Saturday, 22 September 2012

Tongyeong World Cup

After a long plane flight from Europe and arriving 7 hours ahead of the time we have been living at for the past 5 months, Korea awaited us for the last 5 days of our overseas trip. I have heard many things about Tongyeong especially the range of food choices and the lack of things to do. I am more than happy to live off rice and tuna for a few days but I was more worried about how long it’s been since my Olympic distance triathlon. Tongyeong does offer adamant facilities to swim, ride and run pre race.

An early start to race morning, I wasn’t feeling that well. Tired, change in eating times and nerves all settled in. The water was a fresh 20 degrees, a few degrees colder than a few days before. With only 26 girls starting, it was a small field to contend with. My first lap of the swim was an absolute shocker and I was stuck behind people and getting caught up in mid pack madness. Exiting the first lap, I was further back than I should have been and I knew I needed to make my move up or my day would be over. I started making my move through the field and making sure I was near the front few. Exiting in 4th there was plenty of girls around to make a pack for our ride.

I don’t really remember when the two girls got up the road as that few seconds they had out of the swim gave them the opportunity to. The group and more importantly myself should have worked harder in that first few km’s as they were just gaining time on us so quick. I suppose from then on the group got complacent and let them go up the road.  The ride was far too easy for what it should have been. A few girls should have pulled their weight more or choose to sit at the back as this affected our effectiveness of catching the two out the front. A few attacks were pulled but none worked as we were all pulled straight back up.  I enjoy courses that are undulating with hills as it suits my style of racing. The 5 lap course went fairly quick with the two up the road gaining a minute 10 on us over the whole ride. We basically gave the race to Nicky with both hands and I knew it would be hard to catch her with such a lead.

Coming onto the run with the heat and humidity, I had to be smart about hydration and how fast I was running. The first 5km felt really comfortable running with Czesnik of Poland. Having only done sprint distances over the past few months it felt unusual having two laps to go. The run course was interesting with lots of corners and sharp turns. I could see 3rd and 4th in the distance and it felt like we were slowly catching or keeping basically the same distance. Within the 3rd lap, Czesnik started to put some time into me, having a very strong second half. By the last lap, it wasn’t much that separated us all but I knew I had a comfortable 5th place.  5th is the best I have finished in a World Cup but this race showed more than ever that I just gave the race away so easily. I am happy there were a few confident aspects out of the race but otherwise I am looking forward to Auckland World Championships in 3 weeks.

Thanks to Triathlon Korea for putting on such a great event, Michael Barwick for massaging me without the right equipment ( a bedside table does the job J ) and Jamie Turner my coach for looking everything that we needed to race as elite athletes this weekend.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Nice French Grand Prix

The 2nd last stop before heading back to Australia, this race was the final French Grand Prix for the year. In the middle of hard training towards other events later in the year, I was 99 percent positive that I was not certain how my body would handle racing.  I am always excited to spend time with my French team as I am surrounded by different people, a different environment and another language to get my mind around. Arriving the day before, it was the first opportunity to have an easier day with minimal training and spend time with my French team. Nice reminds me of home- bike paths, beach, sunshine, tourists and relaxed residents!

The sun was shining, a non wetsuit swim and my team was ready to go. With Tri Val de Gray being in 9th place were still do not get much chance to pick our team place on the start line. So I would not really call massive stone like pebbles a beach! Sand please? It was actually quite painful running down into the water and I was scared if I dove into the water to early, I might hit my face on the rocks. We actually picked a good spot that had some extra carpet rolling down into the water which was a huge benefit and a relief to my bruised feet. It is always hectic towards the first buoy. We started towards the right and with the current pushing us more right than what we wanted, the girls on the left got a benefit from starting where they did. I really enjoy ocean swimming as it is something that is natural to us within our home training environment. The normal chaos of costume pulling and near death moments happen but being more towards the front, I missed out on a lot of mid pack drama. Before turning the buoy to come back into shore, I had pretty much free space and got behind a few girls that were leading the swim. With no benefit of moving around them, I exited the water within the first few.

Coming out onto the bike, it was 5 x 4km laps that were out and back and flat. Within the first lap we had become a decent size group of about 25 girls. The ride was fairly crusiey with a few attacks that were short lived. With every lap we were gaining time on the chase pack which I was happy with as there were a few faster runners in the next group. I remained dominant in my position within the pack ready for attacks off the front and get into a good position going into transition. The ride was nothing special and it was over before I knew it.

Finally in a good position into transition, I had my feet out early and got around a few girls that were at the front. Having a good transition, I exited with my 2 training partners. Having such a good transition and no boxes within French races, I stepped on my goggles and they broke L. With a few errors in training as of late, I wanted to go out the first 1km with the girls as hard as I could. My cadence has dropped this year and being with girls I know helped as I kept with their leg speed. We had a group of about 5 of us running together. When we turned the first u turn to come back to transition a few girls dropped off and I was running with someone I knew fairly well. I wasn’t feeling that good but the pace was comfortable. When we started lap number 2, I could see the next pack of girls with a few of the faster ones catching the girls from my pack. I always wanted to keep the girl in front of me the same distance ahead. Nothing beats a sprint finish but I am happy that I was not caught by any of the girls from the group behind. Finishing in 14th place, I am overall pleased with the race and gives me confident in a few areas for next weekend and races to come. Once again, our team finished 4th and we moved up into 8th place to end the season. Being before the boys, we maximised the place we were in to go for another swim whilst cheer on the boys.

I would like to thank my team Tri Val de Gray for the opportunities, experiences, memories and the chance to be part of the team this year. Although we are not the best team, the girls always give it their all and I feel like a role model to them when they ask me questions about my life as an elite triathlete. I am happy to say my French has improved from “Bonjour” and “Merci” when I first started and I would like to thank my girls for teaching me French although with my accent it does sound not so much like the sexy language it should be. I look forward to racing again next year as French Grand Prix is a different sort of racing and a chance to be part of a team environment!

Friday, 7 September 2012

August Monthly Report

Where has the last 5 months gone? Time flies when you’re having fun!! I know it’s getting close to home as the important date has been written by Mum on the fridge at home. I have a wonderful opportunity given to me to race and live overseas for so long with the support of my biggest fans, my parents. I love the training base I am in here in Vitoria and could not be any happier. With the constant support from NSWIS and Triathlon Australia my time overseas is maximised to the greatest so I have a chance to perform to my best.

With the facilities of the recovery centre less than a minute across the road, my recovery from sessions everyday has been improved. With access to ice bath, hot salt water pools, normal pools and spas, I have time to have some self- time, water running in-between.

Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling, emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. Sometimes we forget to mention the people that have an impact on your performances in our daily performance environment. This month, I said good  bye to Alex Price, our physiotherapist that treats us normally back in Wollongong. I would like to thank Alex for the many hours of work, the little chit chats and advice that he gave me every day. We welcomed to Vitoria, Michael Barwick. Only within a few weeks, he has helped me with stance, walking and running. He has brought me back to the basics- something that I have been lacking and something that I need to change.

Leading up to Stockholm, we did a lot of quality sessions making sure we were prepared for the demands of competition. I am lucky enough to have someone analyse my data within the day and get it back to me to see how the session went. Thanks Adam Radford for getting my data back so quick, making it so easy to read, “girl friendly” allowing me to see how the session has improved over the weeks. Stockholm once again was an eye opener. Still being young and feeling somewhat inexperienced  to some girls, I was confident in my skills base and technical components that the course provided. I was happy that my swim once again was strong and that my aim of the course was completed successfully. Representing my country the next day was exciting chance given to me and I am happy that people can see development and improvement within my racing.

More than anything this month, I was pretty pumped to swim a 5.2km open water swim in San Sebastian. Coming from a swimming background and a pure love for long distance swimming, it was a flash back to old times. The water was a perfect temperature and over 200 people competed. Running out of the water on the first lap, my arms really didn’t want me getting back in again. The next lap, we formed a bunch of swimmers. Being as blind as I am, I turned one buoy early. I took a breath to my left and saw everyone still swimming. My head was down and it was full gas till I was back on their feet. Finishing in just under 1 hour and 10 mins, I loved doing that type of swimming again! Although it is nearly time to go home… I once again leave with my memories, summer heat and some exciting new riding routes on my exploring of Vitoria!