Thursday, 22 October 2015

If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough




Photo credit- Fotorunners







After a 17 hour straight flight home from Dallas, it was great to have two feet on solid ground back on home soil. Most of all, I missed my beautiful dog. This year was a good developing year coming back from surgery last year and I learnt a lot about getting back on the WTS circuit every race. The dynamics of the race changed, tactics came into play for Olympic points and people generally got stronger. Chicago World championships didn’t end up the way that I worked hard for in training as an Olympic distance turned into a sprint. It wasn’t the ending that I wanted for the ITU year with a 7th place at under 23 world championships but it makes me even more determined to work hard in building up strength in the off season for a big year next year. I am happy to be back at NSWIS gym working with my same strength and conditioning coach from last year, working on fundamentals for my weaknesses. 








To end the year, I have been training for two non drafting races, Nepean Triathlon and Noosa Triathlon. Thank you to Tri Hub and Neil Pryde Bikes Australia for getting me on a TT bike for these races. Also a big thank you to Ryan at 3Dbikefit for getting me set up properly. I have been really enjoying my time on my TT bike as it is something different to what I have been doing all year. Out at the Penrith Regatta Centre, around the velodrome or along Northern Road to Penrith, are all perfect environments without traffic lights to get some quality time on my bike. I have had two races with Panthers Tri Club, which have both provided me with stiff competition at the end of a hard training week. Nepean is close to home for me, so I am excited to have my family, friends and other club members out there competing and spectating.






Being back in Campbelltown, I am lucky to have the support from my local gym, Aquafit, where I do a lot of my training. The facilities are world class where I can swim, do gym or grab a milkshake post swim. I have my favourite lane in the pool, lane number 2 and the lifeguards laugh at me for moving when the lane comes free, if someone else is in it when I get there.  For outdoor swims, the conti pool in Wollongong cant be beaten with its beautiful views of the ocean and Wollongong harbour. It’s perfect for wetsuit swims and the odd time when the water gets warm enough to soak up the sunshine.



Last weekend, I helped out Garmin at the Health and Fitness expo in Sydney. It’s great being a part of a continuing growing brand, with some great new products on the market that I am sure a lot of people will be putting on Christmas list this year. Garmin is also one of the major sponsors of Noosa Triathlon and this year will be a part of one of my favourite events from last year, Bondi Splash and Dash run by one of the Bondi Lifeguards, Reidy. It is on the 21st of November on iconic Bondi beach with the main event being a 2km run/1km swim/1km run. It would be great to see you all competing or watching in it's second year of this special event.


Photo credit- Kim Adamson

 

It is now the final push for the last few races of the season and I am determined to put some hard training together over the next few weeks. " If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough"
  

 

Monday, 24 August 2015

WTS Stockholm

 


"As an athlete and you can ask any top athlete, if you start doubting yourself, you have already lost the race" Usain Bolt







Sitting on the plane home from Stockholm, I read that quote above in an article about Bolt winning the 100m final by 0.01 seconds. When you put yourself on the start line, hundredths of thoughts run through your head and doubt is one of them. Have I done enough? But this session didn’t go well? What if I take this corner too fast? The list goes on.. I thought doubt and nerves would be playing on my mind because of being sick in hospital a few weeks ago. I remember getting the email confirming my start for Stockholm when I was in a hospital bed and from that moment on, I was determined to get myself in working order. Surprisingly, I was the most relaxed I have ever been standing on a WTS start line. I had a clear focus and didn’t put pressure on myself for things I thought I missed out on. I knew what I had to do to put myself in the race from the start with key processes in every discipline and I was determined to execute them.




This is my third year racing in Stockholm on the hard and challenging course but it is actually my favourite course on the circuit. I feel like I know the course well now and things that used to scare me, I wonder why I worked myself up on them so much. The water was warm for once and 19.5 was border line wetsuit for us. The water was super choppy and it was a long way to the first buoy. I knew by the time we turned the first buoy, the swim would have sorted itself out. I dove in and got in a good position straight away. It was the gentlest swim I have been in all year
and it was a good change. We turned the first buoy and I could see a gap starting to be created infront of me. I was just off the back of the group ahead of me. I started bridging up with a girl beside me and I could feel no one on my feet. That was going to be the make or break moment. I dove back in and saw no one on the pontoon behind us. I was in about 10th place, I kept this position for the remainder of the swim and wanted to get myself in a good position for T1.









Running into transition, as always; you have to be desperate in your approach. I got my wetsuit stuck on my timing chip and I struggled to get it off. I started to have a few seconds of panic before I got it off but those few seconds cost me. I was last out of T1 and about 10m off the girls in front of me that jumped on their bikes. Unfortunately, I never got on and I was riding two laps in no man’s land. I was frustrated and annoyed because I lost my over a minute advantage out of the swim to the other girls. Two athletes, Nicola Spirig and Hanna Philippin came past me like a steam train and they should have been my magic carpet. I really struggled after a lap to stay with them and I was now joining the chase group behind. Like most times in chase group, you see about 5 athletes the whole ride. At that point, I was more frustrated because I knew my race was up the road and we were not gaining anytime.





From previous years, the run course in Stockholm is tough after a hard bike and like all races, the people that can back end their run the best, are the ones that come out on top. Having being sick, I haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot of quality sessions but I tried to focus on myself and what I knew I was capable of doing. A lot of girls went out hard in the first 2.5km and by the second lap I was running past people. I knew we were not going to catch anyone from the front group so I had to focus on moving my way through my group. By the start of the last lap, I was in the position I finished up in. For me, my run is something I have been searching for all year and I think it is finally progressing for me with a lot specific work in the gym.


Finishing up 22nd is okay but makes me hungry for under 23 world championships in a few weeks time. This race was good practice putting processes together. I wanted better and the opportunity was there but a little error cost me my race up the road. It is my last WTS for the year and I am grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to the best in the world this year after not racing all of last year. This year has been not as easy as what I thought it would be fitting back into the WTS circuit and has showed me how quickly the dynamics of racing can change. As a young athlete, 2015 has been another eye opener and quality experiences at the highest level of racing. I am determined to come back in 2016 better and move myself up the rankings. It is now back to Vitoria for my final 3 weeks of hard work in Europe.

 
 






Friday, 24 July 2015

the week it was...


Sometimes life throws things at you. No reason to explain it but asks you to deal with it the best way humanly possible.How are you going to get over this bump in the road?  Leading into Hamburg I was feeling unwell and took it pretty easy. I had three days where I felt revitalised and thought maybe I would be going into WTS Hamburg feeling refreshed.  Unfortunately, my body felt otherwise. Two days before the race, I was throwing up and the thought of food made me feel even sicker.  I lined up on Saturday afternoon, put my game face on and wanted to do the best race I could under the circumstances. I dove into the water and my body felt so weak. Coming out of the water 40 seconds back, doesn’t reflect at all how I have been swimming over the past few weeks. My arms had nothing to give and neither did my legs when I wanted to accelerate out of the saddle. I hate to DNF but on Saturday, my body had nothing to give and at the world stage, you cannot be off your game because you are just going to get swallowed up.

I headed back to Vitoria and wanted to get everything sorted out with my health so I could start training properly again. I went to the hospital with the hope I would get some antibiotics and I could go home. I had some tests done that showed some inflammation in my pancreas and the enzymes levels were a lot higher than normal. The pancreas is an organ in the body that is responsible for the digestion of food especially the digestion of protein . It also is responsible for making the hormone insulin which helps control blood sugar levels in the body.  After blood tests, x ray , ultrasound,  they wanted to make sure, it wasn’t a ulcer in my stomach causing the problem. This meant I had to go on a drip and stay in hospital to keep monitored.

Wednesday night I had an endoscopy where they knocked me out and inserted a thin tube down my throat into my stomach to see if there was any problems. All I remember was the nurse telling me I would feel an inch in my arm from the anaesthesia  and a hour later I wake up to Shania Twain playing on the radio. They found nothing in my stomach which was a positive and it was back to sorting out my pancreas. With all these tests for my stomach and pancreas, I have not been allowed to eat or drink at all or starved for 12 hour periods which have nearly killed me! I had to let my pancreas calm down, without the process of digesting food, this was also a reason why I wasn’t allowed to eat. After my endoscopy, I was put on a liquid diet. Dinner was a bowl of chicken stock, breakfast was a cup of tea and juice and I couldn’t wait for some proper food.  I have been soaking up the food I have been allowed like soup and tea. I felt terrible setting off the massive alarm, with the nurse running in just to ask for a tea.

 
 
 
I get a little bored in here but I have decided to call it my palace. My room is quiet big and I have a big window I can open up and soak up the fresh air from outside whilst I read or just listen to music. I do some glute exercises and have my daily stretch , just to move out of my bed. We had a crazy storm the first night so I had prime position to watch from my window. The same guy comes in and wheels me around in a wheel chair or moves my bed to different rooms. There is only so much Masterchef I can watch especially being on verge of starvation but I always had company, when the young nurse also enjoyed my choice of shows. The English of the staff is very good but goggle translator has helped us out this week in getting the important things communicated.  We have been having trouble all week with the blood pressure machine. My heart rate is too low that the machine couldn’t pick up anything under 40. We finally got a special machine in and found out my heart rate was 35 sitting up in a chair. I would love to know what it is when I am fully relaxed! To everyone that has visited me so far this week in hospital and brought me gifts, I appreciate it so much and the chats! It has been the best part of my days so far and I love the company to make my days go alittle faster.

I was allowed to go home on Friday with some special doctor’s orders to help me get better and maintain my health. I walked straight out the door, looked up at the sky and soaked in the fresh air. It felt so good to walk outside. I rode myself to the hospital on Tuesday and it was actually nice to ride myself back home.  I was straight onto our dietician Greg Cox, to help me choose the right diet to help the inflammation stay down and get me back to working order.  Thanks IƱigo Mujika for helping me get the treatment I need so quick here in Vitoria. Now to get better and stronger for the remaindered of the season!





Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Life is a game of inches!

                                 Photo by Etienne Van Rensburg

From parking your car and nearly missing that pole with your rear view mirror to missing out on that sprint finish by 0.01 seconds, life is a game of inches.  I have learnt over the past month the importance of that inch. The knowledge of every small detail is like a passport you can take anywhere in the world. Just like baking a cake, if you don’t follow the recipe and take a short cut, the likelihood of the cake turning out is a hit and miss.

After my first race in Europe, London WTS, I had some solid weeks of training building up some consistency, confidence and warming (literally) back into Vitoria Gasteiz.  Summer has arrived for us or otherwise known as a “heatwave “ for the Europeans. You get into a routine of what you do on each day every week and like they say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It is always nice being back in a group environment with always someone to train with, work with on your good and bad days.

A made a small trip via the train, to Barcelona, to race the Garmin Barcelona Triathlon. I have never been to Barcelona before, except the airport, so I was excited to race and have a look around post race. The race was different from normal races as the girls and guys started together which meant you can draft off the boys throughout the race. My first Olympic distance in ages, I enjoyed the hurt after a hard week of training leading in. It was a fun course that kept me motivated to work all day and ended up 2nd. Thank you to Javi Theilacker for inviting me to be part of such a great and well organised event.

It was all about recovery post race and getting another week of training in before heading to my first French Grand Prix of 2015 with my new team, Poissy Triathlon. I felt very welcomed and excited to be racing for a team, I always thought so highly of. Like most French races, it is about coming out alive out of the swim and even more so with Dunkerque with the first buoy being 100m or so away. I got nailed to start with, fists and legs all over the place but moved my way quickly on the back straight to the end of the front group. We rode the 5 lap bike course as a group of 18 trying to maintain the pace at the front to stay away from the group behind.  I felt strong that day running and I think I found some glimpses of my running legs.  I finished up in 9th place and 1st overall for our team. I can’t wait to race in Enbrum!  I look at French races as valuable opportunities to race the best in world and maybe sometimes surprise myself.



Last weekend I was looking forward to racing my Holten European Cup and seeing where my training was at over an Olympic distance. This course suits small break away groups and that was what I wanted from the start. We found out on it was getting changed from an Olympic to a sprint due to the heat. This changed the whole dynamic of the race and to be honest I was pretty annoyed over the change. I have raced plenty of races in heat and being athletes you have to adapt to whatever the uncontrollables are. We ended up starting at 7.30pm at night and after sitting around all day, it was a terrible time to start.

 I had a great swim and for the first time in ages, I felt comfortable swimming hard. We started with a group of 8 girls for the first 9km back into town. Before the first hill, the group behind us had just caught on and everyone was getting antsy as per usual. Climbing up the first hill, I thought I was in a good position at the front in the middle of the group. That changed pretty quickly. One of the American girls lost control taking a drink and I saw bikes and people crash in front of me. I had no where to go but on the road with more bikes and people on top of me. I looked down at my elbow with blood all over it, checked my bike and thought what the heck, get back on your bike. By the time I got back up, it was all over. I wanted to finish the race and catch as many girls as I could on the run. Finishing, I was still in abit of shock of everything that happened. I got a stitch to my elbow about 5 mins post race with no local to numb the pain and honestly, I just felt more faint. It’s pretty disappointing as I was looking  for a good performance there.

Now it is about getting the body back into working order for Hamburg WTS in a week and a half time.  I had three days out of the water with my stitch which nearly killed me as I love swimming! I am just grateful that I didn’t land about 1cm closer to my elbow bone otherwise I could be writing to you from Australia. Life is a game of inches sometimes cm’s. Move onto the next one…



  






Monday, 1 June 2015

London WTS




London- reminds me alittle bit of home! After arriving in Vitoria Gasteiz a week ago, it gave me a chance to settle back in and get some quality sessions in post travel. This year for me has been the hardest to say goodbye to home and fit back into Vitoria after spending a year at home last year after my surgery. After the Gold Coast, I started second guessing myself a lot about my place in the sport. Having a good month worth of training in Wollongong and a few small races to get some confidence back into my training and racing has helped me a lot. Pre race was good to see bits and pieces of London like Buckingham Palace and ride on the course in Hyde park where we got stopped by a horses practicing for the Queen’s birthday long weekend. Last time I was in London was for World Championships in 2013. I was pretty disappointed with my result, so I was excited to come back and give it a crack.

Race day started late in the afternoon on Sunday and I find myself getting antsy about having so much time on my hands. I warmed up on my Sportcrafters rollers which are perfect for travelling with and for cities where it is hard to ride in. It was quite cold outside so I decided not to get into the water and do some dry land exercises instead. I walked onto the pontoon quite late along the line. Big gaps were left and right of Gwen so I thought bingo, thank you very much. I didn't have that great of an initial sprint but surprisingly enough I didn’t really get touched the whole swim. A nice change! I took over quite a few people along the back straight but just couldn't make up the time I lost to start with. Exiting the water just off the front group is definitely some big motivation to work hard and focus on my front end speed in training.


To start with we had a good group all working together on the bike but as soon as the group behind us caught, everyone just sat up and some people I didn't see again the whole ride. The ride was pretty dodgey with a lot of girls, some below par skills and wind blowing us across the road. I made sure I followed good wheels and stayed near the front to keep out of trouble. The ride was pretty steady and there was only a few times where the pace was getting pushed. By the end of the last lap, we finally were making up some time on the front group. As most people wish and being in that situation myself, being in that front 7 is always ideal. Coming off the bike, I knew it would be chaos coming into T2 so I wanted to be in and out quick smart.




 I actually had a good T2 but those first few steps my feet hit the ground like blocks of cement. They didn't really warm up till the second lap of the run. The pace on the run was on from the get go with plenty of fast runners in our group. I needed to back myself and the sessions I have done over the past month. The run was probably the best and strongest I have felt all year which are big steps in the right direction in my run form. Ending up 26th is nothing special but some positives to take and build on over the European season.

Time now to head back to Vitoria!


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Auckland WTS- Just like a mixed bag of lollies




I am looking at my third year in Auckland as a mixed bag of lollies. You like some lollies you get and some lollies you leave behind everytime. I was looking forward to racing Auckland this year and I have always loved this course but somewhere in the back of my mind, it was a big daunting experience. WTS racing is different racing altogether and it was my first WTS back since August 2013. Every opportunity is one to learn from and build on especially in my comeback year. We always have perfect preparation in Wollongong to meet and exceed the demands of competition and trust me some sessions were not pretty.


The swim was 2 laps of 750m non wetsuit swim. I didn’t have my usual spark, and got caught up in the fighting and didn’t get clear water till the first buoy. We stayed in the same group for both laps of the swim and exited the water just over 30 seconds back off the front group of girls.  Jumping on my bike, I saw who was around me and knew we had some strong cyclists that would be our magic carpet like Lisa Norden who would be pushing the pace from the start.

Holy moly those first two laps hurt! I was on the rivet and holding on as we were making up about 20 seconds a lap on the front group. Just as we caught the front group, Gwen went past me to get on and I missed her wheel. I still have this moment playing in my head and it’s frustrating when that two second decision drops from right under you.  I got dropped from the front group and knew it possibly could be a long 40km ride. The group that ended up forming was girls that originally got dropped and ones that were dropping lap by lap from the main group. For the next 6 laps we rode pretty well together but should have worked more on the downhill sections.


The first lap of the run I actually felt alright and thought about keeping process and build into it at my own pace with that front group so far ahead. After people starting catching me from the group behind, I lost focus and it felt like the longest 10km. I have been running better than that in training so I am looking forward to putting it into practice in a race. Finishing 25th, I wanted to do a lot better. It is also alittle disappointing but gives me big motivation to build and learn throughout the season. Next stop is Gold Coast WTS in two weeks time. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Surfs Up in Mooloolaba



My fourth year back in Mooloolaba, it never disappoints with warm water, great views and sunshine. Leading into Mooloolaba World Cup, we had a perfect training race in Wollongong the week before to sharpen up with. It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly been a year since I had a hip arthroscopy already. I couldn’t be anymore grateful that I had a pretty easy but long recovery to get back on the circuit.


photo credit- eyes wide open


Photo credit- Taylor C






With the big surf, they had to move the start of the race to where the surf was smaller down the beach. Warming up, I was getting tossed, turned, flipped, a mouthful of saltwater and actually alittle scared of the waves. Walking back to line up, all I was thinking was, we do this every week in Wollongong. If I am scared, everyone else is just as scared as me, if not even more scared which I had to use to my advantage. I knew I needed to have fast start into the water, get over the breakers and get into a rhythm to the first buoy. I got in a good position and was 2nd around the first buoy. It never seems to amaze me though that people still want to drown you up the front.  I didn’t want to get drowned again so I moved myself to the front and got around the 2nd buoy without any problems. It was going to be luck of the draw and pure skill on catching a wave into shore. And I got no waves to assist me at all.  Coming out in the front, we had a long run that was going to be important in sorting out the race. I missed my box with my goggles and made that split second decision to put them back in and not get a penalty.
Photo Credit- Des Thureson




I rode pretty hard for the first section and climb making sure I got into that lead group. I didn’t have my feet in my shoes till over the first hill, where I felt I was comfortable in that lead group. The ride was very off and on. Into the tailwind it felt hard for sections and into the headwind, if you weren’t at the front, you could spin easier at the back. I made the mistake of taking the easy ride with no one working and I probably could have backed myself more and been abit more tactical. On a positive, I made sure I was in a good position leading into the narrow sections. By the end of the last lap with the little work our group was doing, we got caught by the chase group and we would enter transition together.




Photo credit- Taylor C
I had a pretty good T2 and I was fairly quick, hitting the pavement for a hot and fast run. Unfortunately, I know myself that I have missed some quality work with alittle niggle in my groin so I knew it wasn’t going to be on my fastest runs. My form felt good but I just had no speed to give. Ending up 18th wasn’t what I wanted but again it’s good to be back racing and continue gaining confidence in a bigger and stronger field. Next up is Auckland WTS on the 28th of March! 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Wollongong OTU Race

Wollongong OTU Race
There is nothing more exciting than not having to pack up your bike up to go to a race. Wollongong has been my second home for the past four years and I couldn’t ask for a closer race to home with a 10 minute ride to race start. It didn’t even feel like I had to race. Being a local race, it was great to have so much local support from family and friends out on the course cheering us on. After Kinloch, I wasn’t happy at all with any part of the processes of that race so it was back to training and back to building up confidence in me, on what I knew I could do best.


I looked at Wollongong as a good training race leading into Mooloolaba and Auckland WTS, as I missed Devonport and a week or two of solid running with groin tightness. We have been training pretty hard over the past few weeks and the Saturday before the race was honestly a good physical and mental break to relax before the race.


It felt like another training day being surrounded by the other girls I train with on a day to day basis. I knew the swim would be fast with such strong swimmers in the field so it would be as important to get on good feet from the start to make sure I didn’t miss the group in such a small field. I got to the first buoy without anyone touching me and the pace was hard but comfortable. Coming back into the shore, the pace slowed alittle and I decided I didn’t want that to happen so I put a surge in and came up beside the girls ahead of me. We exited the water with a group of 6 of us and one girl up the road.



We ride over the course every day so I knew what to expect coming out of transition but I still had to be desperate. A small hill to sting the legs every lap coming out of transition, the pace was solid from the start. Within the first lap we caught Danielle and after that worked solidly as a group of 6, gaining time each lap. By the end of the bike, we had about 1 minute 20 over the chase group.  I was surprised how good I felt on the bike considering some hard sessions we had done during the week.






Coming into transition after the three laps, I knew I had to be near the front with the long run into transition. I mucked around alittle putting my shoes on and by the time we ran down to do a u turn before we ran out of transition, a gap had already formed. I have had some decent run sessions in the bank in my return to running and after a big week of training I didn’t know how I was going to feel. I found out pretty soon that I felt awful and just had no momentum especially on the grass sections of the run course. My run is still something I want to work on, stay injury free and get stronger throughout the year.


I ended up crossing the line in 4th place behind my training partners and Australian Sprint Champ. It was nice to get back into the swing of racing and make the most of having a OTU race on home soul. A big thank you for all the support and well run event by Elite Energy. Looking forward to Mooloolaba World Cup next weekend!

Monday, 2 March 2015

The best of both worlds


Wollongong. The place I call home for 6 of the 7 days of the week. Living 1km from the beach at my home in Wollongong with the John and Christine O’Connell, I couldn’t ask for a better environment to be around on a day to day basis. Nothing beats jumping into 25 degree water to end the day to relax after a hard days training. Or jumping out on the surf board with John and attempting to catch a few waves! A big thank you to them for letting me in their family home for the next few months. My favourite is Saturday mornings when I get spoiled rotten with pancakes when I walk in the door from a hard ride.








I have been clocking up the km’s on the bike with the wizards girls and sometimes you even get a free mud bath to come with a long ride. People pay big bucks to get what we got off wheel sucking when it rains. ;) This ride is also one of my favourite and hardest rides of the week which is a 100km loop that involves QOM, some pace line efforts and mad mile to end the ride before some recovery on the way home. One of my favourite rides when I come home to Campbelltown is out to Burragong Lookout. No matter the weather or the off the chart elevation it is to get there, the view is always worth it at the top and so is the descent home. We have also started riding fixed gear bikes on the velodrome. It’s been a few years since I have ridden on one but once the nerves let go after a few laps, I am actually really enjoying having no brakes and do some fast pace sprints.
That one out of the 7 days of the week that I come home, I love having time to myself. Normally Sunday’s, I like doing some solo training or doing some specific strength work at home. Home is where the heart is and I love seeing my family, my dog and my friends when I come home. I couldn’t be any luckier that my home is only 40 mins away from Wollongong and I can drop by anytime I like to say hello and catch up with Mum and Dad.







My next race is this weekend in my home town of Wollongong for the Oceania Cup, then Mooloolaba World Cup and I am super excited to get a start in Auckland WTS!  It’s crazy how time flies as this time last year, I was planning my surgery on my hip. The biggest thing I learnt last year was that a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.  Time to get the 2015 started!! J