Sunday, 25 August 2013

Stockholm WTS 2013

 




One of my favourite cities on the World Triathlon Series circuit, Stockholm is a beautiful and unique place to hold a race. Some of the busiest bike paths, everyone commutes on bikes and I feel like we are understood. The feeling of being underdressed, surrounded by plenty of men in business suits, lots of coffee shops and a buzzing atmosphere in the city. Having a day off on Thursday when we arrived, I took the opportunity to stretch the legs in the central of Stockholm, do a lot of window shopping and put the feet up at local coffee shops. We stayed in a perfect location this year with the swimming pool being 300m, running trails alongside the water and still close to race sight. I wanted to come back this year with more confidence in my ability to ride this type of course and see where I am at before London in a few weeks time.
 


Race morning was pretty relaxed with a morning swim in the pool as I didn’t plan on getting into the water at race start. A chill 14.7 degrees in the water was not that inviting. Thanks to HUUB for getting me a new Axena wetsuit soon quick this week, as I ripped a hole in mine earlier this week. The pretty pink was definitely a stand out! The field split up all over the pontoon and I went were the Australian coaches had worked out it was the shortest to the first buoy. I wouldn’t say I had a perfect or clean start but by the first buoy, I worked my way around people and got some on good feet coming back into the pontoon. I had no idea where people were behind us so I didn’t want to lose the first few girls. After watching the replay, I now realise the field split dramatically into two and I was sitting comfortably at the front. The swim slowed a lot in the second lap, becoming 3 abreast but I felt comfortable as I was swimming next to familiar faces. Exiting the water in 5th place, I wanted to make up as much time as I could going into T1 as the swim doesn’t end till you jump on your bike. I have been practicing my transitions a lot latterly as they have been costing in past races. Thanks Gwen for the extra motivation of the past few weeks and many lost elastic bands chilling in the recovery centre car park.



After you jump on your bike, it’s straight downhill onto cobbles with a sharp turn back on yourself at the bottom. I got my feet in early and made my way up the front to keep a good position for the whole ride. The course was 9 laps. To be honest I had no idea who was in our group but when I found out we had over a minute on the next group we had to work together to keep it away. Unfortunately, this didn’t go to plan and I spent too much time on the front doing the work that no one wanted to do. When the chase group caught us after a few laps, I made sure I keep my position at the front of the group. Andrea Hewitt went off the front with Vanessa Raw and I remember thinking, should I go? Within that two seconds of thought, they were already gone. I felt good riding and happy with how my strength has improved since this course last year. I knew I had nothing lose on the cobbles and after Hamburg and Tiszy I was ready for the technical components of the course. Riding up the hill into transition, it felt just like our HOP (hour of power) loop at home with some familiar faces powering up the hill. Another thing I did wrong was let the girls that have been sitting back the whole ride come around me on the last lap and I lost my position coming into T2. Last year, I just got dropped from the front group to one of the last. It’s amazing what a year can do, abit of confidence, strength and a clear goal.

Going onto the run, I actually felt really good considering the hard ride. My first 2.5km felt comfortable and I wanted to keep running at that pace and keep relaxed. The cobbles up hill and down hill make it hard to get grip and keep cadence up. I tried to keep with the small group behind me on the second lap but my legs just wouldn’t go. The third and fourth lap, my body was lifting. The 2 x double espresso’s that morning started to kick in. I started to pick up girls ahead of me which was a big positive and that’s when you have to do your best work; in the back end of the run. I am not going to lie, running up the hill on the last lap to finish, I was so excited to sit down but obviously not enough as I got out sprinted for 16th ;). I am very pleased with 17th and can take many positives from this race and onwards to London.



Thank you to Triathlon Australia for organising most of our trip with flights, accommodation, massage and ice bath post race. Thanks to Alex Price for the massages and taking our wheels to and from the race. Sorry about that white shirt with the new grease marks on it. You can borrow some stain remover! Always a thank you to Jamie for helping us get ready for the demands of the course and helping me progress as an athlete but also a person. I am will sure be back to race Stockholm again, the challenge is addictive!

 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup





My third year back to Tiszaujvaros, my third year competing in the semi and final format, I was excited to get racing. Our trip started with a little overnight stay at the Adams family Budapest airport hotel. A very cute, yet creepy place, everything from the staff to the style of the room to the playing of the theme song as soon as we got into the bedroom, it was an interesting experience to say the least. Arriving in Tiszy, it once again turned on the heat when we arrived and it felt just like Vitoria has been over the last few weeks- nothing different to us. I was pretty lucky with our room having air conditioning, which was nice to get a good night sleep every night. I couldn’t figure out why everyone was complaining..Tiszy only being a small place has a great atmosphere and it was awesome to still see a triathlon to put them on the map.

Semi Final

I was ranked third going into the semi and I knew it was going to be tough to get through. This heat had very strong swim/bikers and if I missed the group, I would be made to run fast to qualify. I was pretty nervous but I knew that the 1 %’s were going to count even more. I went more to the left of the pontoon with Lucy Hall picking the spot next to me. Perfect! A three lap swim with it being 110m to the first buoy it is absolutely chaos if you are 1 second behind where you should be. I got a clean start with a few hits at the first few buoys but I found free space earlier and was able to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. The swim was very strung out from the start. Getting out of the water, Lucy had about 15 seconds on our group. I made up a lot of time in transition and found myself in a group with 6 other girls.

I was surrounded by girls that would not call themselves strong runners so they wanted to ride hard to make it to the final. The pace was pretty solid for the 2 x 10km out and back laps. The pace was kept at a high standard for the whole ride with our group working well together gaining 2 mins 30 over the next chase pack of girls. We were told before the race that it was all about positioning in the semi final to what you would be ranked tomorrow, not off ITU rankings beforehand. I had a great transition and found myself running with 2 other girls for the whole 5km. We ran a good tempo for the whole run and were able to back off with the other girls being so far behind. I put alittle surge in at the end and got the number 1 position for the final on Sunday.

It was all about recovery- eating, massage, getting off the feet, compression and getting ready for the demands of the course tomorrow. I felt like a lot of pressure was off my shoulders, once I made it through to the final.

Final:

Another late afternoon start, we were able to flush the body out in the morning with a short swim and ride pre race to get ready to race another sprint distance. Having first pick on the pontoon, I had all the choice in the world to pick what I thought would be the best and fastest way to the first buoy. I went right, hoping the wider line would help me out. I don’t think I have ever been swam on top on more than that before and at the first buoy it was chaos with arms, legs and bodies popping up everywhere and I was one of them. I told myself not to panic and I was determined to get out of the fighting. The swim was once again strung out earlier with 2 British girls trying to make a break off the front. I moved my way up over the 750m and made my way into front girls out of the water. T1 was going to be important again and I made the most of it, being the first out of the bike with the knowledge the other 2 girls at 20 seconds on us.

The ride course today was 8 laps of 2.5km with a u turn being the only indicated of where the chase pack were behind us. Once again I found myself with many of the girls I rode with yesterday. We all worked well together, but we still weren’t gaining time of 2 girls up the road. The course was good as the chase girls lost motivation as they could not see us up the road. Over the 8 laps we were continuing gaining time on them which was exciting as the podium was going to come out of us girls. I put myself in a good position the whole ride and found out early who sucked at turning corners and doing a u turn. Coming into T2 we had 2 girls with 30 seconds on us and the next chase group being over a minute behind. I had a shocking T2, not being able to get my shoes on quicker enough and I lost contact with the front girls early.


The run course was 4 x 1.25km laps which kept every lap short and sweet. I didn’t feel fabulous and two days of hard riding was taking its toll. I was happy to have someone else to run with to help bridge the gap. Within the first 2 laps we caught the 2 British girls but one of them stuck with us. Podium was just up the road but I just didn’t have a different gear to offer. I knew the girls were coming from behind so I was thinking about keeping my cadence high and "popping". Coming into the last 500m, the other girl pulled infront of me and I was left in a sprint finish for 5th place. Equal best to two other world cup finishes, I know that top 3 was so close. I was pretty knackered by the end after 2 days of solid racing. I can take away two races that turned out near perfect. Although my run was not there on Sunday, I am looking forward to the races coming up over the next few weeks before London to continue to work on this.



Thank you to all the Triathlon Australia staff for the helping us out where possible over the weekend. Thanks to Beata for helping us to find massage in Tiszy pre and post race with Roland and Lazlou both being very friendly and offering a great massage service. On to Stockholm now in 2 weeks time..



Sunday, 4 August 2013

London London London


One year ago, 55 women and 55 men from 37 nations were lining up on the pontoon to start in the most important race of their life. Millions of eyes around the world and thousands of supporters lined the course to watch a race to gold. My eyes were glued to the TV here in Vitoria as I waited for who would be the new Olympic champion for triathlon in London. Who would have thought after 2 hours of racing three women would be sprinting down the blue carpet? I can remember every session from that day, probably because it was pitch black and 9.30 at night when my day concluded and I couldn’t be any more motivated with an Australian and a hometown girl, Erin Densham receiving a bronze medal.


In 39 days time, I will get my chance to go to London to represent Australia in the Under 23 team for World Championships. I am very happy the team was announced earlier than expected as I can not only physically but mentally prepare for the demands of race day. This is my third year on the Australian team and the third time I will pull out the green and gold nail polish. Hopefully we can get Grace out of her tomboy ways and wear some! ;)

Earlier this year I had a forced mid session break as I took injury leave. I knew I had to come bouncing back to be selected for the Australian team. Being able to compete in World Series races has given me vital and accelerated development opportunities within triathlon and has helped me gain confidence as I race against the worlds’ best. I also give massive credit to the professional environment that I am privileged to be training in with my coach Jamie Turner and the three other girls that will be on the start line with me in London. The Wollongong Wizards are back for 2013 and ready to take on the world.

So what’s been happening in England in July 2013?

-  The hottest days on record with a scorching 33.5 degrees in West London. That is a typical warm summer day at home.

 - Andy Murray was the first British man in 77 years to break the hoodoo to win Wimbledon.

-  Prince George Alexander Louis was born. Whilst I was googling how to spell his royal name, they are already predicting what he will look like at 16.

Although there is plenty of excitement leading up to London, it will be business as always in Vitoria with racing, training and plenty of 1% to work on. It is so busy in Vitoria at the moment with Canadians, Americans and us Aussies, that we had the perfect race simulation opportunity at open water. We called it "Landa World Cup". Plenty of personal bubble breaking and with nearly 20 girls diving off a pontoon to try and get to the first buoy first. It was a perfect situation to simulate a race.



With business there is pleasure and on Sundays’ we make the most of the recovery with the facilities at the Bakh Centre. The words "tengo frio" are used quite often as the ice bath seems colder every time I visit and I am still amazed how people dunk their heads in. Outside there is a play pool, where the beach chairs beckon you to relax and soak up the sunshine. What do I do – try and catch a cloud – there is no time for relaxing in the path to London.