Monday, 22 July 2013

Hamburg World Series Race




Thank you, Danke, Gracias, Merci- I still don’t think I knew what country I was in or what country I was from. Hamburg is spectacular with beautiful buildings, the best shopping (window shopping unfortunately), an awesome place to run around the lake and thanks to the organises for mapping out the 45km training ride loop. The country side of Hamburg was something different to the inner city life and was perfect for pre and post race spin. I actually got really tired with no traffic lights to let me take a breather ;)

 

After Palamos World Cup the weekend before, the week leading into Hamburg was all about soaking up abit of R and R or “mad chilling” as I like to put it. After racing Hamburg last year, I knew what was coming for me- fast swim, faster bike and an even faster run. I made vital mistakes last year that I didn’t want to make again. Speaking to Jamie I knew I needed good positioning from the front end of the race to get more near the front at the end. A later start to race day, which I love, allowed me to think about what needed to be done in the afternoon- processes and intent in place to be able to perform. The weather put on a show being warmer than I expected which was perfect for a non wetsuit swim.

 

The Alster would not be the cleanest place I have ever swam in with the sight of your hand being lost in the murky waters. My ranking has moved back in the WTS rankings as I have missed a few due to my ribs. The field split up on the pontoon and I slotted myself in about 24th spot with a few good swimmers on both sides of me. Last weekend in Palamos and even in French GP races, I haven’t been having a swim I knew I was capable of. A non wetsuit swim and fresh water is something that suits me to the tee. I didn’t want to get bashed around from the start and end up fighting. Until the first buoy I put my head down and was determined to get there up the front. One of the cleanest swims I have had in a while I found clear water early and good position on the feet of the leaders. Coming back in under the bridge, the darkness and a big field is always a chance for an odd wack to the head; not this year. Running out of the water in 4th, I knew the swim doesn’t finish till I got on my bike was comfortable in the main group. We had about 6 girls with about a 10 second gap on the field. I got alittle bit flustered in T1 and couldn’t clip on my helmet. I didn’t want to get dropped like last year.



The whole ride I wanted to make sure I was in good position at the front and not getting strung off the back around the u turn and skinny streets. 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 pace was on from the start and I was happy to roll through to keep my position near the front of the pack. This allowed me less effort to get back on and use my skills to my advantage. As soon as all the coaches were calling out time splits to Gwen the girls knew they had to keep that gap if they wanted a chance to win. I found myself alittle further back on one of the laps and had to work much harder to get back on. Two corners was enough of that and made a change straight away. The German team rode very strong and were dominate within our group. The ride felt comfortable but I knew all the efforts would impact my run. Coming into T2 it was mayhem with everyone leaning down to take off their shoes in the skinny streets.

 

Palamos was abit of a disappointment with my run so I wanted to go out and see what I could do over 5km. I don’t know if I have lost abit of confidence in my ability to perform run wise as I haven’t been doing that much speed work into Hamburg and unsure where I am at. It was going to be fast from the get go and I didn’t have the lungs from the start. This weekend my legs wanted me to go but my lungs were holding me back. I had a group of girls to run with that helped me keep pace and a sprint finish is always a way to make sure you are still alive. Finishing in 26th, am I happy? Yeah. Is there still plenty to work on ? Definitely. I look back on the race and realise that I have learnt so much from the two years I have done it and are more confident in my ability to perform in the front end of the race. Although I didn’t run was fast as I wanted to and needed too, it was still progress from last year with a 20 second quicker run and something that I can look at a positive as. Another 20 seconds is 10th place…

 

Now it is back to the drawing board and it is going to be something that is more self driven to improve in areas that need development. I am looking forward to abit of a self change to get me into good shape for the later races of the season. I would like to thank Bernard for giving me the chance to start and the opportunity for development, Amelia for the keeping my body in working order and Jamie for always knocking some sense into me.  Next stop Tizy World Cup!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Palamos World Cup



As we are driving away from the sea breeze of the Mediterranean sea, Palamos invited us for the first ever world cup in the coastal town. A little different from what I was expecting, the course was quite demanding especially with the heat. The place was beautiful but pre race I was definitely making the most of the air conditioning in our rooms. Although Palamos does offer ultimate people watching. My first ITU race back since Madrid when I had to pull out with my ribs, I needed to prove more to myself that this month of training has got me back in the game. With all things, training provides its ups and downs- the confidence boosters, the "oh that was okay" and the "well that was rubbish wasn’t it?". Always keeps you on your toes for a race with a high quality of field.

An earlier start to race morning to beat the heat, I felt pretty relaxed or I tried to put a chilled face, nerves are always around. Now that I look back at race start, I had so much choice being 5th and probably should have gone left rather than right. Too late now.. The gun went off and I had good water for about 10 arm strokes then BAM. All of the people on the left swam right on top of me. By the first buoy and much dodging, I made my way to the front but I could see a small group just ahead. I lost contact pretty early in the front group of girls which made it hard to make up any ground. I would say this race was more of a swim, run, swim, run, bike, run. After getting out of the second lap, it was a long run on the sand to dive back in the water. Diving back in my legs felt like jelly. The whole of the second lap, I felt like I was fighting with whoever was on my right and not really moving anywhere, which I don’t think we did. Running out of the water for T2, I was one of the first out of the main group and wanted it to stay that way on the run up the beach.



The ride course was exciting, winding its way through the town and descending back on the coast line. A few speed humps provided excellent air time throughout the course. I was pretty happy they remove some at the bottom of the descent; my bunny hopping skills are not that good at 60 odd km an hour ;). With a small rise

with a descent kick every lap and a few tight corners, I made sure I was up the front the whole race to miss any trouble. To start the ride, I lost some of my breakfast with a mix of sea water and milk not being the most combination. The most frustrating bit of every race is that we had 15 capable girls to roll through and make up time but only 5 of us choose to work to gain time on the girls up the road. We got organised and worked well together in the first few laps and put time into them. I was happy with my position and I wanted to ride solidly to keep the pace up otherwise the gap would have grown even more. I found out pretty quickly who had good skills and who were the ones to stick clear of. I wouldn’t say the ride was easy as one little mishap of lost concentration, a lot of things can change. The gap grew to over a minute by the last lap and I had to be confident in my run to run some of the girls down. After the 7 laps and a few pests that choose to show there face in the last lap, the sun also started to show its face and it was going to be a hot run.

The run course threw in a few unexpected surprises. A little climb out the back, winding streets and a nice descent coming back into transition, it was far from the described "flat". Coming out of T2, I didn’t feel great nor did I feel like rubbish. Training has been a hit and miss with running at the moment so I didn’t really know what to expect. The first lap of 3km, the run felt comfortable and we held good pace running through people. I lost contact some of the girls during the second lap and found myself running with one other girl that helped keep the pace up. The third lap was survival with blaring sunshine, although surprisingly this felt like my best lap. I picked up the pace and dropped the Russian girl I was running with. Coming down the last 650m lap that we had to complete, there was no sprint finish this time but the thought I could have got a few places better with 3 girls all within close contact.

I wouldn’t say it was my best day or neither was it my worst but a consistent result with a 10th place finish. There are plenty of things I want to work on and improve before the end of the year which hand in hand is an exciting development project. So where to now? This week is all about recovery before racing again in Hamburg WTS race this weekend.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

These are a few of my favourite things...





I am sure as you read the heading, The Sound of Music’s lyrics "My favourite things" started playing in your head. I am sorry if it is now stuck in your head the whole day. Mine don’t include "Raindrops on roses and Whiskers on Kittens, Bright Copper Kettle and Warm Woolen Mittens" but June in Vitoria has made me realise my favourite things over here. We are well and truly settled in now and I couldn’t ask for a better environment to be in. So what does Vitoria have to offer?


Favourite food-Menu del dia
To end a hard week, on a Sunday, our training squad gets together once a month and we create our own menu del dia. Everyone is on a different food item, that we bring and share. Sometimes I can’t believe how we can eat it all but everyone always puts there masterchef hats on and make delicious dishes. It’s perfect for a Sunday as a food coma makes it easy to lie down and catch up on some sleep after having such a big lunch. I am in my element and enjoy the hours I spend on attempting to make cheesecake. Closely followed by this is our Sushi masterclass that Gwen, Grace and I had. We brought Japan to Spain and created delectable sushi!

Favourite tv show- Plain Jane
Trashy MTV entertainment is always the noise over dinner. This would be one of the shows we actually watch, excited to see the transformation of these "plain jane" girls. The rejection or new found love at the end keeps us on our toes. Some of the guys are lucky enough to get trips to Greece to find our these girls have a crush on them. After a few Wednesday marathons I think we have watched every episode ever made. Always count on MTV for a few giggles. Or I mean a quick Spanish lesson if we don’t change the language.

Favourite unbelieveable moment- Picking up cones
When I first started triathlon, to be able to compete at Nationals Triathlon I needed a drafting license. Not too much of my surprise at the time, I sucked turning a corner or doing a u turn, let alone taking my hand of my handle bars to pick up a drink bottle off the ground. I should have been failed that day. Three years on at a Monday skills session, picking up cones off the ground might be children’s game but I was pretty determined to

pick one up. Once you got the hang of it and the excuses that my arms were too short got thrown out the window, I picked up a few cones and it became challenging and fun.


Favourite race- International Triathlon XXVIII Atletico San Sebastian, Memorial Onditz
What a race! Only an hour away from where we live in Vitoria, San Sebastian is a perfect location. Not being as hot as previous years, the rain and cold brought a different element to race. Lining up for race start, I was pretty tired from the weeks training so I had no idea how anything was going to turn out. The gun went off and about 100m into the swim, Charlotte stopped infront of me. Three of us had gone off another gun noise and everyone was clapping and cheering us back in. Take 2, the race actually started. The swim was one lap, pretty cruisey around the harbour. The ride is probably on the hardest rides with all the climbing and one very steep hill towards the end. Early in the ride I realised my taping on of my gels sucked and I lost both of them. Not the race to do it on. The three of us rode well together, climbing quite solidly up the hill, dropping the Spanish girl that had ridden with us. Coming onto the run, unsure about my nutrition, I had to be confident as I have had some good runs this week in training. I ran with Charlotte for the first lap of the run but I just couldn’t hold that pace with any energy. Although after all this, I was overall happy with my run time but just out run by a class athlete. Always a great day out there!





Favourite purchase- Coffee machine
             

  A big 21st only comes around once and my excitement levels riding home with our new coffee machine for our apartment for Grace’s birthday was definitely the purchase of the month. 8tracks did fail at playing an awful version of happy birthday but I think my lack of sneakiness gave it away anyways. Pretty happy she enjoyed it and I think more of a buzz was going back to buy pods. We currently have 90 pods sitting in our kitchen. Anyone for coffee?
 




Favourite app- 8tracks
I actually don’t know what I would do without this now. Thanks for everyone that kept telling me to get it. Endless playlists from dance to sleep to Harry Potter dubstep; it has it all! I would highly recommend it as I got some good tunes for every mood.

It’s perfect when I want to listen to something different from what’s on your itunes playlist. I am currently listening to "where my dreams are made of gold" for a bit of pump up music before a run session. I just wish I had internet on my ipod shuffle to take it with me when I run. Just like a book, I tend to judge the playlist off the pretty cover… not the best idea.


Favourite gift-Funkita
As a swimmer growing up, I loved Funkita swimwear. The colours, the patterns and the cut always stood out to me. I am now a very lucky girl and I am happy to be part of the Funkita swimwear team. In the photo, I am modelling Empire Rose which I love! Funkita are an Australian made company who also release Funky Trunks for males. They release 3 ranges a year and pride themselves on chlorine resistance and high quality products .If you are interested in checking out some other patterns for Funkita, just head to www.funkita.com.au
Although I have a few favourite things, my favourite of all is that my ribs are 99% better and I am back to full training with no pain- a healthy body equals a happy athlete :)