Thursday, 25 April 2019

Taupo Ironman 2019

I decided to enter Ironman a year before watching the event. After being a spectator for a few years it felt like the right time. Setting my mind to it early I knew I would have time to adequately prepare for such a big event. A consistent winter of training set me up to start doing the miles from October time before a block of racing from late Nov to mid December kicked off. This was one of the best periods of racing that I have had in my career which included 5 consistent races with 5 podiums across three sports.                                       

Firstly Kerikeri Half Marathon (3rd and a PB), Taupo Cycle Challenge (fastest female around lake in 4.16), Tinman Olympic Distance National Champs (2nd Female), Taupo 70.3 (3rd and 1st half ironman podium), and a win at Rotoura Half Ironman.

Post this period of racing it was back into training and some big miles banked over the Christmas-New Year Period when I had three weeks off work. This lead onto the first race of 2019 , Tauranga Half Ironman which was my best half to date with a PB of 4.16 and 3rd Elite Female. After recovering from this it was full steam ahead for Ironman NZ , with an Ironman camp and big weekends ahead. I knew I had a great level of fitness and form , and while training was important, keeping healthy and injury free was as well. As the day drew close Ironman was all I could think about and making sure I had everything prepared. It was awesome to have a great training group to train with (Foot Traffic) and train/see my coach, Rob Dallimore regularly to track my progress. My family, boyfriend and friend were also very supportive throughout this period while I spent it hungry, tired and sometimes grumpy. 

To the race itself, race morning I was relaxed, excited and ready to go! conditions looked very calm in Lake Taupo, I remember the commentators saying perfect swim conditions. In my warm up the lake was really calm and I felt strong. Waiting for the canon to go off was tense but exciting. I started close to the sighting buoys on the right side. I had Teresa Adam and Meredith Kessler starting beside me. I went out hard but within my limits, and found clear water pretty quickly but I knew I had company from the strong swimmers mentioned above. About 200 meters in, I was surprised to be fighting some chop that we were swimming straight into, and figured the wind must have picked up. I was looking forward to the swim turn buoy as it would be a faster swim back with the chop behind us. Me and Meredith swapped turns at the front, and I lead into the river to the swim exit. Coming out of the water first the crowd support was awesome and so loud! the run up the hill into transition always gets the heart rate up and I just tried to focus on the process of transition. It was my first experience of a change tent and I found myself move from first to third.

Onto the bike, the legs felt really good straight away and I pushed quite hard to the Napier hill to stay in touch with Meredith and Teresa. Going up the hill I passed Teresa and positioned myself in second. Heading out onto Broadlands Road, I heard that were had 4 minutes plus over the rest of the pro women. I knew there was a lot of cycling and running to come and needed to pace myself. I regularly checked my power to make sure I was near my target and kept telling myself to fuel. I alternative used pure gels (mixed into a drink bottle), cliff bars and tom&luke snack balls. Hydrating with Pure electrolyte as well. Turning at Reporoa , the three of us were still together and we could see Jocelyn not far away. At about 60 km we become a four, however not long after when Jocelyn was at the front I fell back (partly knowing I was too much above my power numbers for this part of the race & pushing too hard into the wind when I was leading). I still felt strong and it was good to settle into my own rhythm all the way back into town to start the second lap in third place. The wind really picked up on the second lap, and the strong crosswind made it a lot harder to get into a rhythm. I wondered where Teresa was as knew her strong riding ability, she came past me with about 40 km to go and I came off the bike in fourth place. In the last kms, I was really looking forward to getting on the bike but also felt nervous about the marathon to come, only having ever done one marathon about 8 years earlier!

Onto the run; after changing into fresh socks and sunblock on (thanks to the awesome volunteers!) I headed out onto the lake front with legs feeling much better than I thought they would! However a lot more kms were yet to be run and with the crowds cheering its so easy to go out too fast! seeing family and friends out on course gave me a real boost, and I reached rainbow point for the first time feeling in control of pacing, and nutrition. Not long after I start to really suffer from a bad stitch, one that felt like my right side was being squeezed and twisted! It got so bad I walked for a bit to hopefully ease it. For the rest of the lap I concentrated on breathing out more, and running more upright to stretch the chest out. Once this had passed, I then struggled to take on any gels, block shots without feeling a bit sick and stomach tightening up again. Following coach advice, I stuck mainly to water and coke at every aid station from the second lap onwards. Getting onto the third lap was great mentally, knowing it was the last time around the loop. By this stage my whole body was hurting but I knew I would get to the finish line. I walked each aid station to make sure I got enough water and coke on board. Seeing friendly faces especially out at Rainbow point pushed me as I made the final turn to run along the lake front to the finish. The foot traffic tent was less than 2 kms to the finish and I knew once I got there, I could enjoy the run to the finish ( in a somewhat painful, I just want to sit down state). Making the turn onto the Tongariro domain and down the red carpet towards the finish line was the best feeling! months of hard work, effort, sweat and sacrifice and I had accomplished my goal of finishing an Ironman , the outcome and placing the cheery on the top! First up were hugs with family and friends until I needed to get into the recovery tent for a lie down , I was exhausted!! Final time - 9.32 (swim 49.20, bike 5.10, run 3.27), 5th Pro Female

Overall I was very satisfied and pleased with my performance, I made some mistakes but it also validated to me I can be competitive at this distance against world class athletes. I am excited to race this distance again and gain more experience. I couldn't have prepared for this race and have a great result without the support of firstly coach Rob Dallimore (Foot Traffic), Foot traffic training partners, sponsors Blueseventy, Zeenya, Pure Sports Nutrition, regular physio from Sportslab, family, and friends:) thank you so much for the advice, support and encouragement!

Lastly but most importantly I raced with the memory and thoughts of my Mum who passed away in September last year. She inspired me constantly in training for this event with her strength in facing pain. She was such a big part of this journey and I know she would have be proud of my achievement. 💓

After some recovery weeks post Ironman it was back into some focused training for the next race. Next up is Busselton 70.3 on the 4th May, excited to race at this location for the first time!

Thanks for reading:)

Photo credit: Mark Robotham, Hamish Collie

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Questioning the WHY

2016 is almost over but it feels like it has been 2 years of drama, changes, and new experiences rolled into one. Reading my last blog post which was several months ago, it is crazy to think that my horrible bike crash was actually this year as life has taken different directions since then. I am so grateful to not have lasting injuries from this crash, just some small scars that fade day by day.

After pouring all my energy into recovering from my foot injury and bike crash to get back to the start line for New Plymouth WC and the Gold Coast WTS, I came to a bit of a roadblock. Post Gold Coast I knew I didn't have the performance I needed to be in contention for Rio. With being out of racing action I knew I wouldn't have enough points to get on the start line for Yokohoma, the final Olympic selection race. The time came to decide on my next move and during a heart to heart with my coach and my parents, and many tears shed I decided I wanted to a break from full time triathlon. In admitting this it also brought a sense of relief. The last few years and especially the previous four months had started to bring more lows than highs. For the last four years I hadn't questioned WHY, or my motivation to get out of bed at 6am to swim 5km, or get up at 6am on Sunday while everyone else is sleeping in to bike 100km. A lot of people would say to me oh your living the dream! It didn't feel like a dream when you were walking around in a moon boot or had stitches in your face! Overall I was mentally and physically exhausted and not enjoying something which had brought me so pleasure and enjoyment in the past. It was time for a new focus and a break from triathlon.

I started work soon after and enjoyed the new focus, being in a routine and a positive work environment as part of a team, interacting with a wide range of personalities. Out of work I was only exercising for fun; no training peaks, no planned training just slowly building my running up post injury, fun swims in the ocean, social rides, and improving my skills on my new mountain bike! I enjoyed more social time, trips away, friends weddings I could attend, sleep ins on Sundays. To some I was probably exercising a lot but for me it was 50% less than what I had been doing. By the end of July after three months of enjoying the new balance in my life I was in a good place. I still wasn't chopping at the bit to be competitive or need to race but I felt I had more motivation and had come to a few realisations. With disappointments, injuries, pressure of full time triathlon I was looking too much at results and not the journey I was on. The WHY of doing triathlon of what gets me to spend hours training was ultimately because I loved it, it challenged me both mentally, physically, the like minded people I meet and to inspire others.

Soon I found myself entering a few events and over August to September I did 3 half marathons, enjoying being back in the race environment. I was really happy to go into the events trusting that my injury had healed and I was healthy. As running was my weakest discipline I focused on this, starting with running coach, Paul Hamblyn in September. I also decided I was ready for to get back into triathlon training albeit with a new focus, the half ironman distance. I decided the home of triathlon in NZ, Taupo was a great place to start. Watching friends compete there in the Ironman and half ironman the town just buzzes and its such a beautiful location to race. First thing I needed was a Time Trial bike! Thanks to PRV for hooking up with my beautiful black beauty machine, the Cervelo P2!

8th Mixed Team at Rembau
Before spending too much time on this new bike, I flew to Malaysia to compete in something completely different; a multisport race! This involved mountain biking, trail running, kayaking, tubing, team biathlon and mystery tests! The 1st day took 7.5hrs and the next day 4.5hrs, it was tough, very hot and fun!.  I had a few weeks to recover then I competed in my first triathlon since April, the Tinman Triathlon at the Mount. It was the first time I had raced this event and my first on my new TT bike! I went in with no expectations, I was just pumped to be injury free and racing again! I felt strong most of the race until fading in the last 4km, and finished in 3rd. Most of all I enjoyed the race atmosphere, and testing the mind and body.

Post race with winner Meredith Kessler
Taupo 70.3 rolled around quickly, I was nervous but overall felt really calm and excited to race my first half ironman! I had a great swim sitting on multiple Taupo Ironman winner Meredith Kessler's feet, and with my ITU experience was out onto the bike 1st! It was a totally different style of racing, going from drafting in a group of 10-20 girls to a solo 90km! At times I was wondering if I was actually in a race I couldn't see anyone!! My lack of TT preparation showed towards the end, with my back and neck stiff and getting passed by 2 girls just prior to transition. I hopped off in 7th place wondering how I was going to run a half marathon, my legs felt extremely dead! I took the first 10km conservatively and started to feel much better prior to the turnaround at transition. I was given some info that I was catching girls in front so it sparked me up to pick up the pace and see if I could move up a few places, In the next 3km I passed 3 girls and found myself in 4th! After picking up the pace, at about 16km I started to feel quite average and was just praying my body would hold together. Grabbing any fuel I could in the last aid stations and with the support of people cheering in the last few kms I managed to hold my position and cross the line in 4th! I was completely spent at the end but ecstatic to finish my first half and in the top 5!! After racing in countries all over the world it was awesome to be able to race well at home in front of family and friends!

What I learnt from this type of racing is that it is not over until it is over! In ITU athletes races can be decided from a slow T1 or bad swim, however in 70,3 there is a lot more time to make up places, and nutrition, pacing play a bigger role. I look forward to experiencing more of this distance in the future as it has refreshed my mind to focus on further challenging my WHY. I am excited to see how far I can challenge myself with distance, how I can improve, and to enjoy racing events I haven't been able to do. Also to show others even if you have been knocked down several times you can keep trying or try something different. Next up I am racing the POT Half, an event I've wanted to do for several years after being part of a team for the last 5 years. After this I don't have any set triathlon races, I have some different races planned but I'm excited to see what 2017 will bring and for fresh challenges! Hope everyone else has a great end to 2016 and are set to aim for new challenges and goals in 2017!!!


Leaving 2016 behind and jumping in 2017!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

When Life hits a few Speed bumps

After the 2015 season I was looking forward to a great 2016 with lots of exciting things happening but I never considered injuries and crashes to be part of the plan. A lot has happened so far in 2016 and it's not something that I'm jumping with joy to put in to words and share on my blog!!

Tuesday January 19th 2016: I completed a Terrific Tuesday of training; 90 minute swim (hitting target times), 8 x 1km reps (first real speed session and my best splits at this time of the season compared to prior seasons), hard bike 2.5hr session with criterium and hill reps. I felt smashed by the end but so strong throughout and knew I was coming into good form, and ready to get stuck into speed work. 

Saturday 23rd January 2016: I finished a run early because of a slight discomfort and ache in my left mid-foot continued, and by the afternoon my foot felt stiff and sore to walk on (cue mild panic).

Monday 25th - Thursday 28th January 2016: A series of physio, sports doctor appointments and an MRI to identify what I was dealing with. Prognosis; a stress reaction in my navicular bone. Not worst case scenario which would be a stress fracture but not far from it. It did however feel like the worst timing with not long until the final Olympic selection races. There was the time to throw my toys, cry, get angry and then get over it and focus on my recovery. While this included three weeks in a moon boot, I could still swim and bike to my heart's content. I focused on this positive, I could still keep my fitness, three week's wasn't that long and I could aqua jog in the meantime. At least I wouldn't be in a cast for eight weeks so it was lucky I caught it before it progressed to a stress fracture. It did mean I had to pull out of my first two planned races, Kinloch and Takapuna. These fixtures have been the start to my season for the last four seasons, so was weird to miss out on them. In the bigger picture the aim was to be peaking for Gold Coast and Yokohama World Triathlon Series in April and May. 

Wednesday 10th February 2016: Two weeks on from the prognosis and everything was tracking along well, I was doing a big volume of cycling and swimming. It was amazing how less fatigued I was without running in my program and could do lots of quality swimming and cycling. 

Thursday 11th February 2016: A day I wouldn't wish on anyone! Around 10.30 am while midway through a 2 hour cycle with a group of five other cyclists, I hit a speed bump (quite literally) - while cycling down a hill at around 50km/hr. Due to a combination of a dip in the road and me changing handlebar position I skyrocketed through the air and dived into the pavement. This happened before I could really register it, I just remembered flying and then a searing pain in my face. The scariest thing was the amount of blood I was expelling (lots of blood vessels in your face = a lot of blood). Usually one of my first reactions would be to get up quickly and access how I was feeling. I knew this was no ordinary crash however and a lot of thoughts were swirling in my head (what have I done?, am I losing too much blood? I think I need to go to hospital?). Luckily I had a great team (thanks Barbara Watson) around me who jumped into action (stopping traffic, laying me in recovery position, checking my pulse, putting a blanket on me) and a kind lady from a nearby house who ran out with towels and blankets. The thirty minute wait for the ambulance seemed like forever and at times my face was so sore I thought I might pass out. All the mental training for races does come in handy in these situations as I found ways to deal with the pain. The ambulance ride after being pumped with morphine, the time spent in hospital and recovering feels like a bad dream when you have recovered but something I will never forget.
Why we wear helmets!

I've broken bones, crashed before, had shock wave therapy, needles, but nothing comes close to having local aesthetic in open wounds on your face. Confirmation from head CT and X-rays luckily showed no internal damage and the main impact from the crash was the lacerations in my face and possible damage to a small nerve near my lip. I was in surgery for an hour and half as a plastic surgeon sewed these lacerations together. I was pretty out of it the next few days from the general anesthetic and the painkillers I was on. After two days I was ready to leave the hospital and the next week was slow going. There were lots of doubts in my head (will I want to cycle, can I swim/cycle with these wounds). I looked like a walking accident with my moon boot, and my stitches which meant I preferred to stay indoors. It's amazing the little things you focus on - able to shower by myself, cook a meal and the first twenty minute walk to the beach and back. I bounced back well though, and 36 hours after my stitches were out I was on the windtrainer! I wasn't able to swim yet, and couldn't run so go figure the one thing that caused this I could do!! Two weeks later the wounds were sufficiently healed to go back in the water. To say I was nervous on my first outdoor cycle would be an understatement but I knew it was a case of persevering and I would get my confidence back.

Thursday 17th March 2016: Five weeks on from the crash and I'm back in full training. I've done 100 km cycles, a couple of ocean swim races and feel fit and healthy. I've been progressively loading my foot on the alter gravity treadmill (a machine which lowers your body weight using air pressure). I'm disappointed not to be able to race this weekend at the Gisborne Oceania Triathlon Championships, as I would have loved to improve on my 4th place at Oceania Champs last year and also the surf swim! I'm excited to return to racing in a few weeks at New Plymouth World Cup, a sprint distance which will be a good tester of where I am at. Following that I plan to be toeing the line at Gold Coast and Yokohama World Triathlon Series. Yokohama is the last qualifying race for the Rio Olympics and while it's not been the ideal build up, I will be giving it my best shot.
Back running on the Alter G 
I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who sent lovely messages, flowers, visited me and supported me through the tough days post the crash. I felt really overwhelmed by the support of amazing friends and those in the triathlon community. Thanks to my coach, Stephen Farrell for the confidence in me to get back training, my sponsors for continued support; Blue Seventy, Fit For Fun, Triathlete's Corner, PRV, Cervelo, and the team at Sports Lab for looking after me. The biggest thanks goes to my parents, sorry for giving you one heal of a shock and scaring my Mum especially, more than myself. Thanks for being there every step of the way and looking after me.

Barely getting off the ground from the first speed bump (foot injury) before being knocked down again with the crash has been the toughest challenge so far of my triathlon career but one I feel I have faced head on. You learn a lot more about yourself when facing these challenges and how resilient you can be. An appropriate quote to finish with is "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up". 

Thanks for reading


Love starting the day here:)

Friday, 5 December 2014

2014 Wrap Up

As we near Christmas and the end of 2014 I thought it was time to reflect on a big year of racing, important things I've learnt and to get excited for a huge 2015!!

So quick life can fly by and you don't have a chance to stop, take hold of what you achieved, learnt and improved. My three months in Europe, Asia and Canada were my most successful overseas campaign yet and a big step in the right direction.

Racing at the Top
This was my first year when I stepped up to race on the top triathlon circuit, the ITU World Series. After posting a painful DNF in my hometown, Auckland due to dropped chain that was a fault of incorrect shifting (lesson learnt) I was rather nervous prior to my next showdown at a World Series event in Stockholm, Sweden. The build up to the race wasn't the best, a lesson was learnt in remaining calm when unexpected things happen; I was late for the first time in my career to an ITU briefing and was handed the penalty of being last out onto the pontoon. I became quite panicked and freaked out by this, but in hindsight I didn't need to worry as I got a great start and exited the water in 5th. Finishing in 28th might not appear as an amazing result but for me this was huge and a big relief to finish my 1st World Series race. I am not there just to participate but realistically not at podium level so it was a result I was very satisfied with.
Front pack in Stockholm WTS
A quick turnaround (2 days) and I was off to Canada to race in my first Elite World Champs. Not only was I going to compete in my biggest race yet against the absolute best in the world, I was competing in a city that had a place in my heart since spending 4 months there as an exchange student at the University of Alberta in 2010. Going into the race ranked no 51, my goal was to post a top 30 finish. I exited the water in 3rd, biked hard with the other kiwi girls in the front pack and finished in 23rd place which was beyond my expectations for my 1st Elite World Champs. The result increased my confidence that I belong at that level and deserve to be there and gained vital experience of what I need to do to reach the top. Already planning and looking forward to racing in a lot more World Series events in 2015!
Edmonton WTS
Progression and Improvement
After Edmonton, I had three weeks to recover, get in some solid training and then freshen up for my next event. I definitely needed it after racing in China, Hungary, Stockholm then Canada within a month resulted in my body being run down. A few days rest and I was ready to go again, I loved the training environment in Rio Maior, Portugal, it made focusing on training and recovery from training easy. Huge thanks to Sergio and the athletes I trained with there who pushed me in training to get in top shape for my next races. In Alanya,Turkey I was determined to have an improved T2 (In Edmonton I got caught up at the back of the pack, clashing with another athlete, then having to retrieve my sunglasses I accidentally threw in my transition box resulting in running out last!). In Turkey I made sure to position myself near the front and back myself to run with others that normally beat me, I felt the best I ever had running out and felt strong the whole 10km resulting in my best 10km time (36.40). Although I finished 25th, the improvement and progression in my run was the main goal for the event which I achieved.
Alanya WC Run
From there I went to Korea to compete in my last race of the year, the Tongyeong World Cup, where again while the race came down to a running race as most of the field came together on the bike, I challenged myself to beat girls who I had never beaten before and my run time was a massive improvement from a year ago on the same course. It's really awesome as an athlete to know you are progressing and improving from season to season and increases my belief in myself I can reach the top with continued improvement in my run. Although it won't happen overnight I am willing and motivated to put in the necessary work to get there!!

There were lots of highs and lows this year but overcoming each challenge that comes my way helps me become a stronger athlete. "Instead of looking at a hundred reasons to quit, look at the thousand reasons not to give up".

There are lots of people that have helped made racing overseas possible this year:
Thanks to my coach, Stephen Farrell for his confidence and belief in me, his expertise, support and enthusiasm. Thanks for putting up with my panicked Skype calls and knowing what to say to get me back on track and prepared for competition. It was awesome to have Steve in Edmonton supporting me in my biggest race and then watching him being triple world champion in his age group!
Edmonton with coach Steve Farrell

Sergio Santos: Huge thanks to Sergio for allowing me to train with his squad in Rio Maior, Portugal, it is a great training environment and everyone is so welcoming at the training centre, it's become a second home:)
With Sergio & Philippines nat team
Vanek Family: Thanks for your generosity in letting me stay in your home for 10 days in the lead up to the Tiszaujvaros World Cup. Such a huge help to stay with locals who know the area for training and to travel easily to the event from their home in Budapest. Congrats to Akos Vanek for winning the World Cup in his home country and Margit Vanek for 2nd place, amazing to see!
Coffee w Akos, Margit Vanek & Zsofia Kovacs
Parents: Mum and Dad are my biggest supporters and I couldn't be training and racing overseas without their support, I know they believe in me and I am so grateful to have such amazing parents.

Thanks also to my homestay in Stockholm, Ylva Voxby for welcoming me into her home and stocking it with delicious food! (Thanks to Paul Anderson for organising). Thanks to Mehmet Peker for his kind offer of having me to stay in Alanya, Turkey.


Thanks to the team at Blue Seventy for their support and I'm proud to represent the Blue Seventy brand and race in the best wetsuit on the market, the Helix! Looking forward to swimming fast in Blue Seventy for the 2015 Season.

Thanks to Jason at Triathlete's Corner for his support and belief in me, making me laugh and being an all round awesome sponsor. Check out the shop in St Heliers, Auckland for all your triathlon needs!

Thanks to Rick and the team at PRV (Pawson Reid Velo) for their support and helping me to race in the best cycle gear, racing on the Cervelo S5 Di2 is amazing and enables me to compete with the best in the world on a level playing field.

Thanks to Mark at Adidas Eyewear for providing me with sunglasses to race and train in, love my adizero tempos and Marewa and Simone Kraak at Pure for their hydration products that meet my training and racing nutritional needs!

A special thanks to Fit For Fun for their sponsorship in 2014 and backing me again in 2015 so I can continue to race overseas, it's greatly appreciated.

Looking ahead; 
After a three week break following my last race, I am now into my fourth week of base training and it is going better than I could have hoped for! The focus is on increasing my run volume, strength training with a small amount of speed work. Summer has arrived here in Auckland and it's awesome to be back training with my coach, Stephen Farrell and training partners from the North Harbour Triathlon Club; lots of swimming in the ocean, adventures, coffees, cafe stops coming up over Xmas and the New Year before I get stuck into racing from the start of February:)

2015 Feb-April Schedule 
1st Feb: Kinloch ITU Oceania Sprint Championships
13th Feb Takapuna, ITU Oceania Cup
22nd Feb Devonport Oceania Standard Championships, OTU
21-22nd March New Plymouth WC, New Zealand 
28-29th March Auckland WTS
11-12th April Gold Coast WTS

Thanks for reading, hope everyone has a fabulous Christmas and best wishes for the year ahead:)

Fav training location:)

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Reflection and Jiayuguan World Cup

After a mixed end to my first race season of the year; having my second DNF ever in Auckland with a mechanical issue which was very tough to take but hopefully making me a stronger athlete for it. I then traveled to Asia for two races in China, the first going really well when I finished 5th in the Zhenijiang Asian Cup and posting my fastest 10km run showing my running is on the right track. Unfortunately for my last race of the season I got sick 5 days leading into the event, hoping I would come right I raced, however felt weak the whole race and really struggled on the run to finish a disappointing 20th. From there it was a well deserved two week break, the 1st week spent catching up with my sister in Cambodia where she is working, it was a very relaxing week and helped to get over my sickness and fatigue from the previous race and refresh. I was motivated to get back into training and over the next several weeks, I did my biggest run weeks in terms of mileage and I felt like I was finally becoming a half decent runner:). Now for my next race season of the year I will be away from home for three months, my longest period away for racing yet! Have six races on the schedule, the first I raced in last weekend (mentioned below), next up is Tiszaujvaros World Cup, followed by Stockholm World Series two weeks later, the Edmonton Grand Final a week later then Alanya World Cup and Tongyeong World Cup to finish the season.

Swim start, me far left:)
Jiayuguan ITU World Cup:
Got some bad news 1 week and a half before I left for China, the pain in my mid back that I thought was pulled intercostal muscles was actually a broken rib! A small fracture had occured in my 10th rib (1st floating one), the weird thing is I don't know exactly caused it, no impact from a crash, the pain started after a gym work so possibly over extending myself in the gym and a combination of a tight latissimus dorsi pulling at my rib. Had an up and down few days dealing with this setback and whether I could still go and away and race. The main issue was the swim, it was painful to pull through the water and also tumble turn, small positive was that I wouldn't have to tumble turn in the race! Got advice from my coach, parents, boyfriend, the one that helped the most was hearing from Jo Lawn that she had broken a rib a few days before Tauranga Half and went on to win the race! It was about how much pain I could deal with and that unlike other injuries I could not make it worse. As the pain decreased and I could swim more I was 100% glad I made the decision to go and compete instead of changing my travel plans.

Arriving in China, it was a bit of a shock to come from 13 degrees to 33 degrees! The city, Jiayuguan is also at 1600m so altitude would play a role in the race and training the few days before it definitely found it harder to breathe. To the race; I had a clean start and was 2nd to the 1st buoy behind Sato (JPN), I was happy to sit in and draft however was pushed around by a few athletes trying to get closer to the front so decided on the 2nd lap to pick up the pace and take the lead (hoping to hurt others to fall off the pack). 1st out of water and 2nd onto the bike, ready to work hard for a breakaway. Unfortunately a large group was still together and on a flat course, unable to make a break.

The first few laps were frustrating as the group wasn't working well, with a lot of girls sitting in. Took a bit of yelling and going to the back to get everyone working. By the 3rd lap we were making time on the 2nd group and this seemed to motivate the girls more to get away from some of the fastest runners in the field.

Onto the run, I had a good transition and was out in about 5th. Weary about the heat and altitude (I talked to some of the guys who raced early and quite a few said they had blown up, plus one guy was hospitalised and needed an IV drip). I tried not to go out too hard but keep in touch with the other girls. Had a few up and downs throughout the run, a bad stitch at 5km caused some concern but once I was through that I set my target on the fading Mexican girl in front of me. Passed her with a km to go, and picked up the speed to drop her straight away and give everything to the finish line. Got run down on the blue carpet by a fast finishing Russian to finish 12th.

Happy with my swim and bike and with my time on the run in the heat still shows improvement. Pleased to have outrun 1/3 of my bike pack and if the ideal situation for me of getting a small group had occured a top 8 finish would have been on the cards.

On top of the Great Wall:)
Had a great day exploring a section of the Great Wall the day after the race, pretty cool experience as lots of history behind it. Among the passes on the Great Wall, Jiayuguan is the most intact surviving ancient military building and was a key waypoint of the Ancient Silk Road. Travel tip: There are two sides to the wall, one you can pay for which has been restored and busy with tourists, or can go up the other side which is way more authentic, you don't have to pay for and is a lot less busy!!

Looking forward to the next race in 2 weeks, Tiszaujvaros WC in Hungary over a double sprint format:)

Thanks to my sponsors, Fit for Fun, Blueseventy, Cervelo, Zoggs, Triathlete's Corner and PRV for their support and the support of my coach, family and friends:)

Selfie on the Wall:)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

New Plymouth ITU World Cup

Setting up my Cervelo S5 ready for action
It was great to be able to road trip down to a World Cup event, not having to worry about packing the bike or racing to catch a flight. I headed down early Thursday morning with Scott Taylor (of Scottie T Photography, talking a lot about image use and how to be an asset for your sponsors, I learnt a lot and the drive went fast! Felt really excited to be racing my first sprint World Cup, but also very nervous as it was the strongest field I had ever raced against! It was a beautiful Sunday to be racing on, but being coastal there was still plenty of wind around. 

Race kicked off at midday, 45 girls on the start line and I was ready for a fast and furious paced race! Got a great start (thanks to all the practice from beach starts at the Stroke& Stride series), unfortunately while I was 2nd to the buoy behind the leader, so was another 3 girls at the same time! I had the inside line and managed to swim/submerge around the buoy and hold my position. This occurred 3 more times before we headed back to the shore. With constant tapping on my feet, I knew there was a lot of girls pushing behind, and was happy to be near the front alongside Helen Jenkins.
2nd to Right running out of water

It was a long run up the beach and through the transition and the heart rate skyrocketed up.  Managed to knock my helmet off bike while getting the wetsuit off causing heart race to go up a few more beats! Then out, across mount line, jump on, hang on something I need is missing…bike shoe on ground behind me damn! Madly try and avoid oncoming triathletes, receive shoe, put on and click, click and finally click in! Then race off to catch the group that are down the road almost at first turnaround. Pushed hard up first hill and with a few others gained a few seconds back, however with the front group pushing hard we started losing ground. Although I was gutted to miss front pack, the course demanded a lot of concentration so I didn’t have much time to think about it! There were hills, tight corners, barriers, potholes to avoid, and the 20km was over before I knew it.  

 Running out of T2, I felt better than I had all season, not having worked hard in a breakaway I felt more fresh. With 3 laps on the run, I focused purely on my form in the 1st lap, hard to do when you feel you are letting others go but it paid off in the end and I found I paced myself well, feeling stronger on the last lap and could push more without so much fatigue setting in! End result was 29th, was really happy with top 30 in a quality field and my swim, bike, run performance just going to double check those rubber bands for my next race! It was great to have the support of Steve Farrell, Jason Benniman from Triathlete’s Corner and my parents there leading up to and at the race. Thanks to Scottie T for the awesome photos from the race and being a fun road trip buddyJ
My new ride:)

A few days after the New Plymouth race I went and picked up my new Cervelo S5 Di2 bike at Pawson Reid Velo (PRV) which had just arrived. Loved using the Cervelo S5 with Ultegra but this was a step up with the Di2 and an even lighter frame! Perfect for the challenging course ahead at Auckland WTS and such a sleek, sexy looking bike! Thanks to Rick and the team at PRV for their support and to Pete from Triathlete’s Corner for the setup. This Sunday is my first World Series race, excited and ready to go!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Devonport Oceania Champs

On the 1st March I had my big race of the season so far, the Devonport Oceania Championships held in Devonport, Tasmania. I had previously raced there once before in 2012, however having an undiagnosed hip fracture at the time meant I had to pull out after the bike, so this time I had unfinished business. I really wanted to do well here as my result would determine if I would start in the Auckland WTS race. Things hadn't quite in other races so wanted to put a good performance together here. While I obviously wanted a really good result, I told myself to focus on the small things I could control and my own performance and not worry about anyone else!

Devonport turned on the weather come race day, and I was ready and excited to race. The sea had a bit of a chop which suited me perfectly. I had a great start and found myself 2nd to the 1st buoy behind Maddison Allen (AUS) and next to Natalie Van Coevorden (AUS), by the end of the 1st lap I saw we had a small gap and was confident we could breakaway. We extended this over the last lap and the 3 of us exited the water together. I had a good transition and was 2nd out after Natalie, who straight away pushed the pace. I made sure I went with her and after a few sips of drink I was ready to push hard to work to get away. We rotated the lead frequently and with the rest of the field in groups of 2-3 strung out behind us it gave me more motivation to get ahead. Each lap of the 6 there was a 400m climb which stung the legs a bit, but I felt strong and was a good chance to gauge how much time you were making on the rest of the field. At lap 3, we were joined by Gillian Backhouse (AUS) which allowed us to push the pace more with more recovery and each time down the hill I could see we were increasing our lead to the chase pack.

Coming into T2, we had a 2 min lead of the chase pack and I knew I would have to run fast to hold onto a podium as some fast runners were in the chase pack. I ran strongly out of T2 and tried to stick as close as I could to the other two girls, I held a good pace on the 1st lap, but fatigue from pushing on the bike set in and my pace dropped off each lap. Around 5km, a couple of runners from the chase pack caught me and I was fighting for 5th place. Starting the race at 1.15pm meant it was quite hot on the run and I really started to suffered on the last lap. I kept on pushing, determined to make top 5 and be 2nd kiwi home. I was passed with 1km to go by Charlotte McShane (AUS) and the legs had no response. I finished 6th place which I was really pleased with in a quality field and my goal of being finishing in the top 3 of the New Zealand athletes was met. To be fighting for a podium spot in the back end of a race was a good sign for the future and I know with my running things are heading in the right direction, slower than I would like but they are moving!

Thanks to my sponsors, Triathlete's Corner, Blueseventy, Cervelo and PRV for your support and assistance and my coach Steve Farrell. My result moved me into 68th place on the ITU Points List and 5th ranked New Zealander and confirmed my start for Auckland ITU World Series on April 6th,. I am so excited to race my 1st WTS against some of the best female triathletes in the world and in my home city! Before I compete there I have the New Plymouth ITU World Cup this weekend on Sunday 23rd March, the sprint format and top field will provide a fast and tough race and a good hit out before Auckland.

With male winner Brent Foster
After Devonport I competed in the last race of the Stroke and Stride Series, I was sitting at the top of the leaderboard and a win in the final race meant I would take out the series. In the 1km swim, 4km run I was 1st out of the water and managed to maintain my lead to finish 1st and win the series. The Stroke and Stride Series has been going for 25 years and I have loved competing in this series over the last several seasons and super happy to have won for the 1st time and have my name on the trophy, joining an awesome alumni including Debbie Tanner, Samatha Warriner, Carmel Hanly, Simone Ackermann and Sophie Corbidge. Thanks to Craig and the team for doing such a great job and making it a must do summer event in Auckland.
With my fav sponsor!