in that front 7 is always ideal. Coming off the bike, I knew it would be chaos coming into T2 so I wanted to be in and out quick smart.

 I actually had a good T2 but those first few steps my feet hit the ground like blocks of cement. They didn't really warm up till the second lap of the run. The pace on the run was on from the get go with plenty of fast runners in our group. I needed to back myself and the sessions I have done over the past month. The run was probably the best and strongest I have felt all year which are big steps in the right direction in my run form. Ending up 26th is nothing special but some positives to take and build on over the European season.

Time now to head back to Vitoria!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Auckland WTS- Just like a mixed bag of lollies

I am looking at my third year in Auckland as a mixed bag of lollies. You like some lollies you get and some lollies you leave behind everytime. I was looking forward to racing Auckland this year and I have always loved this course but somewhere in the back of my mind, it was a big daunting experience. WTS racing is different racing altogether and it was my first WTS back since August 2013. Every opportunity is one to learn from and build on especially in my comeback year. We always have perfect preparation in Wollongong to meet and exceed the demands of competition and trust me some sessions were not pretty.

The swim was 2 laps of 750m non wetsuit swim. I didn’t have my usual spark, and got caught up in the fighting and didn’t get clear water till the first buoy. We stayed in the same group for both laps of the swim and exited the water just over 30 seconds back off the front group of girls.  Jumping on my bike, I saw who was around me and knew we had some strong cyclists that would be our magic carpet like Lisa Norden who would be pushing the pace from the start.

Holy moly those first two laps hurt! I was on the rivet and holding on as we were making up about 20 seconds a lap on the front group. Just as we caught the front group, Gwen went past me to get on and I missed her wheel. I still have this moment playing in my head and it’s frustrating when that two second decision drops from right under you.  I got dropped from the front group and knew it possibly could be a long 40km ride. The group that ended up forming was girls that originally got dropped and ones that were dropping lap by lap from the main group. For the next 6 laps we rode pretty well together but should have worked more on the downhill sections.

The first lap of the run I actually felt alright and thought about keeping process and build into it at my own pace with that front group so far ahead. After people starting catching me from the group behind, I lost focus and it felt like the longest 10km. I have been running better than that in training so I am looking forward to putting it into practice in a race. Finishing 25th, I wanted to do a lot better. It is also alittle disappointing but gives me big motivation to build and learn throughout the season. Next stop is Gold Coast WTS in two weeks time. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Surfs Up in Mooloolaba

My fourth year back in Mooloolaba, it never disappoints with warm water, great views and sunshine. Leading into Mooloolaba World Cup, we had a perfect training race in Wollongong the week before to sharpen up with. It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly been a year since I had a hip arthroscopy already. I couldn’t be anymore grateful that I had a pretty easy but long recovery to get back on the circuit.

photo credit- eyes wide open

Photo credit- Taylor C

With the big surf, they had to move the start of the race to where the surf was smaller down the beach. Warming up, I was getting tossed, turned, flipped, a mouthful of saltwater and actually alittle scared of the waves. Walking back to line up, all I was thinking was, we do this every week in Wollongong. If I am scared, everyone else is just as scared as me, if not even more scared which I had to use to my advantage. I knew I needed to have fast start into the water, get over the breakers and get into a rhythm to the first buoy. I got in a good position and was 2nd around the first buoy. It never seems to amaze me though that people still want to drown you up the front.  I didn’t want to get drowned again so I moved myself to the front and got around the 2nd buoy without any problems. It was going to be luck of the draw and pure skill on catching a wave into shore. And I got no waves to assist me at all.  Coming out in the front, we had a long run that was going to be important in sorting out the race. I missed my box with my goggles and made that split second decision to put them back in and not get a penalty.
Photo Credit- Des Thureson

I rode pretty hard for the first section and climb making sure I got into that lead group. I didn’t have my feet in my shoes till over the first hill, where I felt I was comfortable in that lead group. The ride was very off and on. Into the tailwind it felt hard for sections and into the headwind, if you weren’t at the front, you could spin easier at the back. I made the mistake of taking the easy ride with no one working and I probably could have backed myself more and been abit more tactical. On a positive, I made sure I was in a good position leading into the narrow sections. By the end of the last lap with the little work our group was doing, we got caught by the chase group and we would enter transition together.

Photo credit- Taylor C
I had a pretty good T2 and I was fairly quick, hitting the pavement for a hot and fast run. Unfortunately, I know myself that I have missed some quality work with alittle niggle in my groin so I knew it wasn’t going to be on my fastest runs. My form felt good but I just had no speed to give. Ending up 18th wasn’t what I wanted but again it’s good to be back racing and continue gaining confidence in a bigger and stronger field. Next up is Auckland WTS on the 28th of March! 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Wollongong OTU Race

Wollongong OTU Race
There is nothing more exciting than not having to pack up your bike up to go to a race. Wollongong has been my second home for the past four years and I couldn’t ask for a closer race to home with a 10 minute ride to race start. It didn’t even feel like I had to race. Being a local race, it was great to have so much local support from family and friends out on the course cheering us on. After Kinloch, I wasn’t happy at all with any part of the processes of that race so it was back to training and back to building up confidence in me, on what I knew I could do best.

I looked at Wollongong as a good training race leading into Mooloolaba and Auckland WTS, as I missed Devonport and a week or two of solid running with groin tightness. We have been training pretty hard over the past few weeks and the Saturday before the race was honestly a good physical and mental break to relax before the race.

It felt like another training day being surrounded by the other girls I train with on a day to day basis. I knew the swim would be fast with such strong swimmers in the field so it would be as important to get on good feet from the start to make sure I didn’t miss the group in such a small field. I got to the first buoy without anyone touching me and the pace was hard but comfortable. Coming back into the shore, the pace slowed alittle and I decided I didn’t want that to happen so I put a surge in and came up beside the girls ahead of me. We exited the water with a group of 6 of us and one girl up the road.

We ride over the course every day so I knew what to expect coming out of transition but I still had to be desperate. A small hill to sting the legs every lap coming out of transition, the pace was solid from the start. Within the first lap we caught Danielle and after that worked solidly as a group of 6, gaining time each lap. By the end of the bike, we had about 1 minute 20 over the chase group.  I was surprised how good I felt on the bike considering some hard sessions we had done during the week.

Coming into transition after the three laps, I knew I had to be near the front with the long run into transition. I mucked around alittle putting my shoes on and by the time we ran down to do a u turn before we ran out of transition, a gap had already formed. I have had some decent run sessions in the bank in my return to running and after a big week of training I didn’t know how I was going to feel. I found out pretty soon that I felt awful and just had no momentum especially on the grass sections of the run course. My run is still something I want to work on, stay injury free and get stronger throughout the year.

I ended up crossing the line in 4th place behind my training partners and Australian Sprint Champ. It was nice to get back into the swing of racing and make the most of having a OTU race on home soul. A big thank you for all the support and well run event by Elite Energy. Looking forward to Mooloolaba World Cup next weekend!