So it’s been a while since I wrote a Blog (warning that means this is long, possible more a thesis than blog), but as we are in the midst of the Easter Long weekend, I thought I’d put down some of things I’ve been up to over the past month or so. In this bloggle (that’s a Wiggle term) you’ll find a few race recaps both as a competitor (Geelong, Devonport, Mooloolaba) and supporter (Huskisson, Melbourne Ironman), as well as a few other bits and bobs and things I’ve been up to.
So to be honest it’s been a mixed bag (Easter Egg selection) race wise. Back in February I headed to Geelong to compete in the Olympic Distance in the Open Category. I’d not run for several weeks prior due to some nerve issues in my leg, so it was a ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ kinda attitude which saw me race. It was the first time racing though on my Boardman AiR/TT 9.8 so I was pretty excited about that as well as in my full Team Wiggle kit. I had a pretty solid race and won and for the first time ever in my triathlon career I was able to run through a finishers or winners tape! That is such a cool feeling and one I want to have again and again. I have to say also…I’m loving the Boardman TT! I’ve just invested in an ISM Adamo Racing saddle too! Heavenly! People – you can find bike saddles that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort and pain!
The following weekend it was down the NSW coast to the Elite Energy Huskisson Triathlon Festival. A short sprint race on the Saturday and then the main event the long course on the Sunday. Although I wasn’t competing in either I was there to support lots of my training buddies and be a triathlon groupie for the weekend. Hukisson is just a stunning setting for a triathlon and it’s always a great weekend. I did pick up a win here though as I did the swim in the long course as part of a team and we won the mixed event, no thanks to our speedy runner Tommy, (centre of the photo below), who was a little intimidated lining up against the likes of Macca and Paul Ambrose, but he ran a quicker split so was pretty happy in the end even if Macca and Ambrose were larking about a little.
Next up and the following weekend, it was the National Championships in Tasmania, so I headed over the Tasmin to race. Unfortunately though I had my first DNS. I racked my bike and was almost ready to race, but my head took over and I pulled the pin. Such a hard decision having travelled over the Tasmin to be there. However the week prior I’d been in and out of doctors and A&E with an aggressive rash that I appeared to have picked up in the swim at Huskisson (although that was never confirmed it was all just rather random). Anyway it had left me feeling rather nauseous and I’d not eaten anything on the Friday or felt like eating on the Saturday morning of the race. Once again I became a groupie for friends racing.
I’d booked a few days off after the race, thinking it would be good R&R after a hectic couple of weeks or travel and competing and so at least I still had this to look forward too and spent a couple of days losing myself in Tasmania and switching off from the world.
Back from Tasmania and it was all systems go. I had my biggest race of the latter part of the season coming up. Mooloolaba was the goal and I was focused on the win. After my disappointment in Tasmania, I was even more focused and wanted a good hit out with a lot of pent up energy. Last year I’d surprised myself and came second in the Open category, and this year I wanted to go one better. Mooloolaba is a great weekend. The festival takes over the whole town. It is so engulfed that you can sit in one of the many cafes and have runners and cyclists only a few meters away. The highlight of the weekend is that Mooloolaba hosts the first of the ITU World Cup events for the Elites, so I was very much looking forward to watching the Professionals race.
The likes of Gomez (ESP) on the men’s side and Moffatt and Hewitt, Stimpson and Haug on the female. (See my Elite Women’s race report on http://www.trizone.com.au/20130317/detailed-mooloolaba-itu-elite-womens-race-report-by-laura-siddall/)
Mooloolaba is usually a surf swim but due to predicted bad surf conditions and probably more due to the exposed rocks at the exit to the swim, the 1.5km ocean swim start was moved to the canal and a loop round the island became the swim leg, which resulted in a 600m+ run into T1. It was a very small open field – only 6 females (compared to 20+ men) – ladies…back yourselves and step up to the open!! For the swim I soon found myself at the back of the pack, but this is often the case so I didn’t panic and hoped the girls had gone out too hard. There were a couple of girls in the race who I know I can swim pretty similar too, and although I did pull some ground back I was a little annoyed and frustrated as I exited the water. In hindsight I was only a minute down on the leaders, but it felt like more. Heading out onto the bike I could see 3 of the girls only a short distance ahead and I passed these pretty quickly and set about chasing the two leading girls in front. I caught the two lead girls probably at about 10km in. The girl in second just nicely tucked in behind the leader, not that she was drafting or anything. Thinking every time I passed another competitor that they would sit on my wheel, I was pleased to see them all disappearing into the distance behind me.
From now on it was setting my sights on the guys up ahead and picking them up. Mooloolaba is also notorious for it’s wind, tail wind on the way out and head wind on the way back. So on reaching the turn around I braced myself for the head wind but actually found it wasn’t really an issue. I knew I wanted to put more time into the girls so I just kept driving forward. Probably at about 22km a guy came past me, which to be honest gave me a bit of a fright as I’d not heard him coming and hadn’t expected it. But this was great as I let him get about 50m up but was then able to use him as a focus to try and stick to on the way back into town. A few km’s later a motorcyclist arrived at my side. I had a quick panic and tried to think what I was doing wrong, only to realize it was not a TO but just one of the officials who was going to follow me, as leading female back into town. Literally minutes later…I noticed a thudding and looked down to see my front wheel flat. F*CK! Without making this drag out even longer. The first replacement tube I put in, exploded after I’d pumped it up. The second tube wouldn’t fully inflate and I could hear the air leaking. By this stage with two tyre changes the whole field had gone past. I got back on the bike to nurse the bike back to town. I felt probably as deflated as the tyre (but surely it was better to ride back into town than get picked up?) Funnily enough, out of all the girls in my wave, I was the only one carrying spares. Did I jinx myself? I sat in T2 head on my knees. Gutted. So that was it, in Devonport a DNS and now a DNF. I’ve mulled around with lots of thoughts and questions. Should I have carried on regardless and finished the event? Should I just have sucked it up and crossed the finish line? Should I have just had a cup of concrete and slap in the face and put on my trainers and run? I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. It was the decision I made at the time in the circumstances of the race. There is a lot more I could say on this subject, in fact I did write a whole bloggle on it. However I think just writing about it helped and I’ve now learnt, left my frustrations up in Queensland and moved on and moved forwards.
So next up it was time to be a Groupie again, yes I’m getting quite good at this (career change?) and I headed off to Melbourne to watch and support, and heckle and abuse my training buddies taking part in the Melbourne Ironman event. I love this shit! The whole atmosphere around an Ironman event is just an incredible buzz. I was particularly excited for this race as there were a large number of friends competing. A load of guys from my training squad Bondifit (www.bondifit.com) who have been training for months and months, including our legendary coach, Mr. John Timothy Anderson (better known in the Triathlon world as Spot), who had not been training for months and months but more like a few weeks! Then there were the Bondi Lifeguards (yes from Bondi Rescue TV fame).
These likely lads had entered the event after doing it as a team last year, loving it so much, they got the bug. A few of them had been training with our squad and so it was going to be great to see them race. Andrew Reid (Reidy) is just a pure ball of energy and his love of life is just infectious. I love training with him as he has so much positive energy and is always cracking jokes and playing around. This guy does not drink coffee. If you saw him you’d know why, he’s on a high 24/7 with just the love of life. I’ve seen him in the past few weeks introduce the odd caffeine gel into his training and oh…heckers…he goes off the charts. It was going to be interesting to see if he could control his excitement and energy to race a sensible race and not blow up in the first 100m. (Read Reidy’s race report http://lifeguardreidy.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/becoming-ironman.html) Then there’s Greg Bishop (Bisho), who’s only done a couple of sessions with us. The one that sticks in my memory is the Coach telling Bisho to just sit on my wheel for a couple of laps (of Centennial Park (3.76km loops)). Apparently afterwards it was reported he needed counseling as he was a little distraught at the fact he could only just cling to the wheel of a ‘sheila’! (Just so I don’t discredit Bisho (who is a quality athlete), the ‘sheila’ was probably an adlib by Spot! (Never let the truth get in the way of a good story) Then there’s Adriel Young (Bacon). Although he’s not trained with the squad (bar a couple of rides I remember) our training often crosses paths and we are both now sponsored by the same Turbo Studio (www.Turbostudio.com) Bacon has been taking the triathlon world be storm. He was the first Age Grouper home in the Auckland 70.3 in January finishing in the top 20 overall. It was going to be exciting to watch him in an Ironman.
Melbourne was also going to be good as there was a stella line up for the Pros. Crowie was back to defend his title and was going to be up against Cam Brown (they battled all the way to the line in 2012), Tim Reed, Clayton Fettel, Joe Gambles, Tyler Butterfield, Tom Lowe, Jordon Rapp, Marion Vanhoenacker to name a few. (In the end Eneko Llanos won ahead of Vanhoenacker and a fast finishing Crowie in 3rd)
Then there was the women’s field and this was also going to be a cracker. Caroline Steffen was probably leading the charge, but there was a big field with the likes of Gina Crawford, Amanda Stevens, Carrie Lester, Britta Martin, Meredith Kessler, Yvonne van Vlerken and the still impressive Natscha Badmann. Additionally Anna Cleaver and Lisa Marangon, both who spend part of their time living and training around Bondi, were stepping up for their first Ironman. Finally there was Corinne Abraham, who to be honest I had never heard off until Tri247 profiled her in the days leading up to the race (http://www.tri247.com/article_11270.html) However as she was a fellow Brit I decided that she would be my one to watch and support for the day. How please was I when she absolutely smoked the bike and the run to win with a 16min cushion over Van Vlerken in 2nd and Steffen in 3rd A lot of Aussies are asking… “What do you feed them over there?” as once again Britain seem to be able to produce the goods when it comes to long distance racing.
Other good things about the weekend, thanks to the social media world of Twitter and networking I met and caught up with a now friend Meg Gilmer for breaky and made the most of enjoying Melbourne renowned café/coffee culture. Meg (@Gillmergirl) and I got chatting through Twitter and our association with WITSUP (www.witsup.com) Meg is like me a foodie and has an amazing positive look on life all the time. It’s infectious!
Finally about Melbourne, it was going to be great as there were quite a few of us travelling down to support our friends. Four of us decided we’d do something a bit different to make it really special and memorable for them…so we dress up. The other thing about Melbourne IM, is that it’s not particularly spectator friendly as the marathon is a straight 42.2km A to B run, which makes it harder to work out logistics and try to catch everyone to cheer them. So we hired bikes. (The picture above is one of the many signs we hung on the run course the night before the race ready to keep the guys going the next day.)
I really hope that for all the Ironman athletes out there, whether they knew us or not, the sight of a Zebra, Monkey, Duck and Cow on bikes really cheered them up! Particularly the Duck and Cow on a tandem, including trailer full of beer! If you don’t believe us…check out the Ironman live coverage for the Pro men nearing the finish (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu6Oi5MUAcM). Also currently putting together a montage of the video clips we took…Ironman from a supporters perspective…what this space for that.
It was a fantastic day. Unfortunately due to surf conditions the swim had to be cut short and was only 1.5km in the end. There is also various video footage and remarks about how many of the athletes were cutting cans making the swim even shorter. This I think is a huge shame, but at the end of the day, the athletes that swam the correct course will know they did, and the ones who know they turned early will also live with that. Regardless of the short swim, it was still a long day at the office for many people and they still deserve all the congratulations and respect for crossing that finish line.
So what’s coming up, as here in Australia we head towards the back end of the season, and over in the UK you are fast approaching the first races of the year. Next week is NSW State Club Champs. This is a fun event where I get to put back into my club by racing for them. The beer normally starts before you finish the race so it’s always pretty messy by the end of the day – if you make it to the presentations! However obviously as a serious triathlete I don’t drink or eat chocolate and Easter Eggs! J ha! Ha!
It’s back in to a base period now and gearing up for the running season in Australia. That’s a big focus for me over the winter. Also however the seasons will blur a little as I’ve entered a 70.3 in June so we’ll see how I fair over the longer distance than. As running is again one of my focus’ over Winter, I thought I’d take some bigger steps and get someone to properly look at my technique. I’ve known for a while I should do this, but it was on the Darren Smith Camp with Tri Dynamic (www.tridynamic.co.uk) in January that I became even more intrigued and interested to learn more about running effectively and fast as well as how I could improve my own technique. I’ve actually undergone two running analysis’ sessions with different people. Not because I don’t trust or believe either of them but the first was with my physio, Mark Green (www.thebodymechanic.com.au). This was partly to assess the niggles I was getting in my hamstring but I was also keen to get someone to properly look at my running. The second was with a friend’s brother, who’s just starting up a video running analysis service in Manly (www.bioathletic.com.au). Without going into all the detail both analysis resulted in some good exercises and drills to do in order to change my stride, planting of my foot, posture and activate my glutes. I basically overstride and hyperextend my legs meaning my feet contact the ground infront of my body, effectively putting the breaks on every time I step. The benefit of getting someone else to review and video is that you can see what you are actually doing, as opposed to what you think you are doing, or what it feels like. As well as the drills it’s then key to remember these types of feelings when you practice and run. If you want to take your running to the next level, as well as your training and planning your sessions to maximize this improvement I would definitely recommend you go to see a running analysis expert.
Other bits and bobs I’ve been up to, include being incredible honoured and proud to be an athlete ambassador for the Womens Sport Trust. (www.WomensSportTrust.com) They are a grass-roots movement working to provide grants/scholarships to aspiring sportswomen, or fund research and public awareness, working to raise the profile and change the perception of women’s sport in the UK. I’m incredible excited to be involved with them and I’m looking forward to some great opportunities and steps forward for women’s sport. As mentioned earlier I’m a supporter of Witsup here in Australia, which is an organization trying to boost the profiles of women in triathlon and help introduce triathlon to more women. So it’s great to have a link back to the sport in the UK as well.
I also was pretty chuffed to be asked to be in the April edition of 220Triathlon Magazine and interviewed about my training and life in Australia. I think there has been a little poetic licence around my training week, but I’m obviously incredible grateful to have been included. It means so much to be recognized back in the UK as a British Triathlete, when I live in Sydney. I know the Aussie’s will claim me as I train here, but cut me in half and you’ll see the Union Jack through my veins. (I’ve probalby lost a few friends by saying that so, with may be a little green and gold around the edges…just to keep them happy.)
Till next time….