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!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Kinloch & Pegasus ITU Races

Exiting the water 1st in my blueseventy helix
Leading up to the race in Kinloch I was in quite a bit of pain doing certain movements such as rising out of my saddle, and bending down to take my wetsuit on and off, key movements for the upcoming race! This was worrying but at least I could still race and would just do the best I could. I had a great swim start and managed to get on fast Australian swimmer, Maddison Allen's feet, with one other girl by the 2nd buoy we had a small gap and I was feeling comfortable. However once we had passed the 2nd buoy, Allen went off in a diagonal direction instead of heading straight for last buoy marking the exit. As I could clearly see we were heading wrong I let her go and found myself leading for the last 300m and exited the water in 1st.

This allowed me a clear run through transition before it got crowed, and time to get my feet in, have a drink and get up the hill on the crucial first lap with a small buffer. The chase pack caught me on the downhill, and 7 of us had a gap off the rest of the field. The Kinloch course is one of the toughest I have raced on and hardest in NZ, I have always struggled with my breathing the last two years and this year was no exception. By lap 3 I was really struggling but hanging tough in the group, on the last lap I was at the back before the hill and instead of racing I found myself just trying to survive up the hill without fainting. It was disappointing coming into T2 having lost the front group, starting the run by myself. The breathing felt worse on the run and the finish line couldn't have come sooner! I lost 2 positions and ended in 7th place. This was an improvement on my 9th placing last year, I felt I had done well considering the pain in my back but felt I had a lot more to give if I had my breathing under control. You may wonder, shouldn't your breathing be hard in any physical activity? Breathing rate does increase, but I have found out working with a breathing therapist my pattern is wrong (too much inhale, not long enough exhale) and recruiting wrong muscles to do so. If anyone has a similar situation check out
Oceania Tag Team Relay- 3rd Place

The next morning after the race, I took part in the Oceania Team Relay event in a team with Penny Hayes, Bryce McMaster and Sam Osbourne. The race runs as a tag team with the order of girl, boy, girl, boy each swimming 300m, cycling 6km and running 1.8km before tagging the next person. Fast and furious! Penny gave our team a great start to pass over to Sam in the lead, the lead changed several times from there and we finished 3rd. It was a great team effort, I really enjoyed it and it's always good to get on the podium!:)

A week later I flew to Christchurch to race the Pegasus ITU Oceania Cup, which involved a new format of racing, where there would be semifinals and then a final race on the same day over a 300m swim, 10km bike and 2.5km run. Unfortunately there was not enough girls to do 2 races so no second chances, it would be straight final! In this kind of racing there is not much room for error and transitions would be crucial. I'm not a natural speed athlete, I definitely have found I prefer the longer Olympic distance racing over 2 hours rather than a short 30 min triathlon so I knew it wasn't my ideal race. I knew my swimming would give me an advantage though to be at the front going out onto the bike.
Picking up new bike!

I was really looking forward to the bike portion of the race, as it would be my first race on my new Cervelo S5! Thanks to Rick and the team at PRV (Pawson Reid Velo) for setting me up with this great bike and their support, looking forward to a great partnership. I love the bike, its light, aerodynamic, very responsive and looks awesome!

To the race, I choose a far left position on the swim so I could have space and not get caught up in the whitewash, it worked out well and I exited in 2nd place. The pace was straight away on starting the bike and it took awhile to get my feet in while trying to staying on the wheel in front and not dropping, Nicky Samuels attacked but no one went with her, me, Jaimee Leader, two Netherlands girls, Maaike Caelers and Sarissa De Vries stayed in a pack together and made a gap to the next group. Before I had a chance to think, we were taking our feet out of our shoes and getting ready for transition. I didn't have the best transition and exited in 4th place. I managed to catch up to Virers, and felt good so I passed her, the run was 1 lap around the lake and I could see the next group chasing hard as the lake curved around. Unfortunately I lost concentration around the detour off the path and tripped over whoops! I got up pretty quickly, but seconds were lost and a few girls including Virers passed me shortly after, and I crossed the line in 9th. I was really happy with my swim and bike, but running speed let me down and more work is needed on controlling my breathing. Overall it was a good hit out, showed me what I need to work on, my training is geared towards Olympic distance though and looking forward to my 1st Olympic distance race of the season shortly, the Oceania Champs in Devonport, Tasmania on March 1st. Big thanks to my sponsors, Triathlete's Corner, Blueseventy, PRV and Cervelo, my coach, boyfriend, parents and friends for their support!
On my new Cervelo S5:)

Lessons learnt...the hard way

I had a great buildup to the start of the NZ triathlon season, with lots of miles banked and extra focus on my running. The sun was shining most of the time, and with some good hit outs at the Stroke and Stride race series I was excited and looking forward to my first triathlon race of 2014, the first elite race of the newly named .kiwi Tri Series at Takapuna.  Last year after struggling with injury in the build up to the race season I didn’t expect much of myself and was really happy to finish 3rd in the Elite women. This year in hindsight I realised I put too much expectation of the outcome of the race and not in the performance itself.  With not a huge field racing and with improved running in training I expected to likely grab a podium spot and go better than last year. In triathlon though nothing is guaranteed, you can’t just expect a result to happen.

To the race itself, I had a great swim, getting to the front quickly and exiting the water in 1st. Transition is important in these short races so I focused on getting through as quickly as possible, I knew one girl was right behind me, but didn’t know where the rest of the field was. When starting the bike I was a bit complacent, worrying about my shoes instead of getting up to speed and checking to see if anyone was coming. Nicky Samuels suddenly sprinted past and my moment’s hesitation and surprise caused a decisive gap to open up.  This is where I should have washed away my annoyance for letting her go so quickly and not sticking to her. However I let my frustration dictate my head causing my body to be more tense and not efficient. There was a large gap to the next athlete, and it looked to be a solo ride for me. However once the group behind me started working together they began to take time out of me. After being solo for most of the bike, I wanted to keep the advantage going in to the run, however I was caught by the end of the 7th lap.

There were 5 other girls in the chase pack, but I was confident I could still run myself onto the podium. I tried to conserve as much energy as possible in the last two laps.  Towards the end of the last lap I tried to get myself in a good position so I could start the run in the lead. I accelerated towards the final bend,  where when one girl passed me I should have dropped back and followed her line. Instead I got distracted by looking to my outside to avoid collision but taking the corner too tight on the inside (most likely hitting my pedal) and causing the bike to slid out and my bottom to hit the concrete hard. A million thoughts went through my head (not again) as I had previously crashed on this course, (can I continue), (is the bike alright?). By the time I got up, checked I could continue, and put the chain on, the girls were far up the road and a chance of podium finish gone. I wanted to crawl into a hole right there and then, but decided to finish for my parents, boyfriend, coach, and friends supporting on the course. It was tough mentally and physically to finish but I glad I stuck it out and made it to the finish line. I was guttered and hugely disappointed to finish off the podium after expecting a lot of myself. I felt I let down those that support me and upset with how I started the season. On the bright side there was luckily no broken bones this time, just lots of ice and some painkillers needed!

The week following the crash was tough, largely mentally, I had to work hard at being positive for my next race and moving on from the crash. A quote I saw on a sign definitely resonated with me ‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it’. I allowed myself a few days to be annoyed and frustrated at myself then had to move on to prepare for my next race, Kinloch ITU Oceania Sprint Champs.