Monday, 27 August 2012

Stockholm WTS

Stockholm World Championship Series

Leading up to Stockholm, this was the first time that I had the chance to have 4 weeks of solid training. With a few ups and downs within the weeks, I got a reality check of where I was at. Training was based around what we needed to achieve to maximise our performance in Stockholm. I was happy to get some speed back into the body. Without realising before briefing, over 50% of the course was on cobble stones, some on a downhill and an uphill transition area. Stockholm is known for rain and wet conditions and in most people’s eyes this is asking for some eating of the pavement. A quote from Erin Densham summed up what I thought:  “ yes, it’s technical, there are cobblestones, it’s going to be exciting, you have to be able to handle your bike as well in this sport. It’s not just about boring courses and being strong, so I’m looking forward to the course.”

Race day was again late afternoon, having the morning to get ready and relax. The day could not be anymore perfect with the conditions being perfect for race day. Being able to watch the boys race on TV before ourselves was a great opportunity to see what happened within the first half of the race. Having the transition on the hill, it was important for gear selection and facing my bike up the right way, not pointing down the hill. Being a wetsuit swim like Hamburg, I knew the field was not going to get spread out too much especially over 750m. Being ranked 38th, I was middle of the field. When I walked onto the pontoon most girls went left so I followed. When I knew who the two girls were next to me, I knew I could get away from them at the start. All the way to the first buoy I was by myself in the middle, out the front, seeing only a few people to either side of me. I felt comfortable and controlled. Around the first buoy I was in the top 5 and knew I needed to stick there. Coming back towards the pontoon, a few girls went left and I followed somebody to the right. I had perfect feet all the way to the pontoon. Exiting the water in 6th, it was more than important to have a quick transition so I had time and space coming out of T1.

It is hard enough as it is running out of T1, let alone up at pretty decent gradient hill. I tried to get my shoes on early especially going downhill on the cobbles, you bounce around a lot. Training has been based around being about to be strong and put pressure on the pedals in the first few kms. I am now confident in my skills and I realise that my skills are 10 times better than some of the other girls out there which has been a huge development for me even over the last 6 months. Being a sprint distance, I knew it was going to be intense like Hamburg. I actually think it was harder! I held on as long as I could as we were the chase pack of girls. The pace was on and it was not getting any easier. The hill on the cobbles added another element and unfortunately got stuck in the wrong gear a few times. Being alittle annoying, I got stuck behind a few bad wheels in the last lap and not having the power to pull myself back up, it was me and another girl riding together for most of the last lap. The main pack was not getting any closer and we were going backwards. This is my main disappointment of the whole race, not positioning myself at critical moments and it consequently cost me.

The run course was basically the same as the ride with a downhill on cobbles. I found it hard to get rhythm on the cobbles and keep my cadence high. Within the first 1km, I had all the coaches letting me know I had a penalty. Before turning the last corner of the first lap I could see the girls from the pack behind catching up. I served my 10 second penalty watching girls pass me. Really not the best feeling! I kept my position for the whole run from then on and I wanted to finish strong up the hill. Finishing in 31st, I can see a few weeks of training paying off. Although there are many little things that I need to work on, I suppose in time and hopefully in the next few months will come!

I have to say, I felt pretty lucky getting the opportunity to represent Australia in the A team for World Championships Teams race. I was confident in my skills whether it was raining or not. It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to do this especially with an Olympic Bronze medallist and I was excited to back up and race the next day. We had a good team consisting of Aaron Royle, Dan Wilson, Erin Densham and myself. Well, it was more than raining, it was raining cats and dogs. If you were at home, you would probably stay in bed all day. The start for our relay was delayed due to lightening so warming up was pushed back.  Erin lead us off and unfortunately she did not have her best day. This meant that we were pretty far back. I was going 3rd and by this time we were in second last. Diving into the water, the temperature had dropped 3 degrees since yesterday and it was extremely choppy. Being only 375m, it was full gas. I caught the Great Britain team that were just ahead of us. For the 6.2km ride, I was lucky to have someone else to work it. With it being very wet, I did become more cautious. I actually find the cobbles easier to ride and I did not bounce around near as much. Coming out of T2, I just maxed as fast as I could. The Great Britain girl and myself took over a few of the top girls although we were a lap behind. My run felt much better than yesterday and by the end we had caught a few teams in front. We finished in 15th, not as good as last year but a solid performance by everyone.

I would like to thank Triathlon Australia for the weekend with organising flights and accommodation for us. Thanks to Dean for providing me with pre and post-race massages and the coldest ice bath I have ever had. Thanks to Michael Flynn for allowing me the opportunity to race in the teams race on Sunday and having confident in my ability to perform. A final thank you to my coach Jamie Turner for providing me with the right advice even on the smallest things to help me improve my race J Until next time..


Sunday, 5 August 2012

July Monthly Report

Welcome home!!  Living in Vitoria, in the Basque country, for 4 months of the year, I am happy to call it home. People often get mistaken and think after every race I am making the journey back to Australia but really I am making a short few hours flight. This time I arrived back to the smiling girls who tell me they missed me J and new apartments. My relationship with the oven began as soon as I walked through the door, already cooking up a storm with my roomie Grace. We are currently on a 30 day challenge, not allowed to cook the same meals twice within the 30 days. We are going strong, inspired by our morning Masterchef watching and Google recipes of romantic dinners for two.

July has been non- stop with races, travelling to Paris, Hungary and Hamburg. All of them were solid races, surrounded by girls peaking for the Olympics. I was overall happy with how everything went, still knowing that I have so much to work on, which is so exciting. Being sprint racing, they were full gas from the word GO, allowing no chance to sit up and enjoy the sights but more the sights of the girls wheels in front of me. After all the hard work was done, I got the chance to explore Paris and became a tourist for the day. After the 3 weeks was done, the body did want a rest and I set off to Munich for a mini holiday. Being by yourself… the opportunity only to blame yourself when you get lost. I explored the city pretty much seeing everything that my map showed with an excellent transport system, not realising sometimes that I was catching the train about 200m to my next destination. I even brought myself a pair of snazzy Birkenstocks, possibly the most comfortable shoes in my collection.

Once again, it’s the support from people behind the scenes that allow us to excel in our sport. A big thank you to HUUB wetsuits for sending me a new custom Aura wetsuit. They always keep in regular contact with me and I am happy to be the first blog on their website with “ Life as an athlete”. This gave me a chance to break down where I have got in the last 18 months from races to the unique experience at every airport to the professional support that surrounds me every day. I am grateful also to get Compresssport on board for my compression needs in everyday training, traveling and racing. I am looking forward to receiving their products soon.

The biggest event that only ever happens every 4 years arrived on our tv screens today. As little as milliseconds determines the winner in a 2 hour race – 10cm difference!! In training when it's easy to think that that last rep doesn't matter or won't make any difference... I guess it can be the difference between victory and second best. If only we could ride bikes like the one below at the Olympics and still win. But wow! Edge of you  seat racing, with the doubt of not knowing if the same amount of girls, would turn the corner when you see them next. The pavement became close friends with too many people. Sad to see many girl’s dreams fade right in front of them and others achieve what 4 years of preparation has brought them. Like the quote on the girls wrist “ All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us”.