Friday, 29 June 2012

Canary Wharf Triathlon 2012


Men in suits, women in heels and us in compression tights..a triathlon right bam smack in the central business district of London. The GE Canary Wharf Triathlon is a Super-Sprint Eliminator race. There will be 2 heats for men and women with faster finishers progressing to the finals. The race format is fast and furious with each racing lasting just 30 minutes. The multi-lap course offers spectators and coaches to watch through the swim, bike and run. The course is flat with 36 corners in 9km! To be honest, this race was not one of my favourite last year, having a negative experience learning the hard way with my cornering abilities and lack of fast twitch fibres. I was determined to change this and make this race show what I was capable of now. I wasn’t feeling that good all week, feeling alittle flat and maybe tired from the weekend race. With about half a bottle of oil to make sure my wetsuit came out quick, it was time to race.

Heat:

Ranked 3rd, I could a great place next to Liz Blatchford  on the pontoon. Diving in, head was down going straight out to the first buoy. Before I knew it without any knocks to the head, we were already turning. I had clean water and 2 peoples feet ahead of me to sit with. 400m means no time to muck around. Climbing out the water was abit of struggle as it was so slippery and you had to become a seal and slide your way up or crawl. Luckily being near the front I had time by myself to get up. Transition had to quick otherwise the pack would be up the road.

Coming out onto the ride we quickly formed a small pack with about  5 girls. No body wanted to roll through and I was stuck on the front for more than what I really wanted. Although this did happen, it gave me a chance to see how the other girls holded wheels. I am confident in skills this year – looking through the corner, lots of weight on the outside foot and hands off the brakes. Some times I found myself off the front having a few metres coming out of the corners.. could we use this to our advantage in the final? Coming off the bike, I had a shocking T2, getting my glasses stuck in my helmet.

We had a pretty big lead on the next pack so the first lap of the run, I took out strong to keep my position and by the second lap I knew I had made the final comfortably. It was time to relax and finish in 5th place.

We had 2 hours between the heat and final- compression tights on, fueling up and keeping relaxed. We had a chance to watch the boys heats from the big screen in the athletes lounge which was so much benefit. Warming up for the final, the temperature had dropped, the calves had good extremely tight but I was excited to race again

Final:

Once again, 400m is no time to try and get comfortable. You have to make the uncomfortable, comfortable. Head down, I once again found some pretty good feet, exiting the water in 3rd. My transition was much better and got out onto the road ready to ride the first lap hard. On the front again, we quickly had make a bunch of about 8 girls. Ashlee, Tamysn and myself did have a plan on the bike to take benefit of the girls skills and try and get a break away. Unfortunately our communication skills struggled and we didn’t achieve the outcome that we wanted to do. The bike being a short 9km, its hectic and fast from the get go.. being in and out of the saddle. Spending again, way too much time on the front, it had a negative influence on my run. I had a good T2 coming out 3rd but the pace was already on. Sprinting is not my forte and 2.2km is giving it already you have got. I tried to keep with the other girls but they are just way to fast and amazing runners. Improving dramatically on last year finishing in 8th I am very pleased with the experience and the outcome.

I would like to thank British Triathlon for providing us with such a great event. It is different to ITU racing and shows your skills in these short and sharp events. You are always on the rivet and excited to get out there to do it again! Thanks to Lisa Dent the Event Coordinator and John Muddeman for getting us to the event and providing us with accommodation so close to race sight. London put on a cracker of a day with the weather being a stunning 27 degrees finishing with the atmosphere of all the supporters and spectators in the heart of London.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

International Triathlon XXVII Atletico San Sebastian


Good enough to be a great World Cup course. Challenging, hilly, hot and the atmosphere that could not be asked for, San Sebastian or known as Donostia to the Basque people, is a race to put on the race calendar every year.  With my own smiling face on the race posters, it was time to see if I could back up again from last year.  Thanks again to Inigo for giving us free entry into the race and giving us an opportunity to race some tough competition on Spanish soil.

A 9.15am, in Spain you are faced with the most intense entry to transition with your id, helmet, bike and race belt being checked making the process a lot longer than normal. With only a few minutes to spare, still trying to see the changes to last years swim course, I didn’t get the chance to a swim warm up. Before I knew it, the horn was blown and we were off. I had a pretty good start, heading straight out finding my rhythm early. This week in swimming, we have been focusing a lot of drills and technique and finding out basically my learn to swim level skills. Having my own space, allowed me to focus, concentrate and execute the skill. Exiting the water, I had just over a minute gap but I knew it was important to keep whatever advantage I had.

My personal goal for the ride was to hold Ashlee off as long as I could as this year I had no Spanish male bike packs to help me as they started behind us. With lead motorbikes and a car to help navigate and direct me around the course, it was exciting to be out the front. I put my head down and tried as hard as I could as the course does not get any easier. It is probably one of the hilliest courses I have ever ridden on. 20km into the ride, I was still out the front. This is weird? This is when the most steep and long climb began.  I tried to emphasize on keeping my cadence high and trying to over come the crank torque that can’t be controlled. We got to the top to a false flat and I could here someone behind me. Ashlee put on a surge and before I knew it she had about 100m on me. I didn’t want her to get anymore on me. Coming back into town, it is all sharp, descending corners. I wouldn’t say I am the best at descending but I was catching back up. Coming down the hill, I retook over her. I was going to take to advantage everything I could. It was good to feel strong on the bike and comfortable riding by myself.

Coming into T2 basically together, it was going to be who could run the faster. I went out strong and I felt comfortable, setting a good pace for myself. Within the first 5km, it was nice to be running at a good pace and feeling I suppose back to normal. I think in my mind, I became abit complacent with how I was running. Probably not the best thing to do, as with 8km to go, the same thing as the ride, Ashlee came up right next to me and surged. I got straight back on her feet. We were running together for next 1km and I knew if we had to sprint, I had absolutely nothing to give. With a km to go, I tried to surge but it was basically at the same pace as what I had been running before. She surged and the elastic band snapped pretty quick. Finishing in 2nd after a tough race and backing up from the weekend before, it was nice to race San Sebastian again.

I thought I might look back from the results from last year, just to see some development especially in my swim and my ride. With a massive improvement of 9 mins from last year on my ride, I wonder what I was doing last year. With San Sebastian once again putting on a beautiful day, the beach and sun was a perfect ending to our Spanish day out.



Monday, 18 June 2012

Banyoles ITU World Cup



It feels like I was just here but just under one year later, back to Banyoles for my third World Cup of 2012. Everyone waiting for the anticipated 8 blocks of chocolate and beer in our race pack but too many people’s disappointment it did not arrive. In the days leading up, I was confident in the training as the weeks leading up after Madrid had been going strong, focussing on key aspects that I knew I needed to work on.  Basically looking into the present and understanding how this will impact my races into the future.

Lining up for race start in a low number was a bit of a shock with somewhat of the best 4 girls in the world infront of me. On the pontoon everyone went far left, so it was just one position after another filling up. With the heart beat music playing and without any on your marks and still a metre back from the front of the pontoon, the horn went off. Everyone just takes a little look at each other- are we meant to go? I didn’t have the best start getting caught up in the usual bashing about rather than swimming. I never really found any rhythm within my first lap, more just trying to move my way around people. If anything, it would be to try and get some power to improve my front 50’s and 200m pace. Sometimes I feel like one pace Natalie, Diving back into the second lap, I was able to get some free space and move around people being out of the front of our main pack of girls seeing a few bodies ahead of me. Coming out of the water in 6th, I already had a brief idea of who was up the road.


We quickly caught onto the back of Erin and Andrea. The 6 laps began with the attempt to catch the girls up the road. The bike was a lot faster than I remember from last year as the quality of field is much higher. I had to find good wheels as I found out from the earlier laps that being behind a bad wheel behind a corner meant more accelerations than I needed. I know I wasn’t dominant enough on the ride to keep good position and this cost me. I was caught in awkward positions or boxed in the middle and couldn’t get my way out. Coming onto the last lap where anyone gets antsy, I was stuck in the middle of the bunch with the lead girls having about 15 seconds on me. I was in the worst position possible as when I racked my bike, girls were already running out.



Consequently losing that good 20 seconds, already meant I was 20 seconds behind where I should be. I should be with the group up the road. It is much easier to push or not let the elastic band snap within your self when you have alittle help around you from others. A 3 lap run, I was comfortable on the first lap, feeling like I had good rhythm and form moving my way through the field. It was getting warm outside so water was a necessary for cooling and hydration. The second lap just felt flat, like I was going more upwards than forwards and I was not gaining any time on the small pack of girls infront. I was telling myself, keep tall, keep strong, don’t lose form. The third lap I did feel better but it is all too late as I just gave the race to other girls infront of me as soon as I came into T2. On a positive, the basic strength work that we do for our glutes and flexibility feel like they have been working but I know it’s just not there yet and I can’t expect a few weeks to change it with a click of the fingers. I did have my best World Cup finish so far, finishing in 12th place.

I have lots to think about after this race especially in big running weeks, taking the easy, easy and making the quality, quality. Onwards from here….


Monday, 4 June 2012

May Monthly Report

"When you can’t change the direction of the wind — adjust your sails.” May has given me the chance to do this. I learnt my lesson early this month and had to adjust or fix what I was doing to achieve what I knew was achievable- the controllable’s that I can control. Everybody has 2 voices in their head- the angel and the devil per say that direct us. This year is all about taming the devil to play to the way I want this year to play out.

When I look back to Huatulco World Cup, a race I rather forget but with a memorable hill, I had my first overseas hit out. I wanted to take so much out of the race. Take on the challenge of the one of the hardest courses in the ITU circuit and give it a run for its money. A holiday destination to some, the hard, hot and challenging course gave an insight into many and myself what it takes to be the best. I basically got spat out the back and forced to learn the hard way. With a some what unexpected and disappointing result, I was forced to be hard on myself- pick up the pieces and put them back into a puzzle.

Just like the movies or what I call everyday life, I was off on a plane another long journey to the other side of the world.  Having hours to think to myself, and get back to the right mindset, my Europe adventures started. After a week of having time to myself, training myself, soul searching in the fields of France and attempting to count my strokes and speak in French, what I call my day job came back to play.  When I think about the Worlds in Auckland this year, a race that demands a lot, I think both mental and physical aspects play a vital part in being the best. It’s the person that can make those 1 percents, as important as the 100 percents and every process automatic. Even when you might not want to dive into cold water or what you don’t expect happens, you can’t change it. Accept the process and move forward. With inspirational words from some of the most respected in the sport, I gave it my best crack and came out with more than I expected. You want people to be scared of you.

But the big question is…Why be scared? Why be nervous? A World Triathlon Series race to me is hitting the big time. The highest level I can achieve. Nothing to lose and lots to gain. Madrid, WTS #2, a chance to move forward, get some TV (just for my parents back home- extended skype session) and bring to the table what I can give. I showed to myself that I can be there in the swim, keep my position on the bike and still have to work on being strong and consistent in my run. A big thing that I have taken out of all my races this month is my run. If I had one thing to work on this year, it would be building the right amount of strength to be there on the bike and in control on the run. I have plenty of opportunities to work on this and races to see development and process throughout the year. With my coach, Jamie Turner and the excellent support staff that I have around me, it’s time to optimize all opportunities and look forward- when jumping on your bike out of T1, never at your feet… you only go sidewards!