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.