Monday, 23 July 2012

Hamburg WTS

After spending the lead up days after Tizy World Cup in the south of France, a few days of hard training and a new environment to excite the trip, with a good 30 pieces of luggage between us, we set off to Hamburg. Never being to Hamburg before, I was just going off what I saw on TV or from the race last year and using my little knowledge of the German language. Right in the centre of Hamburg, 400 000 people lining the streets to cheer on first to last- the atmosphere was amazing!! I have never seen anything like it. Arriving and already getting asked to sign photos…of Erin Densham; I had to point them to the right person. Hamburg is a pretty busy place- shops, bakeries and a big lake in the middle. Walking around in tracksuit pants or to swim familiarisation in my wetsuit, I felt slightly underdressed.

Race day weather was described as changeable; a few clouds, rain and some sun if you’re lucky. A late start to race day again, the day had time to work itself out and for me to get myself ready. A wetsuit swim with only 17.2 degree water and an outside temperature not much warmer, I had to prepare for myself for what the boys race yesterday looked like- fast, fast and fast. Being only sprint distance, there was really no time to muck around. From last week in Hungary, I knew how important it was to get to the first buoy. In briefing they told us that number 24 was where the first buoy would have the shortest line. Finding out from the boys yesterday that number 1 still had the prime position, being in 35th position, it looked so far away. It probably was the first swim in a while that I haven’t got hit or punched. We were pretty wide going around the buoys, with the swim not breaking us up much. Coming back under the bridge, I was hoping to get around more people as it felt like I was just sitting behind. I was stuck on the far left towards the shore line, not being able to move around. Coming into T1, I just didn’t have a very fast transition and lost a few extra seconds that I didn’t need too.

Running out of T1 with Erin Densham, I thought this is sweet- good wheels to drag me up to the group. I don’t think I have ever needed to ride so fast within that first 1km of my life. The pace was on from the start and I was just hanging on. The pace got the better of me and I got dropped with Emma Jackson and a Japanese competitor. Within the first lap we got caught by the group behind us. Not having the opportunity to ride the course but a brief ride of the day before, it only had a vague idea of what it would be. The group that caught us were motoring, trying to catch the main group up the road. We caught a few people that had also got dropped. In my head, I knew I should be up the road with the other girls and my transition did cost me big time. After some mental games in my head and a few chats, this course isn’t technical. The word technical defined by google means something that requires technical knowledge to be understood.  The course demands lots of accelerations- high power, low power, high cadence, low cadence efforts due to the corners. It means holding good wheels, weight on the outside foot and taking the corners big. The roads are pretty skinny in some sections, has a few cobbles ( lucky it didn’t rain) and is quiet deceiving on TV as the false flat is more of pretty decent rise. I didn’t ride as smart as I should have and it cost me. After 4 laps of 5km and some fast riding, the main pack was getting closer and we came into T2 within a few seconds behind them.

The first 500m of the run felt shocking. It didn’t feel like I was moving anywhere. Within the next 1km or so, I found some rhythm. I was moving my way up through some of the girls that had nailed the first 1km and were now moving back slowly. The 5km went so quick! An important thing for me on the run is to keep my cadence high and keep tall. The front girls ran extremely fast and showed to me that the Olympics are only 2 weeks away. By the end I felt good but definitely not as quick as I want to be. Finishing in 29th, I suppose I am happy. Still have so much to work on as sometimes is the little things that cost you and to be honest I didn’t realise how fast this race would be. After 3 weekends of solid racing, I am excited to have a few days off and get back into some solid training, working on my weaknesses, to build to end this year on a high….

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

2012 Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup

Tiszaujvaros invited us again for a new exciting format of racing- semi and finals racing. After racing similar to this last year as a junior, I was nervous to see what Tiszaujvaros could bring me this year. With 27 girls per heat and only 12 making it to the final.. you had to be on your game from the start.

Semi Final:

A late Saturday afternoon race, the morning was just time to warm up the legs and prepare for some fast racing. I was feeling pretty nervous, wondering how hard I would have to go to make it into the top 12- our heat looked like the faster one. A different course to Sunday for the ride and the run it was interesting to see how it panned out. Picking the right hand side of the pontoon, it was the shortest and most efficient line to the first buoy only 110m away. Diving it, I did have the opportunity to use Routier to my left to have a good start. I became complacent, thinking it would be easier than it was to get their near the front. Consequently, I got nailed around the first buoy, getting pulls on my costume, on my legs and getting no where in the forward direction. With so many turn buoys in 750m, it didn’t feel like a clean swim not really finding the rhythm that I wanted. I got stuck on the inside to many times, finding the girls on the outside got a better line. The transition run was long- make it or break it point to making or missing the group. Coming out of T1, my cycling shoe hit the ground, giving me the near heart attack moment of missing the group.

Within the first 1km of the ride we had 12 girls in the main field. Working hard on the way out, the girls were rolling turns well. Going around the u turn, the girls turned so slow, making it tempting to even unclip as it felt so unsafe. Coming back into town the pace slowed down and turning back for our second lap, the pack behind us had caught up. The pace slowed down once again- I think my easy riding pace was quicker. I just looked around to see who was there. Unfortunately, the run had to be faster than what I wanted. Coming off the bike, not having the best T2, the run was quick. Everyone went out at a flying pace like it was a 1km max sprint. I took over a few girls and comfortable sat in 6
th to 8th place. With the heat result having no impact on your start position for the race, finishing 8th meant I was through to the final.

Recovery was important- eating, drinking, warming down, ice bath and massage would all effect our result tomorrow.


With a later race on Sunday, a few showers, wet road surface, the more technical ride course became affected, making more bodies ending up on the road. Once again, a late wake up to start the day, an early more ride and a swim in the lake, began Tiszy take 2. I was less nervous, excited to change the mistakes of yesterday. The swim was vital today. Adhesion with a high stroke rate was what I was aiming for especially for the front half of the swim. I started a few places further down the pontoon. I put my head down and got around the first buoy without one knock or pull. Being within the top 5 from the start, I had 3 girls to swim with. A clean, fast swim was what I wanted. Exiting the water, the long transition awaited us again.

A quick T1, there was 6 of us out the front. Getting our feet in quick, we had short time before we make a right hand turn and a u turn. At the u turn there was another 5 girls coming around the corner. Making a pack of about 10 of us, I wanted to stay near the front to stay out of trouble. Seeing only small amounts of the cornering and u turn skills of the girls yesterday, holding wheels out of corners were a struggle. We were rolling turns only with a few girls making the effort. It amazes me that girls just sit in when they know the better runners are coming in the pack behind. Within the first 2 laps we got caught by the chase pack of girls. The pack became the majority of the field. Being up near the front, I got put in the position to work which I didn’t really want to do. By the end of the 6 lap ride course, it was going to be whoever had the best legs to run off the ride.

Starting off the run, the girls went out quick again. I needed to keep my cadence high, keep tall and I suppose move my way up through the field. The course was different to Saturday, having more turns and corners. I was running in 8
th to 11th the whole run. I needed to work on my T2 to be up the front from the start. It feels like it has cost me too many times. Jamie told me on the 2nd lap, don’t do this run at a steady rate, either surge away or sit in behind the other girls. I surged alittle but everyone came with me anyways. With a few girls dropping off the pace, I kept within the group I was running with. Coming into the third lap, our group broke up. I could still see the girls just ahead of me who have been and felt like they have had the same distance the whole run. Finishing with a sprint finish for 11th, I achieved the outcomes that I set for the race. I improved my swim from Saturday and had a strong back end to my run. The weekend showed I over did my ride trying to make up for the efforts of the others which consequently affected how I felt on the run.

It is my best world cup finish so far… hopefully soon to crack the top 10!  

Monday, 9 July 2012

Paris French Grand Prix

Paris French Grand Prix

With the Eiffel Tower at your doorstep, the city of love awaited us for my second French Grand Prix of 2012. A short trip from home, I was excited to race Paris after the stories and videos I had watched from the race. Like always my French team, Tri Val de Gray looked after we so well, making pre race procedures easy. An early start to race day, the clear skies from my window looked promising. A short 5km ride to race start and a lap around the course gave me a brief idea of the corners and what was ahead of me. Before race start, the weather started to decrease and the rain started pouring from the sky. I spoke with Barbara about trying not to start behind a pole from the bridge as we would miss the current. Having not much choice in our start position, it became much to our benefit as we missed out being out in the cold from swimming out to the pontoon.

Like normal, the gun goes off before you can even think and the race has started. I put my head down and tried to get infront of the girls next to me. Our swim had spilt into two packs without my knowledge and I thought I was having a great swim- not getting bashed around, just clean water. Heading towards the first buoy and going around it, I got smashed! Girls pulling on my bathers, feet or anything they could hold on. In one sense, I felt like lying there and taking it. It felt like I had lost so much time, just fighting and not getting anywhere more than 1 metre extra or even one metre back. I came close around the second buoy and swam over on the outside. I could see abit of a gap ahead of me and I wanted to bridge up. It felt like I took over half the field on the way back in, finding plenty of clean water and exiting in 8th. Being cold, my feet were numb making it hard to run and get up the steep, slippery stairs. Cold hands did not help either making it hard to buckle up my helmet.

Coming out of T1, there were little stones and as it had been raining fairly heavy, they were extremely slippery. We had a good bunch of girls but I basically did not see any of them for most of the ride. There were 4 corners each lap; some being sharper than others, all turning onto slippery white lines. The corners were slow and became even slower when girls were falling off. I tried to keep near the front, trying to keep out of trouble. As the corners were slow, it meant more power had to be produced when coming out of them. When it’s wet, you have to become more cautious. Coming into T2, I wanted to be up the front, learning from my mistake in Banyoles losing an easy 10 to 15 seconds. Unfortunately, my glasses that were in my helmet got stuck in my hair and I was in T2 longer than what I wanted.

The run started with a short hill but became rather flat after that. I knew my cadence had to be high otherwise I feel like I start to become heavy and flat. This was the first time in awhile my run has felt, I suppose back to normal. I felt strong and moved my way through some of the girls ahead of me. Coming down the hill for the 2nd lap, it was the most daunting feeling of a mass pack of girls within 30 seconds coming straight up the hill. I kept positive as most of them had not gained anymore on me from the first lap. A reminded to keep my cadence high, “pop” and to bridge the gap infront of me, helps a lot more than telling me to run faster. I overtook a few more girls but within the last km, a few girls from the pack behind caught me. I sat with them for most of the last km till they all surged into transition and I could not go with them. I actually had no idea where we were finishing till I saw the finish line up the hill.

Finishing in 13th place, I can take many positives out of this race and take it as a solid hit out, ready for a weekend of Sprint distance next week in Tiszaujvaros.  I am not scared of the cold or rain anymore as everybody is in the same boat and its nothing to be afraid of.  It can be so much of a benefit to the girls that struggle in it or over analyse it. A big improvement to Tri Val de Gray, finishing 5th team overall for the day and congratulations to Barbara for her 2nd place J We were lucky enough to have afternoon and an extra day in Paris to explore the sights, get drenched by torrential rain, learn some more French and try not to get too lost.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Monthly Report- June

“What do you want to be when you grow up? “ The words that come out of many children’s mouths - “I want to be an Olympian”. This continuing dream has been lived and lost for many in the last month. Being surrounded by many Olympians back home, not only from Australia but all around the world, I have had the best opportunity to see what it takes to be the best. Forums, blogs and newspaper articles all with polar opposite perspectives has given me a good insight into views from athletes into the hard work that has been required over their life and especially during the last 4 years. Time, effort, passion and commitment to a sport that is our life.  Each day is about training, training and more training - and I wouldn't want it any other way.
“Many roads lead to the medal but all begins with a great start”. Everyone has heard the saying that it’s not the bike, it’s the rider on it. There are many roads that we can take to be the best and I know that it will take 101% effort to succeed . In our training environment in Vitoira, we utilise equipment like our tempo trainers in swimming, SRM when we ride and the trusty Garmin for when we run. All these tools help to ensure that I am putting out the effort needed in each and every training session.

I look back from when I started and I can say I began with a great start. I had the support and development to get me where I am now. I am lucky enough to still have this continuing support and I have been fortunate to receive the support of two new sponsors - HUUB Wetsuits and NOVA Swimwear.  I am excited to be given the opportunity to wear and promote HUUB wetsuits which have just been introduced into Australia from the UK. They are great wetsuits that are not only comfortable to wear but are designed provide comfort and natural swim stroke. I have been working with them recently and look forward to working with them in the future. NOVA is my favourite swimwear and I am very happy to have them as a sponsor. Growing up as a swimmer, I always wore Nova Swimwear and now I will be working with them for race suits, apparel and training swimwear. They make excellent swimwear and I look forward to promoting their brand in domestic and international competitions.

It has now been a year since my first overseas trip as a young inexperienced 18 year old. This month I have competed in races at Banyoles, San Sebastian and the home of the Olympics in Canary Wharf, London. Déjà vu has hit having raced the same races last year - I can now look back a year and appreciate massive changes in my approach to races and my performance. Even Olympians are still learning what works for them but all have autonomic processes that are developed through training. These processes try to keep me in the “zone” during a race and not to overthink. Within all these races, I have had something that I could concentrate on and I still know what I need to develop on. I also now appreciate that it is not only physical and mental aspects which determine the end result but something as small as positioning in a ride or the place that you come into transition are just as equally important.  Who would have thought that sport could be so complicated.

I am looking forward to watching the Olympics from the comfort of my couch, in Spanish, and seeing some familiar faces on TV on the 4th and 7th of August. I am also ready to be living my dream in 2016 or 2020.