Monday, 18 March 2013

Mooloolaba World Cup

I have described the last 12 days as a “working holiday“ to many. It might sound funny and I know you can’t be, but I felt jet lagged from New Zealand with my body so out of whack with the time zone changes. Although Queensland doesn’t allow a holiday sleep in with a 5.30am sunrise, we headed to Mooloolaba with a job to do after Wellington. From Wellington to Mooloolaba, it was important to recover and I had an easier week working into the weekend. We all enjoyed the down time and a few short sharp sessions to get the body back into race gear. The night before the race, instead of the normal pizza and pasta, we went with what Erin Densham did last year to win Mooloolaba, with pre race Thai. I think I will be having thai more often now ;).




USM events and ITU made the decision earlier in the week to change the swim to the canal rather than the ocean due to dangerous surf conditions. The decision didn’t fuss me as I believe if you are confident in your swim you can swim anywhere. Sunday was described by Weather Zone as a “warm to hot day” and it definitely turned out to be one. A luke warm, bath like canal invited us into its 27 degree water for a 1500m swim around the island. The most relaxed I have been before a race in awhile, I was confidence and excited to have a good race. I knew that I needed to have a good swim to be in the main group on the bike. A small but quality field, 16 girls lined up to race. By the first buoy, I was on good feet and made the decision to sit behind. When we turned around the back straight, the pace increased slightly and the pack of girls split. All the way around I knew I was swimming on good feet of Emma Moffatt and Rebecca Clarke and I came out of the water in third with Andrea Hewitt. A quick smart transition, eight of us were out onto the bike course for seven laps.


It was important in the warm temperature to drink plenty of water on the bike. Going up and down the hill 14 times in the ride, it takes a decent amount of energy out of the legs. I had to sit on good wheels as last year I got dropped around the bottom u turn. The ride was solid and we were quickly gaining time on the chase pack of girls behind us who had strong runners in it. Getting a little excited and some girls not pulling their weight, I was at the front more than what I should have been. My legs felt quite good riding which I was surprised about especially after racing last weekend. Mooloolaba course is very unforgiving and it does not get any easier lap by lap. I could see  which girls were struggling and how the heat and course was affecting them. I used my skills to be near the front and stay up the front on the u turns and corners. This was the first time I have gone through my two bottles of water on a ride to make sure I was hydrated.


Coming onto the run, the front four girls went out fairly quick. Jamie said to me before the race, run at your own pace and it would be better to negative split. With uphills and downhills it was important to use short leavers and have higher cadence. On the first lap, I felt like I was executing this well but over time, fatigue and the heat got the better of me. We got off the bike nearly four  minutes ahead of the chase pack and I was confidence that I would not let any of them run me down. I was scared that the heat would get the better of me and I was taking all the water I could have. By the last lap, I realised that 5th was the best place I could achieve on the day and I put my body into survival mode and my only goal was to finish the race.  I knew I wasn’t negative splitting but I did what I could in those conditions and its something I can work on in the future to execute better. Finishing in 5th, I am stoked with the end result. I put some good processes together all throughout my race and I realised what I can do better. It is always exciting being up there in the race and I am excited to put pressure on myself to be up with the four girls that were up the road from me.


Thank you Triathlon Australia for the support, recovery and post race procedures they had in place over the weekend.  Congratulations to Grace for a win in the Oceania Cup, Ryan Bailie on his 5th in the men’s race and Charlotte a solid 7th. Next stop Auckland World Series race……….. let the games begin!!


Monday, 11 March 2013

2013 Wellington Oceania Championships

Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, the first draft of this report is clocking up some frequent flyer points. Hopefully, it is an enjoyable read for the next customers reading the Qantas magazine who want to know “What you should do in Newcastle” and obviously, how I went during this race.


Often known as the place that is windy, wet, cold and hilly, Wellington lived up to its reputation on race day. When the sun rose on Friday morning, after getting in quite late Thursday night, it was a nice surprise to wake up to a beautiful autumn day. Wollongong earlier in the week had not seen the word “taper” and I enjoyed 3 full days of hard but meaningful training towards the weekend race. Friday was a bit of a hit and miss with how I felt and having a banana smoothie before our pre-race run probably was not the best idea. I am sure the girls agree!


A perfect start time of 10:30am, we woke up to what Wellington is renowned for - wet, windy and overcast skies. An early morning ride to get the legs rolling, gave me a good idea of the conditions.  A quick run, gave me time to debate whether I wanted to do a swim warm up or just dry land exercises. After getting out of the cold water, 30 minutes of dry land exercise became the ideal situation. First onto the pontoon due to Oceania rankings was a change and something that I could get used to. I choose mid/left and the first Olympic distance of the year was about to begin. Well, the start was brutal. I got bashed around pretty bad and made the move to the far left to get some free space. It was probably the best decision and by the first buoy, I had time and space. For the rest of the swim, I had feet of a NZ girl that led me around the course to come out of the water 3rd. Unfortunately, my transition was under par as I could not clip my helmet on with my cold hands.


We started the ride into a tail wind which gave us plenty of time to get our feet in. For the first 3km of the ride, until the u turn, there was 3 of us rolling turns. When we turned around, the chase pack of girls were just behind us and by the hill they had caught onto the back of us. The course has a hill in every lap which adds a little pinch to the legs every lap. The course was pretty windy in some sections, where my front wheel got blown around. As soon as we caught Kate Mcilroy, the pace eased up and no one was going to pull a turn if they didn’t have to. Our group of ten, had all the main runners in it and it was going to come down to a run race. I got near the front on the end of the 6th lap and was one of the first in and out of T2.

I went out with five other girls, into what was going to be a solid 10km run. After we turned around at 1.25km, three girls went off the front and I had 3 other girls to run with. I knew it was important to keep my cadence up especially into the head wind. I felt comfortable and I wanted to keep pushing with the front girls. After that it was a cat and mouse for 4th/5th and 6th place. Jamie used some good analogies to describe my run after the race. I was the one ending stronger and I needed to use this to my advantage. On the 3rd lap, I bridged up to Sophie Corbidge into the tail wind. This is not the ideal situation as I let her into my bubble. If I did it into a head wind, I could have “stamped” my position and taken over her at a more dominate pace. The last lap, Simone Ackermann surged and I wasn’t going to let her get away. I caught her at the u turn and we were fighting for 4th and 5th. Jamie yelled at me with 1km not to lead her out as getting to 500m first was not the objective, it was to get to the finish line first. I sat back and was mentally going through what would be the best tim e to go. With 200m to go, I surged and we hit grass. Every week we do “shuttle runs” or short sprints on grass. In my head, I was like “Natalie, you sprint on grass every week, you can do this!”. I  got her by a small margin of a foot.  Ending up with 4th place, I am satisfied with how the race went, learning important race tactic skills and how to put them into races to come.


Thanks Jamie for the weekend in general and getting things organised for the weekend to run smoothly! A final congratulations to my training partners for having a solid weekend in Wellington! Next stop Mooloolaba this weekend!