Devonport Oceania/Australian Olympic Championships

2015 brought the celebration of the 30th year anniversary of the Devonport Triathlon and this had much more of an affect on me than I would have thought. I attended the official celebration of the anniversary where I heard stories from past years and realised most of Australia’s greatest triathletes have made their mark at this race. I also had the privilege of staying with the very accommodating Redman family. Not only did they make my life leading up to the race very easy but I was also given an insight into Craig Redman’s competing days and the great athletes he raced against. One sentence stuck with me and that was when Craig Walton’s coach told him ‘No matter what, you finish this race’. Despite getting a flat tyre mid ride, Craig went on to finish the race and as a result was selected for a World Championships.

Braddons Lookout. Not a bad place for a Tasmanian history lesson.

Braddons Lookout. Not a bad place for a Tasmanian history lesson.

Fast forward a few years and I am on the start line at Bluff Beach in Devonport nervously waiting to race my first ITU Olympic distance race since October 2013. With the water being 20.5 degrees, the 1500m swim was to be a non-wetsuit swim. For someone who lives 800m from the beach, my start wasn’t the best so I spent about 1km searching for the feet of the front pack girls. Amongst the choppy water I found some good feet and exited the swim in the front group.

Devonport 14

The bike course was slightly different to previous years. The laps were shortened which meant 8x up the famous North Street hill. The benefit of being coached by the person who suggested this course variation is that I felt prepared. The lead pack of 7 worked pretty well together and we hit transition with a bit of a lead…well 6 out of 7 of us did. I had a slight tumble at the dismount line.

I had spent the final 2km of the bike ensuring I would be in a good position coming off the bike. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Devonport 2

Devonport 13

Devonport 10

Devonport 7

Devonport 5

I think I was winded for 20 seconds or so and then when I realised things felt ok, I remembered what Craig Redman had told me and I said to the paramedics, ‘I’m fine’, grabbed my bike and hit transition as though that had never happened.

I was slightly shaken in the first lap of the run but I soon found a little rhythm and was able to pick up two girls leaving me to cross the line in 5th position, 2nd in the U23 Oceania Championships and 2nd in the Australian Championships.

photo

U23 Oceania Podium

U23 Oceania Podium

Overall, I am content with my result. I still have a lot to work on but things are heading in the right direction. Thank you to; Triathlon Australia for their continued support over the weekend, Michael Bonney for putting on a very well run event and also to the Redman and Birthwhistle families who both made the weekend much easier.

Next up the Oceania Cup in two weeks times on home turf in Wollongong.

Grace

Kinloch Oceania Sprint Championships

It has been a while since I have sat down post race and spent a long time staring at a blank word document attempting to think of a way to report on a race that doesn’t send people to sleep. In fact it has been 15 months. So I apologise in advance if I am a little rusty on the old race report.

First of all I have to say a huge thank you to AJ Thompson. Every year he offers his house (which is in prime location on the run course) in Kinloch to the ‘Gong Wizard’ athletes racing and he looks after us perfectly.

Photo Credit: AJ Thompson

Photo Credit: AJ Thompson

This was my second time kicking off the year with a race in Kinloch and thank fully I came away better off this year than I did in 2013. I was pretty nervous race morning and I think it was a mixture of bad memories of the course and the fact I have not raced ITU for so long. I just took everything step by step with a little ride in the morning, some time spent relaxing then headed down to the race site where I registered and warmed up.

I had a quick chat with my coach Jamie before the race and he basically told me to go out and race as hard as I could so I would have an accurate idea of where I am at early on in the season. So that’s what I did.10487574_884569388231814_8434177251215158361_n

I came out of the 750m non-wetsuit swim with the front group and we quickly caught the 3 girls up the rode, leaving some girls behind to form a group of seven. As soon as we jumped on our bikes, the rain started which added a whole other dynamic to the bike course. The worst thing that happened to our group was a chain coming off up the hill but nobody came down so it was actually a pretty successful ride.

I hit the 5km run in 5th position and battled for 2nd to 5th throughout the whole run. I tried to 10945767_884569824898437_7694329815245499158_nfocus on the processes during the run instead of the outcome but just didn’t have the leg speed or race practice to do any damage. I crossed the line in 5th place and 2nd in the U23 Oceania category. If you want to see a great snapshot of the race, Tom Honig put together some great footage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1422579428&x-yt-cl=85114404&v=gXv2nPve7s8

On a whole I am happy with my first race of the season despite having plenty of things to work on in the coming weeks. Thank you to everyone who has helped me over the past 12 months through the ups and downs. There are too many people to name but without that support I wouldn’t be back where I am now. Next up is the Devonport Olympic distance race on the 21st of February.

podium

Grace 🙂

The Hotshots and the Eighth Wonder of the World

Growing up I spent my winter Saturday mornings at the local netball courts playing for my team the ‘Hotshots’. My mum was the volunteer coach and this occasionally frustrated me but looking back there were a few benefits. While mum was always fair I think she made sure I spent as little time on the sideline as possible and I genuinely believe this was so she didn’t have to put up with me complaining about being on the sideline. You see I prefer to be involved in everything competitive and have from a young age so it makes sense I have chosen to pursue triathlon. As a 12 year old netball player whinging probably had some benefits but as a 22 year old triathlete sidelined with injuries for the whole of 2014, moaning gets me no where! Yes there have been a few tears, minor break downs and screams under water (a technique Emma Snowsill once told me felt good) but I have tried to focus all my energy on the things I can do, the main one being getting my body 100% healthy and ready for 2015. Other than give up, this was the only option.

A complaining, competitive 12 year old.

A complaining, competitive 12 year old.

So what have I been up to over the (not so bad) Australian winter? I have still been swimming, riding and slowly building my run back up but all at base training effort. This is complimented by hitting the gym three times a week focusing on building skeletal strength. I feel like all I have been doing this year is base training so by the end of the year hopefully I have a base big enough to build the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’! I have used this opportunity to spend time purely enjoying training without the pressure of hitting time cycles or power targets. Don’t get me wrong, I have been craving a 1km reps session but I’ll leave that one for a little longer! Since my last blog, I have migrated back down to Wollongong, which has given me the opportunity to swim, ride and do gym with other people. Other than being 10 degrees warmer than where my parents live, there are so many people who are willing to train with me.

First and foremost my physio Alex Price has been amazing over the past few months. He has guided me in my training based around my return to run program and most importantly built my gym program that is a core part of my training right now. I have been introduced to his hard working and enjoyable AP10 squad and joined in on the occasional ride or swim session.

AP10 Saturday morning wind trainer session

AP10 Saturday morning wind trainer session

I have also been doing all my gym sessions with one of his pure running athletes/co AP10 coach/co physiotherapist Mel Witchard. I have loved hanging out with Mel because it’s not all triathlon talk, she works hard and we have fun! I’m in the process of convincing her to do a triathlon this summer, I think that is going well ☺

Gym with Mel and Alex

Gym with Mel and Alex

Then there are the numerous cyclists who have allowed me to join their rides. I have ridden with Jess, Ryan and Dave from Spearman Cycles, Scott Butler, Paul Oyston, (the latter two featuring in the new Spearman’s ad) and their crew, Jayden Ward, the Wollongong Liv Giant girls and my parents whenever I go home. The men’s coffee banter definitely entertains me even if sometimes their jokes fly straight over my head!

Spearman Cycle's newest models – Scott Butler and Paul Oyston

Spearman Cycle’s newest models – Scott Butler and Paul Oyston

Wollongong LIV Giant 100km ride

Wollongong LIV Giant 100km ride

Mum and Dad can still ride pretty well

Mum and Dad can still ride pretty well

Finally, there are my new friends at the local pool. I have changed it up a bit the past month and decided to swim at Corrimal Pool instead of the Wollongong University pool where the Wizards usually train. This outdoor 50m pool is just around the corner from my house and most days I get a lane to myself. I generally swim mid morning each day (so I get as much Vitamin D as possible) and as a result I have become friends with a few of the other regulars. There have been days my swims have been delayed half an hour because I have been talking about anything and everything with the Wollongong locals!

So that is my June/July/August in a nutshell. I have also been working on a few minor projects but I’ll save that for future posts. As always I want to thank all my sponsors supporting me throughout this tough year and always replying to my updates with positive and encouraging comments! Thank you to Triathlon Australia and my coach Jamie Turner for supporting me and giving me plenty of resources to help get my body right. Although no surprises, the biggest thanks has to go to my parents. They are there to support me through thick and thin and I am so grateful to have their support 100%.

Lastly I want to acknowledge my favourite athletes on the triathlon circuit the ‘Wollongong Wizards’. Even though I am on the other side of the world I can contact any of them at any time and I will get a response. I am so lucky to have the ability to reach out to some of the best triathletes for any advice. I can’t wait to see them in action in the final WTS of 2014 in Edmonton, Canada because I know they have been working hard and I am sure this will show next week!

The Gong Wizards :)

The Gong Wizards 🙂

I’m now saying good riddance to winter, a season I hope not to see for a long time.
Until next time,

Grace ☺

Tongyeong, South Korea World Cup

1 hour drive from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Bilbao airport, 1.5 hour flight to Paris airport, 7.5 hour wait filled by two trains and a few kilometres of walking to find the  pool, quick swim, taxi back to Paris airport to find the terminal temporarily shut down due to a suspicious bag, 12 hour flight including 2 movies and some sleep, 4.5 hour stop over in Tokyo airport spent in a lounge with a very refreshing shower and Wifi, 2 hour flight to Busan, 1 hour drive to Tongyeong Bay Hotel. Welcome to Tongyeong, a coastal fishing village being prepared to host the 19th ITU World Cup. Ok, so it is no South of France or Carribean island but it always puts on a great event and the organisers and locals will do nearly anything for us foreigners which is why this race was on my calendar for the second year in a row.

Flashback to 2012, I left Europe in September having only competed in Continental Cups but with tickets to South Korea to race my first World Cup. It certainly wasn’t disastrous and gave me a starting point, something to work off for the following year. So with that in mind, I lined up on the pontoon at 8am (definitely not in Europe anymore!) to prove to myself I have changed in the last 12 months.

junsatoitu0007__medium

I have been swimming pretty well in training but my swim performances in races are still hit and miss. I do exaggerate a fair bit but I honestly think that halfway to the first buoy I looked left, looked right and was dead last. I didn’t look behind me to confirm this, probably a wise choice because if it was the case I would have lost time looking and undoubtedly stressed myself out. So instead I thought “ohh s**t” (and some other inappropriate words), put my head down and went.  Diving in for the second lap I was in a much better state of mind but became too complacent and a lead group got away leaving me entering T1 as a member of the second bike pack, a group of girls who would go on to ride the 5 lap hilly course with no intention of diminishing the gap.

junsatoitu00047__medium

My training partner Tamsyn Moana-Veale explained this the best with her post race Tweet…

Untitled

I think I have mentioned those tough ‘Hour of Power’ bike sessions we had been doing constantly in the last few weeks in Spain in previous updates. Looking back the three of us should have stopped worrying what other girls were or better said were NOT doing, worked as a trio with a whole lot more URGENCY early on to attempt to close the gap.

junsatoitu00048__medium

Running into T2 two minutes down is obviously not ideal but a 10km run still provides an opportunity to slightly redeem your race. I knew there were girls in that front pack that I could significantly out run. Without being stupid and the aim to do my best work in the back end, I eventually picked up some athletes, crossing the line in a bittersweet 9th place. My first World Cup top 10 but a lost opportunity due to ‘trusting’ others actions. I might have to Google or Yahoo Answer how to develop a trust issue before the 2014 season to ensure this never happens again!

junsatoitu00016__medium

For the record, I did improve on my 2012 but there is definitely a lot more to come! Thank you again to Triathlon Australia, particularly Emma Whitelaw for making this a logistically easy and comfortable race again. My coach, Jamie Turner for ensuring I am always prepared and keeping me on my toes not just at this race but also for the whole season.

The Australian team certainly made a mark in Tongyeong with Emma Jackson and Natalie Van Coevorden on the podium, 1st and 3rd respectively and all Aussie girls in the top 10. Also, Jesse Featonby holding up the fort in the male race with a credible 4th place!

London U23 World Championships

“When we are in London…”, “At Worlds…”, “Wait until after London to…”, “I just want to hurry up and race!”.

Leading up to the World Championships this was by far the most popular talk topic in the past few weeks during our easy runs, long rides and time spent at the recovery centre. It is a pretty special feeling being selected to represent Australia in the green and gold suit on a world stage let alone lining up with your three other Aussie training partners to make up the U23 team. Our close-knit group brought a huge advantage to us all as we were consistently meeting or surpassing the demands of competition in our sessions leading up to London. Yes, there were ups and downs but that is expected and I think as a whole we were able to come away with respectable results. Before I plunge into some highlights I have to inform you that I now have the reigning U23 World Champion to train alongside, Charlotte McShane. This result was a long time coming and she deserves everything that comes with the title, now it is up to us slightly younger ones to keep the title in Aussie territory! Also to Aaron Royle for qualifying for the Commonwealth Games event in Glasgow next year!

1239582_10152205017084908_873074442_n

So my first triathlon World Championships, just another ITU race right?! Pre-race sessions, race briefing, team dinners, warm-up, the same as usual so why worry? This all makes perfect sense once the race is over but when I was told this the morning of the race it did little to calm my nerves. I am quite aware nerves are good, it means you care but at the same time it can waste energy, energy that is better spent in the last 100m of the run! Once the start horn sounds, all this is lost and there is no time to contemplate anything but the processes involved in racing.

Diving into a balmy 15 degree celcius Serpentine river, the two lap swim called for baby oil lathered underneath my suit and of course my 2XU Project X wetsuit. My start was not terrible but not good enough to avoid a little bit of carnage. This caused me to have to put my head down and bridge some small gaps throughout the second lap.

565058_10151699808958953_1817926903_n

The 8 lap course included 5 corners and one U-turn, ad no hills but the ground was a little wet. Like any other race, it was important to follow trustworthy wheels and position yourself towards the front of the group. By the 3rd lap there were around 20 girls chasing down the lone British athlete, Lucy Hall who is a phenomenal swimmer. I have to commend her gutsy effort riding solo off the front for nearly 7 laps but by the time we were running in to T2, we were the front group and it was down to a 10km running race.

My T2 was woeful. If you watch the race highlight video, I am dead last out of transition. I knew there were some girls who would be quick from the start, my training partners included so this was far from ideal. I worked hard within the first kilometer to catch back on although struggled to hold pace and fell back again.  The resulting gap from my little blow up in lap 1 did not grow a great deal during the next 2 laps, leaving me running down the blue finishing carpet in 12th position.

59376_10151699827843953_1246619514_n

Untitled

It is always nice to beat your ranking on the start list and for my first World Championships race, I wasn’t too disappointed with my result. I have set a benchmark this year, something I can use to fuel the desire to be better in the future! A huge thank you to my coach Jamie Turner for ensuring I was as best prepared as I could be and the ‘Wollongong Wizards’ for making the sometimes tough lead up to worlds enjoyable. Bernard Savage, Emma Whitelaw, coaches and support staff from Triathlon Australia who all made the week as easy as possible so all the athletes only had to worry about racing.

Despite London World’s feeling like the climax of the year, the 2013 race season is not over with 2 more races to come!

TISZAUJVAROS, Hungary ITU World Cup

It is one thing to race a tough Olympic distance triathlon but it’s another to race that distance broken into two sprints over two consecutive days. This format is brought to you by a small town, Tiszaujvaros (Tiszy), about a two hour drive from Budapest. Last year I waved my training partners goodbye as they departed for this event and I listened to their stories upon returning, wanting this race to be on my calendar for 2013.

We arrived two days out from the first race, stepping into some hot conditions but luckily I was greeted by an air-conditioned room which left a few athletes and coaches slightly jealous. For a very small venue, Tiszy had everything available; supermarkets, swimming pools, an amazing Italian restaurant, ‘Mamma Rosa’s’ and the race at the doorstep of our hotel.

The semi-finals were held on Saturday afternoon with there being two elite female heats. The 750m swim was broken down into three 250m laps which meant we were given 100m before we reached the first turn buoy, a recipe for chaos. I exited the water and was sitting comfortably in the first chase group with 5 girls in the break away. The bike course incorporated two 10km laps out on country roads, nothing too exciting as multiple heats were racing at once. With the top 14 girls from each heat plus the athletes with the next two fastest times progressing to the final, I wanted to keep the pace steady to limit the girls I had to out run in order to move forward. By the time we hit the 5km run there were more girls than I expected causing me to run quite hard for the two laps and only when I realised I was sitting comfortably in 6th place with 1km to go did I back off slightly.

1094775_10152208892019572_1333904773_n

With all the Aussie girls advancing to the finals, Saturday night was all about recovery and re-preparing for race day; massage, ice, dinner and sleep. I definitely think waking up Sunday morning was the toughest part of the weekend, a mixture of excitement, nerves and wondering how your body pulled up after the previous day, I actually felt like Bill Murray in the movie ‘Groundhog Day’.

Thirty athletes lined up on the pontoon, ready to experience another brutal swim and that it was. This is the sort of course where if you don’t have a good swim, things can turn badly very quickly. To make a bad start even worse, I struggled to find my bike in transition, causing me to re-track my steps multiple times which left me CHASING the second chase group. Not an ideal position at all.

msj_4560_resize__medium

The finals bike course was very different to the semis, 8 laps including 4 corners and one U-turn around the town centre. This meant lots of short sharp accelerations and constantly thinking one step ahead to ensure there was no chance of being spat out the back. One positive I can pull out of this race is my effort alongside a few other athletes to catch the pack ahead, putting me in a slightly better position to start the run but nothing to be proud of.

I don’t think I ever hit the run, more so the run hit me. From the moment I left transition, I had nothing left in the tank. I started to question whether I had gone too hard the previous day and despite trying to step up the pace to catch or drop other athletes, not much was really happening.

1174819_10151894498736042_180874120_n

I finished in 23rd position, nothing to be proud of but a lot to learn from. As much as it would be fantastic to have every race go perfectly, it is these sorts of races you need to learn from, forget and put your head down to perform next time which is exactly what I am planning on doing with the World Championships creeping up in one month time.

Thank you to Craig Walton for being our ‘go to’ guy over the weekend as well as Craig Redman and Emma Whitelaw for helping out with logistics and putting on an enjoyable team dinner Sunday night.

I definitely think I will be giving Tiszy another crack next year!

Grace

543847_10152208892409572_2045573480_n

Palamos, Spain ITU World Cup

I fall in love quite easily. Well at least I think it is love, other people may beg to differ. This was definitely the case in Palamos, Spain over the past 4 days, a coastal scenic town, 2 hours south of Barcelona by car. The numerous water front restaurants serve an aquariam; salmon, codfish, sea bass, cuttle fish, prawns, squid and the list goes on but it’s not your average cutlet or calamari rings, it is generally a full fish, head, skin and tail! De-boning is great when you have got the time so I guess the relaxed atmosphere Spain embraces goes hand in hand with this cuisine. Apart from this, Palamos comprises of great weather, clear blue water and of course putting on a hard, fast and fun ITU World Cup race!

start

You would think a race start at 9am with a water temperature of 22 degrees would be a little chilly although things started heating up pretty early and this was far from my mind. To be honest, I was rather nervous on the start line due to a number of factors; my first Olympic distance for a while, second World Cup and of course my own pressure to perform.

The first lap of the swim was a battle, at one point I stopped and swam around the back of an athlete to find clear water. The 100m beach run in between laps allowed me to take note of my positioning/gain some places before diving in for lap two. With five girls off the front, I noticed a small gap opening up between me and the main pack, commonly referred to in our training group as an “ohh sh*t” moment, but easily covered by a 15-20 second surge allowing me to position myself in the main pack for the bike.

The bike course incorporated tight turns, narrow streets and some short and sweet hills, a course that tests positioning and forces you to constantly think ahead. I usually feel uneasy for the first few laps of a bike course despite going over it numerous times in the days leading up. It may be not knowing who has a reliable wheel to follow or how athletes are going to tackle the 40km ride. I am currently in search of building the confidence to be more aggressive on the bike and looking back on the race I could have moved out of my comfort zone more.

954711_512690855471324_149412073_n

The biggest disappointment of my race struck in T2, I don’t know what I did but it took me three times as long as everyone else, resulting in a hefty gap before the 10km run even began. With my current run fitness/speed/ability, whatever you want to call it, this was not ideal as I had limited athletes to pace off and found myself in no man’s land. Feeling far from comfortable throughout the run, I managed to catch a few athletes finishing in 14th position.

970397_512691328804610_904704682_n

So I came to the conclusion my race wasn’t atrocious but I have left with a list of aspects to focus on come my next race. Confidence, transitions, confidence and getting back to where I can run. I have a few weeks to work on these elements and I am looking forward to testing myself and improving.

Thank you to Triathlon Australia, particularly Emma Whitelaw for her organisation and Bernard Savage for his support and willingness to make the weekend as easy as possible for us athletes. Also congratulations to my training partner/friend (yes, we do become quite close living in each others pockets for most of the year), Tamsyn Moana-Veale for taking out 3rd place!

Until next time,

Grace

Untitled

21 Things You May or May Not Know About Me – June Report

If you have missed pictures of me with a new coffee machine or out to dinner in the Basque country of Spain then you probably wouldn’t know I hit a milestone this month. I woke up on the 18th of June and realised I was halfway to 42 and had a day of hard training in wet and cold weather or to be more optimistic I was 21! Since I have already sent out a few race reports from races in June, I am sure you are aware training is moving along nicely and I am thoroughly enjoying myself in Vitoria Gasteiz. So I thought I would compile a list of things about me from my 21 years of life that depending on who you are, may or may not know…

  1. 1.    I grew up living on the grounds of a primary boys boarding school. Located in the Southern Highlands in New South Wales. This allowed me to enjoy l, hundreds of acres to play on, a 25m swimming pool, tennis courts, dams, bike tracks and ropes courses
  2. 2.    I always wanted to be a boy. I blame my 2 older brothers and fact #1.

IMG_09293.    I vomited in every single public swimming pool I visited.

4.    I vomited during any car trip over 2 hours. Luckily I have got over both of these.

5.    I cried for the first 2 hours of school every single day. School took a little while to grow on me as this lasted for my first 18 months

6.    I loved computer games. Mainly ‘Rollercoaster Tycoon’ and ‘The Sims’

7.    By the age of 12 I had caused the family computer to crash 3 times.  I believed I had the technological skills of Julian Assange.

8.    I despised dresses.  Most days my ‘get-up’ included Mambo hand me downs from my brothers or overalls resembling ‘Dennis the Menice’

img041

9.    At one stage I was sure I was going to be a ballerina. The latter is a reason why I gave this career the flick

10.     I was ecstatic when I found out I needed braces. Mum and Dad felt the opposite about this. $$$

11.     I attended an all girls high school.  Living at a boys school definitely balanced everything out but I was still forced to wear dresses.

418623_10151260231815237_631350236_22593368_1756622331_n

12.     I tried every single sport available. Swimming, Tennis, Softball, Hockey, Netball, Basketball, Cross Country, Athletics, Martial Arts and Cricket.

13.     I dislocated my knee at the age of 15 playing hockey. It wasn’t the best feeling lying on the hockey pitch for 40mins with my knee cap on the side of my leg.

14.     From the age of 13 to 18 I woke up at 4am 6 mornings a week for swimming training. I don’t regret this one bit, the decision was always mine and it shaped me as a dedicated athlete.

15.     My best pool swimming events were 100m and 200m breastroke. At 15 I discovered 5km and 10km open water and pool racing never appealed to me again.

Me n Georgia

 16.     I was sure I was going to be a runner. This was until I was exposed to triathlon at 19 and I haven’t looked back since.

Junior%20__Grace%20Musgrove

17.     I have a bad habit of staring at people. I am easily entertained by ‘people watching’, although I am told I look very judgemental. If you ever find I do this to you, I apologise in advance.

 18.     I am not often in a bad mood. I suppose this is a good thing but when I find myself with a bad disposition, it’s pretty bad.

 19.     In the past 18 months I have learnt an unbelievable amount. This is mainly due to my coach Jamie Turner and my training group. I have learnt to travel the world, love the bike, and have fun. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to be my second family!

575557_565082946858688_2050495693_n943713_565082613525388_923042026_n

20.     For the first time in my life I lost someone very close to my heart. I recently found out my dog Simba was put down the day after my birthday. For 12.5 years he gave me so much joy and this gave me a lot of heartache. He was the first boy I ever loved.

photo 3love

 21.      I plan on making the next 21 years better than the last!

HOLTEN, Netherlands European Sprint Cup

My previous three races since travelling to Europe have only been in France or Spain both countries which I am slightly familiar with their language and can decipher signs and menus if I am given a bit of time. This was a very different case for my first trip to the Netherlands although during my short visit I picked up some vocabulary and learnt that to turn a noun into a plural just add ‘en’. While the language, cuisine and culture are always exciting, even more so is watching a very small town like Holten transform for a sporting event. As triathletes invaded the picturesque town, the copious amounts of bikes on the paved or cobble stone streets came as no surprise as bikes are their preferred way of transport. If you haven’t yet realised, I am a huge fan of Holten and I haven’t even got to the fun part of racing!

The course has a split transition which means T1 is at a different venue to T2. The swim was held at the Domelaar, a lake 9km out of town. Since having raced 2 French Grand Prix races, renowned for their brutality and Madrid World Series race, I wasn’t too nervous for the swim. Early on 3 girls made a gap on the main pack and while at the time I couldn’t bridge the gap, I look back questioning this. You can get hung up on ‘what if’ so all I can do now is change this next race.

BF_-_IMG_9440

The bike course included a 9km ride into town where we finished off with two 5.5km laps around town with a bit of a hill each lap. The three girls who made the gap in the swim were up the road, nowhere to be seen and just up the road from me a chase pack of six had formed. The initial kilometres of the ride always hurt the most and I know this is an area I am looking to improve but alongside some other athletes we caught the group to form a chase pack. Within the 20km we managed to rope in 2 of the 3 girls.

Due to a slight calf strain after Madrid, my running has been cut back leaving me with less speed allowing me to try a different way of racing, making myself uncomfortable on the bike. After being caught up in a crash due to bad positioning on the bike last week in a French Grand Prix, I was determined to push my way to the front so as not to be caught up in any sort of mess. Overall I was happy with this aspect although I regret not taking every opportunity to push out of my comfort zone and try something new in racing. After entering T2 second out of the pack, I started the run up the front.

PT-3858

A few hundred metres in, all the athletes around me decide to merge left, causing a lot of legs in a small area of space and with timing not on my side, someone catches my heel and my shoes comes off. I had to make a split second decision, run back a few metres or continue running with only one shoe? I would be interested to know what other people would do?

I figured I would lose more time trying to run 5km with foot exposed, something  not common in our training program, so I barged my way through oncoming athletes and theoretically put my 3rd shoe on. The ground I had made up early on in the run was now lost and I tried to chase down as many athletes as possible, crossing the line in 7th place.

PvdZ-0877

This race left me thinking ‘what if’ about multiple aspects of the race and while I left Holten more or less dissatisfied, it has ignited more motivation to pick on these weaknesses for my upcoming races.

Personally I am yet to be really satisfied with a European race this season but when I consider my circumstances and long term goals, everything is a work in progress and on a worldy scale things are looking positive, leaving me eager to race Palamos World Cup in 2 weeks time!

Madrid – World Triathlon Series

If you have ever felt so nervous it was sickening then you know exactly how I was feeling the day of my first WTS race in Madrid. Leading in to the event, I convinced myself I was more excited to race than nervous and I managed to stay pretty relaxed through briefing, team dinners and pre-race sessions although five hours from race start, the butterflies came out of their cocoons! It is a very surreal feeling lining up alongside athletes you have only watched on the world stage and I had to remind myself I had earnt my position and had nothing to lose but everything to gain!

943468_10151738367318132_1372647345_n

With camera crews, helicopters, commentators and big crowds buzzing about as we lined up on the pontoon, there was no backing out now. The start sound went off, my nerves diminished and I put my head down until the first buoy. There is photo evidence of me being caught up in the hustle and bustle of the first buoy although considering it was a fast paced swim, I exited the water mid-pack, which I was fairly pleased about.

Untitled

To briefly describe the bike course, we exited transition; turned left then had 100-200m before we turned right to start climbing a 12% gradient hill. I remember Jamie saying the swim doesn’t finish until you are in the bike pack at the top of the hill and the first lap is always going to be one of the toughest. I spent most of the first lap working with a few other girls to catch the second chase pack (3 girls had broken away up the front). As we went through transition to start lap 2, the group had grown and it now included some very talented athletes who kept driving the pace. The second time around, the hill got the better of me and a few other girls and we popped off the back of the bike pack. Looking back at these critical seconds of the race, I often wonder if I could have pushed that little bit harder to hold a wheel but that’s racing and you can only learn from these moments. I was soon caught by the next bike pack where I slotted in and was able to hold wheels and remain here for the remaining 5 laps. I never found the ride ‘easy’ and with the dry air full off pollen I easily finished off my two bottles of fluid on the bike.

601836_10151738368818132_1289777966_n

By the time I hit the 10km run, I felt like I was slightly in survival mode. To top off the tough bike course, all the fluid in my stomach was gurgling and I could feel a previously strained muscle in my calf. There was no way I was going to have a DNF beside my name in my first WTS race especially since I had worked so hard to not be lapped out (one of my biggest fears!), so I tried to hold form and get through the run as best as I could crossing the finish line in 37th place.

425320_10151738369648132_103362302_n

While I am a little embarrassed about my run time, the positives of the race outweigh the negatives and I gained so much as an athlete from the experience. It has definitely motivated me to find ways to be a better at training and racing and I am looking forward to my next opportunity to race in the World Triathlon Series.

I have to thank Triathlon Australia for their continuous support of my development as an athlete and particularly Bernard Savage who gave me this opportunity and was available all weekend to make things easier. Also to Jamie for exposing me to this level of competition and looking out for my best interests all the time. Victor Carapelho has also been working as our soft tissue masseur over the past few weeks in Spain and I am very grateful for his advice, knowledge, photos (featured in this report) and of course massage skills!

Congratulations to my fellow Aussies for gutsy performances all around and training partner Gwen Jorgenson who remains as the number one rank after her 4th place!

photo 2