Monday, 30 April 2012

April Monthly Report

“This is my office, I know what to do”. Speaking to Michael Lloyd, the AIS sports psychologist, gave me an excellent insight into the sometimes undiscovered aspects of the mental side of elite sport. We as athletes, sometimes overlook these or even over analyse them allowing them to become barriers or challenges that we should not need to face.  Training and racing both require mental skills that we may have already or need to develop to become better athletes- the sheer guts and determination to be win.

Racing my first Dextro World Triathlon Series race was exciting. I wouldn’t say that everything turned out perfectly but you have to start somewhere.  I have been working hard on my swim, trying to “chick” the boys especially in harder sessions and basically understanding “real world” pace. Sydney’s swim gave me a good idea of how the best of the best swim. Coming out near the front was important and integrating the skills that we had been practicing in transition to get onto the front bunch.  I learnt a lot in that ride about positioning and the effects that it takes. Sitting there near the back wasn’t ideal with all the tight corners and 180 degree u turns. I need to become more confident in riding up the front to avoid bad wheels. As the two bunches joined just abit before half way, it came down to a runners race with about 50 girls in the main pack. With all these extra efforts coming out of the corners, I think this had a negative effect on my run. Training had been going well- seeing little improvements in time, lactate build up and heart rate variability.  Coming in 39th, I had the attitude on the start line of I have got nothing to lose and that is how it finished. Hopefully it’s the start of many more to come!

Before leaving for overseas, I got a SRM put on my bike. A SRM measures power, cadence, speed, heart rate, temperature and allows intervals.  A handy device for sessions and races to show watts produced e.g. hill reps. It can also be used to show difference in sessions depending on the heat outside, looking out heart rate and watts and how it affects you.

On the 24th of April, it was time to say good bye to Australia for 153 days. Heading to America, it least it felt like we only lost a few hours with now being basically a day behind Australia. With abit more than a few hours travel time, we arrived in Florida to friendly faces of John and the kids Lachlan and Joel, who own AAA Tri Camp. We are lucky to have them as they provide us with a home away from home environment. This year we are lucky to be swimming closer at NTC ( National Training Centre) which is an outdoor 50m pool. Not sure if the water is so clear or we were extremely jet lagged as on the first day we kept missing the wall. We welcomed back the 16km undulating, no where to hide from the sun dirt trail and Mt Sugarloaf for Huatulco race stimulation. I have been with Ryan Bailie, another NSWIS athlete and Drew Box from QAS in Florida who have provided me with plenty of laughs or should I say ganging up on the girl!

I am currently sitting in Huatulco, looking over the views of the ocean and sitting in perfect conditions that the air conditioning provides. Huatulco is a hard, hot and challenging course that took a lot out of me last year. I race at 8am tomorrow morning, just as the sun is starting to come through the clouds and finishing in the soaring heat. With training in Florida, we have been adapting to the heat but it still hits you hard. Fingers crossed for a good race. J

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Sydney Dextro World Championships Series

The start of the World Triathlon Series in Sydney was my first opportunity to race the best 68 girls in the world. As Sydney is only a short hour trip from home, it was a chance for family and friends to be out watching my race or see me live on television. Shaun Stephens mentioned that this race was a chance for some athletes to gain Olympics selection but for me it was a race for development and opportunity. My goal for this season is to continue to develop, learn and have consistent performances.

Hard weeks of training towards Sydney race spec got me ready for the demands of the competition. Travelling into Sydney Thursday, for briefing made reality kick in as I saw who I was racing. We had a great place to stay thanks to Triathlon Australia at Radisson Blu that was about half way between the two transitions. An extremely early start to race day, 4.45am, I was up on the rollers giving the legs a quick spin before our breakfast got delivered to our door. Rolling out of our hotel at 6am we had to drop our shoes at T2 before rolling down the hill to T1. The water temperature was said to be a balmy 24.1 degrees which I knew could not be right after our swim in the harbour pre- race. An hour before the race, the officials called it a wetsuit swim. I would have been happy either way as I was prepared, comfortable and confident for both.

Being such a low number, I didn’t have much choice in my start position. The harbour had barely any movement in the water. This swim was the first swim in a while that was not brutal. I did not get hit or kicked, a total comparison to what Erin Densham was saying about hers. I had clear water from the start putting my head down and following feet. I wasn’t feeling that good and actually thought I was having a shocker of a swim; my arms were heavy and I felt like I was getting no catch.   The most intense part was probably getting out of the water on the first lap up the ramp as so many girls were trying to get out at the same time. Diving back in seeing that I was in first pack, I wanted to keep my position or move forward throughout the pack. Moving up a few positions in last 750m, the long run to transition was ahead of me.

I learnt my lesson this season too often about not being desperate enough in transition. I didn’t want to miss that front pack especially in the first 2km of the ride. Riding up the first hill with Emma Jackson, Lisa Norden and Rachel Klamer, we pushed hard to the top of the hill and we were able to get onto the main pack. This is something I wasn’t able to do in Mooloolaba losing the girls in the first 2km. With about 20 girls in our pack, it was a hard ride but showed a lot of weaknesses in girls skills. I found it hard to get to the front and make myself have an easier ride without working so hard on the corners and u turns to stay on wheels.  It was even harder when the second bunch caught us and we had about 45 girls in our pack to try and find good wheels and get near the front. The 8 laps went pretty quick with the pack being strung out down the hill into Mrs Macquarie Chair and forming back together through the other sections. The ride was comfortable but the accelerations out of the turns every lap, took it out of me a lot more than usual. As I closer to the back then front coming into T2, the girls at the front already at 10 seconds on me.

I have been holding back my run at the start, trying not to get take it out too hard. With so many girls coming off the bike at the same time, I tried to work my way through the field working on getting the girls in front. From the last few races, I now think I could go out a bit harder as that first 5km seems a bit too comfortable for race expectations. I ran as I expected, with similar times to previous races. I just need to keep working on my pop, keeping tall and running more on my forefeet. With time hopefully I will get stronger and more competitive in the run.  The 4 laps also went very quick with running down the finish straight fairly quick. Finishing in 39th, I was very happy for my first World Triathlon Series race.

Thanks to all the Triathlon Australia staff for pre and post -race recovery and looking after us so well especially on race day with our early start. We had great support out there for Australia and from all my friends and family. Finding 22 messages on my phone when I finished with videos and pictures of my whole race was an awesome surprise! I am happy I was given the opportunity to race and show to myself how far I have come and places that I can be in the future!