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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

Pre-Worlds Update – August

While there have been no enormous festivities in the Basque country this month if I look back, there is at least one mildly exciting event each week. When your life consists of sleep, train, eat, train etc. many moments can often become foggy, merged or forgotten all together. With the main focus of August being the build up to the World Championships in early September in London, I think it is best for you and me to have these moments neatly ordered week by week…

Week One: Thursday 1st – Sunday 11th

I know this is over a week, ideally August would have started on a Monday for this update so this is my quick fix.  Following some short and sharp sessions, I was off on my first trip to Hungary which included an overnight stay in a quirky Budapest hotel that resembled ‘The Adam’s Family’, staff members, décor and all. A very different ITU race format with heats and finals on consecutive days. Definitely a race I would happily have on my calendar for 2014!

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Week Two: Monday 12th August – Sunday 18th August

Familiar faces started to flock in to Vitoria to experience the great set up we have here with the Australian Junior team basing themselves here for a pre-worlds camp and a number of Canadian athletes as well. I really enjoy having a few extra people in open water sessions as it stimulates a race situation that little bit more. The highlight of this week was a team dinner organised by a kiwi long distance athlete AJ Thompson who has based himself in Vitoria to train the past two years. Even though the group sees each other day in and day out at training sessions, there never seems to be a lull in conversation and this may come as a surprise but it is not always ‘triathlon talk’!

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Week Three: Monday 19th August – Sunday 25th August

While the majority of the ‘Wollongong Wizards’ were preparing for the upcoming World Series race in Stockholm, my head was down and bum was up continuing normal training. At times I felt like I was missing out but to be honest, I quite enjoyed some different company or no company at all. Luckily on my 3 hour solo hilly ride day I was more than content to hit the countryside and hills ‘el solo’. In saying this, I also made my way up to San Sebastian to race the local athletic club’s 3km Open Water swim. Coming from an open water swimming background I was really looking forward to the event and despite the choppy water enjoyed the event, coming home with a 2nd place behind an extremely quick 19 year old Basque athlete.

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Week Four: Monday 26th – August – Sunday 1st September

It wasn’t long before we were back into some tough sessions as a training group again. One bike session in particular is labeled the ‘Hour of Power Loop’ or ‘HOP Loop’, this is a hard hitting session that I have love hate relationship with. If you are feeling good it’s great but if you are struggling just a little bit, it can be woeful. The worst part about this session this week was having to wash and pack my bike to travel to France to race a French Grand Prix in Sartrouville on the Sunday. A quick flight to Paris on Saturday, casual three hour wait for my team in Terminal 2G (one of my longest café sits ever), race around midday on Sunday then back in Bilbao by 7.55pm Sunday night. Coming off some tough training, I was fairly happy with my performance, finishing in 12th place, my best French GP position yet.

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So here I am staring at an empty suitcase which is failing to pack itself for my week away in London to race my first World Championships. I have been eager to reach this week for a while now but when I break down the month like that I realise how quickly time is passing. I would only be worried about this if I felt like I was achieving nothing on a day-to-day basis although I am continuing to learn in the environment I’m in so I am content with this.

Time really does fly when you are having fun!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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What Went On In July!

“Those who have never been to the edge and looked over will never understand that it is better to live one day as a lion than a lifetime as a sheep…”

–       British Royal Marines

I recently came across this quote through a new Twitter follower and it caught my eye immediately for a number of reasons. I promise I will become more insightful than this but speaking of lions, the circus is in town! During the latter part of July, the striped tent was pitched signifying the biggest event on Vitoria-Gasteiz’s annual calendar was about to kick of, ‘La Fiesta de la Virgin Blanca’. The fiesta officially opened last Sunday, the 4th of August and runs until the 9th, a great opportunity for the Basque population to have a few more public holidays! I am fully aware this is a July monthly report but I just couldn’t help myself, as it was so unbelievably astonishing!

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We arrived into the centre of town just after 4pm and it was much busier than your usual Sunday afternoon during scheduled siesta time. Within the next hour, the crowds had quadrupled comprising of large groups of people with copious amounts of cheap champagne (Dubois) and vino tinto (red wine).  There were; garbage bins, shopping trolleys, 4L plastic containers and water guns , all filled with alcohol awaiting Celedón’s (a rag doll with an umbrella) arrival via a thin wire above the crowd.

It was definitely an experience that I strongly encourage everyone to attend if they get the chance even if you are the foreigner shying away from the central commotion holding a bottle of water.

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While the fiesta was electrifying, I also received some very exciting news during July. I was selected as part of the U23 World Championships team to race in London in September. Last year I watched as my training partners prepared for Worlds and while I knew I wasn’t up to meeting the demands of competition, I was still envious, promising myself I would do everything possible to be there in 2013.

Returning to my original quote which is very fitting as it originated from the British Royal Marines, I have learnt this year more than ever that in order to succeed you need to be your own person which involves being selfish and taking calculated risks and learning what works for you. Sure, it is easy to float along in a training group and be satisfied, completing the content of sessions and failing to deliver any intent but that is what the Marines would label as a sheep.

Following my recent races, I felt a little bit of complacency creeping in and a little bit is already too much! Over the past few weeks I have ensured I am acting as the lion and I definitely feel like my training and confidence has already picked up which I am looking forward to testing out in the Tiszaujvaros World Cup in Hungary this weekend.

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Now I am not going to go and do anything crazy like canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah in a similar fashion to Aron Ralston (‘Between a Rock and Hard Place’, autobiography) but I am focused on performing to a high standard in London, constantly challenging myself to be my own athlete.

I would also like to say thank you to Amelia Tregear who has graced us with her presence here in Vitoria over the past month as our masseur. Not only has Amelia been treating us superbly and doing everything possible to help us out, her company is remarkable as well.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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’

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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!

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

May 2013 – Monthly Report

“The start of May.” My answer to a question I was asked numerous times since January, “When are you heading off overseas again?” Before I knew it, it was the 1st of May and I was flying out in a week to live overseas for 5 months. I thought I had everything under control although anyone who has ever travelled knows very well this is never the case and something ALWAYS pops up. In my case a ‘quick’ check-up visit to the dentist at home in Bowral turned into another visit to get a hole in my tooth filled! My dentist did a huge favour squeezing me in the day before I left to reduce the risk of me having to visit a foreign dentist and I was very grateful although I still do not get how he thinks I can have a conversation with him and answer questions when I have his hand and a few tools in my mouth!

That afternoon all of us who are looked after by Giant Australia and Spearman Cycles had a little gathering to thank the crew at the bike shop and bid farewell for a few months.  We had the opportunity to test out some new bikes as well as some tasty treats, which my dentist would have loved to see post his hard work that morning!

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The first few days were taken up by recovering from the travel, adjusting to the time zone and setting ourselves up in our apartments we are calling home.  Last year I arrived in Vitoria-Gasteiz and was overwhelmed for a while with everything from the enormous supermarket to sunlight at 9pm although this year nothing came as a surprise and I settled in pretty quickly.

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The rest of our squad arrived a few days later after racing the World Series race in Yokohama, Japan where Gwen Jorgensen came away with another win! With everyone settled in and before people are off every weekend to race around Europe, Jamie took the opportunity to organise a ‘Menu Del Dia’ aka ‘Menu of the Day’, this is very popular in restaurants all over Spain. Basically, you are given a selection of entrees, mains and desserts and you pick one from each for a set price. It is a great and cheap way to try different dishes. In our case we didn’t have to choose just one dish, instead we all cooked something different and tried a bit of everything. All the plates were licked clean which is always a good sign!

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Apart from the wet and cold weather, training has been going well and the running trails and riding routes are endless.  I raced my first French Grand Prix of the season as well as my first WTS race in Madrid. I won’t go into details as I think my race reports do a pretty good job of describing how I felt about those.

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It has been a fun start to the European season and I am looking forward to some more racing and good results!

Grace

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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April Monthly Report

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t believe I had enough to fill this update as I haven’t left the state in the past month. Despite this, April proved to be filled with ups and downs, literally and figuratively.

I definitely started the month on a high with the release of the May issue of ‘Men’s Fitness Magazine’. Considering how much effort went in to putting together my article, I have a grown appreciation for magazine editors and their organisational skills.  Thank you to Simon Butler-White, editor of Men’s Fitness who showed interest in me and quickly sorted out a photoshoot to catch the eye of the reader. This has definitely raised my profile and I have felt the love through social media with 100+ Facebook friend requests and a substantial number of followers on Twitter. Now that I have more than my training partners and family following me on Twitter, I feel the need to thoroughly analyse my tweets to ensure they are quality!

Men's Fitness Cover

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In a more literal sense, I have been experiencing the ups and downs on the saddle of my bike. The focus of this training block has been my cycling strength and there is no surprise here when I say this involves a lot of riding. I have ridden up mountains that I have enjoyed and mountains that have nearly made me fall off my bike. Without a doubt, I have appreciated this a lot more since I received my brand spanking new Giant Bikes Australia, Envie! I would be lying to say it was easy to see my TCR from 2012 go, but it was an amicable separation and I am very happy with my Envie. A huge thank you to Jo Hall and Martin Clucas from Giant Australia, The National Talent Academy for building a first-rate relationship with Giant, Spearman Cycles for their mechanical assistance and support and Aaron Lean for setting me up nicely with ‘Cadence Performing Cycling’.

New Giant Envie at Sandon Point - Bulli

New Giant Envie at Sandon Point – Bulli

 

A popular route for my training partner Tamsyn and myself has been leaving the ‘Gong’ and riding up to the Southern Highlands, my hometown. On one occasion Tamsyn’s chain snapped in the first half of the ride, leaving me to complete 80km ‘el solo’. This day happened to be ANZAC day and my arrival to my hometown, Bowral happened to be at 10:30am, the start of the ANZAC day March. Feeling slightly patriotic, I took some time out and remembered the soldiers who fought for us.

My two older brothers; Thomas (24) and Andrew (22) teamed up to surprise me with an early 21st birthday present. As we will all be in different countries come the 18th of June, they organised a 20minute aerobatic flight with ‘Southern Biplane Adventures’ in Wollongong.

Pre Flight

Pre Flight

Post flight with pilot Chris

Post flight with pilot Chris

One Saturday morning, Andrew had faked a flat tyre on his car and me being the kind-hearted sister I am offered to drive him to work (at Southern Biplanes). Upon arrival I was shocked to find all my training partners as well as my parents waiting in the hanger to watch me experience the ‘G-Up’ flight. Words cannot even explain the sensation of hitting +6G’s above the coastline of beautiful Wollongong. I wanted the pilot to take me to the limit and that he did, via vertical rolls, tail slides and snap rolls. Despite feeling a little sick by the time landing came around, it was an awesome experience and recommend it to any thrill seeker. What I don’t recommend is attempting a swim session an hour later!

The 'G-Up'

The ‘G-Up’

So April wasn’t so boring after all, it was actually quite exciting!

I don’t want to end on a low point but I can’t go without mentioning my amazing friend and training partner, Ashlee Bailie. One afternoon we were out riding and she was the victim of some reckless driving, something as an athlete you never want to witness. Considering her impact, the resulting injuries proved that she is one very lucky girl. We could all learn a thing or two from her daily positive attitude and I can’t wait for her to be back in the full swing of things which I am sure will be very soon. Moral of this incident being; motorists, please watch out for cyclists and cyclists, ride with an exceedingly defensive attitude!

Until next time, when in Spain,

Grace